Save the Fanzines! (Even if you don’t know what they are)

philconSo I’m at Philcon, America’s oldest running science fiction convention. Tonight, I’m doing a panel about fanzines of the past, present and future. A big piece of my agenda in proposing this discussion was to plug something that’s (obviously) very close to my heart: preserving fanzines. For the uninitiated, fanzines are amateur magazines published by people who love some professional work, like Star Trek, Star Wars, Starsky and Hutch, and even some things that don’t begin with the four letters ‘S-T-A-R.’ They love these works so much that they just have to write about them, produce artwork inspired by them, compose songs about them.

When I got into science fiction and Star Trek fandom, dinosaurs roamed the earth. Seriously, my mother-in-law and her friends, who published fanzines, called themselves “dinosaurs,” because they’d been in fandom so long. Their zines (short for fanzine–please take notes) were beautiful, but printed on plain xerox paper and bound with staples or spiral combs. They were far more vulnerable to the ravages of age than, say, hardbound books. Forty years later, a lot of the existing copies are in tatters.

Continue reading

Contact 05

Contact56CoverASeptember, 1979. Ads for Star Trek: The Motion Picture were popping up everywhere. They showed a glorious new (but recognizable!) USS Enterprise, and had photos of all of our favorites in a row beneath it. The uniforms were a little drab, but this was the sophisticated 1970s. We didn’t expect primary colors anymore.

Bev and Nancy, having not even seen the film yet (they would attend the gala opening night at the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, just months later), were already showing their approval of its style. Perhaps their most striking, memorable cover to date graced this double issue of Contact, numbered 5/6. Like the more expensive paperbacks of the time, this issue had a double cover. The first layer depicts Kirk in blue monochrome in his classic uniform, sitting amidst rubble, while a golden-haloed visage Spock looks down on him. They are together, but isolated. The Spock image is, in fact, from the next layer, revealed by a circular die-cut in the upper cover.

Continue reading

The Contact eArchive – A Work in Progress

Contact was a creature of its time, a Star Trek fanzine which focused specifically on the friendship between two characters: the intrepid Captain James T. Kirk and his First Officer, the alien Spock. Today we have fanfiction archives where stories live forever, where fandoms live forever, and where even the most obscure TV show, film, comic book or novel is immortalized in a very special way: by its fans trying to add to its fictional universe. Add to that that we no have DVD and Blu-Ray, Netflix and Hulu… we can watch just about any show or movie anytime we want to. And there’s now a glut of new shows and movies made to cater to an audience which likes Science Fiction, Fantasy and adventure.

In 1975 it just wasn’t so. Syndicated re-runs, badly edited to fit more commercials, were the best you could hope for if you wanted to see your favorite program. No TV show had come back from the dead or been remade as yet (except for Perry Mason, and that clearly didn’t take.) There was no Internet to distribute the labors of love which resulted from writers and artists being inspired by their favorite shows. And so fans turned to Fanzines, photocopied, mimeographed, (the really high-end ones were offset printed!), hand-lettered with prestype, paid for with checks and money orders and sent through the U.S. Mail. Continue reading

Remembering A.C. Crispin

ysonThis was on my personal blog at today. I thought it was appropriate to share it here as well:

I’m sure most people who are connected on social media and also are fans of Star Trek or Star Wars are aware that celebrated author A.C. Crispin has died. Ann is one of those people who helped me (and a lot of other people) along the way. She was also indirectly a part of Baltimore’s “Contact Crowd,” a group of writers and artists who gathered regularly in the 1970s and 1980s to produce the fanzine Contact, and later to contribute significantly to the ClipperCon, OktoberTrek and Farpoint conventions. I am therefore cross-posting this entry to the Contact blog.

Continue reading

A Traveler Between

by Beverly Volker
Art by Russell Volker, Sr.

Originally published in Beyond Orion #2 (July, 1977)

Bev and Nancy wrote for a lot of other zines over the years. As we find them, we’ll be posting those efforts here as well, in addition to stories and art from the pages of Contact. Here’s one of Bev’s short pieces about the aftermath of the accident which took Edith Keeler’s life in “City on the Edge of Forever.”

