My sister, Bev Volker, and I slid into Star Trek fandom, like so many fans of the day, on the coattails of "Star Trek Lives!" Previously, David Gerrold had written two illuminating non-fiction paperbacks on the budding Star Trek phenomenon – "The World of Star Trek" and "The Making of Star Trek". Many isolated fans found these books in their local stores and suddenly realized that they were not alone. Nor were they crazy, as some of their family members and friends thought. But yes, there was still a stigma attached to being a "Trekkie".
Then along came another book, "Star Trek Lives!" by three ladies who were already known to many of the earliest fans who were connecting by mail, by phone, and probably even by Pony Express. Jacqueline Lichtenburg was the creator of the alternate "Kraith" universe and went on to publish her Sci-Fi Sime-Gen series; Joan Winston had actually been on the set and knew the actors, and went on to become a fixture on the convention circuit; and Sondra Marshak, who, with Myrna Culbraith, went on to publish the "New Voyages" anthology of fan fiction's finest and a biography of William Shatner. Clearly, this was "the" book which defined so much of what fandom was and what it could be.
Our personal involvement in Star Trek fandom followed a rather circuitous route. Bev was a suburban housewife and mother of three who discovered Trek in local re-runs in 1973. As a single working girl, I had faithfully watched the show in its first run and now, with Bev catching up, I watched again, this time in glorious color.
Sharing fantasies was nothing new to us, as was obsession. Despite the somewhat large gap in our ages, Bev and I had grown up closer than most sisters and had played "make-believe" about TV characters since childhood. We shared a love for male-male relationship before it ever had a name! Hurt-comfort was our specialty in the stories we made up and told each other; we loved it when our characters had an excuse to touch. Whenever we watched something that was pleasing in this category, we said that it gave us "flip-flops", or "The Feeling", our elementary terms to describe what we felt. We always thought this was unique to us alone.
But the difference with our Trek obsession was that, thanks to that ubiquitous "Star Trek Lives" and its chapter on fan fiction, we were actually writing down our made-up stories. We figured we would be able to write as well as those other people. We completed two stories, with a third well on the way to being finished, plus the first chapter of our very long soap opera, and decided that we might as well print them ourselves.
Our focus in Trek, of course, was the relationship between Kirk and Spock, with McCoy liberally thrown into the mix. This, we decided, would be the essential core of our brand new fanzine, which we had immediately named "Contact". It seemed to us, at the time, as if all the good stories that we wanted to read were spread out in various zines. We'd have to buy a whole zine for one Kirk-Spock story. What we aimed to do was to bring only the best of that genre under one cover. Brash, bold baby fen that we were, we immediately set about soliciting material.
We drew up a very rudimentary flyer, which I typed up on an old portable Royal typewriter. We sent it out to everyone whose address we could find, culled from ads in the WelCommittee's newsletter, to which we subscribed, from the pages of "Star Trek Lives", and from the back pages of zines we owned. This impressive list contained the names of such luminaries in fandom as DT Steiner, Connie Faddis, Helen Young, Shirley Maiewski, and, of course, the authors of the book. We sat back, wondering what, if any, response we would get.
One night a few weeks later, I arrived home from my evening job at a local bank, and my husband said churlishly, "Call your sister. She said to call whatever time you got in." Well, this was somewhat unlike my rather mundane sister, who went to bed when the cows came in, but I complied.
"Guess who called me tonight," she exclaimed when I had reached her.
"Leonard Nimoy?" I guessed.
"No. Are you sitting down?"
"Yes. Who?" I demanded, not prepared for Bev to be playing the drama-queen.
There was a pause, then, "Sondra Marshak!"
The Great and Powerful Sondra, one of the authors of our "bible" This was mind-boggling, indeed! I wondered what we had done to rate such attention. Little did we know that we had bitten into one of the largest apples in Star Trek fandom, and the particular orchard of Sondra and Myrna Culbraith. When we had sent out our flyers, with the heading, "A New Fanzine Devoted to the Kirk-Spock Relationship", we had sent out a fireball to the people who would be interested.
Bev went on to relate that The Mighty One had demanded that we send her everything we had. That meant stories, pieces of stories, submissions, story ideas and outlines, every scrap of paper we had with anything at all written on it. She wanted to know all about us, where we got our ideas, what we liked and didn't like, how we saw the Kirk-Spock relationship, and on and on. She also told Bev that she knew a fan who lived near us, just over past Washington, DC, whom Sondra would get to call and follow up. That person turned out to be Carol F., who was to become our first and fondest fellow fan.