A Trekkie's Tale
A Star Trek fanfic from The Seventies by Paula Smith and the Trope Namer for Mary Sue, A Trekkie's Tale is a Parody of a Self-Insert Fic in which Lt. Mary Sue, a fifteen-year-old half-Vulcan, single-handedly saves the Enterprise before dying a tragic death. It is notably very short, with the entire text as such:
"Gee, golly, gosh, gloriosky," thought Mary Sue as she stepped on the bridge of the Enterprise. "Here I am, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet - only fifteen and a half years old." Captain Kirk came up to her.
"Oh, Lieutenant, I love you madly. Will you come to bed with me?"
"Captain! I am not that kind of girl!"
"You're right, and I respect you for it. Here, take over the ship for a minute while I go get some coffee for us."
Mr. Spock came onto the bridge. "What are you doing in the command seat, Lieutenant?"
"The Captain told me to."
"Flawlessly logical. I admire your mind."
Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott beamed down with Lt. Mary Sue to Rigel XXXVII. They were attacked by green androids and thrown into prison. In a moment of weakness Lt. Mary Sue revealed to Mr. Spock that she too was half Vulcan. Recovering quickly, she sprung the lock with her hairpin and they all got away back to the ship.
But back on board, Dr. McCoy and Lt. Mary Sue found out that the men who had beamed down were seriously stricken by the jumping cold robbies , Mary Sue less so. While the four officers languished in Sick Bay, Lt. Mary Sue ran the ship, and ran it so well she received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Vulcan Order of Gallantry and the Tralfamadorian Order of Good Guyhood.
However the disease finally got to her and she fell fatally ill. In the Sick Bay as she breathed her last, she was surrounded by Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Mr. Scott, all weeping unashamedly at the loss of her beautiful youth and youthful beauty, intelligence, capability and all around niceness. Even to this day her birthday is a national holiday of the Enterprise.
In the early '70s, the modern fan fiction culture was emerging, much of it based on Star Trek and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In those days, fan fiction was published in fan-made magazines called "fanzines" and distributed at fan conventions. Paula Smith was a fan who happened to notice that many of the bad Star Trek stories had the same plot. They always centered on a female Original Character, who is the youngest whatever in Starfleet. Everyone falls in love with her and they go on adventures with her, typically ending with her meeting a tragic death to be mourned by all. After seeing a particularly egregious example of this storyline, Paula Smith wrote a parody, which was published in the second issue of the fanzine Menagerie, which she edited with her friend Sharon Ferraro.
A Trekkie's Tale and Mary Sue could have easily been forgotten after that issue ran, but Paula Smith later started doing letters of comment and reviews for other zines. She and Sharon Ferraro started using the term "Lt. Mary Sue story" as a shorthand to refer to further instances of that plot and the term spread. Regarding the increasingly widespread use of the term "Mary Sue", Paula Smith says that "I simply named a bug, I found a new fern. I identified a piece of humanity and put a name to it, but that's all I did. Everything I know about Mary Sue I was told by somebody else."
- Beige Prose: This story is only four paragraphs long, all fairly short and straightforward.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "her beautiful youth and youthful beauty"
- Ephebophile: Kirk immediately wants to have sex with fifteen-year-old Mary Sue, but changes his mind when she says "I'm not that kind of girl!"
- External Retcon: This Memory Gamma article actually gives the original Mary Sue a sensical history and Hand Waves most of her more egregious Sueness. It also Retcons her into being Only Mostly Dead so that she could live to the Next Generation era.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Mary Sue.
- Improbable Age: The "youngest lieutenant in the fleet" at "fifteen and a half years old".
- Informed Attractiveness: Lt. Mary Sue's beauty, which is only mentioned in the next-to-last sentence.
- Numbered Homeworld: parodied: "Rigel XXXVII"
- Out of Character: Parodied, like everything else in the fic. Spock "weeping unashamedly."
- Parody Sue: Parody of Mary Sue Classic, to be specific, though the "tragic death" part is (sadly) much less common these days.
- Soap Opera Disease: The jumping cold robbies.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth
- Unbuilt Trope: Of a sort. Mary Sue herself is ironically somewhat lacking in Common Mary Sue Traits, especially the ones which would be played up in almost any modern-day Mary Sue parody. Her name is ordinary, her appearance is not described aside from mentions of her beauty, and it's simply never mentioned what clothing or accessories she wears. In other words, her Sueness is based almost entirely on her being the center of attention and stealing the spotlight from the canon heroes. If this were written now, it would almost be a Double Subversion of the Parody Sue trope.