Star Trek

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Star Trek insignia.


Star Trek is arguably one of the most important of television-based, science fiction fandoms to date in fan history. In fact, it is the fandom which many would claim to be the origin of media fandom as it exists today. The history of Star Trek fandom and its development is vast, involving thousands of individuals and organizations.

Created by Gene Roddenberry in 1966, the Star Trek universe has been the setting of six television series, an ongoing franchise of movies, numerous professional novels, comics, computer and video games, and even a themed attraction in Las Vegas. The fandom has produced a broad spectrum of fanworks of all kinds imaginable: fanzines, fanfiction, filk, fanvids, fanfilms, newsletters, and much more. Conventions have remained a huge part of Star Trek fandom culture since the early 1970s, and much of today's fan-fiction genres and terminology evolved out of Star Trek, from "Mary Sue" to "slash".

Star Trek canon

Star Trek canon consists primarily of the six television series and associated feature films. The series each have their own unique fandoms as well as being part of greater Trek fandom. These series are:

The first six feature films continued the adventures of the characters of The Original Series, and were as follows:

The next four films focused on the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation, with the first of these serving as a segue from the original series to the latter.

On May 8, 2009, a new film, Star Trek, is set to be released, which returns to the characters from the original series and introduces the newly captained James Kirk as he takes command of the USS Enterprise.


A great deal of terminology both specific to Star Trek and also used in wider media fan circles came from this fandom, including:

See also Star Trek terminology for more information.


Below is a partial timeline of events that took place in this fan community.

This section needs more information.

The 1960s

Cover of Spockanalia, the first Star Trek fanzine.

Although the original series was not an immediate hit in the ratings, it quickly developed a passionate fan community. When the series was in danger of cancellation after its second season, Bjo Trimble and other fans spearheaded a then-unprecedented letter-writing campaign to keep the show on the air. Over one million letters were received, well more than enough to guaranty a third season of the show was produced.

Although the show was finished airing before the end of the decade, a fandom which would last for over forty years had been established.

Also of note is that as early as the end of the series' run, fans in England were already beginning to quietly discuss the idea of Kirk/Spock in romantic or sexual terms. Although it would be the mid-70s before such stories would begin to appear in published fanzines, the underground movement for the pairing was already in place before the beginning of the 1970s.



The 1970s

The 1970s were considered the "Golden Years" of Star Trek fandom.[1] The phenomenon of the fandom exploded rapidly, with fanzine culture evolving and producing some of the greatest stories and titles to be remembered today. Conventions attracted tremendous crowds, unlike those seen today beyond the few largest commercial cons remaining. Even with no new canon product seeing the light of day until the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, the fandom thrived and continued to regularly draw new people into the fold. Communication between fans was either in person at conventions, through letterzines which became tremendously important in these years for sharing ideas and thoughts about the fandom, or through personal mail, forging friendships which spanned continents and ended up lasting lifetimes.



Before 1973, Star Trek fans were "largely comprised of science fiction fans culled from colleges and universities, from SF clubs across America."[3] But by then the general media had begun to pick up on the phenomenon of Star Trek fandom, and conventions were beginning to draw crowds in the thousands. The widespread attention began to draw more women into the fandom, many of whom had never been active or involved in science fiction-related fandom before.

Also in 1973, John Bradbury and a group of Texas-based Star Trek fans formed the USS Enterprise, a fanclub which the following year would be re-organized and renamed Starfleet. Starfleet would become the largest Star Trek fan association, still in existence with thousands of members into the 2000s.[4]


In 1974, a Star Trek convention in New York City drew a crowd of roughly 15,000 to the hotel in which it was held.[5]


August Party, the first fan-only Star Trek convention featuring no actor guests was held in 1975 at the University of Maryland campus.[6] There was a beginning split between "fan-cons" and "guest cons" by this time where even the large New York City convention committees were beginning to separate based on their interest and priorities in this regard.[7]


By 1976, different groups of Star Trek fans were beginning to form and unify based on their geographical locations. As described by Nancy Kippax:

"Just as we were developing a circle of friends in Baltimore who served as worker bees on more than one occasion, there were other pockets of fandom being formed. There was the New York crowd which peripherally included the New Jersey fen, some of whom overlapped into our circle because they appreciated the Kirk-Spock relationship. Leslye Lilker was the primary point person from her home on Long Island. There was a midwest contingent; they produced zines and the very popular fan conventions in Kalamazoo and Lansing, Michigan. There were several scattered enclaves on the west coast. Everywhere, fans were coming together to celebrate Trek, new friendships were being formed - man, it was bigger than the Summer of Love! Dig it!"[8]


