Short History of Kirk/Spock Slash
I’ve accumulated the following details from many sources over the past ten years. Much has come from the oral history that is passed on within any small and closed community. (Before the internet, K/S fandom was very private indeed.) Some information I discovered when visiting Closet Con in England in 1995 and 1997. Some was gleaned by reading the K/S newsletter/letterzine, Not Tonight Spock. Some was written up and passed on to me by a friend, “A”, who is also interested in the way this most fascinating celebration of the love between Jim Kirk and Spock has come to be. Much came from a wonderful index of K/S stories that was lovingly compiled on a word processor by another devoted fan, back before computers were commonly used.
Any errors in the following discussion and chronology are mine, however. If you’ve got more information on the subject, or corrections to my conjectures, I’d love to hear from you at JennaSTS@aol.com. I’m eager to make this informal history of K/S as accurate as possible.
By the way, until I receive specific permission from individuals to use their names, I won’t be citing anyone by name in this discussion, including authors of published stories.
It seems that the idea of K/S came from England in the late Sixties–when the show was just being canceled in the United States. The concept of Jim Kirk and Spock loving one another and translating that love into a sexual relationship was passed around in the UK through small groups of interested fans for several quiet years. The story The Ring of Shoshern was published in the K/S zine Alien Brothers in 1987, but the introduction to the story in that zine dates it to 1975. My personal information from contact with the author dates that story several years earlier, to 1968 and possible slightly before that. (Source: email with the author, who referred to her original dated manuscript.) “Amok Time,” the episode that most explicitly deals with Spock’s Vulcan sexuality, aired in the US in 1967, so K/S gained life just about as soon as it was possible for it to do so.
It’s also clear that other stories were being written and privately circulated in the early Seventies. For example, “B” wrote a series of stories that started with a strong friendship between Kirk and Spock; that friendship eventually became sexual in nature. The author confirms that she wrote from the late Sixties until about 1972. Eventually some of these stories were printed in British fanzines in the Seventies. One of them, The Last Decade, is reprinted in one of the K/S fanzines that I co-publish, Encore. (Source: private correspondence with author.)
The idea of K/S didn’t remain exclusively in the UK. Before too long, through conversations and letters between friends, the concept crossed the Atlantic and took hold in the United States as well.
The very first printed K/S story of which I’m aware is A Fragment Out of Time. It’s printed in Grup III, which was published in September 1974. The story is very short, printed on two pages only with a small illustration accompanying it. No names are mentioned in the piece, but it does present a fairly explicit sex scene. And who else can the participants in this Star Trek zine be? The point-of-view character appears to be Spock, and the story begins with someone else saying to him, “Shut up…we’re by no means setting a precedent.” (A friend of mine points out the irony of that statement being the very first sentence of the very first printed K/S; this story was indeed setting a precedent that would extend through many other fandoms and affect many lives.)
The clearest indication that the characters involved are Kirk and Spock comes with these words. “It had been building all these years…no one set of circumstances was the cause…now, it seemed it had been inevitable from the outset.” (Source: Grup III)
The author of this short, short story also wrote an essay defending the idea of K/S in Grup IV, which was published in 1975. The essay is called “Pandora’s Box…Again.”
The next published K/S didn’t arrive until 1976. My guess is that there was a lot of discussion going on in those two years! It is true that there were some vociferous objections to the idea of K/S in the general Trek fan community. I have always thought it is important to remember that the early K/S writers faced quite a bit of opposition. The AIDS epidemic had not yet surfaced, but neither had any widespread acceptance of homosexuality by the general public.
In 1976, Gerry Downes, who was a well-known writer, artist, and publisher of the gen series Stardate: Unknown (Gen means suitable for reading by the general public—if the public is interested in Star Trek, that is!), published the very first stand-alone K/S zine. It is called Alternative: The Epilog to Orion, and it is still available for purchase from Gerry’s daughter-in-law, JJ Downes. (See the link Other K/S Editors.) That zine is a short presentation in poetry, art, and some prose of the K/S concept. The story idea flows from Gerry’s Gen story Nebula of Orion, which was published in her Stardate: Unknown One.
