Greg Cox wrote:
It should be noted that this subject is not exclusive to Trek or Who. No matter what the franchise, there's always a percentage of fans who really, really want to know if the books are "canon" or not. Did Arnold's insistence on drawing a public line between canon and non-canon material create or/promote this mentality? I'm not sure. Comic book fans tend to be equally obsessed with having to know which old issues are in "continuity" or not, but that probably has more to do with the way comic book companies tend to periodically reboot and revamp their universes . . . .
This is very true. Don't forget that one of the most famous comic stories of all time, Crisis on Infinite Earths
, is all about establishing which stories count and which don't.
Well, I don't recall Trek fans talking much about the concept of canon before TNG and Arnold came along. I do think it was Roddenberry and Arnold who generated the notion that canon is something defined by what it excludes.
This isn't true at all. Read any volume of The Best of Trek
, or the letters columns in just about any issue of DC's ST run from the Eighties, and you'll see plenty of Trek fans concerned about canon then. There was also a thread on here a while back about Usenet, where I used Google Groups to find a random post from 1985 that looked just like a canon post from today, if you switched names like "Meyer" and "Bennett" for "Abrams" and "Orci."
On a personal level, I can't remember a time when thinking about canon and continuity, and what was "real" in different fictional universes, wasn't part of my approach to fandom, regardless of the franchise.
Keep in mind, too, that the use of "canon" in this context originates from a century of Sherlockian fandom. People have been debating this sort of thing for a long