Interstat

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Zine
Title: Interstat
Publisher: Teri Meyer & Mary Buser & Ann Crouch
Editor(s):
Type: letterzine
Date(s): November 1977 - March 1991
Frequency:
Medium: print fanzine
Size:
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS, then later also Star Trek: TNG
Language: English
External Links: cited here
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Contents

cover of issue #29, full gallery below

Interstat is a Star Trek: TOS letterzine. It ran for 152 issues. The title comes from 'interstat communications," a form of communication mentioned in the TAS episode "The Terratin Incident."[1]

The first issue of Interstat was published two months after the long-running The Halkan Council ceased publication.

The letterzine was small digest sized, center stapled and averaged around 24 pages. Covers were printed on colored paper and contained black and white line art by a variety of well known fan artists. Interstat began in 1977 by charging .50 cents per issue which then increased to $1 per issue by 1983. Overseas subscriptions were also available at a higher cost.

The large amount of mail the zine received necessitated the addition of a section called "Thanks for writing...," a list of fans who wrote letters but space constraints meant they couldn't be printed.

While it contained very, very few ads, "Interstat" had a policy of not accepting zine ads for materials that required an age statement to purchase, a policy that was upheld in regards to zines with slash but was applied more sporadically to explicit het zines such as Rigel and R & R.

Teri Meyer, the publisher and editor, has given Fanlore permission to quote from Interstat. Names of LoCers have been abbreviated to first name and last name initial.

Issue Contents

Click on the links below to see more information about individual issues of Interstat.

Editors

  • Teri Meyer and Mary G. Buser for #1-15
  • starting September 1979, Teri Meyer and Ann Crouch

Regular Columns

Regular columns (at various times):

  • Michele Arvizu: "There's Something I've Been Wanting to Say..."
  • Dixie Owen, "Dixie's Clippings": Trek-related people and projects news from Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter trade papers, starting in March 1979
  • Kay Johnson: rumors; movie news, 1978-1979, wrote until December 1979
  • Melinda Shreve: character commentary until September 1979
  • Michele Arvizu: ST satires
  • Alice Greene, "Starfleet Now"
  • Cathy Strand, "Book Barn," announcing upcoming Star Trek books
  • Leslie Fish and Mary Lou Dodge, point/counterpoint column staring October 1979
  • Ken Gooch joins the Omaha staff in February 1979, he wrote "Reel Reviews"

Some Flyers

Later Star Trek Letterzines

Following the end of Interstat, three new Star Trek letterzines attempted to continue the tradition, with much shorter lifespans: Diachron (6 issues), Engage! (19 issues) and STARLink (35 issues).

For other fandom letterzines; see List of Letterzines.

From the Editors

In the fourth issue, the editors wrote:
As every fan-publisher knows, there is a periodic analysis and re-grouping of a zine's purpose and philosophy. It is time now, for us, to share with you our intentions for INTERSTAT. The continuing purpose of INTERSTAT is to provide a regular interchange of ideas, philosophies, opinions and comments...on topics of your choosing. We feel that every letter we receive deserves a hearing. (If you don't wish the letter you write to us published, please mark it so!) As the time comes that we receive more letters than space permits we will print letters in direct proportion to the views presented. At no time will we make editorial decisions to print only letters reflecting our beliefs. We strive to present an unbiased forum. This is the reason for INTERSTAT's existence.... INTERSTAT was intended as a fan-comment zine. Our columns of zine and con listings are not integral to our original intent. The most complete and most professional update of zines (with reviews) is available from Scuttlebutt, [address redacted] Likewise, Spectrum [address redacted] is the definitive source of con info and zine analysis. These two publications are doing a magnificent job of regularly fulfilling the needs of fandom in their respective areas. Our columns in these areas will be phased out as LOCs increase... In response to a number of inquiries we would like to clarify our position as regards fanzine "reviews". INTERSTAT will publish fan reactions, comments, essays and critiques of fan and professional fiction—in the form of LOCs. These will be considered comments by a specific writer—opinions of one person. Criticism is an art. And in lieu of making editorial judgments on "reviews" submitted, we will publish only personal letters of comment. We appreciate your support, your violent criticism and your kind words. Because of your involvement in INTERSTAT we are compelled to do everything in our talents and powers to give you an honest forum. We do expect you to tell us when we go right and, more importantly, when we go wrong.
from the ninth issue
In the ninth issue, the editors wrote:
In response to several letters inquiring as to the rationale we use in determining which LOCs will be printed, these are our criteria. 1. All letters received by the 15th of the month, by either publisher, are considered for the next month's issue. 2. Letters relating to S.T. and its genre receive precedence over letters relating to other topics. 3. New topics are favored on a 30% new (as available) to 70% proportion of continuing topics. 4. Insights on current controversies and replies to published comments are published in a direct percentage re- lationship to the total number of replies received on that topic. Each issue reflects the pro/con proportion of mail received that month. 5. New writers have an edge over writers who have pre- viously appeared in INTERSTAT—but only the first time. 6. Letters which are clear and concise are favored over letters which ramble. 7. Letters of over one 8 1/2 x 11 page may be edited for length in order to provide the widest forum for all comments. And we dislike the arbitrary function of trying to ascertain which topics are most important to a letter writer. So these letters are subject to the confines of layout. In the clutch of "publishing week", layout considerations are the determining factor between two letters of comparable view. We feel this is fair. While both of us feel volatilly on issues (often in opposite corners) it is not our place— in INTERSTAT-- to censor, control or "guide" this zine by publishing letters which conform to our personal opinions, The LOC section is a fan forum. At the same time, as publishers, we will not print any letter which our legal counsel considers libelous. We are responsible legally, financially and ultimately, for these pages.

