Jim Kirk, "Superman"

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Wade, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Wade

    Wade Ensign Newbie

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    When I was 14 years old, between 1976 and 1977, I was in the hospital for a serious injury. While there I was given a gift of an anthology of Star Trek short stories. I can remember some of the cover but, big surprise, that part that I do remember is a picture of the USS Enterprise. I know, how uncommon. What I remember, in particular, of one of the stories is that, like many, someone, Kirk in this case, had been stranded at some point in the past - 20th century Earth. He had been committed to a mental institution and the orderlies had nicknamed him "Superman" for his great strenght - He was apparently often violent.

    Does anyone have a handle on the name of that anthology? I do remember enjoying it a great deal and it would be great to read it again if it's available.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That would be "Mind-sifter" in Bantam's Star Trek: The New Voyages. Pretty sure that's been out of print for a long time, so you'd have to check used-book dealers.
     
  3. Wade

    Wade Ensign Newbie

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    Thanks, Christopher. I'll check it out.
     
  4. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What the...?! Brilliant! Was he also ranting, calling the orderlies post-industrial barbarians and the nurses quasi-Cardassian totalitarians?
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It would've been pretty impressive to have a reference to Cardassians in a story published in 1976...
     
  6. Wade

    Wade Ensign Newbie

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  7. seigezunt

    seigezunt Vice Admiral Admiral

    A great story for its time...
     
  8. ClayinCA

    ClayinCA Commodore Commodore

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    I note that Star Trek: Phase II has a story called "Mind-Sifter" as one of their upcoming productions. I wonder if it's an adaptation of this short story...?
     
  9. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sounds not unlike the DS9 Benny storyline, where Sisko was a patient in 20th century earth, having visions of a 24th century space station.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not very similar to that, no. More of an attempt to cross a "City on the Edge of Forever" period-romance vibe with the "hurt-comfort" narrative trope of fanfic.
     
  11. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It sounds both awesome and familiar.. I was the same age in the same year and read every bit of Trek that was out there, (very little). I still remember some verses from a poem in one of those early books, about Spock.

    OH HEY I just looked up my poem (which I used to recite to myself when bored to death in school) and it was in The New Voyages so I must have read Mind-Sifter. I want this book now.

    Here's a link to the poem, my memory was accurate:

    http://littlereview.blogspot.com/2003/10/poem-for-wednesday_15.html

    I'm getting all misty eyed reading it.
     
  12. T'Ressa Dax

    T'Ressa Dax Captain Captain

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    Mind-Sifter started to feel almost familiar as I read it. Suspect I picked up New Voyages in the library at some point in the early 90s. Had fun rediscovering the story anyway.
     
  13. aelius

    aelius Commander Red Shirt

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    I read that when it came out. I was only twelve, but it was great to read new stories not based on the show.
    I loved it then, even though I recognize now that many of the stories were a rough around the edges by modern Treklit standards.
     
  14. Sky

    Sky Captain Captain

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    I have New Voyages and New Voyages II and quite enjoy them, even if they are a bit more like fanfic than treklit.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, they are fanfic. That was the whole idea behind The New Voyages -- to collect the best of the ST fan fiction that was out there at the time and give it broader exposure in a professional publication. Remember, at the time, the only professional Trek fiction was the Bantam novel series, most of whose entries were written by established authors who were doing it for the paycheck and weren't necessarily all that Trek-savvy. So at the time, fan fiction was generally more authentic and truer to the Trek spirit than most of the pro fiction that was available (what little there was of it). It took time for Trek Lit to mature, and TNV was a step along the way.
     
  16. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Captain Premium Member

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    At the time the first New Voyages was published, the only Star Trek fiction available were the Blish and Foster adaptations, Mission to Horatius and Spock Must Die!

    Star Trek: The New Voyages was the inauguration of Bantam's line of original Star Trek fiction, in March, 1976. It was another 6 months before Spock, Messiah! came out, and another 10 months before the next novel, The Price of the Phoenix. There was just one more original novel published, Planet of Judgment, before Star Trek: The New Voyages 2 was released in January, 1978

    So, it seems a bit inaccurate to say that New Voyages were any kind of fan-centric reaction against the low quality of Trek novels by "slumming" SF pros. The flood of weak Trek novels (the ones with "World" or "Planet" in the title) really came over the next couple of years - 1978-1980, more or less. (Although I think Price of the Phoenix was dreadful rubbish, it can't be said to be the product of an uncaring SF pro -- Marshak and Culbreath were fans first, packagers second, and writers about fifth or sixth.)

    I've always assumed the first TNV wasa quick-n-dirty way to generate some Trek content to test the waters for Bantam's line of novels. When it sold well, a second volume was ordered. Frederik Pohl was always a canny editor, and I think this approach was the right way to go.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is why I didn't say anything of the kind. My point was that at the time, Trek fan fiction would've been considered more worthy of professional publication than it would be today, because at the time, there wasn't a lot of competition. Arguably the fanfiction of the time represented the more direct ancestor of the tradition of professional Trek fiction that we know today, and TNV was the first step in the evolutionary process from fanfic to modern Trek Lit.
     
  18. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Captain Premium Member

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    Let's look back at your original post and see if we can discover where I got confused:

    Well, they WERE fanfic until they were professionally published -- but that's a matter of semantics, and it's not really an important point.

    I've always believed the whole idea was to get more Trek books into the marketplace before they stopped selling -- as Bantam surely assumed they would at any second. I can only imagine their surprise when the books continued to sell... and sell... and sell. Blish passed away in mid-1975 -- and he'd adapted almost all the original episodes anyway, so Bantam needed a new source of Trek books. But what's this? The FANS are writing stories already? Are any of them publishable? Pohl, get it into the pipeline ASAP!

