Star Trek: The Fandom

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Title: Star Trek: The Fandom
Creator: Randall Landers
Date(s): 1981
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
External Links:
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Star Trek: The Fandom is a 1981 essay by Randall Landers.

It was printed in Stardate #12.

The essay contains many broad generalizations and sweeping pronouncements, and includes a Venn Diagram. It also includes two terms Landers suggests are in wide use, but appear to be of his own invention: "Goddenberry" and "Fhan" (though the latter is a riff on Faan.)

Some Topics Discussed

  • the differences among types of fans:
    • Trekfen (all fans)
    • Trekists (everybody, including casual fans who regularly watch the show and saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
    • Trekkies (young, shy, purely consumers, Mary Sue stories are their fault)
    • Trekkers (more dignified than Trekkies, these are the fans who produce fan fiction and do most of the fandom work)
  • sub-groups:
    • BNFs
    • actor/character fans (responsible for get'ems, self-insert and wish fulfillment stories, lay stories, Kirk/Spock relationship stories
    • unnamed fans who substitute characters and feelings with technology in the Star Trek universe
    • Goddenberrys (Gene Roddenberry can do no wrong)
    • Fhans (self identify as fans simply to be fans, also responsible for cutesy, misspelled words)

Lander's Estimation of Population


When Landers states the number of fans in each category, he is referring to only the United States. Aside from the "Hugh Downs" estimate on the television show, "20/20," the origin of these numbers is not explained.

  • Trekfen: twelve million
  • Trekists: nine million
  • Trekkies: two and a half million
  • Trekkers: half a million
  • BNFs: three hundred
  • "merely a fan": at least one - Landers himself

From the Essay

The Main Groups

"Trekists" are the overwhelming majority of all Star Trek fans. They are merely regular viewers of the series, they went to see the movie, and they like the show. There are literally millions of Trekists in the United States alone. On ABC's "20/20," Hugh Downs estimated that there are twelve million ST fans in America. Well, nine million of them are Trekists.

"Trekkies" are the second largest group, estimated two and a half million in number. They are actively involved in reading fan published literature, reading the professional novels, attending conventions for Star Trek, and other various activities.

They can see no faults with Star Trek and anyone connected with it. Often they have an attachment to only one or two characters or stars, and they are usually introverted and shy individuals.

For them, F.I.A.W.O.L., an acronym for "Fandom Is A Way Of Life," So much so that this has yielded the "Lt. Mary Sue" stories which have gained some notoriety in fandom and in which the writer projects his/herself into the Star Trek universe.

Interestingly enough, Trekkies usually refer to themselves as "Trekkers," and to the prepubescent fans as the "Trekkies" who "give fandom a bad name." Trekkies also see no difference between themselves and Trekkers, hence their current usage of the term "Trekkers" for themselves.

"Trekkers," on the other hand, chose the term because it is "more dignified and less juvenile" than "Trekkie." Most of them see their relationship as F.I.J.A.G.D.H., or "Fandom Is Just A God Damn Hobby." However, they are the primary producers of fan fiction, whereas the Trekkies are the primary consumers. Trekkers also like to refer to themselves as "Tru-fen (True Fans)," and even "Star Trek Fans" (because so many Trekkies are calling themselves Trekkers).

Trekkers can find a number of faults with the series and those connect with it. But there are only half a million or so who see themselves, or at least can be correctly labeled as Trekkers.

Sub Groups and Overlap

"Big Name Fans" is an expression, abbreviated BNF's, which some Trekfen are classified by others as being. There are basically two types of BNF's:

1) National BNF's who are generally fans known all over the nation. Their fame, or notoriety is a direct result of their writing, artwork, editing, or some other fan activity.

2) Area or Local BNF's who are generally known to the local fen as prominent people because of a club they are a guiding force in, or even a small local convention.

Some, if not most, BNF's do not acknowledge or like like the designation. This is primarily because there are some fans who would like to be BNF's and actually set about to bring this about. These would-be BNF's are usually not well liked after a period of time. For the most part, BNF's are key figures in fandom, and do not necessarily enjoy being referred to as Big Name Fans. They number about three hundred at present.

There are also character/actor fans. Primarily Trekkies, they are mainly interested in only one or two of the characters, and look for the actor in his/her every role, directer/actor fans are the main writers of the "Lay-Whomever" stories in fan literature wherein their sexual fantasies with the character or actor are fulfilled. They are also responsible for the "K/S Relationship" type fiction in which the friendship/brotherly love, and even homosexual love, between the characters Kirk and Spock is freely expressed, and for the "Get-'Em" stories in which the author torments the characters (and thereby him/herself).

Another type of fans are the "Goddenberry" fans. These people very nearly worship Gene Roddenberry, the creator and executive producer of the series, and are a variation of the character/actor fans.

The "Fhans" are fans who are caught up into being fans just so it may be said that they are fans. Often they are the ones who come up with weird spellings for various things, and they are a variation of the BNF's.

And there are fans who are caught up in the Star Trek universe and its technology. This type of fan is a variation of the character/ actor fan except he is substituting technology for character and ST universe for actor.

Some Self-Examination may be asking, "How does the author describe himself?"

Well, I write stories, articles and reviews. I edit Stardate|an action/adventure fanzine. I collect the professional published books. I collect film clips. I am a member of a Star Trek discussion group. But I regard myself as merely a critic of the series and of fandom. I do not like cutsie labels such as "Trekist," "Trekkie," "Trekker," "Tru-fen," "Fhan," to name a few. I am merely a fan.