BeyondOrion_2_Illo_RussThe corridor was quiet and still, lights dimmed for the evening. At one end, a solitary figure waited in anticipation on the single bench. His vigil had been long. Finally, the sound of footsteps broke the silence and he rose anxiously to meet the approaching figure.

“Mr. Kirk?”

The man from the bench nodded. “I’m Dr. Miles,” the other told him. He spoke gently. “I’m very sorry. There was nothing we could do for Miss Keeler. She suffered severe head injuries and some internal damage. I’m afraid she was too weak to survive the operation.” Continue reading

Beyond Orion

By Bev Volker
Originally Published in Beyond Orion #2

Stars beckon, calling,
Dreams come true.
Visions, silver-rimmed,
Out of the chaos of inhibitions,
Superstitions that keep us
Bound by our own inadequacy,
She rises
On wings of perception,
Understanding with intuitive insight,
The need to help.
Yet, Fate intervenes
Its insidious course,
Too soon.
She is right.
The time is wrong.
One day, Man will answer the starcall,
Soaring toward unlimited heights
Made possible by this
Sacrifice —
One insignificant life spent
In the infinite quest of destinies.
She must die.
He knows, Doctor. He knows.

Contact 04

SeContact04Coverptember, 1977. Star Trek had been off the air for eight years. A movie was still over two years away. Papers had announced the development of Star Trek: Phase II, a series which never happened and which, surprisingly, the Contact crowd, so close to the center of Fandom, was apparently unaware. At least Bev swore up and down in the 1990s that she’d never heard of the show, and would have remembered if Roddenberry had used the name of her Trek sequel for his own.

At this point, Bev and Nancy seemed to have hit a creative wall. They announce in their editorial that there may be no Contact 5. They apparently felt in a rut, dismissed as a “get em” zine (a serious charge for fan fiction in the 1970s!) and even unsupported by fans and fellow creators who weren’t sending them the diversity of material they felt they needed. They felt there was too much torture, too much Hurt-Comfort, in their pages. It’s a point all creators seem to reach. As the historical drama of Contact unfolds, it’s heartening to know it didn’t stop Bev and Nancy. They still had years and issues ahead of them.The cover is designed and drawn by Russ Volker, probably one of his most striking designs. The table of contents page lists a half dozen fan fiction legends, not even counting the editors.

This issue contains “The Rack,” a piece by J. Emily Vance which is billed in Bev’s and Nancy’s notes and in other sources as the first “response fic,” the first story to be written in response to discussions happening in Fandom. Ripped from the headlines, as it were. The discussion was whether or not Kirk and Spock were, in fact, lovers. “The Rack” speculates (horribly) on what impact such discussions can have on the lives and careers of real people. No one had heard of J. Emily Vance before. In fact, “she” didn’t exist. The name was a corrupted anagram of parts of the names of the three actual authors: “J Em” for Martha J. Bonds, “ily V” for Bevily Volker, and “ance” for Nance-y Kippax.

Here are the links to the PDF and CBZ files.


This issue contains:

BACK WHERE HE BELONGS (poem) by Crystal Ann Taylor; illo by Laurie Huff
THE ONLY OTHER THING (story) by Ginna Lacroix; illo by Merle Decker
THE CHALLENGE (poem) by Nancy Kippax; illo by Russ Volker
BORN OF ASHES (novella) by Martha J. Bonds; illos by Pat Stall
MOVING (poem) by Pete Kaup; illo by Kathy Carlson
INTERLUDE (poem) by Bev Volker; illo by Judd
THE SADISTS by Sheila Clark
END RESULT by Shirley S. Maiewski
THE CHANGELING (poem) by Martha J. Bonds; illo by Kathy Carlson
SUN GOD AND SHADOW (poem) by Amy Falkowitz; illo by Signe Langdon
THE HUNGER IN THE MOUNTAIN (story) by Jennifer Weston; ilLos by Leslie Fish
THE NATURE OF LOVE (poem) by Martha J. Bonds
R’VAMO (poem) by Susan K. James; illo by Signe Landon
THE REAL THING (story) by S. Schildknecht & M. Bonds
REVOLUTIONS (poem) by B. J. Volker; illo by Signe Landon
SENSORY PERCEPTION (poem) by Carolyn Venino; illo by Merle Decker
THE RACK (novella) by J. Emily Vance illos by Alice Jones
SO CONSTANT THE CHANGE (poem) by Beverly Volker

