Tailored Effect

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Tailored Effect is a phrase coined by Jacqueline Lichtenberg in the book Star Trek Lives!.

Lichtenberg created the phrase to refer to the deliberate creation of a show or book that is meant to attract a very specific audience. [1]

Fandom Use

Despite robust attempts by Lichtenberg in interviews, LoCs, and zine reviews to make the term into a widely-accepted one in fandom, only Lichtenberg appear to use it. An example: The House of Zeor and Star Trek.

Also see Demanding Fantasy, Intimate Adventure, Alien Romance, and The Spock Charisma Effect, other little-used terms coined by Lichtenberg.

Another fan-created genre that was heavily promoted by its creator, one which did take on wings of its own, is Paula Smith's term Mary Sue.


From a 1975 review of Star Trek Lives! by Gary McGath:
The subject of Star Trek Lives! is the response of the fans to the series. The discussion of this response includes much which is of interest only to the hard-core Star Trek fan (the process of organizing a convention, amateur fiction about the show's characters, etc.); but what is of greater importance is the analysis of the various "Tailored Effects" which contribute to the program's unique appeal. Each of these effects, according to the authors, excites a strong degree of interest within a particular group of viewers, providing in combination an enthusiastic audience large enough to support a television show. The "Tailored Effect" technique is the opposite of the usual approach to television programming, which seeks not to generate enthusiasm but merely to avoid hostility. The result is that while Star Trek did not have an overwhelmingly large audience, it had an audience whose enthusiasm has outlived the show. [2]


From An Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1978):

Marion was doing a panel with Katherine Kurtz and discovered that Katherine was a Darkover fan. When you have a situation where a whole lot of different authors all seem to speak in the same colours or at the same tone level, in the same key, you'll find there is some sort of connection like that. This is what I call the Tailored Effect. We're all painting in the same tailored effects, different intensities, different combinations but the sane basic materials, and if you're resonating on that frequency you'll pick it up. There's a whole bunch of us, basically women, taking over the science fiction field, coming out of the Star Trek fanzines and taking over. Within twenty years by 1995 — you're going to see — well, look at the situation right now. In the 1930's and the early 40's just before the second World War and just after it, when they started to put together the World Science Fiction Conventions, there were about two or three dozen gangling adolescent kids, some too young for the army, some just out of the army, some of them 4-F, living in and around the northeast area of New York who got together and started science fiction fandom. Who were these people? They were members of First Fandom: Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Hal Clement, Lester delRey, Heinlein, James Blish, and so on, all of the top ten or twelve writers in the field today. The top influential writers in the science fiction world all came out of that vortex of energy around New York City at that time. They all had some connection. They'd published a fanzine or they were in a club or they did this or they did that. They were just there. They were part of that group. Hell, twenty years from now the top twelve names in science fiction will all be women who were writing in Star Trek fanzines and are part of our group now. I predict that. I really do. And we'll all be connected, as some of us are now: Steve Barnes, Eleanor Arnason, Ruth Berman, Leslie Lilker... [3]


From An Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1980):
While we were writing Star Trek Lives! we were using the responses to the Kraith series as research material to discover why it is that people like Star Trek and what it is that they see in Star Trek. And we came up with a theory in Star Trek Lives! called "The Tailored Effect". At that time it was just a wild hypothesis. Now, what I did was, in order to turn a hypothesis into a theory, you have to run at least one experiment. I took 3 of the 7 Tailored Effects that composed "Spock Charisma Effect" and I constructed a novel in my pre-existing Sime series universe around those three Tailored Effects, and I sold the novel to Doubleday. And that $6.00 hardcover book I sold on a moneyback guarantee, personally autographed, to those 3/7ths of the Spock fans who liked Spock for the particular reasons that I liked Spock. [4]


In 2009, Jacqueline Lichtenberg explained:
... there are two separate factors at work in whether a particular book or particular author will grab your attention or emotions at a given time in your own life.

There is taste, and it does change (sometimes not mature, but just change), and there's maturity as an independent variable -- so there can be a change in taste and maturity that totally diverts you into new channels.

With the surge in mixed-genre today, you can't trust a genre label to give you a clue about whether you'll really like the book (or not)...Writers have to pick a certain slant to the novel they want to write to target a specific audience (and get into print, and get marketed well).

A book that has a very narrow target and pinpoints it accurately will stir a specific audience wildly and leave everyone else cold.

I traced this mechanism in my non-fic STAR TREK LIVES! (about the original show) and explained the narrow/broad range of audience effect using a theory I called THE TAILORED EFFECT. Roddenberry did it by tailoring each character in the ensemble to a given audience, and it worked! [5]


  1. ^ The phrase "tailor effect" was, in fact, a tailor effect in itself.
  2. ^ reviewed by Gary McGath; Archive
  3. ^ from An Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1978)
  4. ^ from An Interview with Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1980)
  5. ^ Amazon Romance Forum