Check out Spockanalia, ground zero for the Star Trek fandom

US actor Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock from the film 'Star Trek - The Motion Picture', 1979. (Photo by Bertil Unger/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
US actor Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock from the film 'Star Trek - The Motion Picture', 1979. (Photo by Bertil Unger/Evening Standard/Getty Images) /

Star Trek fandom began with Spockanalia

Spockanalia was the very first Star Trek fan ‘zine, proving that Star Trek fandom was the internet before the internet. It also exemplifies the role women played in establishing a fandom that’s traditionally thought of as being male-dominated.

Red Shirts Always Die is a link in a chain that stretches back to the very beginning of Star Trek and its fandom. Ever since Star Trek has existed, there have been people who view it as more a way of life than a TV show. Those people like to engage with other fans, argue, share opinions, and even create their own content. Though the internet has made this fanaticism a lot easier, for Star Trek, it was happening long before the Internet.

In September of 1967 Devra Langsam and Sherma Comerford released Spockanalia issue one (though it was only intended as a one-shot.) The story is told in Pop Culture Pioneers: The Women Who Transformed Fandom in Film, Television, Comics, and More by Cher Martinetti Langsam and Comerford met at the 1967 Eastern Science Fiction Association open meet up in Newark, where they came across a ‘zine containing a letter about Star Trek written by Juanita Coulson. It was while corresponding with Coulson that they came up with the idea of a ‘zine devoted entirely to Star Trek.

Spockanalia was incredibly influential

In an impressive coup, issue one contained a letter from Leonard Nimoy himself. Reading between the lines, the tone of the letter is a little incredulous, as if Nimoy doesn’t quite believe he has such a devoted fandom.

Issue two contained letters from Gene Roddenberry, Walter Koenig, and legendary writer Dorothy Fontana, as well as letters from DeForest Kelley and James Doohan written in character as Dr. McCoy and Scottie. Roddenberry also wrote a letter published in issue three in which he said that Spockanalia was required reading for everyone in the production office, as well as “every new writer, and anyone who makes decisions on show policy.”

As the work of two women, Spockanalia is significant for how it portrays the female perspective. Issue three also contained a poem entitled The Alternative, a piece of fanfic erotica set in the mirror universe. This necessitated an editorial in issue four justifying erotic fanfic. The editorial git straight to the point, saying “Perhaps some of our readers are too accustomed to the tradition, in popular literature, of the male protagonist being aroused by the presence of attractive women. When they find that women write it the other way around, they find it strange.”

In 1969 Langsam and Comerford organised what is believed to be the first Star Trek convention. Their work was incredibly influential in the establishment of the Star Trek fandom. One concept from the fanfic has even made it into the canon. In the 31st century of Star Trek Discovery, now that the Vulcans and the Romulans are reunified, the planet Vulcan has been renamed Ni’Var. Ni Var is a term coined by Dorothy Jones Heydt in issue one; it literally translates to “two forms,” and describes an art motif where two aspects of a single thing are compared and contrasted.

In 2016 Langsam allowed the Sandy Hereld Memorial Digitized Media Fanzine Collection to digitise all five issues of Spockanalia. You can read every issue here.

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