Star Trek: The Original Series

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Fandom
Name: Star Trek
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Date(s): 1966-1969: Star Trek: The Original Series
1973: Star Trek the animated series
1979: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
1982: Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
1984: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
1986: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
1989: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
1991: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Medium: Television series, movie series
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB (TV series), TV.com (TV series), TV.com (animated series), Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
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Contents

Star Trek debuted in 1966, billed by its creator Gene Roddenberry as "a Wagon Train to the stars". Considered ground-breaking for its era, Star Trek showed a multinational, multiracial cast crewing the U.S.S. Enterprise, a starship devoted to exploration. The series was saved from cancellation by fan effort after its second season, but was then cancelled after the third season.

Despite this, Star Trek survived, first in the form of an animated series, later as a series of major motion pictures. A second television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, debuted in 1987. The original 1960s series became known as Star Trek: The Original Series, frequently abbreviated ST:TOS, or simply TOS by fans. For an overview of the whole franchise, see the Star Trek page.

Show Synopsis

The U.S.S. Enterprise, under the command of James Kirk, is on a five-year mission of exploration in deep space: 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'. Her crew often faces new phenomena, cultures, and planets, of the both friendly and unfriendly varieties.

There are seven major characters, although only three were ever listed in the main title credits of the show: Captain Kirk, his executive officer Spock, Doctor McCoy, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant Uhura, Helmsman Sulu, and Ensign Chekov. Other recurring characters include Nurse Chapel (played by Majel Barrett), Yeoman Rand, and various admirals. Spock's parents, Sarek and Amanda, are also popular characters; they appear in only one TOS episode, but return in the movies and tie-in novels.

Fandom

This is the fandom where modern slash was born. This is also the fandom where media fandom split from science fiction fandom and became its own force to reckon with.

Star Trek: The Original Series has a very active fanbase that was born nearly the moment the show debuted and still flourishes more than forty years later. Fans have not only kept this series alive after it was nearly canceled after its second season, but also kept it going through many years where there was no new material through their production of fanworks, their organization of conventions and their devotion to their fandom.

1966 letter from Harlan Ellison calling on fans to oppose the series cancellation
1968 letter from John and Bjo Trimble calling on fans to send letters in support of the show

A current trend as viewed on Fanfiction.net, as well as through other sites, is that ST:TOS is being discovered by a number of people from countries outside of the United States where it originated. Many new fans coming into the fandom have found it through the internet, international syndication or by accessibility to buying the DVDs and other media through large media-selling websites. The series was [remastered on television and DVD in 2006] with added CGI effects, to give Star Trek: The Original Series a more authentic feel and look which would be acceptable to modern audiences.

Another potential attractor to new fandom are the new movies, which were billed as series "reboot" and may prompt curiosity about the original television show.

Brief History of Star Trek Fandom

Main article: Timeline of Star Trek Fandom

There is a wealth of information about Star Trek fandom.The first media fanzine was Spockanalia, which started publishing in 1967, while the show was still on the air. The second, ST-Phile, put out the first of two issues in January 1968. Inside Star Trek, considered at the time to be the "official" Star Trek fan club zine, began publishing in the fall of that year.

The first large-scale Trek media convention or "con" [1] was in 1972 (they'd hoped 500 people would come -- they had to turn people away after the first 3,000). Committee member Joan Winston gave a detailed account of that first guest convention in Star Trek Lives!.[2] The first media fan con (i.e., run by fans, for fans, with no guest stars) was August Party, in August 1975, chaired by Rich Kolker. The following year, the American Midwest's first media fan con was held: SeKWester*Con (pronounced "sequester con") in Kalamazoo, Michigan.[3] (Go figure.) At the second SeKWester*Con, the Fan Q awards were started to recognize Quality in Star Trek fan fiction, filks and art. (At some point, they started being given to K/S content as well. Year?). Starting in 1981, the FanQ awards have been given out at MediaWest*Con.[4] Beginning in 1984, and again in 1998, K/S fan writers, feeling that their slash contributions were not getting enough recognition, began holding their own awards: the K/Star Award and the Philon awards respectively.

