Here is Part 1 in this Series about writing a "classic."
This Part 2 is an Interview of sorts done for an online Star Trek 'zine. I wrote it because, on Facebook, Kirok L'stok ( his pen name), messaged me asking for a contribution to a planned e-zine to be posted here
The posting date for the 'zine was Sept 8, 2015.
Here's what he asked:
I write under the pen name of Kirok of L'Stok, head of publishing for TrekUnited and editor of our irregular fanzine, Personal Logs, previous issues of which can be found on our website at Tupub-books.blogspot.com.au. Our latest 'zine, 'Spock's Katra', will be a celebration of the life and influence of Leonard Nimoy as a man and Spock as a pivotal character in Star Trek. I've put out a call for new fiction and short stories and I'm going to illustrate it, in much the same way as our previous issues, with fan art.
In our mundane world, Leonard Nimoy's death means we will never see him play Spock again but, through the magic of fan fiction, Spock will never truly die. Through the work of the fans whose lives he touched, we can share a resonance of his legacy, the TV episodes and movies that captured our hearts and minds. Is it a vanity to think that our fan produced fiction could equate to the Vulcan Katra, the essence of their being that outlasts their death? Perhaps so, but it is a pleasant fantasy to think that by putting pen to paper, or more likely fingers to keyboard, we can bring Spock to life, along with McCoy and Scotty, and that the original crew of the Enterprise can continue their adventures for as long as Star Trek fans remember them.
Could I impose on you for your thoughts on what gave the character of Spock, and by extension the chemistry of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, such universal impact on fan fiction? Was it something about the characters or storylines and settings of Star Trek, did it fill a niche that was opening at the time for depth of character or perhaps address a burgeoning appetite for science fiction? Your opinion, as a professional with roots that intertwine with the very beginnings of Star Trek fan productions would be invaluable.
We would be delighted to publish anything from a paragraph box-out to an article and will send you a copy of the draft for your approval before release. If you feel that you can't help us, that's perfectly understandable and please accept my apologies for intruding on your time.
Thank you for your contributions to Star Trek fandom.
This was sort of like the usual interview questions I get from time to time, but lots of new things had been happening, and I had come upon many new insights into the dynamics behind Star Trek's odd success.
I have been asked questions like this many times, and every time I give a different answer using the same material, laced with new and different observations.
I've written about him in this blog previously:
I got a phone call while in the midst of writing this essay saying he had passed away. He had been doing public appearances just a month prior. Not only did he appear in classics. He was a classic, all by himself.
He was also a fabulous writer. He wrote the dust-jacket copy for his vinyls, did various articles, and I think best of all, his autobiography.
He did a lot of audiobook recordings, but apparently never recorded his own autobiography.
But Theodore Bikel was primarily an actor, and his IMDB page is huge.
I even own an Amazon Prime streaming copy of one of his earliest movies, Fraulein, in which he sings a "Russian Gypsy Song" written just for him in that movie. The following Variety Obituary notes that he's had another song written into a Broadway Play just so his character would have a song.
They had cast him in a musical as a character who didn't sing! He was an actor's actor.
Theodore Bikel spent a huge amount of his time touring in Fiddler On The Roof. I saw him do it at Dinner Theater, and elsewhere, portable sets that fold up into wheeled boxes, lots and lots of vibrant energy, great singing.
Most people know him from Fiddler which is starred in on Broadway -- also The King And I -- but for me he's a folksinger who could bring all kinds of cultures to life, even if you didn't understand the language.
That's the essence of science fiction -- connecting with cultures you do not understand via art.
So it's not surprising that most Star Trek fans remember him from the film, The Enemy Below, which was the inspiration of one of the all-time favorite Star Trek Episodes, Balance of Terror, the one in which we first meet the Romulans and note the similarity to Vulcans.
So later, Theodore Bikel was cast as Worf's adopted human father, and it made such good sense!
He passed away just as I was writing this explanation of why Spock was such a powerful Character he walked off the screen and into the real lives of countless viewers who weren't even science fiction fans (to begin with, anyway).
And you all know we lost Leonard Nimoy this year, as well.
