Universal Understanding

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Title: Universal Understanding
Publisher: Society for Trekkian Philosophers
Editor(s): James T. Crawford
Date(s): January 1980-?
Medium: print
Genre: gen
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Universal Understanding is a Star Trek: TOS (with occasional other content) zine of fiction, articles, poetry, and reviews.

From a 1980 ad in The Clipper Trade Ship #28: "SOCIETY FOR TREKKIAN PHILOSOPHERS. An organization devoted to the examination of Star Trek and science fiction, with an emphasis on improving our daily lives. UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING is the club fanzine, and contains Star Trek articles, plus materials on science fact, philosophy, reviews, fiction, & poetry. Fanzine is 50 pp,, $3 through the mail. Send SASE if interested in joining. No membership dues. This is the organization for those who appreciate Star Trek and science fiction on more than one level. Peace, live long, and prosper... Send SASE for a list of Society items for sale."

Issue 1

Universal Understanding 1 was published in January 1980 (copyrighted in 1979) and contains 50 pages. This issue has no interior art.

front cover of issue #1, Lillian Simpson? (is not credited)
back cover of issue #1, Bob Wright
The zine's creator has a review of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelization by Gene Roddenberry. A very interesting twist is that the fan's review was written on just the book without having had a chance to see the movie, and notes that the problems in the book may be "cleared up" when he does finally get to see the film. He explains that fans in Ohio on 1980 were at a disadvantage concerning the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
Those of us in the Society in Ohio did not get to see the movie when everyone else did on the premiere week of Dec. 7 because Ohio has a law that affects the showing of movies, called anti-blind bidding, which causes a delay in the opening of movies in this state. Star Trek is delayed two weeks from the date it started in many other places in the country.
Crawford writes of Trekkies and terminology, and the purpose of the fan club:

The term "Trekkie" is often used to make fun of Star Trek fans, attempting to picture them as juvenile science fiction groupies. The term "Trekker" is somewhat better, but still bears too much resemblance to "Trekkie" to be acceptable. Thus, the term "Trekkerian" has arisen to indicate those individuals seriously into Star Trek, not only on the level of a quality science-fiction program, but as an approach to life, a philosophy that all individuals can benefit from studying. The principles of IDIC, of the Prime Directive, the message of hope and love seen throughout the series can, if applied to our own lives, enrich them enormously.

UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING is a fanzine that will attempt to help us achieve the goal of applying the best of Star Trek to our own lives. We will examine various elements of science fiction, and also science fact, as science-fact is essential to quality, believable science fiction. We will explore Star Trek in depth, examining each episode, attempting to distill from it the qualities that have caused Star Trek to become one of the most discussed- and most successful, of all science fiction series ever. We will also examine philosophy in general, and attempt to develop an approach incorporating the best principles of Star Trek that will enable us to live our lives with a greater inner peace and outer satisfaction.

It is appropriate that, as the new movie moves through its first few months of existence, a new approach in fanzines be initiated, and UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING is that approach.

Any member of the SOCIETY FOR THEKKERIAN PHILOSOPHERS is welcome to submit poetry, artwork, or articles to the society headquarters. All materials are welcome. It is especially important that all of us, instead of sitting in our homes, hoarding our love and knowledge of the show as so many people do, share our ideas and our experiences with other society members. We shall all benefit. Peace, live long and prosper.
  • Introduction by James T. Crawford (3)
  • IDIC, essay by James T. Crawford (4)
  • Analysis of Star Trek: Conscience of the King, by James T. Crawford (6)
  • Analysis of Star Trek: The Corbormite Maneuver, by James T. Crawford (9)
  • Star Trek Reviews (sort comments on these for-profit products: "The Official USS Enterprise Officer's Datebook 1980 Desk Calendar," "Star Trek Photos on Cereal Boxes," "Star Trek Make a Game Book," "Star Trek Game," "Make Your Own Costume Book," "Star Trek Speaks," "Star Trek Poster/Mag," "Star Trek Comic Book," "Star Trek: The Motion Picture Novel") by James T. Crawford (11)
  • Apathy in Fandom (a combination scold/encouraging essay about lazy fans, public relations and exposure for one's fanac) by James T. Crawford (14)
  • Change in Science, article by James T. Crawford (17)
  • Life on Other Planets: Numbers and Physical Appearance, article by James T. Crawford (19)
  • Star Trek Fanzines / Commentary (25)
    • a review very positive review of Night of the Twin Moons, see that page
    • a shaming scold about K/S zines:
      Commentary: There are two or three fanzines out today that deal with the Kirk/Spock relationship, but in a most unconstructive way. The zines emphasize the darker aspects of human behavior, and in general reduce the two men to the status of oversexed homesexual [sic] lovers. This, very simply, is not necessary. To concentrate stories and entire fanzines on such a non-existent relationship is bad enough, but to do that to the exclusion of all that is positive and good about Star Trek is a crime. Star Trek presents a world of optimism, of hope, of love and understanding, and of constant challenge and growth. Let us not get mired down in unnecessary excursions into human sexual abnormalities. Such fanzine writing is myopic, in that the writer seems unable to handle anything other than a dark Kirk/Spock relationship. Such writers need to examine their own motivations.
  • An Approach to the 20th Century: Springboard to the 23rd, article by James T. Crawford (26)
  • Book Reviews by James T. Crawford (33)
  • Film Reviews by James T. Crawford ("Starcrash" and "Alien" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers")(35)
  • Entry 3-7, original science fiction by James T. Crawford (37)
  • poetry by James T. Crawford. "Enterprise" and "Vulcans" and "Tribbles" (43)
  • Room 305, original science fiction by James T. Crawford (44)
  • Cincinnati: R.I.P., original fiction by James T. Crawford (45)
  • poetry by James T. Crawford (47)
  • classified ads (48)

