!trouble with tribbles

Okay, some fandom history, why show writers and authors say “for legal reasons” the can’t read fan fic.

Back in ancient times in the 1970s there was a show called Star Trek the Animated Series.  It was on the air as fandom culture around Star Trek was really taking route and there were many fanzines (things on actual paper that people bought) being published and the first conventions to attend.

David Gerrold was a writer for Star Trek the Animated Series who had also written one of the most famous episodes of the original series The Trouble with Tribbles.  While he was around the production office for STtAS he was introduced to a couple of fans who proceeded to tell him all about their ideas for an episode–essentially a sequel to his famous episode–which it so happens he had already written a script for.  When that episode aired he received a letter from one of those fans lawyers demanding “credit”.  It so happened that he could prove that the episode existed before the meeting but the involvement of lawyers and a threat to sue became widely known.

Marion Zimmer Bradly was, before recent horrifying revelations decades after her death, a titan of fantasy writing.  She also welcome fan fiction and published it in anthologies and in a magazine she published.  One day she opened a story sent to her and the plot of the story was essentially the plot of a a novel she had nearly finished writing.  More than a years worth of her work was now unpublishable because it was provable that she had read this story with this similar plot and she couldn’t prove the work on the novel existed before she saw the story.  She stopped publishing anthologies and fan fiction and in particular the MZB story is the one a lot of professional writers know as representative of the dangers of fan fiction.

So when a writer says they can’t read fan fiction for legal reasons it’s that their own lawyers are protecting them from outside lawsuits.

And this is why knowing your fandom history matters.

imagine jim secretly learning spock’s first name. he almost drives nyota mad in the process because he can’t get his tongue around the syllables at all. eventually he’s able to pronounce it and oh so casually drops it into conversation with spock (on the bridge, of course, because lord knows jim loves an audience). spock says nothing to acknowledge that he’s even noticed, and only those working near his station would see that his face is bright green for at least an hour afterwards.

my favourite lines from star trek tos
  • “What are you? What are those?” “I call them ears.” “Are you trying to be funny?” “NEVER”
  • “We’re going nowhere mighty fast”
  • “The Garden of Eden was..just outside Moscow”
  • “Sir, there is a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder” *pinches the guy’s neck*
  • “I’m a doctor, not an escalator!”
  • “Sometimes I think if I hear that word ‘frequency’ once more, I’ll cry.”
  • “Logic, logic, I’m sick to death of logic!”
  • “That was in the late 1960s” “Apparently captain, so are we” *zoom in on Kirk’s face* “WHAT?!”
  • “He had too much happiness”
  • that scene in The Trouble with Tribbles when Scotty told Chekov that vodka is for babies and real men drink only scotch
  • “How do Vulcans choose their mates? Haven’t you wondered?” *awkward silence* “I guess the rest of us assume that it’s done quite..logically
  • “Captain, you make a very convincing Nazi” *theatrically offended face*
  • “Please, Spock, do me a favor and don’t say it’s fascinating…” “No. But it is…interesting
  • “Lieutenant Sulu..is chasing a crewman..with a sword??”
  • *three witches appear and curse them* “Spock, comment.” “Very bad poetry, captain.” “…” “A more..useful comment, Mr. Spock.”
  • “What is that? Is that a uniform of some kind?” “This little thing? Just something I slipped on” *flutters eyelashes*
  • “Captain’s log, stardate… Armageddon” *cue dramatic music*