All of this has me thinking about Classics -- what makes a classic? How do you create a Classic? How do you know if you've done it before you even first send it to an Agent?
And can you make any money writing Classics? Most of the really famous writers of the far past whose works we study in school today died as paupers. Classics generally have little value to the contemporary audience they are created for -- but they become more popular with time, and out-live their creators.
Star Trek appears to be one of those. My question is, of course, will Sime~Gen also be one of those?
While I was thinking about this, the request for a contribution to an online fanzine issue about Spock and Leonard Nimoy came to me via Facebook from Kirok of L'Stok. Here is what I wrote for http://tupub-books.blogspot.com.au/
When Star Trek was first aired, after Gene Roddenberry’s long struggle, and the Network demands to eliminate the female First Officer because it was not plausible that men would take orders from a woman (I kid thee not!), Spock filled two dramatic positions.
That one Character had to represent both the Resident Geek role and the Not-One-Of-Us-But-Our-Boss role (i.e. the female role of Number One had been folded into the Spock-half-alien persona.) Originally, Spock was demonstrably emotional but Number One (the female) was not. That would have been an entirely different series!
The combined Figure was given all the dimensions of a real person, a Character, by the brilliant portrayal Leonard Nimoy brought to the role. Time will tell if he created a Role, or just a Character.
A “Role” is a fictional figure that can be played by other actors. King Lear is a “role.” Actors hatch the ambition to play such a role.
Spock is in the process of becoming a Role, though “classic trek” may be a thing of the past.
A “Role” has a “spirit” – the writer creates the etching of a Character but the Actor gives that etching 3-D life, 3-D printing as it were.
The Character, barely formed, dropped into American consciousness and like a spark on dry tinder, lit a fire. Mostly it was the female viewers who ignited in discovery of new vistas. But a lot of men saw how they could embark on a life of achievement – and just incidentally attract women of achievement.
I was among the women who caught fire from Spock, but I was different from the average viewer. I was a lifetime science fiction reader, at the threshold of launching a career in science fiction writing.
I knew what I wanted to write because I knew what all the men (and a few women using male bylines) had done wrong. I knew that if I could just do it “right” I could drop a spark into dry tinder and ignite a forest fire of ambition among my readers.
I didn’t get the chance to do that because Gene Roddenberry did it first.
But he was hampered by the “rules” of Network television. Even today, rules like that constrain the creativity of TV Series producers, and there are business model reasons for that.
But this constraint was almost immediately seen by the fans who had become ignited by Spock – and other Characters, and how they fit together into a Crew.
Gene Roddenberry always said that Kirk, Spock and McCoy were each a fraction of his own personality. That’s why they work as an ensemble – together they make one whole human being, but factored apart, they make comprehensibly simple what is ordinarily hidden within human complexity.
Star Trek was, and for decades continued to be, the only science fiction on TV. Other shows tried to repeat that ignition of fans and failed. They had no idea why they failed. They thought it was the science fiction that ignited the fans. So they produced Westerns set in Space and called that science fiction, and had no clue what they’d done wrong.
Meanwhile, the fans became a Wild Fire, spreading and spreading. Ruth Berman and Devra Langsam, long time members of active and organized fandom (yes, fandom is not what the newspapers portray it to be), decided to go where no fan had gone before.
Traditionally, fan publications (fanzines, magazines by and for fans who were members of organized fandom) published non-fiction about science fiction books, writers, conventions, and general activities that members of organized fandom participated in.
Ruth and Devra each decided to create a ‘fanzine’ to contain FICTION, and articles that might have been published inside the fictional universe. Like traditional fanzines, these publications had a Letter Column (LoC) section where fans could talk to each other about previous issues. All on paper.
And so the wild fire spread and spread.
Ruth Berman’s ‘zine was T-Negative (Spock’s blood type) and Devra Langsam’s was Spockanalia – all the trivia about Spock. They were the first ‘zines.
Think about that. A character in a TV Series held in vast contempt by the general public “sparked” the two first science fiction fanzines to contain fiction.
The whole “Mary Sue” type of story originated in T-Negative which also published my Trek alternate universe, Kraith. Spockanalia was editorially designed to stick closer to established cannon and create within Roddenberry’s own vision.
