Not the Golden Age

I recently watched a fun little documentary called “The Trek Not Taken,” about Star Trek spinoffs that were discussed, developed, in some cases written and even taken to the point where sets and costumes were built, but not released to an audience.I really enjoyed it, and thought it was nicely done. There was a point I took exception to, however. I bring it up here, not to criticize the producer of this video in any way, but more to examine how I, as an aging fan, tend to see things a little differently.

The makers of this video posited that, in fifty years of existence, Star Trek has gone through several “dark ages” and one “golden age.” These ages aligned with the times that a Trek TV series was or was not in production, so the first two dark ages were 1969-1973 and 1975-1987.

Interestingly, although four Trek films were released during that second interval, it’s the opinion of the documentarian that only televised Trek saves fans from a dark age.

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Do Star Trek Fans Just Not Understand Copyright?

Clarification: There’s been a misunderstanding to the effect that I felt Star Trek: Axanar had derived their story from my work. That is not the case. The fan film referenced below, in which some fans have noticed similarities to my novel, is not Axanar.

Intellectual Property–copyright–is the topic at hand right now in Star Trek circles. The high profile Axanar team has been hit with a lawsuit for violating CBS’s copyright in making an independent Star Trek film. Meanwhile, on one of the Trek-related bulletin boards, some fans have noticed similarities between a fan film and my 2006 novel Taken Liberty. I blogged about those similarities last year, saying I saw several points of plot overlap between the film and my book. Several of those commenting on the topic had read my blog. Apparently, not many had read my book.

The discussions on both topics have shown that a startling amount of ignorance and irrational thinking pervades modern Star Trek fandom, and that many fans have no concept of the law, much less of right and wrong.

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Contact 05

Contact56CoverASeptember, 1979. Ads for Star Trek: The Motion Picture were popping up everywhere. They showed a glorious new (but recognizable!) USS Enterprise, and had photos of all of our favorites in a row beneath it. The uniforms were a little drab, but this was the sophisticated 1970s. We didn’t expect primary colors anymore.

Bev and Nancy, having not even seen the film yet (they would attend the gala opening night at the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, just months later), were already showing their approval of its style. Perhaps their most striking, memorable cover to date graced this double issue of Contact, numbered 5/6. Like the more expensive paperbacks of the time, this issue had a double cover. The first layer depicts Kirk in blue monochrome in his classic uniform, sitting amidst rubble, while a golden-haloed visage Spock looks down on him. They are together, but isolated. The Spock image is, in fact, from the next layer, revealed by a circular die-cut in the upper cover.

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The Intergalactic Nanny


My brother says this isn’t the box art he remembers, but it’s what appears to have been the 1969 release art. Image courtesy of Scalemates

My brother had a model Saturn V rocket. Assembled, I believe it stood about 30 inches tall. I guess he assembled it. I remember yellow streaks of model glue on the… does a rocket have a fuselage? But you could separate it into stages (what good is a rocket if you can’t separate it into stages?) and it was almost always disassembled. It was almost always disassembled because his annoying little brother, who was much too young for such a model, wanted to play with it all the time.

And who wouldn’t want to play with it? It had the Apollo command module and capsule, the capsule just the size of an acorn, but still… It may have had a lunar module on the side. And I’m pretty sure there was a completely-out-of-scale figure of an Apollo astronaut in full gear.

It now lies in state in a cardboard box in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. What’s left of it lies in state, anyway. The bright orange launch pad is still around, and some odds and ends, including that little capsule. Yeah, we’re that family. I haven’t lived in that house for 28 years, but my room is still full of my stuff. And… y’know… stuff I permanently “borrowed” from my brother.


The remnants…

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Better Than I Was Before… Memories of Harve Bennett

Harve_bennet_(2009)Last week, I wrote about a famous man who had died: Leonard Nimoy. It was a gently chiding piece about name-dropping, and about how you don’t need to personally know a celebrity for him to have a huge effect on your life.

And this week, because I’m nothing if not contradictory–or is that everything if not contradictory?–I’m writing about a famous man who died, and how the fact that I knew him personally intensified his effect on my life.

This week, sadly, I’m writing about Harve Bennett, who died Feb 25th at the age of 84. He was about the same age as Leonard Nimoy. They both had long careers in the film business. They worked together on a number of projects. They died within days of each other. Continue reading

I Did Not Know Leonard Nimoy


Photo by Ethan H. WIlson

I didn’t. Never met the man. I once walked onto a stage where he’d just finished speaking, and picked up the mic he’d just put down; but we didn’t exchange any words, except perhaps, “hello.” Maybe we nodded to each other in passing. But I didn’t know Leonard, and he didn’t know me.

Why is that important? Two reasons. One, a lot of people are rushing right now to talk about knowing this man who just ended a long and productive life. I guess it helps them mourn his loss, makes them feel closer to him, despite his death, and provides them with validation. They knew someone famous, and that’s cool. Every fan wants to be able to claim that he’s best buds with his favorite celebrity, right? And what am I, if not a fan? Look at that picture up top. Who but a fan owns that many Mr. Spock figures?

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Review: Star Trek – Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster


Not the book cover, but Alice Eve reads the audio, and she’s prettier than the book cover!

This is only peripherally a review of Star Trek: Into Darkness the film. I’m going to talk about the film, yes, but more immediately I’m going to talk about the novelization of it, written by Alan Dean Foster, and the reading of it by Alice Eve. I saw the film first, and then listened to this reading via Audible, so it’s my more recent experience of the story.

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Helen Noel Kicks Ass! (And other reflections upon reading the first volume of James Blish’s Star Trek series.)