Phase II – Chapter One: The Invitation

By Beverly J. Volker and Nancy J. Kippax
Art by Russ Volker

This is the first of four installments in an unfinished series by Bev and Nancy, speculating on the future of the Enterprise crew. Ironically, in 1975, only six years after Trek had gone off the air, Bev and Nancy took the characters two decades into their futures, past the point time would take them when they actually returned in their movie series. This is very early Bev and Nancy, and I had to resist my editor’s urges as I verified the OCR. I admit I did correct their baffling insistence on misspelling “Chief,” and I did fix one case of “with whom he had worked for years with.” They would have fixed those too, if their intent to finish and collect this series had been fulfilled. Bev loved melodrama, and this series shows it, especially as it digs into the history of the tragic Tarra St. John. But I think there’s nothing more fun than digging into the predictions fan writers made about the future of Trek before we knew it would have a future. So enjoy this first part of Phase II. I’ll keep restoring it, and, hopefully soon, make sense of quite a few pages of (unpublished, I think) manuscript Bev left behind.

— Steve



The Invitation

Admiral James T. Kirk pushed the button to open his door.

A recurring stab of loneliness filled him. The rooms were so empty now, without Areel to share them. He spent as little time as possible here these days.

Since his wife’s tragic death in a shuttle crash six months ago, Jim had been burying himself deeper and deeper into his work, concentrating all his effort on accepting what had happened. They had a good life together, a good marriage; he felt fortunate to have found such unexpected happiness at all, albeit short-lived.

I really ought to move, he mused, entering the living area.

But as usual, he shoved the thought aside, reluctant to go through the ordeal of sorting through their possessions.

He was meeting “Bones” McCoy for dinner this evening; a pleasant interlude which he was greatly looking forward to. Both of them living on the same Starbase as they did, the two old friends didn’t see as much of one another as they’d like.

Continue reading

De Profundis

By C.R. Faddis


We were just about to complete this zine when we received the following story. As we read it with a mixture of “pain and delight”, we wondered what to do with it. We had planned to use it in our next issue as we felt it might be a bit much in the same copy as “EULOGY” and we didn’t want to present CONTACT as morbid. And yet, we found it to be such a poignant and powerful vignette, so typical of our theme, that we felt compelled to share it with our readers. Thus we made our decision to include it at this time. Many thanks to Connie and to Carol Frisbie for thinking of us.

The merciless technology of subspace radio caught and reproduced the minutest detail: the throat-torn, mindless screams; the shuddering breaths sucked in between each scream; the gradual decanting of screams into blood-clogged gurgles. The radio could have been turned off, yet no one made a move to do so; it was impossible to listen, but impossible not to. Then, finally the wheezing tapered off and stopped. Spock deliberately relaxed his cramped hold on the seatsides of his chair and glanced at the chronometer. It had taken McCoy a full forty minutes to die. Spock raised his eyes to scan Kirk, but the Captain sat quietly in the command chair, his eyes still tightly closed, his face drawn, but giving no other visible sign of the horror he unknowingly was projecting.

The radio crackled to life. “You will now surrender the renegade Kerl or your Lieutenant Garrovick will be put to death as well.”

Uhura swallowed her sobs, straightening, and pulled herself together enough to transmit the Captain’s reply, but the silence stretched out. Kirk gave no sign of having an answer.

Enterprise,” the Romulan voice insisted, “your officer is impatiently awaiting your reply.”

Silence ruled. Then, slowly, the Captain doubled over in his seat as though all the life had gone out of him, and he covered his face with his hands. “No,” he rasped, barely audible. “We can’t.”

“Kirk,” the radio demanded, “give us your answer.”

