From model building to 3D printing

Star Trek and Build Code Across the Analog/Digital Divide

Authored by: Bob Rehak

The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138638921
eBook ISBN: 9781315637518
Adobe ISBN:


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Materiality has long been a vexed topic in studies of fandom, despite or perhaps because of its obvious centrality to much of fan culture and its practices. This chapter focuses on one area of material fan labor—building and customizing the Starship Enterprise and other “hardware” of the Star Trek universe—mapping the history of this form of production against the larger history of the franchise. In the work of those fans who “materialize” Star Trek, the more transformative dimensions of their labor have sometimes been hard to discern (much less defend), because so much of the activity seems to be devoted to accurately capturing canonical detail. To an even greater extent than textual forms of transformation such as fan fiction, material fan production balances fidelity and accuracy to the world of the fiction against the desire to personalize and explore it. My aim is not to argue that material labor constitutes some more authentic or creative type of fan activity, but instead to use it as a way to think through complicated relationships between canonicity and creativity, repetition and variation, and consolidation and expansion that often underpin such labor. Because these relationships have traditionally received less attention within fan studies, there is risk of overlooking the fundamental interdependence of texts and objects in fans’ material labor—in particular, the way material fan production mingles with fan-created reference works such as technical manuals, maps, and blueprints.

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