Issue 2

Universal Understanding 2 (v.1 n.2) was published in March 1980 and contains 50 pages.

The art is by Lloyd Lawrence (front cover), Bob Wright (back cover and interior), Tom O'Reily and James T. Crawford (interior).

front cover of issue #2, Lloyd Lawrence
back cover of issue #2, Bob Wright
The article: "Involvement" --

There are a rather large number of Star Trek-oriented clubs today, and all of them undoubtedly are interested in Star Trek per se. Many are interested in other areas of science fiction. A very, very few are interested in philosophy. The SOCIETY FOR TREKKERIAN PHILOSOPHERS may be unique, in that we cover Star Trek, science fiction, and philosophy, along with science fact and other areas.

Some clubs are involved in charity work of some kind, although these are usually the biggest clubs with the most operating capital. The SOCIETY is not extremely big; it has virtually no working capital. Yet, it is our firm belief that we all must do whatever we can to express our support of the philosophy of IDIC and are involvement in the entire philosophy behind science fiction in-general.

So, we do what we can. To this effect this issue the SOCIETY reports to its members that we made a donation to the Alan Nimoy Memorial Fund. Alan Nimoy was Leonard Nimoy's young nephew who died at an early age from Cystic Fibrosis. The fund works to provide materials for the Boston Children's Medical Center, which we felt to be an extremely worthy cause.

The other activity the SOCIETY wishes to report this issue is a contribution to the Viking Fund. Viking, as you know. Is the American Mars lander, which has returned invaluable information, and has given us a fascinating new view into what Mars Is really like. The information flow from the Vikings is in danger of being cut off due to lack of money, and the Viking Fund is an attempt to keep the information flowing. The SOCIETY received a very nice letter acknowledging our donation, and we have included that letter and information describing the program In case individual organization members also wish to contribute.

Although our activities may not be on a grand scale, and we may never be acknowledged as leaders in charity work,we still feel we are doing what we can to improve the world, and to apply the principles of IDIC and active Involvement in the most workable way we can.
  • Introduction (1)
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a very negative review by James T. Crawford (2)
  • Analysis of Star Trek: Who Mourns for Adonais by James T. Crawford (6)
  • Analysis of Star Trek: The Enemy Within by James T. Crawford (8)
  • Black Holes and Stellar Evolution, article by James T. Crawford (10)
  • Wormholes, article by James T. Crawford (16)
  • An Interesting Intellectual Exercise, an essay about the pragmatic scientific vs the mystical religious by James T. Crawford (18)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still: Does It Past [sic] the Test of Time? by James T. Crawford (21)
  • Involvement (23)
  • a reprinted letter to James T. Crawford from the American Astronautical Society thanking the club for the $5 donation (24)
  • The Viking Fund, article by James T. Crawford (not listed in the table of contents) (25)
  • Artwork by Bobby Wright (27)
  • An Approach to the 20th Century: Education: Springboard to the 23rd, article by James T. Crawford (28)
  • Seizure: The Story of Kathy Morris (television movie review) by James T. Crawford (36)
  • Movie Review: The Black Hole by James T. Crawford (37)
  • Star Trek Reviews (short comments on some blueprints, a punch-out book Mego action figures,and a spaceflight chronolgy) by James T. Crawford (38)
  • Star Trek Memorabilia Reviews (these are actually very short comments/reviews of fanworks: The Clipper Trade Ship, Leonard Nimoy Association of Fans, Mark Lenard International Fan Club, T-K Graphics, April Publications (This was Al Schuster's operation: "I myself have ordered twice from them, and on both times have had severe waits for items, having to write again. Both times I was told the items had been lost in the mail. Two times in a row? They eventually did sent the items but the hassle was not worth it."), and zines by Jean Lorrah ("I have bought all of them that are still in print and every one is an example of the highest quality of fan fiction one can find. All stories are interesting, fit well within the Star Trek mythos, and show an originality and creativity the Star Trek paperback novels (non-Blish) fail to show. You will be missing out if you do not at least sample her work.") by James T. Crawford (39)
  • And the Earth Shall Be Barren, original science fiction (40)
  • "Ode to the Astronauts," poem by James T. Crawford, "For C.S. Lewis," poem by by James T. Crawford, "V'Ger," poem by by James T. Crawford, "Lament," poem by Carol Besco, "Day of Thunder Day of Peace," poem by Carol Besco (41)
  • In Silence Dwells the Guardian, original science fiction by James T. Crawford (44)

