characters / writers resources / writing

Demographics of a Trekkie

star trekDavid Gerrold (remember the 10 tips from him I posted Monday?) got me thinking about Star Trek and that got me missing those crazy futuristic guys. I ended up pulling the last two Trekkie movies out of the back of my cupboard and watched them with my addicted son. They were as good as I remember.

which got me analyzing why readers/viewers love Star Trek so much (we won’t get into that whole Star Trek vs. Star Wars, peaceful war vs. warring for peace thing). If you have a character in your book who loves Star Trek, you have to understand enough about the cult to make him authentic. No Star Trek afficionado is the average Ford-driving, hamburger-eating, wife-two-point-two-children sort of guy. If you don’t give this fella the right accouterments, he won’t be believable.

I came up with a few hints for you. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Your character is part of a huge cultural movement. Over thirty million fans watch “Star Trek” programming around the world every week.
  • He is probably an enthusiastic member of one of the hundreds of thousands of fan-club registered “Star Trek” fans.
  • He probably looks forward to the next “Star Trek” convention. He may even travel distances to go to one. They’re held every weekend of every year, in at least three different cities, attracting a million fans.
  • He definitely has a library of Star Trek books. More than 63 million “Star Trek” books are in print and have been translated into more than 15 languages including Chinese, Norwegian, Hungarian, and Hebrew.
  • He probably grabs each new Star Trek book as it comes out. He’ll watch the publication schedule and be at B&N the day it arrives. Since July 1986, every new classic “Star Trek” novel published by Pocket Books has been a New York Times paperback best-seller, making it the best-selling series in publishing history.
  • It’s not just books he buys–merchandise, too. Hats, mugs, mouse pads. The average “Star Trek” fan spends $400 per year on “Star Trek” merchandise. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” has made over $500,000,000 in syndication and merchandising. “Star Trek” products have elicited over a billion dollars in retail sales in the last five years.
  • If you’re talking about an older character, he may be one of 400,000 who requested that the first U.S. Space Shuttle, the “Enterprise,” be given its name
  • He is aware of the most famous Star Trek fan, Jordan LaForge, for whom Geordi LaForge is named. Jordan LaForge died from muscular dystrophy in 1975.
  • Here’s some trivia your character probably knows. If you look closely at the Enterprise during the fly-by in the opening credits, you can see someone walking past the windows. According to Mike Okuda in the “Star Trek: The Official Fan Club Magazine” (#60), this is Captain Picard.
  • Here’s another bit of trivia that says a lot about Star Trek fans: The shuttle Onizuka, which Data used in “Ensigns of Command”, was named in tribute to one of the Space Shuttle “Challenger” astronauts.
  • Your character will know about Star Trek in society, for example, the original Wright Brothers plane was named…..BIRD OF PREY!
  • There are Star Trek fans in every walk of life. For example, Nichelle Nichols was going to quit Classic Trek half way through, but Dr. Martin Luther King talked her back into staying on the show.
  • Star Trek is not only forward thinking in science, but culture. The first inter-racial kiss on TV was on Star Trek between Kirk and Uhura.

There you have it. Now get that character written!

More posts about Star Trek:

What I Learned About Life From Star Trek

It’s Not Just StarTrek That Gives Us a Blueprint For the Future

How Star Trek Changed the World

10 Uses for Metamaterials. Beyond Star Trek. Way Beyond Harry Potter


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is  editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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14 thoughts on “Demographics of a Trekkie

  1. Read with great interest. Your remark about watching Star Trek with your addicted son strikes a deep chord. I have watched a couple of Star Wars a few years back with my sons and they are addicted. So much so that the older one, a teenager, as eagerly awaited the last movie, I think Clone Wars, as I did Empire Strikes Back more than thirty years back. What is it? Perhaps universal stories, beautifully told. And thanks for the tidbits about Trekkies.

    • Good story, Ankur. It’s not often we get to share interests with our children. Now that my son is an adult, I’ve tried to sample his interests and been pleasantly surprised. I’m also a Dr. Who fan (I want a Tardis) thanks to him!

  2. Except for attending the conventions, afraid you nailed me. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since ‘The Menagerie.” I not only have almost all the Star Trek novels, but most of the technical manuals, the Klingon language book, and models of all the ships. I was a nerd before the word was invented.

    • Oh, Charlie, you’re wonderful! If you also speak Klingon, that puts you in a rarefied group. Star Trek is fascinating, more ‘scientific fiction’ than ‘science fiction’. It has inspired that in my writing.

  3. I’ve greatly enjoyed the spin-offs of Star Trek as well; one thing I picked up along the way, whether at a convention or just by reading I don’t remember is that “serious” Star Trek fans prefer being called “Trekkers” as opposed to “Trekkies.”

  4. Pingback: Writers Tip #62: It’s Not What Happens to Your Character Readers Care About. It’s Their Reaction That Matters | WordDreams...

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