Science Fiction Film & Television

Transmedia space battles: reference materials and miniatures wargames in 1970s Star Trek fandom

Science Fiction Film & Television (1970), 9, (3), 325–345.

Abstract

During the 1970s, Star Trek expanded transmedially not through traditional spin-offs in television and film (although those would come later) but through the work of craft-oriented fans who materialised and embroidered the franchise’s fictional universe while converting it to inhabitable and playable form. In conversation with fan-created reference materials such as Franz Joseph’s Starfleet Technical Manual and Star Trek Blueprints (1975), Trek-themed miniatures games such as Lou Zocchi’s Star Trek Battle Manual (1972) and Stephen V. Cole/ Task Force Games’s Star Fleet Battles (1979) danced on the legal lines of licensed versus unlicensed work. Laying the groundwork for the expansive, interactive, networked assets of the contemporary transmedia franchise, this early form of grassroots affirmational fandom provides an alternative origin story to the strategies of corporate coordination that typify the convergence era, suggesting that – in contrast to the narrative of inevitability that often frames Trek’s fifty-year success story – the truth is lumpier and less industry-friendly: an ongoing process of negotiation and appropriation, leakage and containment that has both fed and complicated the franchise’s development.

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Author details

Rehak, Bob