Like the idea of zines, and conventions, the Star Trek Welcommittee (which lasted from 1972 until the web finally made it unecessary) was based on existing science fiction fandom. In this case, the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) Welcommittee. [5]

As of 2008, there are still Trek guest cons and fan cons held every year. When Joan Winston died, her obit showed up in the New York Times as the Trek Superfan.[1] Star Trek fandom is still going strong.

As mentioned above, the first media fanzine was Spockanalia, which started publishing while the show was still on the air, as did ST-Phile; they both sent copies to the production staff and actors. In issue four of Spockanalia, the first romantic story featuring Spock appeared, "Time Enough" by Lelamarie S. Kreidler. The story concerns Spock's next pon farr and how he seeks out and mates with Lian Jameson, a part-Vulcan woman who is the head of the ship's Alien Research section. The two part amicably without bonding or any form of commitment when she is called back to Vulcan.

Star Trek, NASA, and Science

Star Trek's popularity was deeply enmeshed in many fans' interest in space exploration, travel, and NASA. Many zines contained news, photos, and updates regarding the current news regarding this subject. See Star Trek and NASA.

Star Trek also sparked and stoked an interest in science with many fans. Many people today recount how the show caused them to go on to study and have careers in science. The show is often cited as a reason by many women such as Mae Jemison and Candy Torres who have gone on to become scientists. [need more quotes and examples]

Star Trek as a Buddy Show Rather than Science Fiction

Joan Marie Verba writes in Boldly Writing that she was aware of

"the ever-increasing number of Star Trek fans who had no experience with science fiction, and no interest in science fiction whatsoever. Many of these fans did not view Star Trek as a science fiction program. They saw it as a "buddy" show, or as a heroic/romantic saga, in which Kirk and Spock were the focus. When these Star Trek fans wrote stories, they wrote about what they thought was most important about Star Trek: Kirk's and Spock's friendship... As a further sign that such fans found science fiction irrelevant, many K&S writers did their best to get Kirk and Spock off the Enterprise and by themselves in order to concentrate exclusively on those two characters (one K&S fan told me that was to avoid the 'distraction' of the ship and the Federation; in contrast, to science fiction fans, the inclusion of the starship Enterprise and the futuristic setting were essential to any Star Trek story.) Within five years, this "relationship" type of story was to dominate non-K/S Star Trek fanzines. One might argue that the 'relationship' (K&S) and the homoerotic (K/S) stories were merely two aspects of the same theme. Neither was concerned about science fiction. Both concentrated on the interactions between Kirk and Spock. In these stories, Kirk and Spock spend large amounts of time thinking about the state of their friendship (K&S) or love life (K/S), as opposed to thinking about their careers, the world around them, other people, the issues of the day, and so forth. Each has stories in which one runs to the rescue of the other. Both have stories of the hurt/comfort category... Although during the 'great K/S debate,' the K&S and K/S fans seemed to be on radically opposite poles, these similarities in the two genres are too numerous to ignore."

Romantic and Sexual Pairings

In the initial years of the fandom, not all fan fiction focused on romance. Fans wrote stories that could play out in the reader's head as an ordinary series episode. Some stories were actually in screenplay form. Some authors, notably Jacqueline Lichtenberg, submitted their original scripts to the show's producers, continuing to do so even after the series was canceled in the hope that if another network picked up the show their work could be used.

All published romantic fan fiction in those days was "het", often focusing on Spock's need to find a suitable mate since his canon divorce from his affianced bride at his last pon farr. Common het pairings are Kirk/Uhura and Spock/Chapel. There are also numerous stories in which, similar to the canon episodes, the male leads are paired with original female characters, many of them quite well written. This took place before the Mary Sue panic began to influence amateur writing.

Spock/Uhura in TOS is rare, especially compared to ST:XI. There were also some Spock/Saavik stories after Saavik appeared in canon, some McCoy/Chapel stories, and, again, pairings with original characters were more common than they are today.

