written by Randall Landers
originally published in Antares 3, April 1999
There has been a great deal of misinformation floating around fandom in recent years, especially on the Internet. A lot of this misinformation comes from supposedly professional individuals, writers and editors, who have their own motives for cracking down on fan fiction, including the elimination of quality competition. One of the more annoying and untrue statements concerns the creator of Star Trek himself. Rumor has it that Gene Roddenberry himself despised fan fiction and wanted to put an end to it. This is being repeated by the editors and writers at Pocketbooks; it is being repeated by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. It has been posted on-line. The only person that has apparently been quoted, however, is not Gene Roddenberry. He was not he who spoke those words. Instead, self-annointed Star Trek historian/spokesman Richard Arnold is the only individual who has made the claim that Roddenberry uttered them. This was concocted by Arnold (along with other attributions he's made) in order to substantiate his opinions. It was patently untrue. It is a lie.
Allow me to repeat what Gene Roddenberry himself wrote in his 1976 introduction for Star Trek: The New Voyages, a Bantam published book edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath:
...Certainly the loveliest happening of all for us was the fact that so many others began to feel the same way [about Star Trek as we did]. Television viewers by the millions began to take Star Trek to heart as their own personal optimistic view of the Human condition and future. They fought for the show, honored it, cherished it, wrote about it--and have continued to do their level best to make certain that it will live again.
...We were particularly amazed when thousands, then tens of thousands of people began creating their own personal Star Trek adventures. Stories, and paintings, and sculptures, and cookbooks. And songs, and poems, and fashions. And more. The list is still growing. It took some time for us to fully understand and appreciate what these people were saying. Eventually we realized that there is no more profound way in which people could express what Star Trek has meant to them than by creating their own very personal Star Trek things.
Because I am a writer, it was their Star Trek stories that especially gratified me. I have seen these writings in dog-eared notebooks of fans who didn't look old enough to spell "cat." I have seen them in meticulously produced fanzines, complete with excellent artwork. Some of it has even been done by professional writers, and muchof it has come from those clearly on their way to becoming professional writers. Best of all, all of it was plainly done with love.
It is now a source of great joy for me to see their view of Star Trek, their new Star Trek stories, reaching professional publication here. I want to thank these writers, congratulate them on their efforts, and wish them good fortune on these and further of their voyages into other times and dimensions. Good writing is always a very personal thing and comes from the writer's deepest self. Star Trek was that kind of writing for me, and it moves me profoundly that it has also become so much a part of the inner self of so many other people.
Viewers like this have proved that there is a warm, loving, and intelligent lifeform out there--and that it may even be the dominant species on this planet.
That is the highest compliment and the greatest repayment that they could give us.
The other recent untruth being spread is that Paramount has never given any sort of consent to fan fiction, and would be legally obligated to sue anyone who they discover publishing fan fiction. This is parently absurd given that there are two Star Trek: The New Voyages anthology collections that Bantam published with Paramount's approval. These books were reprints of fan fiction that had been previously published in fanzines. The fanzines themselves (as well as their editors) are listed in the copyright information in the beginning of each book. Folks, this isn't tacit approval of fan fiction and fanzines. It's an acknowledgement.
So next time you hear the fan fiction bashers start up with their "facts," remember the truth, and remind them of it.
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