Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987

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Commentary
Title: Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967–1987
Commentator: Joan Marie Verba
Date(s): 1996
Medium: Book
Fandom: Star Trek, K/S
External Links: online PDF of the book, Amazon page, Google Book result
Boldly.jpg
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1998 notice in STAG #132

Written by the well-known Trek fan Joan Marie Verba, the subtitle of the book says it all: It's a history of Star Trek fan activities from 1967 to 1987. The author writes in a colloquial style, drops as many names as she could possibly remember, and lists all of the conventions she went to (or got flyers for). As a result, this book is the single best source for zine details and history (who published it, how many issues, whether it's all Trek, etc.) that Trek fandom has.

The book is divided into five chronological sections:

  • The First Trekker Fanzines
  • Steady Growth
  • The Fanzine Explosion
  • The Splintering of Fandom
  • The Early Movie Years

From the Author

Joan Verba says Star Trek Lives! is what made her write Boldly Writing:
The first time I realized that there were Star Trek fans who were unaware of fanzine history was during a conversation in an autograph line at a 1982 Star Trekconvention in St. Louis. While waiting, I casually mentioned Star Trek Lives! to the fans nearby. 'What's Star Trek Lives?' asked one of the fans. What's Star Trek Lives? The first mass-marketed paperback book (published 1975) to describe Star Trekfanzines. For thousands upon thousands of fans, this was when they became aware that such activity existed, and that they could join in. Almost overnight, Star Trek fanzine readers grew from a small intimate group of individuals who knew each other by reputation, at least, into a large, diversified network of enthusiasts. How could one be a StarTrek fan and not have heard of fanzines? But the incident that motivated me to finally sit down and write this book was an exchange of letters in June 1990. An editor had stated in her publication that Universal Translator had been the first regular publication to list fanzine descriptions. Checking my library, I found that Scuttlebutt had predated Universal Translator, so I wrote the editor, asking her to print a correction. She replied, '...when I asked friends who have been in fandom longer than I (actually they've been in fandom since fandom came into being), the response was, 'Who cares which was first?' I care. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

This is one of the key books for anyone interested in Star Trek fandom, though it ends in 1987, as The Next Generation hits the airwaves. Of course, the tremendous mass appeal and success of The Next Generation changed fandom, so that's a reasonable place to end a book like this. Verba is a fan fiction writer, and for several years published a newsletter of fanzine reviews called Treklink. I was a subscriber for a year or two during my fanzine-collecting years, and found Treklink very useful. As a result, I was glad to hear that Verba had written this book. It's a solid, year-by-year history of the fanzine subculture, describing a few hundred fanzines, discussing the trends in the field, and so on. The book has two main problems. First, it could have been a lot longer, with more time spent on discussions of the key stories and writers. Second, and completely out of Verba's control: the fanzines covered here are now very hard to find. If one of the fanzines described piques your interest, you may be doomed to frustration. [2]

1998

I've been reading through an interesting book I picked up at MediaWest. It's Joan Marie Verba, Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967-1987. It's exactly what it sounds like-- a year-by-year history of the first twenty years of Star Trek fandom, rather dryly written but very full and accurate. How I wish someone would do something similar for B7 fandom! But I suppose it would take someone who was in on it from the start, has saved everything, and is very detail-minded; and I'm not sure such a person exists. Do we have a Joan Marie Verba in B7, who can tell the rest of us what happened when? [3]

2000

I've bought a couple of copies, one as a gift. and it is a beautifully done history of a section of fandom. It you weren't involved, it could be a little like reading someone else's high school yearbook, tho. [4]

2003

Certainly the people writing fanzines at the time didn't realize they were making a certain kind of history, but it was (and is) a significant movement. And Star Trek was one of the first and biggest of the media fandoms, where fans were organized, took a hand in creating the universe, and in general became interactive participants rather than passive viewers. This book does a nice job of capturing that energy and showing the early struggles of editors trying to publish with Xerox machines and staple guns - and successfully creating an underground network. I enjoyed reading it. The writer does a chronology, and puts in some of her own insights as well as others. [5]

2005

. . . except that the work was rather long on facts but rather short on analysis and criticism. Perhaps that would be the subject for a companion volume. [6]

2010

'Boldly Writing' is Joan Marie Verba’s documentation of Star Trek fanzines and fandom from 1967, the year she discovered and began collecting fanzines, to 1987, when Star Trek: The Next Generation went on the air and the fandom incorporated the new series into its love of the old. As the mother of all fandoms develops, it ultimately codifies the modern experience of what it means to be a fan... Verba pretty much lets the experiences stand for themselves, occasionally including some pieces here and there. She mentions her experiences at certain cons and her reaction to certain pieces of fanfiction, but she keeps herself to the side, allowing others to speak for themselves. And they do, and it’s fantastic. Bottom line: If you’re not in fandom or are new to the whole thing, this isn’t the way to introduce yourself to it. But if you’re part of fandom and enjoy fandom history, Boldly Writing will be a delight, connecting you across decades to the mother fandom and all the glories, fights, and silliness therein. [7]

References

  1. from the introduction
  2. The Complete Starfleet Library
  3. Lysator, Sarah T, June 1998
  4. on October 1, 2000 at alt.startrek.creative
  5. fan review at Amazon, September 1, 2003
  6. fan review at Amazon, August 5, 2005
  7. The Literary Omnivore, posted February 6, 2012, accessed February 20, 2010