Carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives: rReality and Star Trek’s multiple histories

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This paper looks at Star Trek's multiple versions of history, and specifically at how the series has created its own sense of history to help legitimate its fictional narrative. It examines how fans have related and interacted with the text and used it to fulfil their own creative desires and needs and how they have helped shape its reputation as America's televised social conscience. Star Trek is often quoted as a way of expressing one's dream. This paper highlights how the fans have contributed to that dream, inspired by the utopian idealism manifested through Star Trek's ideological mediation of future history. The paper will consider how its enduring popularity results from the fact that it takes only a handful of plot narratives as its basis. One of these narratives is the way the referential, retrospective, socially-aware portrayal of historical events interfaces with its own fictional history. Star Trek's representation of a reality through its fictitious future has not only been entrenched as a possible outcome for society; it has become as David Gerrold puts it, a representation of 'a future we would like to make real'. The paper concludes that fan activity and Star Trek's own fictional history combine together to form an expanding alternative reality - one which is distinctly American in outlook - for its devoted fanbase. Ironically, this alternate world that most fans long to be a part of exists because of their own attempts to live within the boundaries of Star Trek. Their activities legitimize the fictional reality portrayed on screen whilst at the same time it is being perpetuated and revitalized. However, as a result of this union between fan and Star Trek there is a divisive difference between what fans believe is part of the fictional universe surrounding the series and what the creators and producers of the show see as authorized within the confines of the episodes aired on screen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-176
JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002


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