Jean Lorrah – much later the author of sizzling hot best-seller Star Trek novels from Pocket that are still in e-book availability – co-authored a Star Trek Fan Fiction short-story that was published in Spockanalia, which is how she came to my attention. I came to her attention when a friend of hers sent her my first published science fiction novel, House of Zeor.
Jean went on to write the Night of the Twin Moons fanzines (about Sarek, Spock’s father) and then to write for the professionally published Star Trek novels at the same time she and I were writing and selling novels in my series, Sime~Gen. It’s all connected.
Here is a page describing the Trek Connection behind everything Sime~Gen:
That Spark that flew off the TV Screens into our living rooms and set everything aflame could well be considered “Spock’s Katra.”
The fictional character inhabited us, and millions of other women, who created fiction by the millions of words, created conventions where the printed ‘zines could be sold to each other, created artwork, sculpture, costumes, created and created.
That Creative Spark ignited a firestorm, and for the first time ever, caused a cancelled TV Series to be revived. Worse, it was a much derided, disregarded, maligned, and sneered at TV Show because it was science fiction which is only for kids because they’re gullible enough to believe that non-sense.
The question always asked is “why” did Trek ignite a firestorm because people in the biz want to duplicate that magic.
To answer that question, I originated the project that eventually became the Bantam paperback Star Trek Lives! One of my objectives among many was to explain to Hollywood what they had really done by putting Trek on the air, and why it worked. Gene Roddenberry loved the Star Trek Lives! book project and wrote the introduction to it when it was finally sold.
Long story there.
Mostly I focused the book on The Spock Effect by detailing who the fans were and what they did under the impact of discovering the Spock Character. That discovery was called Spock Shock, because it left people glassy-eyed.
That “Effect” is what eventually became termed Spock’s Katra, the feeling of having Spock inside you.
The book Star Trek Lives! was formulated and written long before the coining of the term Katra: the Soul, the Spirit, the very personal Identity that can remain as an organized entity after the body is dead.
The “Effect” that the Character Spock had on the dry tinder of women who had never had exposure to science fiction they could personally relate to (because the only science fiction Manhattan would allow to be published was for boys, not even for men) was explosive.
They responded to what I had seen as missing from the field of science fiction. In a word, “Relationship.” In a word, “Romance.” In a word, “Intimacy.”
So while we were researching, sending out questionnaires, collecting Star Trek fanzines (within months, there were literally hundreds of publications, once non-science fiction fans got hold of the Idea of T-Negative and Spockanalia). I was also writing the beginnings of my Sime~Gen Series.
Let me set the record straight. My first story sold was a Sime~Gen story, and it was sold in 1968 to Fred Pohl, who eventually bought Star Trek Lives! when he had moved from the Magazine industry to the Book Industry.
I was a professional, selling science fiction writer before I ever wrote my first Star Trek fanzine article (for Spockanalia) or my Kraith Series for T-Negative. Most newspaper articles about me say I “came out of” Star Trek fandom. That’s not true. Star Trek, Star Trek Fandom, and I all came ‘from the same place’ – the place where Gene Roddenberry acquired Spock’s Katra.
So, after selling my first story, and launching the Star Trek Lives! project, I created a statement of what the difference is between traditional (for teen boys only) science fiction, and the unique contribution to the field of science fiction that I could bring.
I eventually dubbed that unique contribution, Intimate Adventure. I called it the “Lost Genre” because it is a pattern that turns up everywhere, and no publisher would group these novels together and put a genre label on them so everyone who loves Intimate Adventure could buy with confidence.
Here is a link to two articles, one FOR THE SCIENCE FICTION READER, and one FOR THE FEMINIST READER, describing what I had noticed as missing from science fiction. I named a lot of novels published subsequent to Star Trek’s fame that illustrate the influence Trek had in creating Intimate Adventure.
Intimacy across the human/non-human Gulf is the spark that lit the Trek conflagration.
The Katra, later invented for Vulcan culture, depicts the ultimate Intimacy as it can be ‘carried’ by an intimate to its peaceful resting place. What service could be more intimate or more demanding of heroics?