By 1977, Kirk/Spock had gone from "furtive whispers" to "a bold shout of acceptance all over the country".[9] It was also causing rifts throughout Trek fandom between those for it and those against it. Some Trek fans were also beginning to stray into other media fandoms such as Starsky & Hutch, which premiered the year before and was already generating 'zines and merchandise by many of the people who had been doing the same for Star Trek for years.

A larger threat to the stability of Star Trek fandom was the release of Star Wars in May of 1977. Some of those who felt that the Trek fiction in fanzines did not have enough "science fiction" in them became more interested in this new fandom instead. There was resentment and arguments in many letterzines, as well as professional publications such as Starlog, over the merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars as some moved to this new fandom, although most of the Kirk/Spock fans remained loyal to Trek, not finding a suitable "substitute" or replacement to that relationship in this new franchise.[10]


By October 1979, Starfleet had over 700 members.[11]

One of the driving forces behind Star Trek fandom in the 1970s was the push to revive the series in some new form or fashion -- a new series, a movie, etc. This finally was announced to become reality in 1979 with news of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A number of West Coast fans were invited to even be extras on the film, as a "thank you" from Gene Roddenberry for their loyalty to Star Trek through the years.[12] It premiered in December of that year to the excitement of many fans, even as there were questions of how it would affect and change the fandom into the 1980s.

The 1980s

The 1980s opened to fans reacting to and dealing with the changes in Star Trek canon thanks to the just released Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Fans were strongly divided between those who loved it and those who hated it, for after over a decade of fanon developing through the volumes of fan fiction being written, much was negated by the new canon of the movie. Some previously prolific writers felt stifled by the new canon, and while they remained loyal fans, their creative efforts declined.[13]

At the same time, the movie also brought in a new wave of people to the fandom, those who had not known of the activity which had continued through the 1970s to keep it alive. This was a welcome boost as other fans were drifting into the other emerging fandoms, such as Starsky & Hutch, Star Wars, Blake's 7 and Doctor Who.

One major change which would begin to affect Star Trek fandom in the 1980s would be the emergence of home computing and the internet. Fans would begin to be able to communicate with each other and share fan fiction from the comfort of their own homes, much more swiftly than through letters and fanzines.


The first K/S Con was held in 1980 for fans of the Kirk/Spock relationship, although it was not exclusively a slash convention. It was held in a guest house in the Washington D.C. area, where one member of the local Trek fan community lived.[14]


Net.startrek, the first Star Trek usenet group, was created in 1981 by Roger Noe.[15]

Starfleet was beginning to have organizational problems in 1981. There was failures of communication between staff members and general membership, with correspondence not being responded to and membership applications and renewals not being fulfilled. As this grew worse, the organization was "blacklisted" by the Welcommittee. A change of command eventually came about to try to correct the problems.[16]


Rumors and then confirmation before the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had many fans upset and outraged over the news that Spock would die in the film. Some fans talked of boycotting the movie and when it opened in June 1982 reactions were strong but mixed. Some could not accept or get past Spock's death, while others appreciated it for being a story true to the heart of Star Trek.[17]

Starfleet made progress in re-organizing and was removed from the Welcommittee blacklist. During this year, their membership soared to over 3,000 members worldwide in nearly 200 chapters, thanks to efforts including paid advertising in magazines like Starlog.[18]


Usenet gained more exposure in 1984 with a presentation by Alice Greene. In June, she showed Star Trek fans net.startrek and explained some of the advantages to using this medium for fannish communications. Archives from net.startrek during that period show that discussion of slash, referenced as "K&S" was happening on the group, along with advertisements for various Star Trek fanzines.[citation needed]

Captain Fran Booth of the USS Antares in Texas became the Fleet Admiral and 5th Commander of Starfleet on March 27, 1984. This came at a time when the club was once again running into trouble, with membership dropping from nearly 4,000 to 1,000 and chapters from almost 200 to fewer than 30.[19]


Net.startrek became rec.arts.startrek during the "Great Renaming" of 1986.[20]

Steven Smith became the 6th Commander of Starfleet on December 28, 1986, and in that year their organization newsletter, Communiqué, went color, although the change brought massive expenses to the organization which affected other club efforts.[21]


Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing on September 28, 1987. This series would set off a new wave of Star Trek fandom, appealing to many new viewers and creating vast amounts of new fanworks. Whereas slash would still remain more popular in Star Trek: The Original Series fandom, TNG would generate a large amount of het-oriented stories, art, and vids, with strong relationship followings particularly for Picard/Crusher, Riker/Troi and Data/Tasha Yar.


