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From the Bird's Beak

Star Trek's influence on Starsky & Hutch Fandom

Star Trek's influence on Starsky & Hutch Fandom

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A number of years ago at SHareCon, I put on a presentation on the history of Starsky & Hutch fandom. I started at the very beginning of time: oral storytelling, the invention of paper, the mimeo machine, the Xerox... and Star Trek.

Star Trek was the Mother of all media fandoms as we know them today. While fanzines existed before Star Trek, they focused primarily on science fiction books and stories. It's because of Star Trek that we had media-focused fanzines, that we had fiction stories focused on a TV show, that we had a loyal fandom so strong it brought back their beloved show years after the executives that killed it had forgotten all about it. It's because of Star Trek, specifically because of Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock and William Shatner's Captain Kirk, that we have slash fanfic. The first fanfic to appear online was Trek fic. The first media cons focusing on a single show were Trek cons. Star Trek talked about diversity before it was politically correct. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations -- IDIC was a philosophy the show espoused when newspapers still segregated want ads into "Help Wanted - Male," and "Help Wanted - Female."

Almost all the first generation Starsky & Hutch fans who started publishing fiction about our show started in Star Trek. In fact, Teri White, who wrote Promises to Keep, was the first well-known Trek author to jump ship, shocking many. Readers who loved her, followed her to S&H. Other writers did soon after.

I have always had a deep fondness for Trek. While it was never my fandom, I watched the episodes dozens of times and loved them, edited A.C. Crispin's well-known Trek novel, Yesterday's Son, and actually co-wrote a published both a TOS novel and a Next Generation novel with Jeanne Dillard.

So it was with great sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's passing. As Mr. Spock, he influenced millions of fans not just to create imaginative stories and boldly go where no MAN has gone before, but to live lives their parents couldn't have imagined. My wife, Anne, went into computer science when it barely had a curriculum because of Spock. Early in her career, she was always the only woman surrounded by male colleagues. (But she was a fan of Spock, and so had a role model on how to conduct yourself when you are the only representative of your species working among aliens. You could not rattle Anne. We used to call her the Ice Queen.) I've met women who went into other advanced scientific and computer fields because of Spock's influence when women weren't common in those fields.

I might not have even met my wife, if not for Star Trek. She was introduced to a friend at work, Debbie, because they were fellow Trek fans. Debbie met A.C. Crispin through similar channels, and the three began spending time together. When my friend, Teresa, and I threw a baby shower for Crispin, Anne was invited, and the rest was history. So, thanks, Mr. Nimoy.

I had the opportunity to see Mr. Nimoy give a talk at a Star Trek convention around the time that Star Trek IV (the whale movie) came out (sometime around 1986). He was a wonderful speaker, charming, funny, sharp, handling the inevitable question on how he felt about K/S fan fiction with humor and gentle aplomb. He was also, to my surprise, far more handsome than he appeared on screen. Strikingly handsome, really.

I'm cherishing those memories now, and thinking of the years I have spent in SH fandom and the friends I have made in this fandom -- life-long friendships -- and how many of those friends started out in Trek. Rosemary, who took me to my first Starsky & Hutch party, started in Trek. Suzan Lovett, whose stories and art in SH really drew me into the fandom, started to draw only so she could get more Trek fanzines by contributing art. April Valentine, whose SH zines promoted the fandom when it was at a very low ebb, started in Trek. And so many others....

Our fandom owes a lot to Trek, and the creative forces that came out of it that helped shaped fandom for years to come. And our fellow fans who loved that show, and loved that character, and therefore, loved the man who created him, are mourning deeply. I can only say I am so sorry for your loss.

Love, Flamingo
  • Wonderful words, Flamingo. Today is a sad day for Trek fans, but the legacy Leonard left...we are all blessed with that. Thank you for posting.
  • Thank you for this post!
    Spock is my favorite character in all Star Trek versions.
  • Thank you for posting this. It is really important for us all to remember the history and pass it down. Thank you for enlightening me on so much I didn't know.
  • Thank you for sharing the connections between Star Trek and S&H fandoms. The intangible thread that connects all of us it something that is clearly celebrated in both of these shows and by the fandoms that grew out of them.
  • Thank you, Mama Bird. This is beautiful.
  • Thank you for the beautiful eulogy (and succinct history of fandom).
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