On Star Trek: The Original Series

Alexander for the Modern Age

How Star Trek’s Female Fans Re-invented Romance and Heroic Myth

By Melissa Dickinson

If Star Trek is the television show that would not die, then Star Trek fanfiction is the life support system, still going strong and showing no signs of fading.

In 1975, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston wrote a book called Star Trek Lives! about the life of Star Trek after its premature cancellation, and the tremendous cultural phenomenon of Star Trek fandom. The last chapter of this book was an in-depth look at amateur fan-written stories and teleplays based on the show. A fitting choice, as it turned out; thirty years later, it seems that fanfiction will likely prove itself the most long-lived of all forms of fannish expression. Don’t believe me? Try Googling “Kirk,” “Spock” and “fanfiction,” and see what happens. I’ll give you a hint: if you’ve never experienced fanfiction (“fanfic” for short), you’re about to get an education, and fast.

Then again, if you’ve never experienced fanfic, you’ve probably never spent more than five minutes on the Internet.

Star Trek was, from the beginning, much more than a television show. It pioneered prime-time TV in more ways than half a dozen books could fully express, presenting relevant political and social commentary, breaking ground and shaking things up for the whole science fiction genre and galvanizing its millions of viewers to a degree that did not become fully apparent for years after it was canceled. Its vivid and complex ideas, themes and characters seized hold of the imagination in a way that no television show had before, touching so  …

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