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STAR TREK STORY CONTEST WINNER
1979-1980
SCHOLASTIC VOICE MAGAZINE
CONTEST JUDGED BY
GENE RODDENBERRY



Originally Published in
Scholastic Voice Magazine
April 17, 1980

 

The Story Behind The Story

Thomas Vinciguerra was a High School Junior in 1979 when Star Trek: The Motion Picture (the first Star Trek film) was hitting theaters.  Today, he's a widely published journalist with a list of articles in the New York Times and elsewhere about Star Trek, its production, and its fandom, as well as other subjects. 

In 1979, Scholastic Voice Magazine ran its third story idea contest, with Gene Roddenberry as the judge.  Tom entered -- and won with the story posted here below.

But first a little about Tom, his career and how this story came to be on simegen.com.

First you should note the Star Trek Connection behind everything on this domain, including the Sime~Gen Series novels by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah (who wrote best selling Star Trek novels for Pocket Books before she wrote novels in Sime~Gen)

So it's not surprising that, when Tom remembered Jacqueline's non-fiction book STAR TREK LIVES!, he thought to look her up on Facebook.  With a message and a friending, a long conversation started which included this list of published articles about Star Trek.

Articles for major media written by Thomas Vinciguerra

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/10/movies/video-what-s-new-for-trekkies.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/arts/television/08vinc.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/arts/television/cbs-blocks-use-of-unused-star-trek-script-by-spinrad.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/garden/19trek.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/arts/television/16vinc.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/arts/television/03vinc.html?pagewanted=print&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3As%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A10%22%7D&_r=0

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B07E4D8153FF937A15754C0A9639C8B63

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324640104578161231400318700

As a kicker, here is a “Briefing” he did about the Trek phenomenon for the newsmagazine The Week on the occasion of the 2008 reboot. It’s anonymous, but he assures me it’s all his:

http://theweek.com/article/index/96216/how-star-trek-conquered-the-universe

He regrets being unable to recover two minor pieces. One was in the Times magazine in early ’97 about Paramount’s crackdown on unlicensed prop replicas. The other was from GQ in the summer of ’01; it concerned why the classic uniform endures.

 

From High School to Nationally Published Journalist

In Tom's Own Words

As anticipation built in the late fall of 1979 for the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, my younger brother, Billy, brought to my attention a promotional Star Trek story idea contest sponsored by Scholastic Voice magazine and judged by none other than Gene Roddenberry. Billy was a freshman at Garden City High School on Long Island; I was a junior. 

   For a couple of years I’d been writing crude Star Trek fanzine-type stories in longhand on loose-leaf notebook paper in the vague hopes of getting them published professionally. My attempts to place them with Bantam went nowhere, given their commitment to their “New Voyages” series (I still have the rejection letter). It didn’t help that my own efforts were wretched to boot. But for the Scholastic Voice competition, I cannibalized the least egregious of them. As God is my witness, I had titled it “The Final Frontier.” I boiled it down to a little over two meticulously typed pages and, with baited breath, submitted it.

   A few weeks later, toward the end of January 1980, Scholastic told me that I’d won the contest. I believe I literally danced around my parents' house. Not long afterward I called Scholastic to ask how many fellow geeks had entered. “About a thousand,” they said.

    In due course I received my prizes—a $25 check, a copy of The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Susan Sackett and Gene R., and a 1980 Trek calendar that I have yet to unpack from its original box (the calendars came in boxes in those days). In early April, an abridged version of the story appeared in Scholastic Voice. Triumphantly, I brought an armful of copies from my high school’s English department office to my English class. Responding to my teacher’s request, I shared them with my compatriots and read the abbreviated story aloud. I distinctly remember the applause.

    In the 34 years since then, the story and the story behind the story have dwindled to a minor but occasionally fond memory. I do have a couple of poignant footnotes. Several times, I wrote to Gene at Paramount to thank him for blessing me, and to see if he could help me develop the story in some officially sanctioned way. But he never acknowledged, even when I sent one of my letters via registered mail.

