This journal entry is about the Star Trek novel "Killing Time" and the first edition that got retrieved from the market due to (perhaps) too overtly homoerotic descriptions. I have compared the two published editions from 1985 and I will show how these two versions differ from each other by quoting directly from the books. I may have missed some quotes.
This is not a review.
Disclaimer: Parts of the plot will be revealed (in chronological order). I don't think I infringe on any rights by doing so since these are only short quotations and my intension is that these are used in discussions on Kirk/Spock or on the subject of censorship. I must also point out that I'm aware of the ugly layout of this entry and my excuse is that I'm not an experienced LiveJournal writer.
About the book
Author: Della Van Hise
Title: Killing Time (Star Trek Pocket #24)
Tagline: Enter second history - and a galaxy gone mad!
First printed: July 1985
Plot: The crew on the starship
How do I know if I have the uncensored version?
Before I bought the novels, I learned three possible ways of knowing this:
1. The book is printed in 1985 (not after that)
2. The letters on the cover are embossed.
3. Page 41 should have a paragraph that contains the sentence “I understand that you were probably playing with dolls and wearing lipstick until you were twenty!”
Furthermore, I would like to show you how the cover of original paperback looks:
The first revised version looks almost the same but it doesn't have raised gold letters.
The original does not look like any of these two:
And now to the goodies:
First, a short introduction to how to read my text:
Regular text means that the text appears in both versions. Bold text means text that only appears in the original, unrevised version. This bold italic text means that the revised version has replaced those words with [these words, appearing in italic inside square brackets].
Sometimes the page number differs in the two versions, so “o:222 c:223” means “page 222 in the original version and page 223 in the censored version”. O=original, C=censored. OK?
Here we go:
His eyes seemed to lighten as he studied the casual way Kirk was holding in his stomach.
“And we need not inform Dr. McCoy as to the menu.”
Releasing the exaggerated breath he’d been holding, Kirk grinned, realizing there was no one else who could ease his tension quite so easily.
He laughed gently, trying to chase away the cold, black thing which seemed to be lingering at his shoulder. It had his own eyes, his features, his mind. But it felt alien.
As if sensing the thought, the Vulcan reached out tentatively, placing one hand on his captain’s shoulder. Kirk was the only person on board to whom Spock could open up, and he valued that freedom. “If there are answers, we will find them, Jim,” he ventured, eyeing Kirk more closely. “But… I believe it can wait until morning. You appear somewhat…fatigued?”
Kirk sighed and reached out to cover the Vulcan hand with his own.
…his mind instinctively sought Spock’s. No… not dead. Not quite. He touched the silver thread of the link, thought he could almost sense the physical strength and the mental rapport which had always been there before. But it too slipped away… and was gone.
“I understand perfectly, Donner,” he said in a voice which was oddly compliant. But he raised hazel eyes aflame with unconcealed hatred. “I understand that you were probably playing with dolls and wearing lipstick until you were twenty! And I also understand that you’re probably double-jointed – since you’ve got your head so far up your ass that you’ll never see the light of day again!”
In the background, Kirk heard a few of the crewmembers giggle appreciatively.
But he felt his hard resolve start to weaken. He glanced up, meeting the Vulcan’s eyes. Somehow shirtless and with hair slightly disheveled, the ShiKahr’s legendary captain appeared vulnerable in the dim lighting… almost reachable.
“The doctor informed of your […]
So, he thought to himself, this was poker. He felt his heart quicken just a little. Kirk looked up, started to deny it […]
“Why do you care?” Kirk asked at last, meeting the Vulcan’s eyes. And Spock felt himself weaken under the human’s scrutiny. He glanced away from the intense hazel globes. But the stakes were too high to permit intimidation to interfere with logic […] The Vulcan shivered, glancing forlornly across the room to the discarded shirt. Yet he knew that no amount of clothing could cover his psychic nakedness; Kirk could strip him to the marrow with a single question. “I can offer no logical explanation,” he replied truthfully.