Jeannette Maddox became the 7th Commander of Starfleet in January 1989. She took Communiqué back to black and white to bring expenses under control, and was dedicated to, as the next decade drew near, "bringing STARFLEET out of our parents' basements and into the mainstream of respectability."[22]

The 1990s

The 1990s would see more changes within Star Trek fandom. With the passing early in the decade of creator Gene Roddenberry, the franchise would continue under the direction of Rick Berman and make considerable changes in direction along the way. New series would be launched: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, to the varying delight and displeasure of longtime and new fans. Fandom would continue to grow and thrive on the internet, with more usenet groups being created specific to Star Trek and more fans finding their way to on-line discussion and sharing of fanworks. This would, however, at the same time lead to a decline in numbers (and arguably in quality as well) of fanzines, fanart, and also the tradition of Star Trek conventions. Some earlier Trek fans would not be so welcoming to the new wave of fans entering through on-line forums, and a rift between the two communities would grow and be firmly in place before the end of the decade.


Due to increasing traffic, particularly with the posting of fanworks such as fiction, art, and parodies, there was a vote in the spring of 1991 to create rec.arts.startrek.creative as a split-off from rec.arts.startrek. The vote was abandoned after some copyright controversy, and in the meantime someone created the unmoderated alt.startrek.creative newsgroup. was voted on and created and by the end of 1991, another vote was taken to split the main group into four others: tech, fandom, current, and misc. It passed overwhelmingly and the groups were created early in the following year.[23] These usenet groups would continue to grow in volume and importance to the fandom through the 1990s.

Gene Roddenberry died on October 24, 1991, leaving Michael Piller and Rick Berman in direct control of Star Trek: The Next Generation.[24]


Cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which premiered in 1993.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine debuted on television on January 3, 1993. This series had a somewhat different tone than TNG and received strong praise and reception both from many in Star Trek fandom and the mainstream media for its writing, tone, and incorporation of minority characters including Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Sisko. There was some controversy, however, considering its closeness in setting and idea to Babylon 5 which also premiered at around the same time, and with claims from J. Michael Straczynski that Paramount had been aware of his concept for a science fiction series set on a space station since 1989. A rift between fans of each series would plague them both for the lengths of their run.

DS9 would again produce a fair volume of fanworks, with a mix of both slash and het relationsihps supported in writing, art, and other creative means. Popular ships included Garak/Bashir and Odo/Kira.

Rob Lerman became the 8th Fleet Admiral and Commander of Starfleet in January 1993. Although the previous commander had managed to achieve Incorporation as a Not-For-Profit status for the organization, she had failed to file the proper tax returns, placing the fanclub in serious financial trouble which was not resolved with the IRS until 1998.[25]


The cast of Star Trek: Voyager, which premiered in 1995.

Star Trek: Voyager premiered on January 16, 1995 to considerable initial excitement, although reactions to the show were mixed. Some were excited by the idea of a female captain (with Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway), though others did not care for her character. Promised more conflict and an "edgier" show by producers, with the idea of a Starfleet ship lost in the Delta Quadrant and having to work with members of a Marquis crew which they had originally been in pursuit of, some were disappointed that the writing did not seem to take advantage of the situation to full potential.

Shipping became a huge aspect of Star Trek: Voyager fandom, both het and slash. Tom Paris in particular was paired by fans with nearly every character on the show, although Paris/Kim and Chakotay/Paris were especially popular, as were Janeway/Chakotay, Paris/Torres. A very large femmeslash following would develop for Janeway/7, after Jeri Ryan was added to the cast in 1997.

In 1995, the Voyager Visibility Project was launched to push for the inclusion of gay characters on Star Trek: Voyager. This was the result of long-standing disappointment among LGBT Star Trek fans over the franchise's continued practice of ignoring homosexuality and anything other than straight sexuality. (See Sexuality in Star Trek for more information.)