Spock shot out of his chair and punched the transmit button at Uhura’s console. “This is Commander Spock of the Enterprise. Your demand for Kerl cannot be met. Kerl’s request for asylum is fully legal, and we are under obligation to honor it. However, your kidnapping and murder of our officers may well be construed by Federation authorities as an act of war. I strongly advise you to return Lieuteant Garrovick to Federation territory Unharmed. ”

An agonized shriek in Garrovick’s unmistakable baritone erupted from the radio in uncompromising answer. This time, Spock cut the reception, but the cries continued in the minds of the bridge crew regardless. For long minutes, no one moved, and only muffled weeping shocked the utter quiet.

Spock stepped down into the well of the bridge, but hesitated.


Kirk did what was expected of him. He sat back in the command chair and cleared his face of pain, giving the order to return to the outpost in a dead voice. The bridge crew stirred back to life, laying in the course, engaging Warp Drive, contacting the outpost.

There were routine things to do to absorb the mind. The Enterprise turned from the Neutral Zone in a graceful arc and fled the frown of fortune.

Kirk stared through the viewscreen, but his eyes were blank and dry. He’d sought and tried every alternative, but the single one that would have worked was the single alternative he did not have: Kerl was worth more than the lives of two officers; Startleet would readily have traded an entire starship, crew and machine for the Romulan genius who’d perfected the cloaking device. No, Bones and David had not died without reason. But they had died.

After a million kilometers, Kirk pushed himself to his feet, but his knees betrayed him and the bridge spun away sickeningly.

Spock, who had stood by in supportive silence the whole while, lent real but unobtrusive support now.

“Mr. Scott,” the Vulcan called, “Please take the con.”

Not until the turbolift doors were safely shut behind them did Spock allow Kirk to slump into his arms. He did not take the Captain to Sickbay; he knew instinctively that it would have been the worst choice now. He carried him, instead, to his own quarters. The Romulan, Kerl, passed by in the corridor and turned with the others there to watch the Vulcan and the Human disappear around the bend. Voices buzzed, speculating worriedly, but there were no answers, and Kerl went back to his cabin to meditate.

In Spock’s quarters, the Vulcan eased Kirk into the chair by his desk and knelt beside him, not sure what to do next. Kirk sat limply, as apathetically as he’d lain in Spock’s arms, but the anguish he’d broadcasted earlier had dulled not a bit. Spock winced as ha touched Kirk again, unable to block such intense emotions completely, but he determined to blunt Kirk’s pain with any method he could employ. He positioned his hands on Kirk’s downturned face in the precise placement necessary for editing memories. Jim was listening to those screams, over and over, and the stab of horror slashed into Spock’s guts with real physical pain. The Vulcan hesitated, recovering himself, and in that brief moment he was firmly and angrily pushed away, refused, denied. He dropped his hands and pulled back.

“Jim–” he began, and found no words.

Kirk did not, would not, look at him.

So. The Human was determined to suffer, to punish himself. Spock settled back on his knees to consider. Kirk would not accept Vulcan comfort; Spock barely knew how to give any other. The Doctor’s shrieks ran fresh through his own mind as well, and he wondered fleetingly if he indeed had any comfort to give at all. His own sense of loss was catching up to him. The initial acid banter had long since transmuted into an affectionate repartee. He knew and admitted it, and in doing so, admitted to the grief now. But there had been nothing he could do for that friend; there was, perhaps, a little yet that he could do for Jim.

With exquisite gentleness, Spock reached over to Kirk and unsealed the Captain’s tunic at the neckline, then rearranged Kirk’s arms and drew the shirt off over Jim’s head. Kirk did not react. Spock removed Jim’s black tee shirt, then unfastened the trousers and drew them off too. He put the boots aside and pulled Jim to his feet, leading him into the bathroom, then turned on the shower. He finished stripping Jim and walked him into the stall and scrubbed him down, cleaning the lingering sweat of horror away, trying to ease the tension out of cramped muscles. Jim endured it numbly, not protesting.