    Then, in 1990 I attempted to further cannibalize the story into a novel for Pocket Books. However their associate editor, Kevin J. Ryan, told my agent that they were trying to get away from time travel stories like the one I had concocted. In a last attempt at salvaging something from my handiwork, I wrote my treatment up as a spec script for Next Generation (I called it “Abyss” but should have named it “For Tomorrow We Die”), adding new dimensions and subplots and adapting it for the new crew. My Columbia College near-classmate, the artful and masterful Adam Belanoff, who had recently co-written “The Masterpiece Society” for Next Gen, put in a good word for me. Alas, I received a form rejection letter. Apparently the imprimatur of the Great Bird no longer carried much weight at that point.  

   No matter. I’m pleased to have been a blip in classic Trek history. And I continue to delight in plumbing the depths of—and writing occasional articles about—my favorite series of all time. 

 

December 13, 1979 issue cover with the call for Star Trek story contest entries: (click for larger size image)




The text of the call for contest entries


Tom submitted the following untitled story outline,
FIRST PRIZE ENTRY
by
Thomas Vinciguerra (1979)

 

On at least two occassions (the episodes "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and "Assignment: Earth"), the Enterprise has returned to Earth's past by using a slingshot/warp effect brought on by pulling away, at hyper-light speed, from the gravitational field of a nearby star. Now, for the first time in recorded Federation history, people from the known part of the galaxy will be venturing forward into the future, relative to subjective time. The Supreme Council of the planet Castor IV has been seeking membership for the population in the United Federation of Planets. But the planet itself is in a state of near anarchy and anti-Federation factions are strong, thus making it impossible for the planet to be accepted as a whole. General Order No. 1 (the Prime Directive) forbids any interference with the normal development of a culture, so the Federation cannot take sides. The UFP intends to use, however, the afore-mentioned slingshot phenomenon to send the Enterprise one hundred years into the planet's future so that a team of historians can note all social and technological progress made in the interim. The team's findings will thereby make it possible to determine if the planet will eventually "pull itself together" and gain Federation admission.

The starship uses the effect successfully and establishes orbit around Castor IV, now a century older. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott, and the research team beam down to a sparsely settled section of the planet so as not to attract attention to themselves. Once down, however, Spock's tricorder readings indicate radiation of a residual nature that has apparently been present for years. In view of this and the strange lack of even lower forms of life in the area, Kirk decides to disregard previous instructions and orders the party to move onto the nearest largely populated area. Arriving there, they find the remains of a destroyed metropolis. With the radiation and lack, of life in mind, the landing party concludes that Castor IV has suffered a nuclear holocaust.

The group splits up. Kirk and Spock come upon a strange sapient life form, horribly disfigured by any standards. But tricorder scans indicate that the being is a Castorian, mutated by atomic fallout. McCoy and Scotty, meanwhile, come upon an archives that has survived the carnage. Searching through the records, they discover just what happened to the planet, and they call the landing party to review the tape they find, Kirk and Spock bringing the disfigured Castorian with them. The tape reveals that approximately eighty years ago, a demagogue siezed total planetary power. Setting up a reign of terror, he threatened to obliterate all life on the globe if any move was made to oust him from office. A revolutionary group tried and failed, and the threat was carried out. However, some people with enough foresight had built special shelters and survived, the Castorian in their midst being, by his own admittance, one of them. He discloses that an underground colony of Castorians flouishes, and he also states that the tape was made by the same group so that future visitors to the planet might learn of what transpired.

The Enterprise returns to its own time and reports its findings to a Starfleet committee set up for this purpose and the High Council of Castor IV. When the latter learns of the impending annihilation, it resolves that all measures should be taken to prevent this sequence of events, including, if necessary, the killing of the future dictator before his rise to power. But the historians had previously considered this, and Kirk and Spock protest on their behalf. They state that not only does the council have no justification for execution on the basis of crimes not yet committed, but that any attempt to alter the future might bring unforseen circumstances even worse than those that have been seen. The council's president is torn between the two alternatives himself, but he insists that his planet survive. To drive his point home, he asks Kirk, "If you could avert your World War Two by killing Hitler in his cradle, would you?"

Kirk cannot reply. The situation is left unresolved for time alone to determine its outcome.

 


And in February, 1980 the following First Prize notification letter came in the mail

 

The story was printed in the April 17, 1980 Scholastic Voice Magazine

Cover:

 

Here are the two pages with the announcement and the winning entry printed:

            

 

 

 

See the rest of what's in our Star Trek Section and our general sf Fandom section. 

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