But holding back would accomplish nothing – and perhaps worse. He swallowed, wondering [wondered] what the human was thinking [...]
“Ship’s present status?” Spock asked, rising to feet and only then noticing that he was bare to the waist. Somehow, he had been dressed in a tight-fitting white pajama bottom which vaguely resembled a leotard. He frowned at himself. A pressure bandage wound itself around his chest, just under the sternum, and as he stood a moment of dizziness threatened to drag him back down.
McCoy moved to the Vulcan’s side, steadying him with one arm around the slim waist. “You weren’t out that long,” he replied.
Page 167 (o)/168(c)
Telling himself it was purely professional concern, knowing otherwise, Spock studied the sleeping man openly, not surprised to see several scars and bruises where the unbuttoned shirt had become dislodged. But in those minor injuries […]
Wrenching himself free of the memory which wasn’t a memory at all, the Vulcan leaned back to sit on the ground, curiosity filling black eyes. Face filled with expression even now, Kirk appeared familiar; and for that the Vulcan thought he might be able to simply reach out and grasp it. He felt himself soften inside as the human moaned restlessly, and he suddenly understood that aloneness – loneliness – was not something assigned only to outcast Vulcans. Despite Kirk’s previous façade of defiance, the mask of self-assuredness, the human – like himself – walked totally alone in a universe which seemed determined to drive him mad.
Without daring to ask himself why, Spock reached out hesitantly, then stopped with his hand poised less than an inch from the human’s face. Perhaps madness had already intervened; for what right did he have to intrude, even if his only intention was to help? He was, he reminded himself sternly, basing an act of mental transgression on nothing more than a fleeting and illogical assumption that his human’s mind had always been open to him before. The hand trembled, hesitated. Yet he knew he had seen Kirk’s thoughts… many times. He had walked through the layers of consciousness and subconscious… sharing secrets, healing, befriending. Line of duty… personal, dual curiosity. The meld was not alien to the two of them. Somewhere… somewhen. And yet, an unsolicited meld shattered all of the Tenets of Vulcan. Regardless of intent, it was nothing less than mental trespass.
But as he sat there, alone despite the human’s presence, a sudden simplicity of vision presented itself.
Before permitting himself the luxury of altering his decision, he allowed his hand to come to rest on the side of the warm human face / [he initiated the mind meld].
Kirk tensed instinctively in his sleep, as much from the unexpected physical contact as from the mental thread which gently entered his mind. For an instant, he moved instinctively toward the familiar warmth, allowing his thoughts to flow into well-known territory. But as he became aware of his true surroundings, his eyes snapped open, a gasp of surprise slipping past his control when he saw the Vulcan commander leaning over him.
For a moment, Spock did not move, neither continuing with the meld nor withdrawing his hand. And as their eyes met in near-darkness, the Vulcan thought he detected the same sense of recognition in Kirk as he had experienced within himself. He’d seen the ensign relax, had felt an openness draw them closer. For the briefest of instants, reality had altered…accepting the two of them as one entity. An eyebrow rose.
Not moving, Kirk took a deep breath. “What are you doing?” he asked pointedly, his tone neither accusing nor encouraging.
“I… sensed that you were troubled by… dreams,” he stated, schooling his voice to its calmest level as his hand dropped back to his side. “Please forgive me,” he added, annoyed by words which became ore clipped and difficult as he continued. “I did not intent to…intrude.”
Surprisingly, the enigmatic human only stretched out on the ground. A fallen leaf tangled in golden hair; and with a heavy sigh, Kirk met his captain’s questioning eyes. “Since I’m already considered to be crazy…”
He turned, studying the angular face of his commanding officer – the thin lips and the dark eyes and the lithe feline musculature.
The Vulcan’s expression softened as he held himself open to Kirk’s visual inspection.
“Bullshit,” Kirk muttered to himself, then looked straight into the Vulcan’s eyes.
