The Foresmutters Project

Mary Ellen, Doctor Science, MA

Commentary & Historical Background: The Prize by Ray Newton

"The Prize" was originally published in The Price and the Prize, copyright 1981 by Gayle Feyrer. The Price and the Prize was the second zine Gayle Feyrer published, and the first anthology zine (the first zine she produced was her 1979 novel, Mirrors of Mind and Flesh). Gayle's zines are all among the most beautiful and most carefully-produced works ever to come out of fandom. She herself was probably the leading K/S artist of her day, often using a highly stylized Art Nouveau or Aubrey Beardsley style that is both flowing and extremely explicit. Until we have permission to post her illustrations you will not get the full flavor of "The Prize" as it was originally presented, but them's the breaks.

Ray Newton wrote a number of early Master/Slave stories. Her first one was "The Lorath," in Naked Times #3 (available through As I Do Zines). That story was written in response to a competition (what ASC/EM writers would now call a challenge), to finish a story in which Spock goes back through the Guardian of Forever to pre-Reform Vulcan, and Kirk goes to rescue him.

Newton recalls:

As well as I can remember, "The Lorath" was the first slave story I wrote, for the Naked Times competition; that did seem to be the hot topic at the time. The line I took was that in a practical slave society, a beautiful, useful slave would be valued and cared for, so there would be a specific word to describe the relationship. Lorath was my attempt at a suitable word, and yes, it pre-dated the word t'hy'la - in fact, I remember thinking that Gene had come up with a word that was very necessary in the K/S universe (without the slave context, of course).

Most of the basic ideas about Vulcan warrior society were inspired by Gayle Feyrer's S'Kanderai; I took the view that a chaotic, disorganised society would neither work nor survive, so the rules and codes of honour were important.
Ruth Lym remembers that:
S'Kanderai was a concept used in the third story ("Night of the Dragons") of the Cosmic Fuck Series by Gayle Feyrer. Not sure where it first appeared, but Gayle got the name -- S'Kanderai -- from the name that Hephaestion [or maybe it was Bagoas: the reference is to Mary Renault's novels] called Alexander: Skander.
Newton continues:
I had in fact found myself writing several slave scenarios, most appearing in Duet under the name Jane Jones. There was quite a bit of debate at the time as to whether slave stories were valid - some people took the position that Kirk and Spock would never take part in such a relationship, whatever universe they were in, or that if they did, Spock would immediately want to free Kirk. I took the view that in a slave-based society, it would be so normal for Spock to own slaves (even Kirk) that it would take a considerable period of inter-relationship with someone strong enough to make him really think about the consequences of what slavery did to the psyche of the slaves for him to learn to change his opinion.

In "The Prize" I tried to show the evolution of the relationship and the process of learning through Spock's eyes. I also thought that in such a society simply freeing one member of a slave race would be very dangerous for that slave, since he would not have even the meagre protection that the rules of ownership afforded. First the individual had to change, then gradually society; as we know, such change can be led by one man.

Over all, I was quite pleased with what I had done, though on re-reading now I can see things I could have done differently. I didn't get a great deal of feedback at the time; the trouble was, most copies of The Price and the Prize coming into Britain were seized by Customs - including my own. [see below for more on this -- ed.]

We had some quite funny discussions at the time on the slave theme; a situation that was very common was Spock falling for this beautiful golden god. I thought that a vulcanoid race that had never seen a human before might think very differently, and did a story for Duet (Eye of the Beholder) where the Vulcan in fact found this pale-faced, round-eared, clammy-skinned weakling a distinct turn-off - though Spock learns to love him, of course.

To the best of my remembrance, the master-slave story was pure K/S; I can't remember anything much before that though there may have been the odd story in which one or the other posed as a slave.

I did do a sequel to "The Prize," in which K & S left Vulcan; it was never printed, and we can't seem to find a copy. Another writer did ask permission to do a sequel: "Reward" by Debi, printed in As I Do Thee 2" (available through As I Do Zines).

About censorship of zines entering the UK: a friend of Newton's reports that
Ray Newton lost her contributor's copy. The first she knew was when a Customs letter arrived saying that a packet sent to her had been seized.

She decided to visit Customs and ask about it, dressed in her soberest working clothes. As she tells it, it was hilarious.

She asked about the letter, explaining that a friend in America sometimes sent her Trek stuff, and she couldn't think of any reason why *Trek* stuff should be seized; that that was all she ever got from America.

The Customs man was elderly, and clearly trying to spare her blushes as he tried to explain, without actually *saying* anything explicit, that the zine had been seized because it was pornographic - pictures *and* text. Of course, he said, she could appeal, but they would fight the appeal; she asked if she could see the zine, to decide for herself if it was something she would *want* to get and he said no; that any appeal had to be made blind. It did, after all, assume a - er - uh - sexual relationship between the *male* characters, and - er - did she understand what that meant?

At that point, having decided that "I should do, I wrote some of it" would be an inappropriate response, she retreated, agreeing to accept the experise of the Customs men in respect of the zine.

Talk about catch 22!

Two or three of the friends we were in regular contact with, who had ordered it, either went through much the same process, or else decided it was too risky to go to Customs at all.

Of course, the problem was one for the buyers, not for Gayle, though I think it was Gayle the 'informant' was actually targeting. Subsequently she used a different name and address on anything she sent to the UK.

Ray & I eventually got copies though, split up and posted a few pages at a time in letters.
Fiona James further reports:
This was the only blanket seizure of a zine coming into Britain, and even so I know of two copies that did slip through the net. Someone in America had contacted UK Customs and warned them to be on the lookout for packets with a specific return address. (The person who did this actually told me what she had done, not knowing of my interest in K/S, a month or two later.) I've had zines checked by Customs and resealed and sent; OTOH I know one person who subsequently lost more than one zine to Customs - a lot seemed to depend on who did the actual checking of the zine.

South Africa was bad; one publisher told us she removed the illos from every zine she sent there. We also heard from a South African we knew about one person, a friend of hers, whose home was actually *raided* by police looking for improper material, and who confiscated copies of Variations on a Theme, a genzine - the only reason we could think of was that it showed a green-skinned alien in command of white humans. The writing team of Clark/Piacentini decided that it wasn't every day someone created a whole new perversion . . .

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