Cthulhu Trek– Written and Edited Les Thomas, Layout and Illustrations Cabin Campbell, 1st. Edition, 2008. Star Trek collides with Lovecraftain horror. Robert Blochʼs Lovecraft/ Star Trek connection, Jeffery Combs HPL/ ST characters. Plus Sutter Cane (sometimes spelled Kane) Star Trek Fiction (Warning: Explicit sex and violence). $4.00
—Leslie Thomas, 13th Hour Books
In the early 1930s, science fiction fandom came into being. One of the characteristics of this fandom was the strong influence of the amateur journalism movement. It wasn’t just that there were fanatical readers of pulp fiction, but they documented their love and excitement, their fan art and fan poetry and fanfiction, their discussions and feuds.
Today, we talk about fandom studies with textbooks like the Fan Fiction Studies Reader because these early ‘zines are the trace fossils of the fans themselves, most of whom are sadly gone and can no longer give us living memories of what it was like to buy the magazines off the rack, to organize the first conventions, make their own costumes at home. To carry out debates by mail, and see the wonders and terrors of the Atomic Age and Space Age and finally the Digital Age be manifest around them.
As the fans grew up, fandom grew up with them. Scholars like Brian Wilson have traced the history of rule 34 from the first nude artwork that graced the 1930s fanzines to the Star Trek slashfic written and analyzed by Joanna Russ to the internet erotica of today. Things percolated together and got profoundly, lovingly, weird. Mash-ups between different genres, different properties, entirely different fandoms came together, often just for laughs or following some singular vision of “Hey, wouldn’t this be cool?” or “Hey, wouldn’t this be hot?”
Leslie Thomas is a fan of both Star Trek and the Cthulhu Mythos. His 2008 ‘zine Cthulhu Trek is a labor of love, an unpaginated 16-page staplebound black-and-white expression of profound and utter nerdiness—and it is, in many ways, an exemplar of what a fanzine can be: fun, scholarly by its own lights, and brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.
McCoy opened another cabinet and, from it he pulled out a small jar and handed it to Kirk. “I have to ask Jim, but did you have sex with a Yithian lately,” a slight smile crossed his kindly face as he place [sic] the alcohol back into its cabinet.
—Leslie Thomas, “Cream” in Cthulhu Trek
The first few pages of the ‘zine trace connections between Star Trek and the Mythos—principally via Robert Bloch, who wrote three episodes of the original series, and versatile actor Jeffrey Combs whose credits include multiple roles in both Star Trek series and various Lovecraftian films and adaptations, most especially the Re-Animator series, From Beyond, The Evil Clergyman, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, and The Dunwich Horror (2009).
Like a good hoax, Thomas then transitions into fanfiction—presenting pieces of the Mythos-inflected Star Trek fiction of Sutter Kane. Of these, the bare two pages of Kirk picking up an extraterrestrial (or should that be extratemporal?) STD are perhaps the most memorable, although Chekov’s encounter with a dominatrix is certainly not something that will be forgotten in a hurry, barring blunt forced trauma to the head or the alcoholic equivalent.
Cthulhu Trek ends with the rather odd bit of trivia that Will Wheaton starred in The Curse (1987), a rarely-remembered film based on Lovecraft’s “The Colour out of Space.” Wheaton, of course, gained popularity by playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and if it feels weird to turn the page from Sulu in the grips of madness to a tidbit that feels straight out of the Internet Movie Database…well, it is. Like all fanzines, Cthulhu Trek is idiosyncratic, produced by one writer who was also his own editor, with Cabin Campbell as illustrator and layout artist.
Could Thomas have taken it further? Could he have produced a full-fledged erotic Star Trek/Cthulhu Mythos opus, self-published it, and reached the heights of fame that E. L. James did? Maybe. So could you. What he did instead was write and publish a funny little chapbook as a bit of amusement for himself and his fellow fans. Which is pratically the definition for what fanfiction is: the desire not just to create something inspired by some work, but to share it with others. That is what Cthulhu Trek is, ultimately; not a masturbation aid, but an endearing effort to share the love of Star Trak and the Cthulhu Mythos.
Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos.
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