It did matter – if not to Kirk, then to him. He tasted a moment of fire – an illogical, un-Vulcan anger at the sudden rejection. Kirk had led him on, had practically asked for the meld… and now the human was hurling jagged knives into vulnerable tissue. With an effort, he wrestled himself back under control, choosing a less personal approach.
“If you are familiar with the dual universe theory…”
But before he could complete the sentence, he found himself sprawling to the ground, the Vulcan’s arms wrapped tightly and unexpectedly around his legs [falling to the ground, thrown by the Vulcan’s arms]. Lethal anger flared in the human’s eyes as he fell painfully into the dirt.
But the madman ignored it. In seven years as command of the ShiKahr, he had never met a human who could arouse such forbidden feelings, who could wrestle emotion from him as easily as turning on a light.
Beneath him, the human continued to struggle, fierce hatred flaring [flaired] on [Kirk’s] proud features. “So why don’t you just transfer me off this ship and out of your hair?” Kirk [He] suggested, shoving violently against the hands which held him pinned to the ground.
But the Vulcan merely shook his head as something tore free inside him.
This paragraph went through so many alterations that I decided to show the different versions side by side instead:
“It’s time to stop running!”
Using Vulcan strength, Spock seized both of Kirk’s wrists in one hand, holding him immobile. With his legs, he scissored the human’s ankles; ebony-black eyes stabbed through hazel-golden pools, compelling cooperation. With his free hand, he reached for the human’s face, fingers spreading and seeking the neural centers necessary to a link.
And suddenly, a look of horror came to dwell on Kirk’s features as his body went limp. But a cunning smile came to his. “You wouldn’t dare…,” he said quietly, wondering nonetheless if he’d finally tempted the fates once too often. The Vulcan merely shook his head as his fingers pressed firmly against pliant flesh. “In this universe,” he replied, “you are wrong, James Kirk!” Without another thought on the matter, he injected himself into the human’s unshielded mind.
“It’s time to stop running!”
Suddenly a look of horror crossed Kirk’s face. He could sense Spock trying to infiltrate his mind. “You wouldn’t dare…” “In this universe,” he replied, “you are wrong, James Kirk!” At which point he infused himself into the human’s mind.
Page c:174 o:175
Kirk tensed against the unexpected dizziness which swirled through his thoughts and clouded reality. He was vaguely aware of twisting his arms in a final attempt to free himself, but the resistance seemed futile… unnecessary. His eyes closed, and he did not notice when the gold Academy ring slipped from his finger and lodged in the loose sand.
Warm, dark eyes entered reality. The reassuring touch of an alien hand which was not alien at all.
The syllable echoed in his mind. Blood-brother among the stars. The other half of the whole. The other part of the Trinity. The only other person She would accept in his life.
On the ShiKahr, James Kirk opened his eyes to see the Vulcan regarding him with an unreadable expression. For a moment, the Kirk-he-had-been wanted to reach out to the commander, to confirm physical reality with a gentle touch. But he found himself too exhausted to move; and slowly the Vulcan released him, rolling into a sitting position.
One eyebrow slid beneath disheveled black bangs as Spock shook his head, then looked away, angular face darkening.
Blood murmured hot against his ears.
But behind him Kirk only laughed, and a very tentative hand touched his shoulder. Spock flinched. [Spock eyed him carefully]
“Why?” the human asked, gently forcing him to turn around. “How can you regret providing to me that there is something worth living for?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “If that other universe is real,” he ventured, “then you had every right to do what you did.” He winked conspiratorially, feeling something – someone – come back to life inside himself. Reality wavered, fighting the transformation, but he held on, using the Vulcan’s downtrodden eyes as focal point.
As he strode down the corridor to the lift, however, he couldn’t help noticing the empty spot by his side… a place which, in another place and time, would have been filled with Kirk’s warm presence. He ignored the feeling [it] as best he could, trying not to think too closely about what he’d seen in the human’s mind.
At last, Kirk met his roommate’s eyes. “I feel like a corner wino [person] who just swallowed a bottle of rubbing alcohol,” he muttered, wishing his head would clear.