In October 1976, the zine Warped Space 20 brought us Leslie Fish’s Shelter. This story is probably the first fully-developed K/S short story that was actually published. In it, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are stranded on a planet when their shuttlecraft lands and explodes. Spock suffers from a blow to the head and is unconscious when they take shelter in a convenient cave. (Convenient caves are an amusing cliché used by many K/S writers over the past twenty-five years.) During his delirium, Spock expresses and acts on his deeply-suppressed desire for a sexual relationship with Kirk. McCoy feigns sleep, and Kirk, though initially confused, goes through with the encounter, presumably willingly. But the question is, will Spock remember when he regains consciousness?
That question is answered in Fish’s Poses, which was printed in Obsc’zine 1 in 1977. The two stories together were reprinted in the K/S zine K/S Relay #1, an English zine.
In September 1977, The Sensuous Vulcan came out with several K/S stories, the most prominent of which is Desert Heat. That story began a four story cycle by the author. The next two, Beyond Setarcos and Night of the Dragon, were initially published in the K/S anthology Thrust, which was printed in 1978. The fourth story, Between Friends, which describes a sexual encounter among Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, is in Obsc’zine 4. All four stories are presented together in Cosmic Collected (1986).
In various articles written about the beginnings of K/S, some Gen zines are mentioned as presenting early K/S stories. I’ve read most of these zines, and I’ve concluded that the only real K/S story is in The Other Side of Paradise #3, Part 2. This zine is a popular gen zine that, for its third issue in 1978, divided into two parts: The Other Side and Paradise. The first part features adult material, and the most significant story is Game of Chance. In it, the sexual attraction between Kirk and Spock is imposed from without by aliens.
The year 1978 also saw the publication of Companion, the first in a trilogy of zines. It’s interesting in that the different stories form a consistent chronology that takes Kirk and Spock from friendship to love to sexual union, and each story is written by a different author. Lots of coordination went into that! The zine, and its sequel Companion 2 (1980), are basically novels with multiple authors. The only other K/S zines formed in the same way, to my knowledge, are The Twenty-Fifth Year, Starwyck, Mirror Reflections, and Bigot, Brother, Bondmate.
Thrust, a one-shot K/S anthology with a shockingly explicit cover, and Naked Times 1 also were published in 1978.
What is particularly interesting to me is that both Thrust and Companion are such fully-developed presentations of K/S. It’s obvious that the authors share a common vision of Kirk and Spock together sexually, and yet at the time those zines were printed very little other K/S had been published. There must have been a lot of discussion among fans to develop K/S to this point.
The Fragment story from Grup III is amazing to me in its explicit sexual detail. When Gerry Downes came out with the first Alternative zine and Leslie Fish wrote Shelter, they were truly breaking ground. And the editors of Companion and Thrust established standards for K/S that are still resonating in K/S literature today.
1974: “A Fragment Out of Time” in Grup III. First published K/S story.
1975: “Ring of Shoshern” circulated privately in Great Britain. This story was not published until 1987 in Alien Brothers. My information says Shoshern was circulated among fans earlier than 1975, perhaps as early as 1969 or 1970.
1976: Alternative: Epilog to Orion, the first stand-alone K/S zine, written and published by Gerry Downes.
1976: “Shelter” by Leslie Fish in Warped Space 20.
1977: “Poses” by Leslie Fish in Obsc’zine 1
1977: “Desert Heat” in The Sensuous Vulcan
1978: Thrust, a K/S anthology zine
1978: Naked Times 1, a K/S anthology zine that eventually had thirty-two issues
1978: Companion 1, a K/S zine that presented essentially a novel with chapters written by different authors.
1978: “A Game of Chance” in The Other Side of Paradise #3, Part 2
1979: Alternative: Continuing the Epilog to Orion, a novel by Gerry Downes
1979: Mirrors of the Mind and Flesh
1979: Naked Times 2, a K/S anthology zine
1979: Nightvisions, a K/S novel