The invention of the fictional concept Katra is a result of something I helped create – a “feedback loop” between fiction creator and fiction consumer.
Historically, writers just wrote and publishers or producers just guessed what their market wanted.
When Star Trek fandom flashed into a conflagration, these decision makers noticed, and had access to samples of what the consumer really wanted from them.
Kraith Collected (which had 50 contributors) was seen around the Star Trek offices at Paramount, dog eared and well read. And it wasn’t the only one.
Today, the professional decision makers can just drop in and read any fanfic posted online.
Sales statistics and viewer numbers are fast and accurate, via our electronic data collection – all of which technology can be traced back to men and women who were fired up by Star Trek, often by Spock and his expertise with a computer. We’re still inventing Trek equipment – the transporter, warp drive are all being worked on.
So the ripples of Spock’s Katra spread and changed the way the world of fiction distribution works as well as the daring-do of work-a-day scientists.
When we were researching for Star Trek Lives! we didn’t know that was going to happen. We just knew that Everything Had Changed.
The change that I thought was most vital, and most important for the future of humanity thousands of years hence, was the shift in the definition of Science Fiction to include Intimate Adventure.
Of course, when we were writing Star Trek Lives! (1970-1974) we didn’t know we’d win. But we knew that Gene Roddenberry had given us Spock, the main tool needed to explain to women why it is that science fiction is the most important art-form ever created.
When we meet up with real Aliens “out there somewhere” we have to establish Relationships across that conceptual Gulf.
The Spock Character is a fictional alien. The whole Vulcan Culture is fabricated out of Gene Roddenberry’s take on Humanism as a life philosophy. I.D.I.C. is the Vulcan philosophy I wrote about in Spockanalia in a fictional-article titled Mr. Spock On Logic. My explanation of “Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combinations” was not Gene Roddenberry’s (we hadn’t yet met in person).
What I said in that article, and in the subsequently written Kraith stories was that Logic Is Beautiful, and Beauty Is Logical.
Aesthetics and Logic are not two separate things, nor even two sides of a coin, nor even reflections of each other. They are THE SAME THING. Just one thing.
When you experience Beauty, you are experiencing Logic. When you experience Logic, you are experiencing Beauty. They are inseparable. That is a non-human, and very Alien concept.
Roddenberry’s personal notion of Spock and Vulcan culture were struck me (when I found out about it during interviews) as way too mundane to be science fiction.
That is probably the reason Star Trek, and Spock, sparked the appeal to a wider audience that science fiction generally commands.
Roddenberry’s Vulcans just weren’t alien enough to suit me, so I created a Vulcan for Kraith that is truly Alien – non-human, defying all the imperatives of human Nature.
I used that concept of Logic Is Beautiful as the invisible, underlying theme of Kraith. It is one of the cornerstones of the worldbuilding (meticulous science fiction writer style worldbuilding) behind the Kraith Series.
Simultaneously with writing the Kraith Series, I was also writing Star Trek Lives! Well, some weeks I’d work on one, some weeks the other, but all this was interwoven into the fabric of a life raising kids and founding a career.
The career I was founding was professional science fiction writer, and the second professional fiction project I undertook was a Sime~Gen Novel.
Remember, I had set out to add something new and unique to the field of science fiction, but Gene Roddenberry beat me to it.
So now my job was to explain what he’d done with Spock, and how to do it again, on purpose, so Hollywood would begin to produce lots and lots of TV Series I would love to watch.
In order for my explanation of what GR had done to be taken as valid, I had to duplicate the Spock Effect. I had to create a new Spock.
I had to use my notion of Intimate Adventure, my lifelong immersion in the field of science fiction, my degree in Physical Chemistry (minor in Math), my conviction that humanity is in for huge trouble if we don’t learn how to Bond with Aliens, and prove that I understood what had happened with the Spock Character’s explosive popularity.
I needed to write a novel with a “Spock” type character that would make Spock fans write fiction in my universe.
But which universe? I had many possible series outlines on file. But I had sold that one story, Operation High Time. I knew that universe backwards and forwards, and it came to me that one of my Characters was indeed Spock.