The stars grew brighter, burning their smiling pattern to the Vulcan as he listened, watched.
Jim…Jim? He reached for it, sensed the warmth behind it, moved closer.
For a moment, the stars took them, molded them together. One thought. One mind.
But gradually, the stars began to fade…
“When I went out to take a better look at our predicament, you were sleeping like a little crumb grabber. But when I came back, you and your gear were having a lover’s quarrel.” He winked, dragging the sleeping bag down and away from his roommate’s legs. After a moment, Kirk laughed wearily…
“What’d I tell ya?”
Staring down at the water, Kirk grinned.
“Well,” he said, stripping off the remainder of his own clothing [his shirt], “I guess it’s a damned sight better than roasting.”
“As long as you’re alive,” he said, absently projecting a warmth into his companion’s mind. “Okay,” he continued abruptly, “let’s assume we can trust them. What now?”
The Vulcan remained silent for a long time, head tilting curiously as he studied the human’s indirect approach. “In any timeline, I know that you will be as unique as you are now… and I believe you will find your happiness.” He looked down, not quite able to meet the hazel eyes as he spoke. He is even deeper in your blood than Vulcan. It was, he realized, a very simple truth.
Kirk stared at the floor, then laughed somewhat sarcastically.
Reaching out very slowly, Spock rested one hand on the human’s shoulder as he sought something reassuring to say.
He slumped to the gravel floor of the roof, not surprised to hear the human slide down by his side, cradling his head as he became weaker. For a moment, he tried to go over the details…
First History was struggling to reassert itself.
Giving in to his human half, Spock leaned more heavily against Kirk, resting his head on the warm shoulder. “I … do not believe the end will be painful, Jim,” he stated logically.
“Are you sorry to leave this particular life?” he wondered philosophically.
Kirk shook his head with a tender smile, moving a little closer, seeking a warmth which seemed to be draining from his own body. “No… I’m not, Spock,” he said, suddenly realizing the truth in that statement.
“Then come with me,” he murmured, his voice barely a whisper against the human’s shoulder. He inclined his head toward the black night sky.
Kirk’s eyes closed in acceptance of the invitation as he felt the Vulcan’s hand settle on the side of his face, joining their minds together [Spock began the meld]. He knew they were dying, perhaps only to be resurrected in another universe, another time…
“I believe the only answers we will ever have are within ourselves, Jim,” he murmured. His eyes locked with Kirk’s, and, seeing no hesitation, he reached for the human’s face.
Kirk let himself relax, not expecting it [the meld] so quickly, but determined to go through with his decision [it anyway]. His eyes closed, and he took a deep breath as the warmer-than-human hand settled against the side of his face. For a moment, there was only the euphoria [surreal quality] associated with the meld… but that surrealism faded as his mind’s eyes suddenly opened. [And then,] somewhere, in a universe locked away from reality, a Vulcan and his human friend demanded recognition.
“You could be the first person in Federation history to be sued for child support by the Romulan Praetor!”
To sum it up
It’s pretty obvious those who revised the novel didn’t like homoeroticism. It’s also obvious that Della Van Hise did. The mind meld is one helluva big metaphor for sex, right? If not, why did they remove it? They also removed everything hinting at bare chests, although we all know that our dear captain Kirk was allowed to run almost naked through the series without anyone complaining. Could printed words be even more “harmful” than that?
What other words went into the trash can?
“bullshit” (swear word)
“corner wino” (informal reference?)
“child support” (no comments)
My opinion on the book as a whole
Sorry to say it, but this book is pretty amateurish. I’m not saying I could write a better one on the subject, but the language is bad (iterate descriptions of their eye colors won't help me much) and although the story takes place in a parallel universe, our beloved crew members are too out of character to make the story believable. The book gets better in the end where Kirk and Spock spend more time together, but if you read the revised version (thus removing the sexual innuendo between the heroes) it’s bound to get pretty plain there too. There are too many well-written slash stories online to waste your time reading cheesy romance novels like this.