Franz Joseph

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Name: Franz Joseph, Joseph Schnaubelt Franz
Fandoms: Star Trek
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Franz Joseph was the creator of the highly successful Star Fleet Technical Manual that was published in 1975. It was preceded by the purely fannish publication Booklet of General Plans which was sold at great success at Equicon '74.

Some Interviews

Regarding His Name

I have a recognized reputation from a successful 30-year career as an aerospace design engineer. When I saw how the typical SF paperback was treated, the cover illustrations, etc., I didn't want my name to appear on the work. So I resorted to the name I'd used for 45 years as a freelance commercial and industrial designer: Franz Joseph. [1]

Some Comments by Franz Joseph: 1974

A reprint of a letter by Franz Joseph sent to the president of S.T.A.R. San Diego was reprinted in Archives' Log #2.

An excerpt, something that shows just how entwined the author of this book was with fans and their involvement and help:

I have no desire to market this material myself, the sale at Equicon '74 was a trial run to determine the degree of fan interest and acceptance. Needless to say, the response has "been overwhelming. I received a call from Paramount Television after the "Con and they seriously want to market my work using their international organization. We are currently in negotiations aimed towards a mutually agreeable arrangement. If they take it on, the material will be available to the fans in volume without sacrificing quality. I am agreeable to preparing anything for the Manual which the fans really want, if the source material is available from which to prepare it. In this regard, you may perhaps be an asset, since I currently have to rely on film clips and photos from the local fans. This has been a real drawback in efforts to prepare drawings of the various bridge stations. I can lay out each station dimensionally correct from material I have, but I have seen nothing which would be any use in attempting to correctly lay out the hundreds and hundreds of switches and lights in the various panels. I can easily make them what they ought to be, but this wouldn't be Kosher Star Trek. This is also a difficult task because the bridge set changed every week, it was constantly in a state of addition or alteration.

Some Comments by Franz Joseph: 1976

I was doing nothing with Star Trek. But my daughter, Karen, has been a trekkie from the first episode. I did look at the first two and decided they weren't so hot. I enjoyed Lost in Space, which was running at the same time, because it was a space-age soap opera. Then it got to be way too wild so I started to watch Star Trek with Karen, but I've never been a fan of the show. What surprised me, though, is that even after seeing 50 reruns or more, the stories are still good. They hold up. I like to check the technical details. When you start doing this you see so many thousands of errors that most of the fans don't know exist. But that still doesn't ruin it. I understand very clearly that it's sometimes the errors and boo-boos that make a story. Without errors the stories would not be as exciting. They would be good stuff for public television or Russian TV, but not to sell to the general public on prime time.

I've never bothered with science fiction, and I've never bothered with Star Trek.

As I told you at the beginning, I'm not an avid fan. Sure, it's great--the kids are having fun and everybody enjoys it and more power to them. I have to compliment the production and the acting, but some of the stories were fierce! [NOTE: We think "fierce" used in this way is a 40's colloquialism meaning "terrible," or the opposite of "bitchin'."] But nevertheless, they still hold up as reruns. From what little I know about the business, I would say this is the mark of some very good work. [2]

Some Comments by Franz Joseph: 1982

It started in 1973. A group of fans had formed S.T.A.R. San Diego and they were meeting at Jeannie Graham's house. They finally decided to go over SDSU and open it up as a campus activity. Karen asked me to go with her that inaugural night, April 14, 1973, because I guess she was a little nervous about going there alone. When I got there I discovered a lot of the young people were children of friends of mine, people I'd worked with at Convair. Well, they had made models of the Star Trek memorabilia.

I don't know whether or not you were aware of it at the time, but they were made out of cardboard, balsa wood, tape, wiring, glue, and paint and, for college kids (anyone who is 3 or more years younger than me is a "kid") the workmanship was pretty bad any way you looked at it. (I helped to initiate the Cub Scout Program. In 1932 we ran a Scout Leader's training course in the West Suburban Council, and one of the things we had the leaders do was to take a Cub Scout project, a nine-year-old craft project, and do it as part of the course. We gave them two days to come up with something and then we set it up as an exhibit. Well, we set the leaders' projects up on one side of the hall; meantime, we'd collected the same kind of work from the various Cub Packs and put it up on the other side of the hall. When you saw the adults' work compared to the children's' work, the Cubs' work looked like Einstein had made it, I mean, it was professional work. While the adult leaders' work looked pretty bad). Well, that's what this Star Trek memorabilia looked like. I told them I thought they could do better. And they said, "Show us." [3]

Further Reading


  1. ^ An Interview with Franz Joseph (1982)
  2. ^ These Will Be a Reality Sooner Than You Think: Interview with Franz Joseph Schnaubelt (1976)
  3. ^ from An Interview with Franz Joseph (1982)