In the Sime~Gen Universe, Reincarnation is real. In other words, souls are real. So is telepathy, telekinesis, etc etc, a whole panoply of psychic abilities are real, and some of the characters have those abilities.
The Sime~Gen timeline I had mapped out in the 1970’s already spanned thousands of years of future history. To write the novel that would prove my theory of the Spock Effect, I just had to pick an Incarnation and a particular time in the historical development of my Sime~Gen Interstellar Civilization and write a novel about that Incarnation of this main character.
GR sold Star Trek as “Wagon Train To the Stars” (Wagon Train was a record-setting, long-running Western TV Series), and I knew that. Fandom knew a lot that the general public and journalists didn’t.
At the time, there was little science fiction set in the horse-and-buggy technological level of the Old West. By running back along my timeline from the year my first sold story was set within, I found a Historically pivotal Event with plenty of conflict and Western Adventure, that involved one of the Incarnations of my Main Character’s Katra. That Character, Rimon, Del Rimon, Klyd, Digen, Klairon is a version of Spock.
So I wrote the novel, House of Zeor, about Klyd Farris, to prove The Spock Effect.
The timing of publications came out just barely even, so that House of Zeor is a tiny footnote in Star Trek Lives!
I bought a few boxes of the hardcover Doubleday edition of House of Zeor and sold them to Spock fans active in Star Trek fandom on a money-back guarantee. I sold 60 copies to that sub-set of Trekdom on that guarantee (at the time, the price of that hardcover book was the cost of several gallons of gasoline) and never had one returned.
During that time, all of a sudden, fans started sending me fan letters with questions about the worldbuilding behind the Sime~Gen Universe.
I answered at length, and eventually started publishing as a kind of carbon-copy fanzine. Very quickly, a fan stepped up to do an actual mimeo fanzine, we called Ambrov Zeor, and before I knew it we had fans writing fanfic in the Sime~Gen Universe. At one point there were 7 Sime~Gen ‘zines – some just non-fiction, some letters only, and several with fiction, letters and articles. The two longest running have their contents now posted online for free reading, and there’s lots of new material online, too.
With the spontaneous generation of Sime~Gen fanfic, I had proven that Sime~Gen had the “whatever it is” that Star Trek had.
That element is Spock’s Katra, the soul of Spock, the Intimate Adventure that soul pursues.
My original definition of Intimate Adventure is that you take an Action Adventure story, and replace the “Action” (fist fights, war, combat, violence) with Intimacy, (not with sex, but with emotional honesty) and you get Intimate Adventure.
In Intimate Adventure, the heroic courage the main character exhibits is on the field of Emotion, not the field of Combat.
In Intimate Adventure Logic and Emotion are not walled off from each other. Compassion is Logical.
That first novel, House of Zeor, also had a career parallel to Star Trek’s. It was in print continuously for 20 years (unheard of in genre fiction, but especially in science fiction which was usually in print for about six weeks). Then House of Zeor came back into print in various forms, and now it’s in a new print edition, audiobook and e-book as well.
But meanwhile, my second novel in the Sime~Gen Universe, about another Incarnation of that same character, several centuries later in the era of digital telephone dialing, won my first Award.
As I was writing that novel, Unto Zeor, Forever, Jean Lorrah’s review of House of Zeor came to me on the fannish grapevine. I wrote back to her, and she sent me a story she had written in my universe, creating a wholly new setting in a different geographical setting, with different characters.
Meanwhile, I sent Jean the manuscript for Unto Zeor, Forever, and she sent it back with extensive rewrite notes, most of which I incorporated into the final draft.
We printed her Sime~Gen story in the fanzine Ambrov Zeor, and she sent another. In those days, to get a free copy of a ‘zine (sold for printing and postage only, but still very expensive) you had to contribute something, so if you wanted another writer’s sequel to their story, you had to contribute a story of your own. So Jean did some stories about these Sime~Gen characters she had created and their Householding Keon.
And then we met at a Star Trek Convention and she handed me the outline for a full length novel set in the Sime~Gen Universe.