Dan McGinnis became Fleet Admiral and the Commander of Starfleet in 1995, but controversy soon followed when he allegedly failed to pay Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton for appearing at conventions hosted by Questar, a company McGinnis owned. The controversy lead many chapters to devote their efforts more locally than internationally, and some broke off entirely to form an alternative organization to Starfleet: the United Federation of Planets Internationale (UFPI).[26]


On January 3, 1998, Michael D. Smith was elected the 10th Commander of Starfleet. One major change he made was to bring the fanclub into the digital age, by declaring all forms of communication--including electronic or e-mail communications--would be considered an official way to communicate with Starfleet, in contrast to previous policies.[27]

The 2000s


Star Trek's presence on LiveJournal dates to at least January 23, 2001, with the creation of the community trekkies.[28]

Star Trek: Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001. Following the adventures of the human race's first Warp 5 starship, the "Enterprise", the series began in the year 2151, halfway between the 21st-century events in Star Trek: First Contact and the timeline of Star Trek: The Original Series.


Star Trek: Nemesis was released on December 13, 2002, but ended up with the lowest box office gross on record for the Star Trek franchise of films. Some critics and fans alike wondered if Star Trek was growing "tired" and the fandom seemed to be on a downswing.


Ratings for the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise were going into rapid, steady decline by the third season, airing in 2003-2004.


Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled on February 2, 2005, making it the first Star Trek series since TOS to be canceled by the network instead of being finished by producers.

It would also be the last series in an 18-year run of back-to-back new Star Trek television shows beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987.


In a January 2008 interview, one of the writers of Star Trek admitted to using Memory Alpha as a resource when writing the script for the movie. He said:

Roberto Orci: We absolutely used Memory Alpha during the entire process, and still reference it occasionally during production. It was great to be able to refer the less educated members of the team to your great site. THANK YOU! Will see what I can do about credits. Not a bad idea at all. [29]


On May 8, 2009, the J.J. Abrams film "Star Trek" was released. Described as a "reboot" of the original series canon, it used time travel and an "alternative universe" set-up to explain the changes in the characters and universe as originally seen in Star Trek: The Original Series. The film exceeeded all box office records for previous Star Trek movies[30] and received widespread critical--as well as fandom--praise. There was a quick resurgence in the production of and interest in Star Trek fanworks, though with it some scuffling between older fans and those newly becomming interested in the fandom.[31]

LiveJournal saw a great deal of activity related to the Star Trek film, from the creation of many new communities to meta-discussion of the film and the new fandom.[32],[33], [34] ontd_startrek, created on May 10, 2009, would quickly become the largest Star Trek-related LiveJournal community on the internet, growing to over 4,000 members by June 2009.

Along with a resurgence of interest in Kirk/Spock fanfiction, Spock/Uhura received a great boost based on its canon establishment in the new movie, although there was some kerfluffling between fans of the two pairings and the treatment of Uhura, both in the film and by fans themselves.[35],[36][37][38][39]

There as a kerfluffle in late May 2009, early June 2009 over Uhura's hair. There was a question whether Uhura's totally straight waist-length pony tail was somehow dissing the diverse and varied nature of black women's hair. [citation needed]

On December 26 and December 27, 2009, there was a kerlfuffle on ontd_startrek about racially insensitive content that had been posted to the community. The situation got out of hand enough that the admin, peacock, had to step in to handle it. [40]


Given the size and scope of Star Trek fandom, it should come as no surprise that a great many kerfluffles have occurred throughout the years. Please see Star Trek kerfluffles for more information.

The Fandom

Male to female ratio

What is the male to female ratio in the Star Trek fandom and how has that ratio changed over time? Mary Ellen Curtin looked at this question by examining the editorship and authorship of fan fiction fanzines during the 1960s. She found that Star Trek fan fiction community seemed to be composed of 83% female. She compared this to the whole of science fiction community where the percentage of females was 17%. This number has been disputed by Katherine Langley who claimed that Mary Ellen Curtin used Textual Poachers by Verba and that Curtin did not always accurately identify the gender right based on her guesses based on name.

During the late 1970s, fandom rumor claims that women were not actively sought to write professional Star Trek novels because many of the ones who they had used had connections to the slash community. Paramount was worried that these female writers would try to work in more Kirk/Spock material and other homoerotic material, which they were uncomfortable publishing because that was not the way they wanted fandom to go.