    Ah, here's where I went wrong! I interpreted this as being a bit of a slam on paycheck-chasing non-Trek-savvy writers. I apologize for misconstruing your words as a gentle smackdown. I suppose if you mean to smack, you'll SMACK!

    But let me make my point clear: at the time TNV was published, the only professional Trek fiction was 2 series of novelizations, Spock Must Die! and Mission to Horatius. There wasn't any such thing as a Trek novel series -- that was still months away from inauguration. It looked like you're making an comparison between TNV and a novel series that did not yet exist.

    This is quite a debatable point -- most fan fiction, then as now, is worthless, unpublishable garbage. If Marshak and Culbreath are any indication of the state of Trek fan fiction at the time, it was a weird and unfamiliar place to a teenage Trekkie-at-large like myself. I think Planet of Judgment did a much better job capturing the elusive "spirit" of Star Trek than The Price of the Phoenix. YMMV, of course.

    In any event, it looks like you're claiming the stories in TNV are "truer" to Star Trek than contemporary pro Trek fiction -- again, I raised an eyebrow, because at the time there was only the Blish and Foster novelizations, which at the time were pretty solidly based in the episodes, and a couple of novels then 6 or 8 years old. I'll concede Mission to Horatius wasn't especially true to Star Trek, but Foster's and Blish's books were, in my opinion, pretty damn close to how I saw Star Trek at the time. (I should note that I didn't read Mission until many, many years later, probably sometime in the late '80's, after I paid an outrageous $60 for a battered copy at a con. After searching for 15 years, actually reading it was QUITE a letdown.)

    I agree completely. I think the 2 TNV volumes are must-reads for any Treklit fan who wants to understand the origins of the genre. Just as are the Blish, Foster and Roddenberry novelizations. Throw in Planet of Judgment and The Galactic Whirlpool, and you'd have a pretty good syllabus for Treklit 101.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, and aside from a slight difference in emphasis, I don't see how that's inconsistent with my point that the stories in TNV were fanfic stories given professional exposure. It's certainly possible for a single event to have more than one motivation behind it; indeed, any event with more than one person involved in it (and, indeed, most any event with only one person involved) is virtually certain to have more than one motivation behind it.

    Remember, I was responding to Sky's statement that TNV's stories were "a bit more like fanfic than treklit." My point is that they're not just "a bit" like fanfic, but actually started out as fanfic, so Sky was more right than s/he knew.


    No, I'm making a comparison between the state of Trek literature in the 1970s and the state of Trek literature today. Again, remember that I'm responding to what Sky said, "a bit more like fanfic than treklit" -- and that s/he enjoyed them "even if" they were more like fanfic, implying that one would expect fanfic to be less enjoyable. I'm saying that Sky is defining those terms based on modern perceptions of the two categories, and that things were different in the '70s, that the fanfic of the day was not eclipsed by the pro fiction because the pro fiction wasn't as evolved. My point has absolutely nothing to do with which came first in terms of Bantam's publishing schedule, because I'm taking an overview of the evolution of Trek Lit as a whole, not a snapshot of one particular year.

    Ahh, but that's just it. Yes, the fanfic of the day was crude in many ways by modern standards, but that's because Trek Lit has evolved so much since then. At the time, though, it was a different matter.

    And of course I'm not saying that all fan fiction was good. Sturgeon's Law -- which was actually coined in response to a criticism of Star Trek, so it's aptly applied here -- holds true everywhere. Ninety percent of everything is garbage. But that's beside the point. My point is that in the climate of Trek Lit in the 1970s, the best of fanfic represented something of a cutting edge in some ways. While it may have had less technical proficiency than the pro Trek fiction of the day, it was more often written by people who truly loved and understood ST and the hearts of its characters and ideas. There was more emotion invested in it, and so it felt more like ST. Hence my point that it was an antecedent of the later professional Trek fiction by authors who were themselves devoted fans and who brought that authentic feel and spirit to their pro fiction.

    And sometimes the authors who started out as fanfic authors were better at engaging with the core ideas of ST. As, err, problematical as the Marshak-Culbreath books were, The Fate of the Phoenix was the first novel that ever really engaged with the ethical questions raised by the Prime Directive. And while M&C's portrayals of the characters were achingly larger-than-life and adoring, they wrote stories that focused on their relationships, rather than just plugging them into generic SF adventures as many other Bantam authors did.


    PoJ was one of the best Bantam ones, but it's a rather idiosyncratic take on the universe and the characters. And I'd say it's the exception, not the rule. Most of the other Bantams, with the exception of The Galactic Whirlpool, are pretty unimpressive. Which is why the fanfic stories in the TNV anthologies rate higher in the context of their era than they would today.

    Again, I'm talking in retrospect about the Bantam era as a whole, not specifically about 1976. I wasn't talking exclusively about the first New Voyages volume but about both of them collectively. I see now that I didn't make that clear in my phrasing.

    Thank you, that more or less sums up what I was trying to say -- that even though it may seem odd by today's standards to see pro anthologies collecting stories from Trek fanzines, the TNV volumes were significant steps in the emergence of Trek Lit.
     
  20. UncleRogi

    UncleRogi Commander Red Shirt

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    If I recall correctly, "Mind-Sifter" was written by a Nasa engineer; Jesco von Put-something...I also had all these books as they came out as a kid, Blish (Didn't his wife finish the adaptations-10-11-12?), Foster, et al.
     

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