The labeling conventions of "het", "slash", "gen", etc. were unknown; in fact, "gen" meant a story taking place in the Star Trek universe but with none of the established characters. Fans would sometimes rate their stories according to the MPAA film rating system. There were no fanzine publishing houses in those days; each amateur editor put out her own zine, and usually most would not print explicitly sexual material. Often, the reasoning was quite simple: many ST fans at the time were age twelve or younger. Some adult fans also disliked "dirty" stories (for example, Laura Harris' "The Alternate" in Spockanalia 3, which takes place during a poetically described sexual encounter; or Lelamarie Kreidler's "Time Enough" in Spockanalia 4, in which all the action is offstage), and had to be reminded that "psychiatrists say this is normal". Stories in which Spock established a matrimonial bond with a female (Jacqueline Lichtenberg's "Spock's Affirmation"[6] and "Spock's Argument"[7], and Judith Brownlee's "To Seek Thee Out" [8] were not objectionable, only descriptions of sexual activities, which were considered obscene by many at that time. When the first X-rated zine, Grup, appeared, it was highly controversial, particularly for its first-issue nude centerfold of Mr. Spock.

Non-explicit het stories thus had no label, while explicit tales are called adult, so especially with brief fanzine descriptions it can be difficult to tell whether a story would be counted as gen, especially if it is not only a romance.

The dominant slash ship by far is Kirk/Spock. There is also some Spock/McCoy, and a little Kirk/McCoy. Because Kirk/McCoy is a huge ship in ST:XI the latter has recently gotten some boost also in TOS as new fans discover TOS and bring their own slash goggles over. The occasional Kirk/Spock/McCoy threesome can also be found. There is a little Sulu/Chekov, but again less than in ST:XI. (I think?) But overall most non-K/S slash pairings can be considered somewhat rare in TOS.

Fanzines

For a list of TOS fanzines see: Category:Star Trek TOS Zines and List of Star Trek: The Original Series Fanzines and List of Star Trek: The Original Series Slash Zines

Continuity In The Face of Fandom Migration Patterns

To some, being part of Star Trek fandom means being part of a 45 year year tradition. With that comes with it a sense of continuity, of being part of something so much bigger than oneself.

Kathy Resch points out that "There was always overlap. Some fans would get in, stay a few years, and leave – often for other fandoms. By that time, new fans had come in, met the people already there, jumped in and started writing, drawing and publishing. This process kept going, and kept the continuity...(There was a fairly major exodus of old-time fans in the mid to late 80s into Starsky/Hutch and Bodie/Doyle (“The Professionals”). Many of these people are still in fandom, just an entirely different fandom than what they started out in.)

And then there were people who got into K/S and stayed there for decades, like myself, and the editors of Merry Men Press and Mkashef Enterprises. I published my first issue of “T’hy’la” in 1981, and am working on # 31 right now.

The letterzines also maintained that continuity and sense of community. They included On the Double, Come Together, The LOC Connection, and the still-published The K/S Press.

The continuity was also fueled by the fact we got to know each other in RL [real life], meeting at conventions, local fan parties and other meetups, talking on the phone, writing postal letters, etc. That’s one thing I hope internet fans can also share, because there’s nothing like getting together with other fans in our own fannish space talking talking talking about our interests.[9]

Star Trek fandom online

In 1982 net.startrek [10] was created as one of the first 20 or so newsgroups. As part of the Great Usenet Renaming, it became rec.arts.startrek in 1986. In 1990, alt.startrek.creative appeared. Soon after, alt.tv.star-trek.tos started, and almost from the start, the k/s-ers and gen fans pushed back and forth. One prominent k/s fan got tired of the same arguments being used against k/s over and over, and created the K/S Retort sometime after 1990.[11]

The main archive for fanfiction posted to Alt.startrek.creative, Alt.startrek.creative.all-ages, and Alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated (ASCEM) is Trekiverse and was established in 1991 and has been continuously maintained since then. Better Living Through TrekStories is an archive for the mailing list of the same name, as well as archiving stories posted to other Trek mailing lists, fanfiction.net and LiveJournal. It was initially called Better Living Through Treksmut.