Reactions and Reviews

Now, thanks to Interstat, I have letters to write, things to think about, and people whom I've never even met to be angry at. [2]
I thought I would take the time to thank you for a wonderful publication. With one notable exception, the contributors are thoughtful, intelligent and concise in their offerings, exemplifying the spirit of IDIC. You are to be congratulated for presenting such a wide range of views, even when it is apparent that some of them are coming from the Twilight Zone rather than TREK - all deserve to be heard from. [3]
I happen to like the petty bickering and the childish arguments. The heated disagreements keep things pretty interesting and I laugh myself through each and every one. Long live puerile ranting! [4]
Nice format, good art. Mel Shreve's column 'Insight' of character sketches is just that, insight, and very well done. For the rest of it though ..... there is definitely a tone of 'we're going to tell you only what's good for, though, Scuttlebutt does a much better job at listing all the fanzines and news around, with none of the ax grinding. [5]
INTERSTAT has just celebrated its third birthday, but before we all start popping corks .... For those unfamiliar with it, INTERSTAT (once known as Fandom's Fight Zine) is a small letterzine published monthly. It has lovely cover art, nice inside graphics and an ever-dwindling collection of letters per issue, although it seems that new subscribers are writing in all the time. Readers send in letters about what's bothering them, what isn't bothering them, what's bothering someone else, whatever, and others respond, giving this segment of fandom a chance to mouth-off monthly about what somebody said a few issues back. Your letter will be printed only if you subscribe, but that's no guarantee; it supposedly doesn't take advertising, and, as far as I know, hasn't yet included any obscenity. Yet, while some subscribers may be congratulating INTERSTAT on its longevity, there are others out there like me, rather wishing it a Get Well Soon, or, for the non-too-optimistic, a Bon Voyage to the land of Rest In Peace. Because INTERSTAT is suffering from a strange and degenerative disease: expanding staff. You may wonder what sort of contributing staff a letterzine needs. An even better question is why it is necessary for that staff to take up half the zine with their columns, to wit: Dixie Owen's "Dixie's Clippings," a compilation from various show biz magazines on what's doing with ST, SF, what ST stars are doing; a book column, formerly by Cathy Strand and now by Ann Crouch (coincidentally one of the editors—how cozy); 'There's Something I've Been Meaning to Say' by Michelle Arvizu, a purportedly satiric, generally sophomoric and sometimes downright offensive set of pieces starring The Big Three as an advertisement for Downes Syndrome; they used to have 'It's Not a Rumor Anymore' by Kay Johnson, until the movie came out and Kay, coincidentally, won the Fan Fund Award; they added a Point/Counterpoint—legitimizing a class structure that made some subscribers more equal than others —with Mary Louise Dodge as James Kilpatrick, which I can see, and Leslie Fish as Shana Alexander, which I can't; Alice Greene popped up next with 'Starfleet Now,' news of the Space Program, and then in issue #34 they suddenly showed up with what they call a film critic. Ken Gooch's review of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK begins, "Reality is those things which are." Somebody send this boy to summer camp. Since the rest of his review was equally perceptive, I wonder which editor's boyfriend he is. Now, there's nothing wrong with all these columns. Some of them might even be informative. But they are taking up half of a letterzine, and so it seems that INTERSTAT is suffering something of an identity crisis. But that's not all, folks. It also seems to be going through a metamorphosis, and I wonder if it is a natural one. INTERSTAT used to be the place to defame someone's religion and/or libel their maternal relations. It used to be full of argument, insult, and snide innuendo. But this refreshingly honest bitchy-ness has somehow quite suddenly disappeared. Not only has it disappeared, but in its place has been dished out just oodles of mutual admiration, which, like a mouthful of saccharine, will do something interesting yet not at all pleasant to your stomach. ; this the natural trend of the letters, or is ? a little artificial selection going on? Have editors decided to turn INTERSTAT into Fandom's Friendship Zine? If so, does the readership have a to know? Are there some letters they won't print? Views they aren't open to? Subscribers trying to communicate these views sending in their letters which are never printed, so they finally just up and go away? There must be some editorial policy governing what and will not be printed, and, after talking to embittered ex-subscribers, one wonders if the editors have any particular ax to grind. And if their readership has the right to know what it is. The INTERSTAT policy statement tells when LOCs must be received to be 'considered' not how they are considered; that INTERSTAT wishes to feature 'a variety of opinion', while filling a letterzine with columns when letters received do not see print... What does it take to get published in INTERSTAT? Compatible adorations? Friend of the publisher? Cash? I'm curious about INTERSTAT. Is it what it says it is? SPECTRUM, which was also a fan comment zine, ceased publication, leaving INTERSTAT alone in the field. Just what is INTERSTAT? [6] [7]
