We get questions, we get
questions, we get lots and lots of questions...
(and newer questions are listed first)
Question: Why won't you publish my fan fiction story/series?
Answer: There are a lot of stories submitted to Orion Press that are never published, even though their authors may be regular contributors or highly regarded as good or great writers in the fan fiction community. There are a lot of contributing factors for content: Is it a good story? Does it entertain me as a reader? Does it conflict with my version/vision of Star Trek? I also look at whether or not it's an original crew on a different ship. If so, it's far less likely to be published than a Classic Trek story set during the series or movies timeframe because those stories are far less read than those of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Has it been previously published elsewhere or published on the Internet? If so, it's far less likely to be reposted or reprinted in our pages. Yes, there are a few exceptions. Some authors have reposted/reprinted their stories elsewhere years later. Some material on our website and in our zines may have been printed years earlier. The bottom line is that your story/series shouldn't be printed elsewhere or posted on the Internet before submitting it to Orion Press. If we were to publish it, we would be diminishing the site, lessening its value as it were, and I don't want to do that. I want to keep this site a unique place for its content.
Question: How do you reconcile (Star Trek:) Enterprise and the new Star Trek movie with the Orion Universe?
Answer: I don't. There's so much wrong with Enterprise and nuTrek that I discount any "facts" from the series and the recent movie. Our universe holds true to itself and to the original Star Trek, not to the Enterprise deviation or the nuTrek alternate universe. And if anyone's forgotten, they weren't even calling Enterprise "Star Trek" in the beginning because TPTB (The Powers That Be) saw it as a half-hearted reboot in the same vein as the recent Battlestar Galactica was. The same was true for the first Star Trek ("nuTrek") movie; while some of the characterizations were engaging, there were far too many problems with it to even consider it a part of the original Star Trek universe, let alone our expansion upon that universe. With the second nuTrek movie, I'm even more convinced that I made the right decision.
Question: Don't you think your site has too much "sexual stuff/violence"?
Answer: I hardly think so. A quick check of the 348 stories on our website in 2010 showed that only 12.6% (44) of the stories on the site have subject matter of this type. That means there's more than 300 stories that don't. In all honesty, most fan fiction that's written is relationship-based, and often those relationships are sexual in nature. Some of the stories that are on this site have violence, often perpetrated by the Klingons on our heroes. On the chance that someone doesn't want to read it, each and every story of this nature on our website is clearly marked in red with a warning label for sexual situations, violence, adult themes or other cautionary statements. If this isn't the sort of stuff you want to read, then for heaven's sake, heed the warning labels! And if you see a story that needs a cautionary statement that doesn't have one, then let us know!
Question: Why did Orion Press drop all of its non-Classic Trek material from the website?
Answer: This was not an easy decision for me to make, and it hurt a lot of people's feelings, including some very dear friends. Long time readers know that we have published 152 non-Classic Trek fanzines over the years from 1987 until 2001 (that's slightly more than the Classic Trek zines we published, especially if you discount the reprint anthologies). We sold more copies of those 152 non-Classic Trek fanzines on average than our Classic Trek fanzines, got more acclaim and won more awards for them, and were even recognized as THE fanzine source for Next Generation and Voyager zines. But in May 2001, Voyager's producers (Berman and Braga) unleashed the series finale, "Endgame," on fandom, and I sat there, stunned in complete disbelief, at how fans had been crapped upon by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga (something they would do again in the Enterprise series finale and in their last Star Trek film, Nemesis). I made the decision then and there to shut down our non-Classic Trek operations. I gave everyone notice to save their TNG, DS9 and VOY stories to files (many did, many more did not), sent all the TNG, DS9 and VOY zine masters back to their editors (none of them really kept their zines going), and basically I divorced myself from Modern Trek. Oh, it pissed off some friends of mine who felt that I had somehow betrayed them, and while I can't understand that, I do feel for them. None of them really seemed interested in trying to keep their zines going; they had come to rely on Orion Press to publish all their stuff. I, however, decided to not only maintain our Classic Trek website, but to expand it further.
Nico Declerk set up a website to archive all the TNG material: the Eridani website, but he has never finished it. There was an archive set up for the DS9 material: the Outpost Library (in exile) website. There was even a website of our VOY material, but like the DS9 site, it went away. If anyone else from those fandoms wants access to create websites for our TNG, DS9 and VOY material, all they have to do is ask, and I'll be glad to provide the material. So far, only three people have asked, and none of those sites are active.
Question: You have a link to a Star Trek: New Voyages DVD for sale. I've heard that it's a bootleg. Are you pirating DVDs?
Answer: Nope. I've been assured that the DVDs linked to on my FAN FILMS webpage were NOT bootlegs. They were high resolution with added features (bloopers, deleted scenes) that came in a printed cardboard sleeve. Again, I've been assured that if they were bootlegs, James Cawley would've already stopped their sale as he has other places. This information comes from someone on the production team. Just wanting to make sure you have the accurate information. I have no idea why someone who doesn't know the facts would claim that we're selling bootlegs...or even DVDs for that matter. I have my hands full maintaining this website and printing our fanzines. And while I'm fascinated by fan films in general, I have no interest in producing or selling DVDs of any sort. Update: By November 2008, the seller ran out of his copies, and no more will be made and/or sold. The link has therefore been removed. In January 2010, Orion Press began work on its own fan film productions, Potemkin Pictures.