Helen Noel from Star Trek

Star Trek “Dagger of the Mind’s” Dr. Helen Noel

Well first off, she’s a redhead, isn’t she? Redheads are special in science fiction. Nix that. Redheads are special, period. Science Fiction authors just get this basic, universal truth, carved as it was by God on the same stone tablets He used when he gave us the Declaration of Independence and the script for It Happened One Night. Ask Robert Heinlein or Alan Dean Foster. Redheads. Yeah.

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The Art of Enterprise Regained

If you’re getting the impression that I’m just hopelessly stuck on myself, well, I hope you’re wrong. Can’t swear to it. It’s  just that I’ve put a lot of time and energy lately into preserving the work that a lot of people, myself included, did back in the 1970s and 1980s, and so I’m thinking of a lot to say about it. And, yeah, I think our work deserves to be remembered. So there it is, and here’s a rundown of the artistic effort that went into making my first fanzine, lo those three decades ago.

Fanzines in the 1980s had amazing artwork, not always done justice by the printing technologies fan publishers were forced to use. When I decided to publish my own zine in 1984, I wanted it to have its share of artwork. Being a one-man-show, I had to provide my own. Fortunately, in those days, illustration was something I did. I’d also worked on the school newspaper and yearbook, so I was comfortable with publication design.

For the zine’s cover, I couldn’t afford color. I was publishing on my parents’ office Xerox machine! So I xeroxed a photo of the Enterprise (I think from the STTMP Souvenir Program Book center spread), trimmed with scissors and pasted over the Starfleet Delta, which I formed with 4pt layout tape on thin graph paper:


I printed it on canary yellow paper. All copies with this cover were printed at home on my parents’ office copier, and all artwork was thus reproduced from the original by Xerox.

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_1_Yellow_2I did 25-50 copies of this one, and then my parents said “enough.” If I was going to mass-produce, I needed to do it right and go to a real printer. I pulled out the phone book and, appropriately, picked Galaxy Graphics to do my offset printing. They were going to halftone all my illustrations, so I designed a new cover.

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_2_CleanedThis is a scan of the original master for the second cover. I though it was better to emphasize the people, rather than the ship, and make it clear this was a Saavik story. This master used a half-tone of my original, which was charcoal. Haven’t found that artwork yet, but hope to, as the half-tone lost some of the detail. Copies with this cover have half-tones of my original pencils on the interior. I believe 200 copies were printer. Maybe 400?

EnterpriseRegained_Cover_2_CleanedTanWhen that batch sold out, I decided the cover needed some color, so I made it tan. For this edition, to save money, I went with pen and ink for the interior illos.

And then the illos…

EnterpriseRegained_illo_001BW_Cleaned_CroppedThe first illustration I ever did of Kevin Carson (left) and Terry Metcalfe in their original Trek context. This was pencil on a page from my sketchbook. I later did a pen and ink version, tracing it on a light table. I was never as happy with that one. The smoky-looking constructs show the influence Richard Powers had on me at the time. I was so taken with his illustrations for Heinlein’s Number of the Beast.

EnterpriseRegained0203CombinedThis two-page spread of Uhura and Chekov went across the opening pages of Chapter Four. I was a little baffled when I found the box of nearly all my zine illos, and these two weren’t there. I was even more surprised when I pulled the file of master pages for this zine after all these years and found the drawings had been done right on the master pages! My art teacher, Steve Perrine, taught me better than that! But I guess I was in a hurry. There are actually three sets of masters for this thing. I first typed on 8.5 x 11 paper with NO margins, then reduced those by 70% (the Xerox only did 94, 70 and 50, I think) to create masters for copying. When I went to offset and used half-tones, yet a third set of masters had to be created with the half-tones pasted on them. These were pencil on the characters, with the views of space behind them done in charcoal for extra contrast. Again, there’s a pen and ink version.

EnterpriseRegained_Illo_4_CleanedBWI was never happy with this drawing. Again drawn directly on the masters, and the Kirk head was actually cut and pasted in place. I have a vague recollection that there was another, botched Kirk head under it. Or maybe a figure of Kirk that actually fit in the scene. As it is, I decided pretty quickly that I thought the effect was just bizarre. I still like the drawing of Saavik in her robe, though. You’ll note that all the Saavik images are based on Robin Curtis, even though the story was written and the publication almost complete before she ever played the part. I took an immediate liking to her as Saavik. I think it’s a shame that people only seem to remember Kirstie Alley now. I’ve met and worked with Robin several times over the years, and she’s a fun and friendly person.

EnterpriseRegained_illo_4B_Cleaned_CroppedSince I wasn’t happy with the first, I replaced it with this one when I went pen and ink. A dubious trade-off, I think, since this isn’t nearly as nice a drawing of Saavik!

Looking back, it’s probably a mistake that there’s no illustration of Angela Teller. I think, had there been, a lot less people would have believed I had created the character for this story. She was, after all, the same lady who appeared in the episodes “Balance of Terror,” “Shore Leave” and “Turnabout Intruder.” I just always liked her, so I put her aboard the new Enterprise.



Enterprise Regained – A Star Trek Fan Fiction Novella (1984)

EnterpriseRegainedCoversEnterprise Regained

by Steven H. Wilson

Published separately in June, 1984 — 40 pages, illustrated

 Original Author’s Intro

It seems to me that this, my first fanzine and first completed Star Trek story (though hopefully not the last of the former and definitely not the last of the latter) calls for an introduction. My personal feelings are of disbelief: disbelief that this two-year pro­ject is finally completed; but I’ll spare you my creative euphoria. I can inflict that on the same people who’ve been following this story chapter for chapter, praising and proofreading (they didn’t have much choice–I inflicted the earliest drafts on them, too).

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