Normally I do not indulge in rebuttals, but in the case of T'Yenta's "review" of INTERSTAT, I find this to be an absolute necessity. While T'Yenta's review is not, of itself, worthy of rebuttal (it is simply nauseously offensive), most of its contents are so erroneous that in fairness to INTERSTAT, a rebuttal is definitely in order. Every person has an opinion - unfortunately the original review went a great deal further. It was' filled with misstatements, erroneous facts, malicious speculation, slurs, and outright lies; and the record needs to be set straight. INTERSTAT readers recognize the garbage by its stench. However, those who have not read INTERSTAT may be mislead by the review which was an insult to INTERSTAT, its editors and its readers. I wish to take apart the review point-by point... [which she does]... Reviewers have a responsibility -to inform with credible, accurate information. T'Yenta has not done that. Instead, she has abused her position as reviewer to draw-and-quarter a victim, in what seems to be pure spite (for what I don't know). She has grossly shirked her responsibility as a reviewer; and in the process, cheated her readers with shoddiness. She has substituted venom for objectivity; misinformation for veracity; and outright lies for truth. She did not take the time to verify any of her "facts", and she has insulted all of her own readers by pawning off on them a product (her review) which is cheap, unsupported ru-more-mongering, fit only for printing in a yellow-journal rag (which UT is not). She insults the intelligence of UT's readers, and demeans and degrades the position of reviewer. [8]
I blush to confess that my first reaction to reading Interstat was distress. "Oh dear!" I thought to myself, "These people are arguing with each other. How dreadful! This is going to ruin fandom." But, of course, that is silly. People will always disagree; here is a forum for individuals to defend unique points of view. A letter of comment expresses an opinion. If there was no opposing argument, It wouldn't be very interesting. Fortunately, there seems to be no danger of a consensus ever being reached, so the debates will continue. Ann Crouch and Teri Meyer describe their zine as: "The only monthly Star Trek publication devoted to fan comment, analysis, and reaction." In addition, there are other short features such as book reviews, notes on celebrity appearances, awards, and activities, or satirical mock-interviews. I do not, however, recomment Interstat for a neo-fan. A considerable knowledge of amateur writing is assumed. This is a zine for the sophisticated fan who enjoys emotion laden discussion. [9]
After six months of INTERSTAT I am thoroughly hooked. All the comments and criticisms are terrific and I just love the way people insult others they don't agree with and criticize people for taking pot shots after they themselves have done so. I find it all very humorous. [10]
"I got into the letterzine Interstat, run by Teri Meyer, around the time TNG started, which wasn't long before Interstat came to an end. It was a lot of fun, but once people started going online in large quantities, letterzines were passe -- you didn't have to wait a few weeks to read whether anyone had a response to what you had to say, or to respond to someone else's comments."[11]
I know that people always write this in their letters, and it has become cliche, but I must thank you for putting so much time and effort into such a fantastic human endeavor such as INTERSTAT. It is a wonderful fanzine. [12]
I have to say that I have never detected any kind of bias or favoritism on the part of the editor. I think Teri does a fine job of printing letters both pro and con on all the issues currently being discussed. When she expresses her own opinions, which she has every right to do, she clearly labels them as such and does not find it necessary to disguise them in the form of selected letters. [13]
It never ceases to amaze me how Teri can turn out such a varied and interesting publication on a very tight schedule. I get more all around ST information from INTERSTAT than from any other fan publication. [14]
Sometimes I wonder if INTERSTAT will ever run out of controversy. I hope not! [15]
I really enjoy finding out what other fans think about Star Trek, even if everyone disagrees most of the time. [16]