Question: Why do you capitalize Human?
Answer: The answer is simple: If you're going to capitalize Vulcans, then you've got to capitalize Humans. Yes, I know, the general press convention is not to capitalize the word, but Humans in Star Trek are a sentient race. Terrans are Humans born on Earth, and that term is also capitalized. Here at Orion Press, we have and will continue to capitalize the names of all sentient races.
Question: What is the problem you have with PocketBooks?
Answer: A long time ago, when Star Trek books were being published at Bantam, the good folks at Bantam published stories written in Star Trek fanzines in a collection known as Star Trek: New Voyages. There were two editions of this anthology series, edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. These two books, along with Star Trek Lives! (written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston), introduced fans to fanzines. And for decades, fanzines were the main means Star Trek fans could express their creativity. Fans would write their stories, have them edited, and the zine editor/publisher would produce an anthology or novel-lengthed fanzine that would be read and adored by thousands of readers. Fanzines, like INTERSTAT, were also one of the best means of communication that fans could exchange ideas with each other. Imagine, if you will, a letterzine delivered monthly, filled with commentaries from fans all over the world...in other words, a hard-copy analog-equivalent of the Internet. Once the BBS's such as GEnie and CompuServe's started popping up, slowly and surely fans moved from the long wait between printed issues to the instant gratification (and conflagration) that the world wide web provides. Nowadays, a fan who writes a story can post it to his or her website (or someone else's) with instant gratification or disappointment from its readers. Clearly, the Internet has put an end to much of the printed fanzines. (Sadly, it also has put an end to much of the feedback we used to receive on our fan fiction, but that's another story...)
The folks at Pocketbooks don't want you to know and appreciate those historical facts. They want you to believe that fanzines weren't widespread, that they never had more than a few readers, and that they simply didn't matter. They want you to believe that they "can't know about" fanzines otherwise they'd have to prosecute their editors and publishers (despite the fact that the good folks at Bantam published those anthologies featuring that material). They want you to believe that fanzines didn't disseminate information released to us by the folks at Paramount (despite the fact that in a recent Harve Bennett interview he expressed his displeasure that the news of Spock's death had been released to fanzines by Gene Roddenberry (and more accurately Susan Sackett)). They want you to believe that fan fiction writers never developed into professional writers (despite the fact that you can go through Joan Marie Verba's Boldly Writing and see where folks did just that). They want you to believe that professional writers don't "waste their time" writing fan fiction (despite the fact that Carmen Carter and Joan Winston, to name a few, actually did so for ORION PRESS, and Jean Lorrah, Peter David and others did for other zines). They want you to believe that fandom doesn't matter (despite the fact that it was our threats of boycotting Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that resulted in changes in that movie--again, see Joan Marie Verba's Boldly Writing and see where it happened).
Fandom does matter, folks. The fact that the writing and editing staff at PocketBooks has said that "fandom doesn't matter" means that they're not the ones who should writing and editing for Star Trek books. Small wonder that we get a Perry Mason murder-mystery rewritten as a "Samuel T. Cogley" murder-mystery (along with his own Della and Paul). Small wonder that we get a space station novel with cameos from Kirk and Spock, and they call it "Original Series" fiction. Small wonder that their readership dwindles every year, and small wonder I have a problem with them.
Question: Why hasn't story "insert title" been uploaded to the website yet?
Answer: All stories that we publish in our current zines will be uploaded to the website, providing they're a part of the Orion Universe. However, other projects will come first, especially if the stories were only recently published. We still sell fanzines (without any financial gain), and posting the stories too soon diminishes their sales. So usually there's about a four to six month delay between the publishing of a fanzine and the posting of its stories. Stories that aren't uploaded to this site may not be a part of the Orion Universe. Update #1: Right now, for the time being, we've decided to publish virtually simultaneously, in print and on-line. This will diminish the sales of the zines, but the main thing is that the Orion Press writers, myself included, want their works read. Update #2: Orion Press has ceased to publish new fanzines. Our back issues will remain in print, but there will be no new publications, even though the site will continue to host material.
Question: What is K/S and why don't you publish it?
Answer: K/S is "slash" fan fiction, and it involves the characters Kirk and Spock in a homosexual relationship. Most of the K/S stories have homoerotic elements, and many of them are very well written. But it's not exactly a subject matter that appeals to me. I prefer action-adventure, Kirk-Spock-McCoy friendship, drama, science fiction and even the occasional mystery. In 1979, there were more K/S zines than genzines (non-adult general content), and in June of that year I decided to start my own fanzine: Stardate. The first issue sold over 800 copies over the years, and while it's crap by today's zine standards, it was the start of Stardate Press.
Question: Why did Stardate and Stardate Press become Orion and Orion Press?
