Gene Roddenberry

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Name: Gene Roddenberry
Also Known As: The Great Bird of the Galaxy
Occupation: Television: producer, creator, writer
Medium: Television
Works: Star Trek, Andromeda, Earth: Final Conflict
Official Website(s):
Fan Website(s):
On Fanlore: Related pages


Gene Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek.

Gene Roddenberry puts that in his pipe and smokes it, from Satire Trek Comicordance

He is often referred to by fans as the "Great Bird of the Galaxy."

from The Incredible Star Trek Book, tarot card by Donna L. Astin

While Star Trek was on the air, and afterward, Roddenberry was a willing and entertaining convention guest. A few years after Star Trek went off the air (and as it was gaining in popularity through syndication), Roddenberry was going through hard times creatively/financially. He was encouraged to go on lecture tours, talking about Star Trek, showing the blooper reel and original pilot.

a 1974 photo of Gene Roddenberry and unknown person at an unknown locale, the photographer is Jim Van Hise

Later, when he started working on the Star Trek movies, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, he continued to communicate with fans; dropping hints and even giving interviews to lzs, etc. Because of these frequent chances to see and talk to him, fans felt that they knew him (or at least knew someone who knew him). It could be argued that he shaped fannish ideas of how the showrunner of a genre show should act: how accessible they should be, how friendly to fans, etc. In many ways, Gene Roddenberry's interactions with fans set an example that was often challenging for those who followed. [1]

Fandom mourned his death in 1991, and then later the death of his wife, Majel Barrett, in December 2008.

His Views Regarding Fanworks

Gene Roddenberry wrote about fan creativity in his 1976 introduction for Star Trek: The New Voyages, a Bantam published book edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. This was a collection of original Star Trek stories that had originally been published in fanzines. Given that this was a professionally published book, the collection was entirely het and gen. It included only one story with crypto-slash elements: “The Winged Dreamers” by Jennifer Guttridge, author of the first-ever K/S story, “The Ring of Soshern”, in 1968.

Gene’s intro:
...Certainly the loveliest happening of all for us was the fact that so many others began to feel the same way [about Star Trek as we did]. Television viewers by the millions began to take Star Trek to heart as their own personal optimistic view of the Human condition and future. They fought for the show, honored it, cherished it, wrote about it--and have continued to do their level best to make certain that it will live again.

...We were particularly amazed when thousands, then tens of thousands of people began creating their own personal Star Trek adventures. Stories, and paintings, and sculptures, and cookbooks. And songs, and poems, and fashions. And more. The list is still growing. It took some time for us to fully understand and appreciate what these people were saying. Eventually we realized that there is no more profound way in which people could express what Star Trek has meant to them than by creating their own very personal Star Trek things. Because I am a writer, it was their Star Trek stories that especially gratified me. I have seen these writings in dog-eared notebooks of fans who didn't look old enough to spell "cat." I have seen them in meticulously produced fanzines, complete with excellent artwork. Some of it has even been done by professional writers, and much of it has come from those clearly on their way to becoming professional writers. Best of all, all of it was plainly done with love. It is now a source of great joy for me to see their view of Star Trek, their new Star Trek stories, reaching professional publication here. I want to thank these writers, congratulate them on their efforts, and wish them good fortune on these and further of their voyages into other times and dimensions. Good writing is always a very personal thing and comes from the writer's deepest self. Star Trek was that kind of writing for me, and it moves me profoundly that it has also become so much a part of the inner self of so many other people.

Viewers like this have proved that there is a warm, loving, and intelligent lifeform out there--and that it may even be the dominant species on this planet.

That is the highest compliment and the greatest repayment that they could give us.

In the first authorized biography of William Shatner, Shatner: Where No Man by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, one chapter is devoted to an interview with Roddenberry. The authors compared Kirk's friendship with Spock to the bond between Alexander the Great and his friend Hephaistion. In context, a series of historical novels about Alexander's life by Mary Renault were appearing at the time this book was being prepared, and Roddenberry had read them. Shatner had played Alexander in a 1968 TV-movie, and both he and Roddenberry described themselves as fans of the historical Alexander.

"There's a great deal of writing in the Star Trek movement now which compares the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion to the relationship between Kirk and Spock -- focusing on the closeness of the friendship, the feeling that they would die for one another --" "Yes, there's certainly some of that, certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal... we never suggested in the series... physical love between the two. But it's the... we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." (He looks thoughtful.) "That's very interesting. I never thought of that before." [2]

He Uses Fans, Fans Use Him

Roddenberry frequently communicated with fans regarding many projects. He wrote letters and supported their fannish projects, he attended cons, he sent films and props to cons, he called cons, he warned them regarding trouble ahead, and he directly asked them to support his projects with letter campaigns. In these interactions, he played the role of both the man in charge, and the man who was a fellow fan and "one of you."

Roddenberry understood the power that he had over fandom, and the power that fans had in shaping that fandom. Fans were both something to enjoy and encourage as well as something to use.

Some examples of Roddenberry's utilization of fandom took the form of open letters. Some examples:

See Also

Gallery of Fannish Roddenberry Art


  1. See George Lucas.
  2. Gene Roddenberry, quoted in Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's Where No Man...: The Authorized Biography of William Shatner (Ace, 1979), chapter 7 - p. 145, 147-8).
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