What is the gender of the Star Trek fandom in 2008? There have been no recent ethnographic studies done in the fandom. Current speculation can be done based on visits to popular Star Trek fansites.

Star Trek.Com in January 2008

The above chart is from StarTrek.Com and shows that for January 2008, males made up 60% of the visitors to the site.

TrekWeb.Com in January 2008

The above chart is based on TrekWeb.Com and shows that for January 2008, males made up 66% of the audience for the site. [41]

TrekFanFiction.Net in January 2008

The above chart is from TrekFanFiction.Net and shows that for January 2008, males made up 52% of the visitors to the site.

Influential communities

Numerous fan groups, fanclubs, and internet communities have been important to the development of Star Trek fandom through the years.

LiveJournal communities

Star Trek has been represented on LiveJournal since at least January 23, 2001, with the creation of the community trekkies. Since then, literally hundreds of different communities have been created devoted to Star Trek in its various incarnations. Some are specific to a given series, character or pairing; others are open to all and specific on a certain type of content such as slash fan fiction, fanvids, macros, kink memes, etc.

The release of the 2009 Star Trek film lead to a huge burst in the creation of new LiveJournal communities throughout May and June 2009. Some were general interest communities embracing all series as well as many being specific to the film.

See List of Star Trek LiveJournal communities for more information.

Dreamwidth Studios communities

Star Trek has been represented on Dreamwidth Studios since at least April 14, 2009 with the creation of the community startrek. After the release of the 2009 Star Trek film, there was a burst of new communities created, predominantly featured on specific shipping pairings from ST:AOS and sometimes mirroring communities on LiveJournal. Currently the largest Star Trek community on Dreamwidth is singularity, for ST:AOS fan fiction, which had 328 members as of June 30, 2009.

See List of Star Trek Dreamwidth communities for more information.

Influential fanworks

As mentioned previously, Star Trek fandom has produced a plethora of fanworks in all possible mediums, including art, fiction, filk, fanvids, fanzines, fanfilms, and much more.

See Star Trek fan fiction for more information.

Fandom members

Star Trek fandom is so vast, it is difficult if not impossible to give a list of the most "important" ones. Please see Star Trek fans for our directory of Star Trek fans.

Fandom size

Estimating the size of Star Trek fandom is highly difficult, because of its vast size. During the height of the fandom in the 1970s, it would be common for Star Trek conventions to draw over 15,000 people for one weekend.

As of May 7, 2009, there were 456 individuals and 383 communities on LiveJournal listing Star Trek as an interest. There were 7664 YahooGroups matching a search for Star Trek, and "about 60,500,000" matches on a Google search. In 2000, Starfleet, the International Star Trek Fan Association, counted over 5,000 members in its ranks with over 300 chapters worldwide.[42] Those numbers had dropped to around 3,500 members in 200 chapters by January 2009.

External links

See also Star Trek fansites for more information.

Meta discussion

See also


Below is a partial list of articles and academic sources to help you continue to learn about this community.

  • Bacon-Smith, Camille (1992). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth (Publication of the American Folklore Society). University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Jenkins, Henry (1992). Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. Studies in culture and communication. New York: Routledge.
  • Lichtenberg, Jacqueline; Marshak, Sondra; Winston, Joan (1975). Star Trek Lives!. Toronto: Bantam Books.
  • Winston, Joan (1977). The Making of the Trek Conventions. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Books/Playboy Press.

See Star Trek bibliography for a complete list of sources.

Star Trek

Kirk - Spock - McCoy - Uhura - Chapel - Sulu - Chekov - Picard - Riker - Troi - Crusher - Sisco - Dax - Worf - Odo - Janeway - Chakotay - Paris - Kim - Torres - Neelix - Seven - Trip - Tucker - Archer - Sarek - more...


Janeway/7 - Janeway/Chakotay - Janeway/Torres - Torres/7 - Kirk/Spock - Picard/Crusher - Uhura/Chapel - Data/LaForge - Kira/Odo - Riker/Troi - Worf/Troi - Yar/Data - Trip/Tucker - Spock/McCoy - Paris/Torres - Chakotay/Paris - more...


The Original Series - The Next Generation - The Animated Series - Deep Space Nine - Voyager - Enterprise - New Frontiers - Misc

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