Answer: In 1984, we were surprised to learn that FASA, a Star Trek-license holder for gaming materials, had decided to co-opt our logo and cover design of our fanzine, Stardate, and produce their own gaming fanzine. Their lawyer never denied that this had happened, but he informed our lawyer that we had no choice but to change the name of our publication and our press (we chose Orion because we were dealing with pirates of a corporate sort) or they as a licensee would take us before Paramount and demand the studio put a stop to our publishing fanzines.
I was floored.
It was nearly 15 months before I decided to put our another zine. During that time, our delivery of fanzines had crawled to a virtual standstill. In addition to our printing and postage expenses, we suddenly had to deal with paying attorney fees. We ended up joining Bill Hupe's publishing empire, and had to start up operations all over. Bill published our zines until about 1990 or so when Ann Zewen took over the publishing end of things, and in 1994, Fast Copy took over the publishing end of our fanzines.
Question: Why did you not publish Enterprise fanzines?
Answer: It goes back to the reasons why I pulled all the non-Classic Trek material from our website. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga completely failed with their "vision" for Modern Trek. Next Generation was on auto-pilot when Berman took over, and Deep Space Nine was controlled by Michael Piller and Ira Steven Behr. Berman and Braga wrested control of Voyager from Jeri Taylor, and then ruined it (Chakotay/Seven? Puh-leeeez!). And then when they came up with this temporal war nonsense, I was critical from the start. They ruined the Vulcans by turning them into interstellar assholes. As a result, I couldn't stand much of Enterprise. I liked "North Star" and some of the Andorian episodes fairly well, but that was it. By the time they had turned the creative reins over to Manny Coto, it was too late. He tried, and was giving it a valiant effort, and then they came back in, wrote the finale, killing the most popular character, well, it was a giant "fuck you" to the fans, just as the "space nazis" of the Enterprise third season finale (they didn't expect the series to be renewed, so they put out this piece of crap as the finale) and Nemesis had been. Frankly, if they ever let Rick Berman back into the Star Trek studios, it'll all be over for Star Trek. His last ditch film effort was canned, so good riddance!
Question: Why are you called the "grand poobah" by some Deep Space Nine fanzine readers?
Answer: Long time readers were aware that our Deep Space Nine offerings were few and far between (only 19 of them), and we practically shut them down in 1997. I had gone through too many editors for our DSN fanzine, Outpost, and one of them in particular had simply exhausted my patience. She wanted Orion Press to serve as her personal vanity press, and she wanted to publish the stories simultaneously in print as well as on-line. The simple economic fact of the matter is that fanzines need to pay for themselves (fanzines never make money), and posting the stories limits the sales of the zines. She demanded the "right" to post her fan fiction to her own website, and I told her she had to wait for a year before doing so. Well, she nicknamed me "the grand poobah" or some such nonsense, and kept posting her material to her website anyway. This is one of the things that kept driving her zines' sales down, and she kept driving away contributors. She finally left us and took some of her koolaid-drinking followers with her. We even released some of her zines back to her because they simply never sold. Anyway, Laura Taylor (who is probably one of the most talented writers ever to grace our staff) convinced me to keep Outpost going for the next three years, all the way to the point in 2000 when I made the difficult decision to cancel all our non-Classic Trek offerings. Laura's novella, Beyond Gloomy Chaos, is one of the finest Modern Trek novels we've ever published. Just click on the underlined title, and you can see for yourself!
Question: What happened to the Starship: Exeter novelization?
Answer: We approached Jimm and Josh Johnson about adapting their screenplay, "The Savage Empire," for publication as a fanzine. We were given the go-ahead, and I sat down and wrote out a first draft. I wasn't terribly happy with what I'd written, and I turned it over to one of our other writers who had a talent for fixing problems in stories. She and I worked together on developing their short screenplay into a novella-lengthed story (we sent Jimm and Josh a few chapters from time to time, and we received nothing but encouragement from them). When we came up with what we believed was a really terrific adaptation of their screenplay, another one of our writers then took the adaptation and read it through, pointing out a few more inconsistencies that we'd missed. I gave it a final polish and emailed it off to them. Unfortunately, their reply was incredible. They called it "amateurish" at best, and said it needed extensive revising among other very derogatory remarks. The email was one of the most insulting I've ever read. I lost my temper with them, and told them we were withdrawing our involvement from the novelization. I know now that they are perfectionists (look at how long it takes them to produce an episode), and that we probably could have worked together and come up with an acceptable product, but it would've taken far more effort than any of my staff would've been willing to extend, especially given the tone of their letter. And while I wished things had gone differently, I think it was for the best for both Orion Press and Starship: Exeter, and I wish them continued success.
Question: How much editing of stories do you do?
Answer: All stories are edited to make sure that they coincide with the events of the original series and the Orion Universe, that is to say, the stories we've published on our website. With some stories, the editing is extremely limited. With some stories, the editing can be extensive. And with some stories, it will take several drafts and rewrites to make the story acceptable for publication. The authors who've been edited will tell you it can be a very trying but very rewarding process, and the quality of the work shows through.
Do you have a question? Please feel free to write us!
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