For an overview of Star Trek fandom's online activities from the early 1990s, including show commentary, episode guides and fan fiction, visit the textfile directory. See also the Star Trek: Points of Interest which covers online Trek fandom for the period 1996-1998.

Other Archives

Communities

Star Trek: International Phenomena

While Star Trek was eventually broadcast in numerous countries, sometimes dubbed, sometimes subtitled, its growth was slowed by the fact that TV series syndication rights were complex and took time to negotiate. In contrast, Star Wars, which was a single movie (and then later a series of movies) was easier to distribute globally. And, while many people in the 1960s and 1970s lacked a television, there was wider access to movie cinemas which gave the Star Wars franchise the edge.

In 1976, a German fan wrote a letter to Menagerie explaining the difficulty Star Trek fans in Germany faced in accessing the aired episodes:
"STERN TREK: Inge R. reports on fandom in Germany.

You ask me, is there a Star Trek fandom in Germany? Yes, there is, but not a very big one. Why? Oh, that's difficult to tell. To understand the whole thing you must know that we haven't a commercial television service. In Germany it's a public corporation. Every person who has a television set must pay a tax, DM 10,50 for one month, that's about $4.00. For that we can see three programmes ((networks)).

From 1972 to 1974 we were able to watch 39 Star Trek--called Raumschiff Enterprise, Spaceship Enterprise -episodes, and then there were no more, that was the end. Thousands of fans protested hard and wished to see more, but the series was not to come to life again, a truly unintelligent decision of our TV bosses. After all that trouble, we had no chance to decide. They just don't like Star Trek.

Nevertheless, we hope now at least for reruns. That's not sure, of course; possibly in 1978! You read right. Isn't it sad??? For a good month ((in March)) we've been able to see the cartoons, very artificial and with an impossible storyline. It is a nightmare! We are all very disappointed.

But here is an exception, so a few of us are very happy; we can now watch Star Trek on TV. After all I said before you may think it is impossible, but it isn't. We have Americans in our neighborhood. Through them we can get the American Forces Service Television in Germany. That's only on Frankfurt am Main, Nuerenberg and Berlin - in the American sector - as far as I know. By good luck, I am one of those happy fans. Now I can see all the Star Trek episodes I never saw before, unabridged, and with the original voices. What an enjoyment!!!

Each Tuesday, when I watch ST, it is like Sunday. Do you understood my feelings? I think you do."[12]
In that same issue Australian fan Diane Marchant reported:
"There is not all that much to be said on the current state of Star Trek fandom here in Australia, excepting to say that despite great adversity our ranks keep swelling.

Somehow I feel Star Trek has done a lot to break down our isolation with the rest of the world. We communicate, we share, we know folk who are as our selves in countries as far flung as Canada, the U.S.A., South America, Scotland, England, Germany, Japan, Borneo and New Zealand.

Our little Australian band is far flung, too. After visiting your magnificent United States I think it would take me a book to explain how really isolated each of our ((Australian)) States, and ergo their townships etc., really are. You just have so many folk and so many huge urban populations close together; we don't And your airlines are to inexpensive to travel, and so frequent. Also your telephone services and prices are a dream. Not to mention the number of T.V. stations you have in different states. We have four stations for Melbourne. Some of the other capital cities don't even have that many.

As for the series Star Trek, it has never received a fair go from Aussie T.V. stations. Channel 9 network has Aussie 'rights' to the series (and they are ingenious with excuses for fobbing off fans). In Victoria (and as far as I can fathom, other Eastern States too) the entire three seasons of Star Trek only made one complete run (minus 'The Mantrap'--too horrific to air. HA! HA!).