Widely Known for Heated Discussion

the editors explain their letter selection policy in issue #9, click to read

Interstat was famous for its sharp, and often inflammatory, letters.

A number of letterzines contained comments by readers patting themselves on the back in congratulations and relief that their publication wasn't like Interstat's tone and level of disagreement. One example is S and H. Fans in that letterzine wrote many times that they didn't want their publication to become another Interstat, that the flames and often harsh arguments were not to be emulated:
Please, people, if we are going to discuss this [slash], let's keep it civil. The sorry example of "Interstat" has shown how very little there is to be gained from the they do too/they don't neither type of exchange... [17]
The editor of Spectrum writes of Interstat's reputation as an arena for heated conflict:
[One issue of Interstat] doesn't seem to be any different from any other issue. The general trend among the Interstat contributors seems to be who can holler and scream the loudest and most offensively over topics that can never allow for any black and white resolutions. Interstat has become a battleground in print, with many of the letters being directed not at fandom in general, but toward specific individuals concerning purely personal matters. That may be fine once in a while, but if Interstat is indeed a FAN FORUM as the editors state, then the topics inside should be applicable to fans in general, and not just a convenient street corner to scream profanities from. Even a lot of the people writing to the zine have expressed the same opinion, but it just hasn't stopped...If you don't mind searching between the caustic and vituperous letters for those of merit, then Interstat may still contain something of interest for you. Can you honestly send a LoC to Interstat any more without some cause to worry? I don't know about anyone else, but I'm scared to death at the idea of the editors standing by while a pack of blood-thirsty fen rip me verbally limb from limb. Some of the fans in the zine will tear your throat out if you but touch the wrong subject, and the editors won't lift a finger to help or hinder anyone. I used to recommend the zine, but in all good conscience, I can't now. It frightens and depresses me. I hope that I'm in the minority, but I have a sinking feeling I'm not. [18]
A fan in 1982 writes:
I have read INTERSTAT with interest almost since the first issue. But I read the 1981 issues with much distaste and sorrow. They grow increasingly quarrelsome, back biting and just plain nasty...Let alone IDIC - where are simple good manners and debating rules? Most of the writers seem to know each other, but if this attitude continues, I am happy not to know any of them, or even go to a convention (which I always wanted to). [19]

The Kristen Brady Controversy

In 1987, Kristen Brady, a fan using a pseudonym, contributed a highly negative review of Interstat called "Anatomy of a Letterzine" to several zines, one of which was Power of Speech. The review takes "Interstat" to task for two things: one, its "gnashing of teeth, the raking of claws, and the lashing of tongues -- not to mention the backbiting, mudslinging..." and two, the reviewer's belief that "Interstat" was nothing but a censored rag dedicated toward TPTB. She wrote: "In which one critic takes a look at the letterzine know as 'Bennett's Tenets,' also known as 'The Harve Bennett Fan Club Newsletter,' or, as it is more commonly called, "Interstat".... Unless you are stout of heart and rodinium-plated, do not remove the staple that holds the pages of Interstat together...for to do so otherwise would be to unleash hissing, spitting, growling, barking, and snapping such as no fan has ever encountered before." :