Spock turned off the shower and sat Jim on the seat of the commode, toweling off the fine ash of dead epidermis and dirt and wrapping him in a dark Vulcan informal robe that covered him completely, and then some. Spock tenderly combed the tangles out of Jim’s hair, then led him back into the main room, easing him onto the edge of the bed. He pulled the desk chair over, then sat facing Kirk, but did not speak. He had done everything as he imagined one human would care for another, where one was functional and the other was not. It was what McCoy would have done, but McCoy would have known what should be said now, what could reach through the numbness, the denial. Spock sighed mentally. His logic could find no solutions. If open solicitude had no effect…

Without warning, out of the apathetic gloom, Kirk’s shoulders shuddered and he bent forward, folding his hands tightly, beginning to sob.

The sound cut through Spock with anguish and relief. Uncertainly, he touched Jim’s clenched fingers and Kirk grasped his hands tensely, holding onto him, weeping harder.

A scene touched Spock’s memory: Jim’s anguished clasp on McCoy as Edith Keeler was killed. Without thinking, he pulled Jim to him, sliding into a tight mutual embrace, and did not resist the electric grief of it. The water sprang from his eyes perforce and soaked Jim’s hair at the nape, but he did not notice; the linked shock and loss overwhelmed.

Our friend!

Gradually, the meld afforded perspective; the grief was experienced in a sort of parallax, and became manageable. Logic met anguish half way; the very sharing made both priceless, a mutual shoring-up against those pressures which could crush. It is, they thought simultaneously, the solution he proffered for both of us.

The catharsis had left a tremendous lassitude of mind and body. Spock delicately disentangled from the link, and Kirk sank back on the bed, depleted. Spock rose long enough to pull the covers up over Jim’s shoulders, then crawled in beside him, too spent to bother with undressing. As he let sleep take him, he permitted himself the venial luxury of throwing one protective arm across Jim’s chest.

Time would heal those wounds still left.




Contact 03

By March, 1977, Contact had expanded to encompass works by more than two dozen writers and artists. This is the first issue which includes work by Martha Bonds, a young woman who had been discovered by the Contact editors and brought to court at Bev’s house. She became the third “sister” in the family of Contact. A writer, a zine editor herself, a musician and leader of the filk group Omicron Ceti III, Martha was and is to this day a major force in Fandom. Nor were any of the other contributors slouches. Contact’s quality was increasing with each issue, and the iconic cover by Pat Stahl was the strongest of the series.

Here are the links to the PDF and CBZ files.

Alternate PDF as scanned by Janet Quarton

This issue contains:

Poem: A FLOWER IN THE DESERT by Martha J. Bonds
ABYSS by Jeanne Powers
THE FIRST STEP by Susan Dorsey
Poem: CORUNDUM by Jane Aumerle
Poem: TO JIM by Trinette Kern
FEU D’AMITIE’ by Nancy Kippax
Poem: BEGINNINGS by Beverly Volker
WHEN THE TIME COMES by Beverly Volker
NOT YET TIME by Beverly Volker
THE TEST by Sheila Clark
THE STARS GO DOWN by Cheryl Rice
Poem: THE MELD by Beverly Volker
BORN OF THE SUN by Johanna Cantor
Poem: THE ENTERPRISE by Martha J. Bonds
Poem: ON COMPANIONSHIP by Trinette Kern
THE SPIDER’S WEB by Susan K. James
CHAPTER 3: THE REUNION by B. Volker & N. Kippax
Poem: REUNION by Martha J. Bonds
Poem: REASONS by Beverly J. Volker

KATHY CARLSON: pp 55, 97, 106, 61
GERRY DOWNES: pp 41, 42, 43, 46, 48, 50, 52
~RY ANNE EMERSON: pp 63, 64, 65, 68, 69, 71
CONNIE FADDIS: pp 98, 99, 103
ALICE JONES: opp p.l, pp 4, 10, 15, 19, 21, PHASE II FOLIO: Stack
JUDD: p 57
SIGNE LANDON: pp 108, 112
JEANNE POWERS: pp 75, 96
PAT STALL: Front cover, pp 26, 29, 31, 33, 36, 38, 116, PHASE II FOLIO: T’Prett
JONI WAGNER: pp 88, 93