Critical Mass (Star Trek fan club newsletter)

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Title: Critical Mass
Publisher: U.S.S. Atreides, out of the San Francisco area
Editor(s): David Nottage III becomes the editor for v.3
Type: fan club newsletter
Date(s): 1993-?
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek
Language: English
External Links:
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Critical Mass is a Star Trek fan club newsletter published in the mid-1990s by U.S.S. Atreides.

This newsletter had a supplement called Critical News of the USS Atreides.

Issue 1

Issue 2

Critical Mass 2 was published in January 1994 and contains 46 pages.

cover of issue #2
  • First Thoughts (1)
  • Crew's Quarters (1)
  • Deep Space Probe, Klingons Like Me (some fan Klingon/alternate persona bios, and commentary about Klingon role-playing, and geek culture (2)
  • fan letters, most commenting on a recent article in "The Village Voice" about Klingon role-playing fans -- most fans were puzzled/disgruntled by the reporter's emphasis as these fans as Neo-Pagans --"I was curious about the stress on Neopaganism. That was not one of the striking features I have seen in the Klingons I have dealt with... [They] seem to be a more diverse group," and "I do know in my days as a 'real-life' editor that when interviewing and writing about any type of fan/hobby/activity, you always go for the most extreme examples you can find.")
From "Travels Through the Dark Side of Trekdom," from the commentary section, by Erik Davis:

The specter of the geek haunts Star Trek fandom. Few have forgotten the Saturday Night Live skit wherein William Shatner, playing himself at a convention, proclaimed to a passel of bespectacled weenies that they should "get a life." And Trekkers know that the vast majority of mundanes -- fanspeak for those of you who do not grok — put them in the same boat as computer junkies, Dungeons & Dragons devotees, and SF paperback gluttons: a bunch of maladjusted, pimply-faced science wonks.

But even a glance at a convention will reveal that Trekkers are ethically and generationally diverse, as likely to be female as male, and display no more incidence of acne than the crowd at a Depeche Mode concert. While encouraging some trivial consumption and claustrophobic socializing, the con also creates what the Sufi underground anarchist Hakim Bey calls "a temporary autonomous zone." Loosing themselves from the mundane demands that nail the adult world in place, fans are free to playact, lust over aliens, and make goofy puns. But this free zone requires work too: Fans churn out reams of zines, build models of battle cruisers, stitch together costumes, and perform filk songs (slang for the frequently parodic fan songs). And most fans share a good deal of irony and humor about this "weekend-only world."

And some dress up like snarling, scowling aliens who like their combat brutal, their conversations blunt, and their sex ferocious. Dress-up Klingon fan clubs were born in 1974, when Robert Asprin formed the Klingon Diplomatic Corps to provide security at cons, but the race has really been rearing its gnarly head of late. The Klingon language, tlhlngan, a self-consistent tongue concocted by the linguist Marc Okrand for the third Star Trek movie, has lately drawn strong interest from fans and the press, and has led to a bestselling dictionary, a language tape, the semi-academic zine HolQed, and a summer camp. Besides proliferating at cons, members of the passionate and noble race have been spotted in the darker corners of Downtown dance clubs. A sample of Worf -- Star Trek: The Next Generation's resident Klingon -- opens a recent album by a popular techno group. And L.A. Laker James Worthy was granted his wish to play a Klingon — he appeared as a six-foot-nine mercenary in a recent ST:TNG episode.

Though many things to many people, Klingons are not geeks.

Issue 3

Critical Mass 3 was published in April 1994 and contains 48 pages. The newsletter has a new editor named David Nottage III. He wrote that he's a bit astonished to gain this post after being a club member only six weeks.

  • Ship's Log, club business (1)
  • Personnel Reviews (3)
  • Captain's Log (3)
  • Executive Officer's Log, Commander 'qul Tarishe writes of "discipline" (4)
  • Science Officer's Log (4)
  • Operation Log (5)
  • Subpspace Signals, what other Trek clubs are doing (6)
  • Region 4 News (8)
  • Away Team Reports (12)
    • two con reports for Grand Slam II in Pasadena, CA, includes a partial transcript of a talk by Nichelle Nichols, a talk by Armin Shimmerman
  • Convention News (20)
  • Federation Envoy Report (This is a long letter by Majel Roddenberry that describes what she is up to and plugs for what she is selling.) (21)
  • Galactic Sciences (23)
  • Crew's Quarters (25)
  • Deep Space Probe (26)
  • Star Trek Related News (Some mentions and reprints of articles relating to Viacom and/or QVC's attempt to buy/takeover Paramount.) (31)
  • Club Applications (37)
  • Reviews of Pro Books (46)
  • Final Thoughts (47)