Theodore Sturgeon and Slash Fic

I was reading a short academic paper by Andrew Hageman about the correspondence between Gene Roddenberry and Theodore Sturgeon when the latter was writing “Shore Leave” (“A generic correspondence: Sturgeon–Roddenberry letters on sf, sex, sales and Star Trek,” published in Science Fiction Film & Television, Issue 3, Volume 9, 2016).

Bones in Shore Leave with two women on his arm, both wearing brightly coloured fur bikinis

As the title says and as you might expect knowing the tone of behind the scenes correspondence around TOS, there was some eyebrow raising sex talk, starting with Roddenberry’s opening line: “At the close of this, you will no longer be a virgin,” but I was not expecting to read Sturgeon’s reaction to the end of “Shore Leave,” where the production team overrode his desires to treat the McCoy/Tonia relationship more seriously, instead having him appear with two fur bikini-clad women on his arms.

This, Gene, is a first-order Vulgarism. (Vulgarisms are ordered from the bottom up: i.e. a third-order vulgarism would be the scene Dee [likely DeForest Kelley, who went by Dee] and I discussed for a (far) future script, where the whimsical friction between Bones and Spock is brought to a head by McCoy’s diagnosis that the Vulcanian needs a prostate massage, and must have it. But Spock’s prostate is not near his stern, but his sternum, or breastbone. So we have a MED CU McCoy rolling up the sleeve of his tunic, not to the elbow, but to the shoulder)

Because of the “vulgarism” thing this strikes me more as a dirty joke rather than something he was seriously suggesting be incorporated into Trek. Nevertheless Hageman argues this might make Sturgeon eligible for the title of the “inventor of Star Trek slash fiction” and though I wouldn’t go that far, I agree it’s really interesting that he made this connection between McCoy and Spock versus Kirk/Spock. As Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

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