Issue 3

Universal Understanding 3 (v.1 n.3) was published in June 1980 and contains 52 pages.

front cover of issue #3, Lillian Simpson
back cover of issue #3, Lillian Simpson

All content, except the artwork, is by James T. Crawford. The art is by Lillian Simpson, Bobby Wright, and Lloyd Lawrence.

From the editorial:

Welcome to the third issue of our fanzine. I would like to start off by thanking the many club members who have written their letters of comment to me. I carefully read all the letters as time allows, and try to answer as many as I can. This issue also finds new artwork coming in, this time from Lillian Simpson, and other material, including fiction, has been promised by other club members.

I sincerely believe that a fanzine such as UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING can provide an intelligent, in-depth discussion of Star Trek and related areas, using those to provide a better sense of perspective for understanding the Star Trek mythos.

This issue there is a major announcement. I have become the Director of the WSA STAR TREK/SCIENCE FICTION DIVISION. The WSA is a program established in 1970 to fight fraud in the world of comic fandom. It has fought court cases, and in its very first case obtained a victory in a fraud amount to nearly $5000 against comic book collectors.

The program has had a distinguished history but there has been no place for people in Star Trek or science fiction fandom to turn when problems arose for them. [see more at WSA]
  • Peace (1)
  • Analysis of the Episode: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (2)
  • artwork by Lillian Simpson (4)
  • Analysis of the Episode: Balance of Terror (5)
  • art work by Lillian Simpson (8)
  • Does Star Trek Have a Philosophy: Part 1 (9)
  • Philosophy for the 20th Century: Part 3 (11)
  • An Interesting Intellectual Exercise: Part 2 (14)
  • Involvement (15)
  • Society Members (16)
  • What is a Fact? (17)
  • Terraforming (20)
  • Outer Limits Analysis: The Man Who Was Never Born (22)
  • False Dawn: A Review (book by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro) (24)
  • Statistics of Interest, relating to science fiction films and box-office numbers (25)
  • If They Don't Like It the First Time, Slap on Some Repairs and Maybe They'll Like It the Second Time Around, comments regarding the planned re-edited version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (27)
  • artwork by Bobby Wright (28)
  • Reviews: the soundtrack to ST:TMP, the soundtrack to "The Black Hole," an LP of "War of the Worlds" with Richard Burton spoken material, other spoken word albums by Caedmon (J.R.R. Tolkien novels, Nimoy doing "War of the Worlds" and "The Martian Chronicles," Shatner doing "Foundation, The Psychohistorians"), also "The Space Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, other short comments about 15 Star Trek non-fiction pro books, lobby cards, and cartoon collections (29)
  • Humanoids from the Deep: A Review (33)
  • Timespan: An Original Star Trek Story (35)

Issue 4

front cover of issue #4

Issue 5

front cover of issue #5

Issue 6

Issue 7

Issue 8

Universal Understanding was published in August 1981 and contains 20 pages. The pagination for issue #8 is perplexing. Oddly and without any explanation, the pages skip around. It starts with page 8, then 9-10-30-21-22-23...49-81-82-83-87.

cover of issue #8
  • An Interesting Intellectual Exercise, Part III
  • Paranormality, Part 1, UFOs
  • Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, a review of a The Prisoner episode
  • Aliens in Science Fiction: Star Trek vs Space:1999, Part II
  • The End of Tomorrow, original fiction
  • Words, Cry, The Masses, three poems
  • The Scientific Outpost on Ganymede, flyer for this zine, June 1981