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.

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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.

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The Art of Enterprise Regained

If you’re getting the impression that I’m just hopelessly stuck on myself, well, I hope you’re wrong. Can’t swear to it. It’s  just that I’ve put a lot of time and energy lately into preserving the work that a lot of people, myself included, did back in the 1970s and 1980s, and so I’m thinking of a lot to say about it. And, yeah, I think our work deserves to be remembered. So there it is, and here’s a rundown of the artistic effort that went into making my first fanzine, lo those three decades ago.

Fanzines in the 1980s had amazing artwork, not always done justice by the printing technologies fan publishers were forced to use. When I decided to publish my own zine in 1984, I wanted it to have its share of artwork. Being a one-man-show, I had to provide my own. Fortunately, in those days, illustration was something I did. I’d also worked on the school newspaper and yearbook, so I was comfortable with publication design.

For the zine’s cover, I couldn’t afford color. I was publishing on my parents’ office Xerox machine! So I xeroxed a photo of the Enterprise (I think from the STTMP Souvenir Program Book center spread), trimmed with scissors and pasted over the Starfleet Delta, which I formed with 4pt layout tape on thin graph paper:


I printed it on canary yellow paper. All copies with this cover were printed at home on my parents’ office copier, and all artwork was thus reproduced from the original by Xerox.

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_1_Yellow_2I did 25-50 copies of this one, and then my parents said “enough.” If I was going to mass-produce, I needed to do it right and go to a real printer. I pulled out the phone book and, appropriately, picked Galaxy Graphics to do my offset printing. They were going to halftone all my illustrations, so I designed a new cover.

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_2_CleanedThis is a scan of the original master for the second cover. I though it was better to emphasize the people, rather than the ship, and make it clear this was a Saavik story. This master used a half-tone of my original, which was charcoal. Haven’t found that artwork yet, but hope to, as the half-tone lost some of the detail. Copies with this cover have half-tones of my original pencils on the interior. I believe 200 copies were printer. Maybe 400?

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_2_CleanedTanWhen that batch sold out, I decided the cover needed some color, so I made it tan. For this edition, to save money, I went with pen and ink for the interior illos.

And then the illos…

EnterpriseRegained_illo_001BW_Cleaned_CroppedThe first illustration I ever did of Kevin Carson (left) and Terry Metcalfe in their original Trek context. This was pencil on a page from my sketchbook. I later did a pen and ink version, tracing it on a light table. I was never as happy with that one. The smoky-looking constructs show the influence Richard Powers had on me at the time. I was so taken with his illustrations for Heinlein’s Number of the Beast.

EnterpriseRegained0203CombinedThis two-page spread of Uhura and Chekov went across the opening pages of Chapter Four. I was a little baffled when I found the box of nearly all my zine illos, and these two weren’t there. I was even more surprised when I pulled the file of master pages for this zine after all these years and found the drawings had been done right on the master pages! My art teacher, Steve Perrine, taught me better than that! But I guess I was in a hurry. There are actually three sets of masters for this thing. I first typed on 8.5 x 11 paper with NO margins, then reduced those by 70% (the Xerox only did 94, 70 and 50, I think) to create masters for copying. When I went to offset and used half-tones, yet a third set of masters had to be created with the half-tones pasted on them. These were pencil on the characters, with the views of space behind them done in charcoal for extra contrast. Again, there’s a pen and ink version.

EnterpriseRegained_Illo_4_CleanedBWI was never happy with this drawing. Again drawn directly on the masters, and the Kirk head was actually cut and pasted in place. I have a vague recollection that there was another, botched Kirk head under it. Or maybe a figure of Kirk that actually fit in the scene. As it is, I decided pretty quickly that I thought the effect was just bizarre. I still like the drawing of Saavik in her robe, though. You’ll note that all the Saavik images are based on Robin Curtis, even though the story was written and the publication almost complete before she ever played the part. I took an immediate liking to her as Saavik. I think it’s a shame that people only seem to remember Kirstie Alley now. I’ve met and worked with Robin several times over the years, and she’s a fun and friendly person.

EnterpriseRegained_illo_4B_Cleaned_CroppedSince I wasn’t happy with the first, I replaced it with this one when I went pen and ink. A dubious trade-off, I think, since this isn’t nearly as nice a drawing of Saavik!

Looking back, it’s probably a mistake that there’s no illustration of Angela Teller. I think, had there been, a lot less people would have believed I had created the character for this story. She was, after all, the same lady who appeared in the episodes “Balance of Terror,” “Shore Leave” and “Turnabout Intruder.” I just always liked her, so I put her aboard the new Enterprise.



Enterprise Regained – A Star Trek Fan Fiction Novella (1984)

EnterpriseRegainedCoversEnterprise Regained

by Steven H. Wilson

Published separately in June, 1984 — 40 pages, illustrated

 Original Author’s Intro

It seems to me that this, my first fanzine and first completed Star Trek story (though hopefully not the last of the former and definitely not the last of the latter) calls for an introduction. My personal feelings are of disbelief: disbelief that this two-year pro­ject is finally completed; but I’ll spare you my creative euphoria. I can inflict that on the same people who’ve been following this story chapter for chapter, praising and proofreading (they didn’t have much choice–I inflicted the earliest drafts on them, too).

