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Fan Phenomena Star Trek Book Review

Posted by T'Bonz - 04/10/13 at 09:10 am


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FanPheST

The Story:

Fan Phenomena, a new series of books that explore the fan culture of various popular television shows, movies and actors, released one that covers Star Trek fandom.

In explaining the series, Intellect Books explained that “this new series is prompted by a growing appetite for books that tap into the fascination we have with what constitutes an iconic or cultish phenomenon and how a particular person, TV show or film character/film infiltrates their way into the public consciousness. We will look at particular examples of ‘fan culture’ and approach the subject in an accessible manner aimed at both fans and those interested in the cultural and social aspects of these fascinating – and often unusual –’universes.’”

Topics covered in the Fan Phenomena books include fashion (including cosplay), language, character/characterization, fan media (fiction, art, films), virtual (videogames, role-play, blogs, forums, films), philosophies of the fandom and economics (merchandise and memorabilia).

Fan Phenomena Star Trek is nine chapters in length and has an introduction and contributor biographies. The structure of the book is as follows:

  • Introduction: The Exemplar of Fan Culture. This section of the book introduces the fandom.
  • Live Long and Prosper: How Fans Made Star Trek a Cultural Phenomenon. This chapter explains the history of Star Trek fandom.
  • Not Your Daddy’s Star Trek: Rebooting a Franchise and Rewriting a Fandom. This chapter explains the influence of the J.J. Abrams‘ movies and reboot of the Star Trek franchise.
  • A Utopia Denied: Star Trek and its Queer Fans. In this chapter, the promise of inclusion of gay characters in canon Trek and the reality of what actually happened is detailed.
  • Trek in the Park: Live Performance and Star Trek Fan Culture. This chapter explores Trek in the Park, a live annual theatrical production that takes place in Portland, Oregon.
  • Assimilate This! Computer-mediated Communication and Star Trek Fan Culture. This chapter discusses online Star Trek fandom, including websites such as TrekBBS.
  • Lost in Orbit: Satellite Star Trek Fans. This chapter explains what it’s like to be a casual fan of the series as opposed to a fan who is more fervent/active in fandom.
  • Star Trek Fans as Paradox: Fans Mocking Other Fans. In this chapter, the behavior of mocking perceived overzealous fans is explored.
  • Lieutenant Sulu’s Facebook: ‘Professor’ Takei and The Social Networking Classroom. In this chapter, the influence of social media (such as Facebook) is explored via the postings of actor George Takei.
  • The Borg: Fan Pariah or Cultural Pillar. In this chapter, the Borg philosophy and fandom’s reaction to the Borg is explored.
  • Contributor Bios. Brief biographies of each contributor to the book are provided.

The Review:

Fan Phenomena Star Trek seeks to explain the Star Trek fandom via a series of essays. Beginning with the history of the fandom, readers will learn how the fandom came to be, what fans like to do and how they interact with one another (both in person and online,) how fandom is seen by the outside world at large, and how Star Trek didn’t fill its traditional role of addressing controversial topics to the satisfaction of some of their fandom.

Non-fans will learn, in a limited way, how Star Trek fans act, even if the reasoning behind some behaviors is not explained. For Trek fans reading the book, most fans will recognize themselves in some of the chapters.

Some of the chapters are more interesting than others. The chapter on exclusion of gays as regular characters on any of the various television incarnations was more compelling reading than the description of Trek theater in Seattle and its influence on non-Trek fans. For fans who interact with others online, the chapters on both BBS and social media fandom will surely be of interest.

From a fan’s viewpoint, most of this is information already known. For people who live with or interact with Star Trek fans, the book will probably also be of interest.

The Book:

Fan Phenomena Star Trek, one-hundred-and-thirty-two pages in length, can be purchased here, for a cost of $17.56 (Amazon).

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  • Mike

    If that’s the most interesting chapter you can highlight, I’ll pass.