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Southern Fried Geek Girls

Trek Track at Dragon Con

September 8, 2018

The Trek Track is a panel at Dragon Con that focuses on Star Trek, as the name suggests. The Trek Track is run by Garrett Wang, who played Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager. The Trek Track is the only track at Dragon Con that is run by a major celebrity related to the fandom. Over the years, many events from this track have become opular: the Miss Star Trek Universe Pageant, Klingon Karaoke, Trek Scavenger Hunt, Win Harry Kim's Latinum (Trek Trivia), and Star Trek Kid's Fest. 


There are also some recurring guests such as Trek novelist and comic book writer Peter David, who always closes out the track every year by doing the very last panel with his own style of humor and story telling, and Mohamed A. Noor, a biology professor who always gives an entertaining and enlightening panel or two. This year had the old favorites, plus a few new things, such as the actors from the new series Star Trek: Discovery, Trek novelist David R. George III, and a slew of science panels.



One of the standout new panels was entitled "Star Trek Fandom Herstory" about the women in Star Trek's history of fandom who "laid the groundwork for modern fan culture." The panel was hosted by Sue Kisenwether from the "Women at Warp" Star Trek podcast. Star Trek fandom is not just for geeky men who wear thick glasses and pocket protectors. It was actually women in the earliest days of Star Trek who laid the foundation for Trek and Trek fandom. The first woman, Sue told us, who made a name for herself in Trek was none other than Lucille Ball. She was the owner of Desilu Studios, where the original Star Trek series was filmed. Star Trek's pilot episode was rejected by NBC, and it was Lucille Ball who insisted that a second pilot be made, so that the show could be given another chance. The second pilot sold the series. Yay! Lucille Ball made it possible for Star Trek to make it to the TV screen with its premiere in 1966.


It was only a year later, in 1967, that the first Star Trek fanzine was published. It was called "Spockanalia". It was created and edited by a woman named Devra Langsam. It featured original fan fiction stories and poetry. You can still find some issues in existence today if you search the internet. There were many other fanzines to follow over the years.



Most die-hard Trekkies know about the "Save Star Trek Campaign" that was started by Bjo Trimble, a lady who to this day still makes convention appearances talking about her history with Trek. Her first letter-writing campaign started in 1968, when she heard Star Trek was going to be cancelled. She encouraged all the fans to write letters to NBC to save the show and rescue it from cancellation. It was not an easy task (there was no internet back then). But her campaign was successful, and Star Trek was renewed for another season, allowing it to have a full three seasons, which was just enough to thrive in syndication where Trek was able to become one of the most successful TV shows in TV history.


The first ever Star Trek-only convention, as opposed to general sci-fi convention, was in 1972 in New York. The con was organized by Joan Winston, who wrote a book about her experiences in Star Trek fandom called "Star Trek Lives!" Joan and her friends expected a few hundred people to come to that first con. The con wound up having over 3,000 people. A lot more than they expected, but it's Trek, so the more the merrier!


A very infamous concept that came directly from female Trek fandom was slash fiction. "Slash" is a story about two male characters, such as Kirk and Spock, becoming lovers. Huh? Yes, such fan stories do exist!. "Slash" got its name because the stories were referred to by putting a slash "/" between the character's names, ex. Kirk/Spock. As stated by the panelist, the probable reason that women wrote such stories is because the original Trek series had such in-depth male characters. Since the show was made in the '60s, the continuing female characters were not as in-depth or as well-developed personality-wise as the male characters. It's hard to believe that these type of romance fantasy, sometimes erotic stories, between two men were written by women.



Finally, there was Mae Jemison, a female astronaut and long time Trekkie who appeared as a guest on Star Trek: The Next Generation, thereby setting an example that a woman can be anything and do anything she sets her mind to. Yes, women who are Star Trek fans have been active in fandom since the beginning of Trek itself. Even on a show that started out as male-dominated, the show has evolved to the current series Star Trek: Discovery with its female lead and the first continuing female Klingon. Women in fandom and on screen have proven both important and vital to Star Trek, and we are sure they will continue to boldly go where no one has gone before. Live Long and Prosper!


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