She was already a professional writer, and it showed in her work so far. I took her outline to Doubleday, and a few months later we sold it to hardcover publication, and later mass market, and now with all the others in new paper and e-book editions.
Her first professionally published novel is titled First Channel, and is about Spock’s Katra in the form of Rimon Farris, centuries before it was Klyd Farris in my first novel, House of Zeor.
She wrote that story because Rimon Farris wouldn’t quit nagging her to tell the story of the First Channel, and how the reality of his life differed from the legend I had cited.
On the strength of having a hardcover novel published, she got a full professorship. She is an English Professor with a specialty in Chaucer and noted for identifying the Shaman Archetype. She has identified Intimate Adventure as a Plot Archetype (like The Hero’s Journey).
Thus started a partnership that has woven warp and woof of the Sime~Gen Universe fabric to include an Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combinations. It’s not easy for a Chemist to collaborate with an English Professor.
After many novels, we incorporated Sime~Gen as a separate entity and bought the simegen.com domain where we host the previous fanzine stories plus millions of words of fanfic created just for online publication, and secured copyrights and trademarks.
After the 12th Sime~Gen novel came out, the publisher (now Wildside Press) asked for a volume of fan-written stories.
That anthology is titled FEAR AND COURAGE, was edited by two fans, has 14 writers, and contains many stories newly written for the anthology.
Fans have also compiled a Sime~Gen Concordance slated for publication probably end of 2016, fairly well patterned on the original Star Trek Concordance by Bjo Trimble.
In a way, this anthology publication is comparable to the moment when Pocket Books and Paramount bought A. C. Crispin’s Yesterday’s Son – which was I believe the first time they had contracted with an unpublished writer for a Star Trek novel.
Yesterday’s Son is about a son of Spock, and time travel.
I know about this novel because A. C. Crispin, the author who went on to write Star Wars and other film spinoff novels, brought me the manuscript (you guessed it, at a Star Trek convention) to ask if it was good enough to sell to Pocket.
I took it home, read it, wrote her a list of stuff she had to change to conform to the “formula” demanded by Paramount and Pocket (yes, they had a guidelines sheet they sent out to professional writers they chose, just the way Romance publishers did. I had a copy, but there was no way she could get a copy at that time.).
I didn’t expect to hear from her. But she made the changes, polished up the ragged edges where the changes had to be made, and sent it back to me. It was perfect. I offered to agent it to Pocket. We signed a contract. I hand carried it into the office in Manhattan (I lived near), and they bought it. It hit best seller status, and the uproar about how much better it was than the previous books set Pocket and Paramount on a new path. People who write for the love of the material attract readers who read for the love of the material.
As I said, Yesterday’s Son is about Spock’s son. Do you see the connection? Kirk is the “star” but everything that changes the real world is rooted in Spock’s Katra.
So why is that? What does Spock add to standard science fiction that causes the real world to erupt?
It’s not just that he’s sexy. Lots of characters are sexy and they don’t change the real world.
It’s why he’s sexy that matters. Which leads to the question of what sexuality actually is, where it comes from, and what it means for humanity.
Science Fiction is about the effect of technology derived from basic science on people, humans and otherwise.
Most basic science discoveries start a few decades before the discovery. The start is always some innovation in Mathematics. Math is a language, and you need it to describe and talk about reality.
Once people discuss (intimately) using the newest Math to describe something, innovation happens. Discovery happens. Math is the key.
It’s all very boring, abstract, logical.
Remember the TV Series Numb3rs?
Old fashioned science fiction from the 1930’s and 1940’s tried to keep the emotion out of the logic of Math. That’s futile, to coin a phrase.
What I wanted to add to science fiction as a field was the emotional dimension – the science of emotion, the logic of beauty, the “math” equivalent of the language in which to discuss emotion.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of that project. Here’s what I’ve got so far.
I set out with my first story and first novel to depict the connection between logic and emotion, but just illustrating it in a whopping good story and leaving the reader to figure out what it all means to them, personally.
I learned writing craft techniques as I went along selling novels and stories. Each novel I’ve done illustrates a different craft technique. But I knew, from my first studies of fiction, that telling a good story is what writers do. It’s up to the reader to interpret the meaning.
