By Mike Medeiros
Welcome to the Spirit of Trek, a weekly column where we identify and celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s vision by discovering how its messages have started to permeate throughout humanity’s collective consciousness by looking for it on the Internet and within popular culture. This week we’re going to examine Fan Fiction and how it not only expands the Star Trek Universe, but has also kept Star Trek alive over the years by allowing fans to tell their own stories within it.
Fan fiction allows its writers and readers to explore and expand on the Star Trek Universe in new and exciting ways. Have you ever wondered who that guy or gal that appeared on screen for two seconds was in that episode of Star Trek? Have you ever considered what happened after the Enterprise warped away from that planet with that thing or those people on it? Do you wish the events in that episode went in another direction, or continued on after the cameras stopped rolling? If you have, then fan fiction may have the answers you seek.
Star Trek novels have turned the Vulcan that dies in a transporter accident in The Motion Picture into a pivotal character in the Vanguard series, or the soft spoken and unsure of herself counselor in Deep Space Nine’s final season into a strong Captain that helped save the known galaxy from the Borg. Fan fiction can do the same thing, but without the restrictions or limitations that CBS, Paramount, and other overseers of the Star Trek franchise may impose on the stories they choose to tell. Fans have the freedom to tell the stories they choose, such as telling stories set during the Romulan War, or following Montgomery Scott’s time at the Academy.
Star Trek fan fiction isn’t limited to what was seen on the screen, whether its television or the films. Fan fiction can be spawned from practically any media that Star Trek has taken. Fan Fiction has sprung forth from the novels and games well. For instance, Star Trek Titan — featuring the adventures of Captain Riker – has inspired a friend of mine to write a fan fiction novel based on Riker and Troi’s children, which were conceived and born over the course of the novel series.
Then, there’s the impact that Star Trek Online has had on the fan fiction community. The game allows for its players to literally play within the Star Trek Universe. For my friend, she is now able to play the game as the characters she envisioned. Their stories, the game’s stories have merged and inspired even more stories. Star Trek Online however, takes fan fiction to an all new level through the introduction of the Foundry tool. The Foundry is Star Trek Online’s User Generated Content tool that allows players to tell their own stories by creating playable missions within the Star Trek Universe. The player takes center stage and is able to experience the stories the author wishes to tell.
Even with the Foundry, other forms of fan fiction have sprung forth from the game. Players have continued the tradition of written stories, as encouraged by the game’s community manager in their bi-monthly Literary Challenges. Players, however, have sought the creation of other types of fan fiction. They have produced Machinima (in-game footage) films, cartoons, comics, graphic novels, and audio dramas, all of which holds the traditional form of fan fiction – the written word – at its core. Starfinder, Star Trek: Reunion, and even the Gates of Sto’vo’kor are just some examples of the evolution of fan fiction spurred by Star Trek Online.
It’s amazing how communities of fans have formed on the Internet, dedicated to their favorite flavor of Star Trek fan fiction. FanFiction.net is an all-purpose fan fiction site dedicated to a lot more than just Star Trek fan fiction, but the site hosts fan fiction representing each of the series and the recent 2009 Star Trek movie. Trekfanfiction.net only hosts Star Trek fan fiction organized by series, cross over, and miscellaneous categories. Ad Astra touts itself as the Star Trek Fan Fiction Archive, with not only the series represented, but also mirror, alternate, and expanded universes as well. Communities like Orion Press, The Delphic Expanse, and others have also formed around single series. For instance, Orion Press focuses on fan fiction set in the Original Series, while The Delphic Expanse continues the adventures of Captain Archer and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise NX-01.
Other communities that have developed to support each other and fan fiction authors include Trek BBS, a forum dedicated to Star Trek with an active fan community producing fan fiction, productions and art. Trek United Publishing and Merknet.com have produced communities that have worked together to produce high quality fan fiction novels and help distribute them for free in various ebook formats. Social media sites such as Facebook and Tumblr have facilitated these communities in sharing their stories with one another, and providing valuable feedback in making their stories even better, while the Star Trek: The Expanded Wiki provides a resource to share information on the characters, timeline, and stories in one convenient place.
Fan fiction, audio dramas, and fan productions give Star Trek fans a way to play within the universe they love. It has kept the Spirit of Trek alive and well during times when there was little to be seen of Star Trek on television and in movies. The stories that fans write, share, and read keeps expanding the Star Trek Universe by allowing fans to show their creativity. So, pick up your pens, fire up your word processors, and let’s get writing.
The time has come to wrap up this week’s column. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover how the Spirit of Trek has started to permeate throughout our culture with the hope that one day, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for humanity’s future will become a reality. If you come across something that you believe embodies the Spirit of Trek on the Internet or within popular culture, please do not hesitate to share it with me. I may discuss it in a future article. Live long and prosper.
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