Since the initial screening fans (in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia) have been instrumental in getting brief 'mixed' re-runs (the most re-runs shown in one revival was 20). The latest re-runs were due to the advent of colour T.V. on the Australian scene but, alas, that was short lived too. Something about low ratings. (Goodness knows how those ratings come about. For the uproar in the press, letters and telephone calls surely must have outdone the so-called ratings). Still it's oh so frustrating, and yet, there is that within each Star Trek fan which rises above such misfortune. Perhaps OPTERMISM in the future and the COURAGE to go on in the face of any and all adversity, plus our belief in tomorrows yet unborn permits us a peace, contentment and universal love which knows no bounds. We are willing to communicate, we reach out, we struggle to touch, we understand, we are stronger and better because we can accept ourselves and others. WE ARE AWARE WE LIVE--STAR TREK HAS GIVEN US THAT!!!"
And last in issue #10, French Canadian Fan Susan Armstrong wrote:
"PATROUILLE DE COSMOS A PRIS QUEBEC D'ASSAUT! Eyewitness report by Susan Armstrong: Fandom in Montreal

Well, to be honest, this reporter cannot be certain that ST, en Francais, has taken the province by storm. Mainly by reason of my horrendous French, I have not gotten much feedback on the inpact of "Patrouille de Cosmos." It is no longer running locally, but it lasted a couple of years, which must mean something. ST in translation was not half bad--once one became desensitized to "Prof" (Bones), "le radar" (sensors), "les fuseurs" (obvious), etc. The dubbing was excellent, lapsing only during loud screaming sessions (e.g., in "The Tholian Web"), when the English screams were still clearly audible under the French ones (and believe me, there's a difference). The translation was rarely exact --but the alterations were often for the better. For instance, the Spock-Kollos scene in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", more or less abominable in English, was quite lyrical in French.

This passage, at least, should be recognizable: Espace--frontier de l'infini, vers laquelle voyage notre vaisseau spatiale. Sa mission: explorer des nouveaux mondes stranges, decouvrir de nouvelle vie, d'autres civilizations--et au mepris du danger, reculer l'impossible. ("Space, the final frontier...")

In Canada generally, ST seems firmly established in syndication. Switch on the hotel TV ii most Canadian cities, and chances are it will be running. A few years ago, in the Montreal region, one could conceivably pull in ST eighteen times a week on seven or eight channels. Nowadays, during a comparative drought, it graces the screen only six times weekly. With the kind of audience that suggests, ST cannot be an unknown quantity.

Scratch the average Canadian student and you'll find at least a casual Trekfan. However, our fen are

differentiated from their southerly brothers in being much more firmly ensconced in the woodwork. There are perhaps half a dozen recognized clubs from sea to sea. (We are about to launch another one locally.) Gazing wistfully across the border at the grapevine-entangled U.S., the typical Canajun Trekker grows convinced he is the only one in the country. A chance encounter with a fellow fan--perhaps as a result of wearing a "Keep On Trekkin"' shirt into the locker room, as happened in my case--is a scene of penultimate ecstasy. Why are most northerly fen living in lonely splendor? Why this apathy? Perhaps because we have had The Starlost to console us?"

[Note: additional facts to add:]

  • when/where was the show broadcast outside the US.
  • first non US conventions
  • links to the various non US fan clubs
  • links to the non English fanzines
  • links to non US fan archives/communities

External Links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 New York Times: Joan Winston, ‘Trek’ Superfan, Dies at 77
  2. Memory-Alpha Star Trek Wiki: Star Trek conventions
  3. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987
  4. List of Fan Q Winners each year, archived on WayBack Machine March 06, 2007
  5. Wikipedia.org:Star Trek Welcommittee
  6. In T-Negative 8, 1970.
  7. In T-Negative 12, 1970.
  8. In Eridani Triad 1, 1970.
  9. Recollection posted in 'The Pages Two and Three K/S-zine heaven (My trip to the University of Iowa Fanzine Archives)', dated March 3, 2011, quoted with permission.
  10. The first post to this newsgroup was posted August 1982, net.startrek, about this group, Google Groups, (Accessed October 10, 2008).
  11. K/S Retort
  12. Issue #10.
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