Or as Gene Roddenberry taught me, in countless hotel rooms and convention hall greenrooms where we interviewed him for Star Trek Lives!, good fiction asks questions but doesn’t give answers.
So I didn’t set out to give answers, but to ask questions. Fans have answered my questions by writing their stories, their original characters, into my universe.
Here’s my biography and bibliography
Or find the novels of Jean Lorrah and me on Amazon:
And here’s where I blog on writing craft, a co-blog with a number of widely published Romance writers:
Simultaneously with the various incarnations of Star Trek in film and TV Series, we’ve seen the rise of the field of Fantasy.
At the same time, mathematicians and theoretical astrophysicists decided that it was so improbable that another planet existed out there somewhere with the characteristics of Earth that we may as well not bother looking. Established science voted against the existence of exo-planets. As usual with science, they eventually reversed that opinion.
Also, theoretical physics pretty much nixed the idea of traveling to the stars because it would be impossible.
Then a whole new generation grew up inspired by Trek movies and reruns. They gathered evidence to the contrary, so that now we have orbital telescopes mapping exo-planets and galaxies moving in formations, all with new math theories sparking particle physics experiments like the Hadron Collider. We have identified the God Particle, the Higgs Boson, and are in hot pursuit of anti-matter, (Trek’s fuel supply for starships) identifying an anti-neutron.
First the math, then the discoveries, then the technology. We’re on the way to the stars.
But during those decades when science said, “Forget it,” the fiction field that burgeoned was Fantasy.
The worldbuilding included parallel universes, alternate realities where Magic prevailed over Physics, and vast visions of demons, angels, discorporate beings, Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves and other shapechangers, all taken from every mythology humanity has created.
All of these genres and sub-genres have something in common. They are written by and for people who are searching for some kind of comprehensible description of “all reality” that makes sense in their daily lives. A Unified Field Theory of Emotion.
Most of the stories involving demons, angels, supernatural creatures, Vampires, shapechangers are the same stories often told of First Contact with Aliens from Outer Space.
Our interest in these other sentient species is to make friends, enemies, conquests, vassals, or trading partners. In other words, we seek Relationships with The Other.
The form and dynamic of that Relationship is infinite in combinations. But in general, the readership thirsting for these stories cannot abide the concept that humans are alone in creation, as science was saying during those years.
The more mundane stories center on the intelligence evident in other animals on this planet – dolphins, Bonobos, dogs – we see sentience everywhere. Now that we’ve seen other planets somewhat like ours, and found life in the caldera of sub-sea volcanoes as well as under the antarctic ice, we can’t imagine that there isn’t another species out there that we can relate to, trade with, and learn from.
We’re still trying to figure out what a human being is.
For many of those leading the charge into this strange future, Spock was the first Alien they ever met. And Roddenberry’s idea that Logic and Emotion are two different things often prevails because it seems so reasonable.
Since that dichotomy between Logic and Emotion is such a widespread assumption, science fiction (or fantasy) has to explore the opposite notion, that these two things are really the same thing.
The way fiction explores a notion is to build an entire fictional world around that notion, letting that world evolve aliens, then bringing them into conflict with humans.
I did that to create my second award winner, Dushau, which won the Romantic Times Award, the first Romantic Times Award given for a science fiction novel. It is about a Romance between an Alien Soul incarnated in a human body (not knowing she’s alien), and an Alien so long-lived he remembers her, but doesn’t recognize her katra until the third book in the series.
That book would never have sold, and would never-ever have garnered the attention of Romance Readers and been voted excellent, had it not been for Star Trek, Star Trek fan fiction, and a whole new generation trying to understand human nature by looking at ourselves from the Alien viewpoint.
All across the Romance Genre, across Westerns, across Mysteries, across International Intrigue, throughout the world of genre fiction we have evidence of how viewers’ enjoyment of Star Trek created a demand for different views of what makes Spock so fascinating.
Or perhaps those views have the same origin as Spock, which Gene Roddenberry often said came from adventure Radio Shows of his youth.