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My First Fanzine

I spent some time last week with a friend I haven’t seen in 30 years. He’s seventeen, he wants to be a science fiction writer, and his name’s Steve Wilson. Which is my roundabout way of saying that I recently sat down and read, for the first time in a looooonnnggg time, the first piece of fiction I completed once I realized that, whatever else I did with my life, I wanted to spend most of it writing.

I read it because, in the course of preparing my website and making it the complete guide to all things me, I wanted to make my fan fiction available to anyone who should care to read it. Since I started writing back in the dim time before the WordPerfect, email and PDF (hell, the IBM Personal Computer was experiencing the terrible twos around that time!), making it available means taking it off paper, running it through OCR and then verifying that the OCR worked. On fanzines 30 – 50 years old, OCR rarely works very well.

Transition: 2000 – A Space:1999 Short Story

Back in 1997, Farpoint, my home convention, decided to publish a fanzine featuring works by committee and interested members. The zine was called Encounters, and it was edited by Beverly Volker, my mother-in-law and a Fandom legend for her work on the zine Contact. It was a mixed media zine, meaning it was open to stories from any fandom you could name. I decided to do four shorts based on four of my favorite SF shows, showcasing drastic changes in the lives of the characters, changes which either occurred during the runs of the shows, or after they were off the air.

We published them in chronological order. The first was this one, based on Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Space: 1999. This is a “during the run” transition, chronicling why the character of Victor Bergman disappeared without explanation between the first and second series of the show. The same subject has since been addressed in the authorized novel Survival, published by Powys Books.

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Gradivus – A Star Trek Novella with Captain Sulu

I suppose you could say that this story was Captain Sulu when Captain Sulu wasn’t cool. I wrote this right after Star Trek III. At that point, none of us knew that Star Trek IV would sentence Kirk’s officers to stagnation hell. (Sure, the ending was heartwarming, but would fifty-year-olds REALLY want to do the same jobs they did when they were twenty?)

At that time, it was assumed, it having been written into the shooting script of Star Trek II, that Sulu would be commanding the Excelsior immediately, not eight years later as actually happened. Well, I figured you didn’t just walk into command of such a big ship, Sulu must have commanded another vessel pre-Trek II. Knowing that Sulu wanted to be on border patrol (yes, I take The Entropy Effect as Sulu gospel), I thought it made sense that his first command would be a border patrol ship.

I gave him an all-new crew (except for Mr. Hadley, the silent bridge officer from Classic Trek, and Terry Metcalfe, whom I’d created earlier), and named his ship the Phoenix. (No, I didn’t know that would be the name of the first warp-drive ship. Phoenix was my then-still-dead favorite X-man.)

Re-reading this story after all these years, I realize it breaks a lot of the rules of plotting I now follow, and that its plot is very similar to the TNG episode “The Defector.” (I wrote this first, of course.) Still, I think there’s a lot to enjoy within. And yes, Arbiter Chronicles fans will recognize that this marks the first major appearance of Kevin Carson and a Vulcan with the somewhat-familiar name of “Sernak,” as well as the first appearances of Kayan’na Atal, Aer’La and Dr. Celia Faulkner. They may have been born in Starfleet garb, but they’re all mine. And boy, does this one beat them all with my favorite storytelling device: what we now lovingly call “the dreaded Angst Stick ™.”

Originally published in Destiny’s Children #1

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For Enterprise – A Star Trek Short Story

Okay, I admit it, I loved the Animated Series. I loved Arex and M’ress. It may have had to do with being the right age when the series premiered, but I’ve never gotten over my fondness for the cartoon adventures of the USS Enterprise. Even in these days of revisionist history where we pretend they never happened, I’m not giving up.

If you share my affection for Arex and M’ress, whom we never saw again in canon Trek, you might get a smile from this story, set during Star Trek III, right as a certain Admiral was about to commit grand theft starship…

This one was published in Vault of Tomorrow #11.

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In the Name of Friendship – A Star Trek Short Story

The story of Saavik’s “origin” has been presented many times. DC Comics did a version which didn’t jibe at all with Vonda McIntyre’s established background for the character, and had her going into Pon Farr (didn’t think girl Vulcans did that!). Carolyn Clowes published “The Pandora Principle,” an excellent novel and the only time Pocket Books deigned to deal with Saavik while the original films were still in production.

This story, originally published in Destiny’s Children #1, was written before any of those saw the light of day, and attempts to be faithful to the Vonda McIntyre characterization of Saavik. (I consider Vonda Saavik’s co-creator. After Star Trek VI’s early attempts to make her a traitor, I think it’s clear Vonda understood the character better than some of the producers and writers did.)

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Mandy – A Star Trek Novelette

This story was originally published in Voyages II, the ClipperCon committee zine published by Marion McChesney and edited by Bev Volker. It’s probably the most “fannish” thing I’ve ever written, in that I just can’t see Paramount allowing McCoy and Amanda to have been lovers. Oh well, that’s what fan fiction is about.

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