The Connection to Star Trek Lives!

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Title: The Connection to Star Trek Lives!
Creator: Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Date(s): 1975?
Medium: online
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic:
External Links: The Connection to Star Trek Lives!, Archived version
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The Connection to Star Trek Lives! is an essay by Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

Its focus is the pro book Star Trek Lives! and her own personal successes and endeavors.

Some Topics Discussed

  • "That center fiction section of Star Trek Lives! eventually was published as a stand-alone anthology titled STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath and containing a story co-authored by Jean Lorrah -- the second early contact between us. (by the time the New Voyages went to market, I was too busy with my own sf novel contracts to participate in the final editing.) That anthology changed the perception of fan readers about pro ST publications."
  • fans' attempts to publish tie-in Trek novels
  • the origins of the pro novel Yesterday's Son
  • comments about Kraith, the novel Spock Must Die!,

Excerpt

Star Trek: The Original Series, or Kirktrek as I sometimes call it, was one of the first TV shows to have serious commercial success with TV spinoff novels.

It started with James Blish's Spock Must Die! which was read by almost all the ST fen I knew at that time. And not one person I knew had any respect for that novel.

I too found it ludicrous beyond belief and lost respect for Bantam because of it. But then I found out the story behind that novel, and the subsequent Blish ST titles.

The SF writer community is small -- was even smaller in the 1970's. People knew who needed money and why -- and when they could, editors gave work to those who needed it so that they would still be there when the editor needed a book written. Because James Blish needed money at the time the first ST book's contract came up, he got the job.

Everyone knew his work. He was just one terrific writer/artist/craftsman and a dynamite wordsmith who had written some of my own favorite novels. And he could work to deadline. So he got the job even though he'd never seen a Star Trek episode!

At that time, publishers thought it didn't matter if a work-for-hire writing job for any kind of series was done by someone who didn't know and love the series.

That assumption, in and of itself, is what triggered my indignation. I thought the assumption was wrong, and I wanted to prove it.

I had a pre-existing Star Trek fanzine universe, Kraith, sketched out and good response from the fanzine readership on the first few stories I'd written in that universe. So I set out to write a novel that was structurally just like Spock Must Die! but had the total encyclopedic knowledge of ST:ToS incorporated into its background invisibly, along with the essence of the reason why people wrote and read ST fanfic.

Of course, Bantam did not buy that novel. They believed the audience and readership for ST was teenage boys and I was writing for women 20-45. That novel, Federation Centennial, is now posted online for free reading.

But the reader feedback I got from Kraith, and the process of managing the 50 or so Kraith Creators who were publishing in a large number of fanzines, became one basis for the research behind my non-fiction Bantam book, Star Trek Lives!

It happened like this:

To figure out where to place all the Kraith stories by others after I worked with the authors to conform all the details to the Kraith universe premise, I started circulating a list of all the publishing ST fanzines.

I would send the list (on paper, by snailmail) to one editor and ask her to list any other fanzines she knew and send it back to me. Then I'd send each of them a list of all the 'zines I knew about and ask what others they knew about. I'd compile the results and send out new lists again, and again -- every time I thought I had them all, new ones would appear.

Finally, I realized I had a news story here -- Star Trek fandom was a very different and new thing. It was genuine news. So I set out to write an article for our local newspaper.

"Who, What, When, Where and How Many" -- I had no idea. So I started snailmailing a questionnaire to every ST fan I knew of and enclosed an extra copy and asked them to pass it around. It got published and passed around, and I got back hundreds of questionnaires filled in. I compiled that information and searched through the statistics for the story. (My original degree is in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Math, so that's how I thought of this research project.)

I found the story among the fanzine contributors (writers, artists, editors, mimeograph runners). I came to a theory of why this diverse, well educated, adult audience loved Star Trek so much, and I realized this job was far larger than one person could handle.

Meanwhile, I had met Sondra Marshak and through correspondence and phone calls and reading her own Star Trek fanfic, I decided she had the skills needed to organize this vast amount of material.

Together, we decided that the point of this book was quite simply that Bantam didn't understand "who" this readership is, and Paramount didn't quite have a grip on it either. They were playing to the teenage boys but the majority of enthusiastic and creative 'zine editors, writers, readers, and convention holders were adults, and overall at least 50% adult women like us. The vast majority of 'zine editors, writers and readers were women, mostly married women.

SF fandom at that time was indeed predominantly male, but ST fandom was not.

Sondra brought Joan Winston into the Star Trek Lives! project, and together we decided the only really viable way to make our point was to include a section in the middle of the book (as some nonfiction books have photos in the middle) that would showcase typical examples of Star Trek fan fiction.

And we decided that to fully present my theory of why people loved Star Trek so much, we had to do interviews with Gene Roddenberry and some of the actors and others involved in creating the show.

When we had it all compiled, and edited down, and condensed, and squeezed as small as we could make it, we marketed it. We had a hard time but eventually we had two publishers bidding at once, and it sold to Bantam as a July 1975 release, but without the center fiction section because that made it too long.

References