Here is a free ebook, very short, giving an extremely condensed history of the brand new field called variously Science Fiction Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance
Here is the booklet free on smashwords.com
It seems the idea of combining science fiction and romance genres became popularized via Star Trek fanfic. Because the hybrid genre was based on a common experience, watching Star Trek, sharing those fanfic stories allowed people to talk to each other in a language they had in common, Trek.
Like Math, a fictional universe is a language. The language has to come first, then the discoveries, then the applications.
Like Math, and computer programming, fiction has created many languages, most of which are now being used to discuss “the human condition” the Unified Field Theory of Emotion, via online fanfic where writers reincarnate TV Series Characters into various original universes of their own.
Star Trek fanfic created text based narrative from a TV Series. Meanwhile, Trek films were made, and as computers became more Trek-Universe-Like, Star Trek Games were created. In fact, we now have Trek fanfic done as live-actor streaming episodes, with some participation by original Trek professionals.
Thus the intangible spiritual energy we might term Spock’s Katra has dispersed into our real world and saturated every medium of expression, music, podcast, TV Series, DVD, film, comic, graphic novel, videogames and more media to be invented.
And in the wake of that vibrant effect, Sime~Gen has become contracted to a videogame company now hard at work taking Sime~Gen from cold text to visual media.
So whatever it is that sparked so much creativity via the Spock Effect is still soaking into mundane reality and changing the world.
I have described, to the best of my current ability, how all this works, in a series of books on the Tarot from the Kabbalistic point of view. I first encountered Tarot at a Star Trek convention, and for many years taught the subject at Trek and SF cons.
I came to understand Tarot from the perspective of Kabbalah and the Tree of Life. Tarot is no good for predicting “the future” but it is dynamite at worldbuilding.
I call the series volumes on Swords and Pentacles, Tarot Just For Writers, and you can find them for Kindle, here:
In the upper right, browse by category box, click Tarot. Or the combined volume of all 5 books:
Free on Kindle Unlimited.
The overall series title is The Not So Minor Arcana because it is for intermediate Tarot students who want to go beyond the Major Arcana and understand arcana such as the origin of Spock’s appeal.
Spock’s appeal isn’t about sex, but about Soul and Relationship, about the archetype behind humanity. In Kabbalah that’s called Adam Kadmon, the First Man, Adam who was neither male nor female before Eve was separated leaving only Adam. This could be the origin of the concept Soul Mate, two halves of a whole.
The science fiction romance genre is powered by the incessant search for the nature of Humanity. That’s why Roddenberry gave up Number One, the female First Officer, to keep Spock.
He knew the only way to get perspective on “the human condition” was to view us from outside.
No two Star Trek fanfic writers see the same thing when looking at us from Spock’s eyes. Each, however, adds something vital to our understanding of humanity.
Much later, after Star Trek was an assured success, Roddenberry allowed the establishment of Spock’s Katra – delineating the dual nature of Vulcans as a non-material matrix allied to a material body.
The Katra survives the death of the body, and seeks its rest among its ancestors, even if it must be carried in a human for a time.
This dual nature – material and non-material – shared with Vulcans is key to understanding Spock’s immediate appeal.
The Spock Character appealed to creative women, highly intelligent women, who were not science fiction readers because there was no science fiction for women because science was too hard for women to understand. We all know that women can’t do science or command starships crewed by men. But those viewers already imagined a world where they did anything and everything. When they saw that world depicted on a TV Screen, they recognized it. And they recognized Spock as the kind of man who would seek Intimate Adventure with them.
Many women who had never written fiction before were compelled by this fictional character’s dual nature of body and soul to tap their own creativity. They could envision the power of the Soul Mate, the eternal nature of identity.
When Spock touched off their creativity, these women liked themselves better and went on being creative. It’s the most amazing thing! Creative men were attracted to these women, and now we have a third highly creative generation reshaping our world, proving the Higgs Boson, stalking the anti-neutron, postulating evidence for string theory and mapping the shape of the universe, maybe inventing the Sonic Screwdriver and the Light-saber.
Watch this animation
My current theory, (tomorrow another theory will arise, as usual) is that what humans and aliens from outer space will have in common is that dual-nature – body and soul, body and katra. Everything else is a wild card.
Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
We have a lot of writing to do!