Excerpt from the review:

Mr. Bennett's continued interest in the goings-on of the fannish community -- as evidenced by his occasional letters to Interstat -- is the proverbial monkey wrench in the works. The knowledge that 'HB' will be watching casts a entirely new light on the subject, and the subscriber's letters, which once might have started out as an attempt to reach out to new fans and perhaps talk a little Trek, suddenly take on a very personal and a very immediate importance as each tries to impart his or her own personal vision of the essence of True Trek to one in a position of power. It then becomes of paramount importance that these personal visions not be marred or sullied in any way, in the eyes of HB. In this context, any opinion contrary to the author's own personal conception of Trek is taken as a personal attack, and by the same token, if an author wants his/her own beliefs to stand, it often becomes necessary to tear down those of others. Gone is the forum type of atmosphere one would assume of something called a letterzine. Gone is any give-and-take if opinions, any exchange of ideas; the atmosphere of Interstat is quite unmistakably that of competition. The goal is, I think, for each participant to try to get his/her particular vision to be the one that HB selects and possibly incorporates into future Trek projects...

Joan Verba in Boldly Writing commented on this letter years later: "Interstat readers responded by rebutting it in the pages of the newsletter. As with other critical reviews of the letterzine, this review had no effect on Interstat's subscribers—most were satisfied with the product, and thought the criticisms were unfounded."

The End

From The Monthly in January 1991: "DEVASTATING NEWS: "The forthcoming issue of Interstat, #151/152 will be the last. Due to overwhelming home improvement Teri Meyer will not longer be able to continue to give us the fine issues of one of fandom's most favorite zines... history's of fandom's finest hours sadly close with the final issue of Interstat."

The editor signs off in the last issue:
It was a joy to see a dream become reality, to provide a monthly forum of news and comment for Star Trek's unique following. INTERSTAT evolved into a 13-year history of the range and direction of Star Trek fandom, a chronology of the views and opinions of the finest letter-writers In any media fandom. Because of the talent and diversity of these letter-writers, I was always assured of the continuation of this publication. No editor could be more grateful. There are many people to whom I would like to extend my deepest thanks, particularly the staff of INTERSTAT. Their time and efforts often made the difficult task of meeting monthly deadlines seem easy... [long list of detailed thanks snipped].... It was the best of times, sometimes the worst. But what a privilege for an editor to have had a readership and staff whose unswerving support nurtured and sustained her every effort. No journey was too great, no adventure more beloved. Beam me out, too, Scotty.

Additional Reading

Cover Gallery

I find INTERSTAT artwork to be worth the price of a subscription alone! [21]
You should be commended on the consistently excellent quality of art you manage to obtain for INTERSTAT. The cover art is something
 to which one can look forward to seeing. The interior art is also quite appreciated and of a
like calibre. Such illustrations add greatly to the appeal of a publi
cation. [22]

References

  1. Intersat? That's been out of use for two centuries.” Uhura, “The Terratin Incident,” Star Trek: The Animated Series.
  2. from a fan in Interstat #45
  3. from Julianne D in Interstat #77
  4. from Linda L in Interstat #77
  5. from Stardate: Unknown #4
  6. from a review by T'Yenta in Universal Translator #6;
  7. this review has a long, long rebuttal by Teri Meyer in Interstat #38, see that page
  8. from a much longer rebuttal to an earlier review in Universal Translator
  9. from Spin Dizzie #4
  10. from Mark M in Interstat #66
  11. Trek Magazine dated March 18, 2010; reference link.
  12. from a fan's letter in Interstat #76
  13. from Mary T in Interstat #77
  14. from Deborah L. B in Interstat #78
  15. from Linda G in Interstat #89
  16. from Nancy J. C in Interstat #111
  17. from a 1979 issue of S and H
  18. from Spectrum #39
  19. from Nancy C in Interstat #51
  20. reference link.
  21. from a fan in Interstat #56
  22. from Interstat #34
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