RIP Della Van Hise

Della Van Hise, a writer most relevant to the purview of this website as author of the 1985 Star Trek novel Killing Time, died of heart failure in Loma Linda, CA on March 3 following a series of cardiac arrests throughout February that confined her to the hospital. The news was reported on her Facebook page by Wendy Rathbone, her domestic partner of forty years. She was 65.

Van Hise published erotic fan fiction both in the Star Trek universe and with original characters and settings under over a dozen pseudonyms, the most notable of which was Alexis Fegan Black. She was also highly committed to a New Age-esque spiritual journey of the self, which she documented in Quantum Shaman: Diary of a Nagual Woman (2005) and subsequent expansions. Quantum Shaman purports to continue the work first laid out by, among others, shamanist Carlos Castaneda in 1968’s The Teachings of Don Juan, a book originally published with serious intentions as an anthropological document but nowadays widely considered a work of fiction. Van Hise also offered “evolutionary workshops” that claimed to aid others who wished to embark on this type of journey. 

Killing Time was, rather (in)famously, the novel that forced Gene Roddenberry’s hand in cracking down on overtly sexual elements in Star Trek novels. Killing Time‘s first printing was recalled and subsequently pulped, and Pocket Books issued a second edition with a handful of new edits after it was discovered that an earlier unedited version of the manuscript had somehow reached publication. Copies of it still exist, however (one of which I was fortunate enough to find in a secondhand bookstore), which are most easily distinguished by the title being embossed on the cover, and additionally by certain telltale passages within the text. Perhaps needless to say, it would be Van Hise’s only official Star Trek novel.

Van Hise’s own later statements about the book are characterized mainly by a seething resentment of society’s and fandom’s treatment of slash writers, as well as a stubborn insistence that Paramount ripped off the novel’s plot for later works such as the 2009 J.J. Abrams film, which to her was a fact as simply and immutably true as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west (though her beliefs would probably have led her to question that as well).

Looking back on my own review of Killing Time, I’d say that while it was long and certainly informative, and I tried my best to be even-handed, I was definitely more than a little immature about it in places. Perhaps in the far-flung future, when we’ve finally exhausted the master list of almost 700 Pocket Books novels and I have to move on to reviewing the Bantam books and other adjacent pieces of Trek culture, we’ll take another look at Killing Time—this time looking at it from the perspective of the unedited version.


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1 Comment

  1. Daddy Todd

    First off, RIP to Ms. Van Hise and condolences to her loved ones and friends.

    Second, I’ve done extensive analysis of the Killing Time affair (like, watching for the book to come up for sale on eBay over 5+ years.) I can say that the “naughty” version comes up for sale about twice as often as the “clean” version.

    Oh, and in addition to the USA first printing, there was also a simultaneous Canadian printing that also contains the full, unexpurgated text. It’s identifiable by the maple leaf logo on the cover. Unlike the US first printing, the title is NOT embossed. Just look for the maple leaf!

    Back in the ‘80’s, first printings were huge. Subsequent printings were puny. I’ve concluded there are more copies of the first printing in circulation than of all other printings put together. I’d love to have actual numbers from Pocket to back that up, but they don’t share that kind of info.

    So, don’t pay insane prices for the “rare” one — because it’s far more common than the other version! In fact, if got easily a half-dozen copies on my “extras” shelf. Maybe I should put a couple on eBay…?

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