The Hall of Forgotten Fanac: The James Dixon Collection

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by DakotaSmith, Dec 14, 2012.

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  1. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Those who've been around a while may appreciate this. I've started a new section on my Web site called "the Hall of Forgotten Fanac." Its first exhibit is the James Dixon Collection.

    It occurred to me recently that there's a hell of a lot of fanac that is lost to history. I personally remember a 20-foot-high hand-woven tapestry of the wedding scene from "Amok Time" that appeared at Star Trekon '76 in Kansas City. There were fanzines and newsletters, home-made props, costumes, etc. Almost all of it is now lost to history.

    The Hall of Forgotten Fanac is my attempt to preserve some of this. It seemed appropriate to start with James Dixon. Love him or hate him (well, ok, probably just hate him), but the man worked hard on his fanac. It deserves a place in the Hall.

    Dakota Smith
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I've had many, many hours of fun reading Dixon's timeline and especially the annotations at the end. I was under the impression he was using satire to make a point about modern Trek. It wasn't until I got here and was pointed to some of his old posts that I realized he meant every word of it literally and had some pretty big problems with social interaction.:ack:

    If you can untangle Dixon's worldview there's a lot of fascinating and rich history covered in his works. It's from his timeline that I learned of the Best of Trek collections (from the end of the chronology, covering the fall of the Federation in the 8000's) and lots of old Treknical fanzines which I've since hunted down or found versions of online.

    Unfortunately, the chronology itself isn't particularly useful when it comes to the modern Trek universe. Trek was and still is constantly rewritten - TOS itself couldn't decide if it was set in the 22nd or 27th century. So why did he hold fanzine sources (and they were fanzines, despite the pedestal he placed them on) like the Enterprise Officer's Manual and Medical Reference Manual above the dates in Okuda's Star Trek Chronology, which was obviously going to be THE dating system all future Trek would base itself on? It seems utterly futile to try and keep reconciling everything new with a history that the makers of Trek don't agree with. His censorship and repositioning of incompatible dates when attempting to combine so many incompatible sources leaves them all suspect and renders the chronology, although a truly fascinating read and an impressive achievement, an unreliable reference.

    I'd have enjoyed an 18th edition, to read his thoughts on the modern novelverse and especially the 11th movie!

    Thanks for archiving this stuff.
     
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Also, reports of Dixon's death are appatently greatly exaggerated. I can't find the link now, but I googled him a few months ago and after finding the memorial page I found a forum post from someone claiming Dixon's alive and well and works with him behind the scenes on some website. He also suggested Dixon posted the memorial page himself.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Because this was his religion, a religion formed in the '70s and early '80s and based on the material available at the time. Anything that came out that was consistent with the set of assumptions in use at the time, that fit into his dogma, he was fine with. But when new canon started to come along and contradict the assumptions of '70s fandom, he saw it as heresy and responded accordingly.

    And religous extremists have a way of ignoring the inconsistencies in their own faith. I knew someone very similar on a local BBS back in the '90s, a Doctor Who fan who had an incredibly vicious, fanatical hatred for the '96 Paul McGann revival movie. His reasons for condemning it was that it was different from the original series, but he ignored how much the original series had changed, reinvented itself, and contradicted itself over its 27 years. The '96 movie was no more different from the last aired episode at the time, "Survival," than "Survival" had been from the series' first episodes back in 1963. It's just that the change had happened abrupty rather than incrementally. But he couldn't see that. To him, original Doctor Who was a pure, fixed, immutable construct and any new, different interepretation was blasphemy. His obsession was so unyielding that when the board finally closed down several years later, he came onto it in the final hours just so he could make one last post, apropos of nothing, ranting about how awful the McGann movie had been. I can't imagine how much he must hate the revival series. (Yes, the revival series is much better, but it's still very different from the original, and it does a lot of the same things that DW purists condemned as blasphemy about the movie, like having the Doctor kiss his companions.)

    And then I came to the TrekBBS and interacted with James Dixon, and he made the Doctor Who guy seem mild in comparison.

    By the way, I just did a search for TrekBBS posts by "James Dixon," and there are still ten threads containing comments by him, the most recent of which are from August 2005. Here's a typical sample of his posting style:
    He didn't get one...
     
  5. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not even going to try. Collating this stuff is all I'm going to do. If someone wants to write a dissertation using it, feel free. ;)

    If you're interested in his worldview, I was sent "ON-LINE DIFFICULTIES..." last night. This is one of the few direct descriptions of his perspectives that survive.

    Not a problem. I think it warrants attempting to save. I never got along with the guy (who did?), but he produced volumes. Because of how Google Sites works, the effort on my part was pretty trivial.

    Dakota Smith
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, I have a link to Dixon's chronology and I reference it sometimes. He was exhaustive about chronicling even the material from canon that he didn't agree with, odd though that seems coming from him. One can't take his conclusions seriously, but you can find occasional factoids in his chrono that aren't documented anywhere else.
     
  7. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There's no question that James' knowledge of Trek lore was exhaustive. I'm a fan from 1967, and like James, I read everything I could get my hands on. I had read or at least vaguely remembered most of the sources James so obsessively cataloged.

    It wasn't "Treknical" inaccuracy that was his problem. It was that he was a complete frak-head that couldn't get along with anyone.

    Dakota Smith
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My father has a fantastic and huge collection from the seventies through about 2005. All the copies of old fanzines that he could lay his hands on, direct mailings from various fan clubs and mail order from scifi company now long out of business. Toys and dolls in their original packaging. If they sold it at a convention he snapped it up.

    He has a special room downstair in my parent house, climate controled (I'm not kidding) where all this is stored in plastic envolpes and srink wrap. It's like a shrine.

    :)
     
  9. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Awesome. My collection isn't much. I have some A Piece of the Action newsletters. I have my local fan club's fanzine, The Kelvan Outpost. There were only two issues and I own both. I have Kraith Collected, Volume I. The entire Kraith saga is now online, so I'll attempt to finish it soon. I have vintage blueprints, some tech manuals. For a number of years I collected the novels and it was complete at one time.

    Sounds like your dad's room is where I'd like to spend about two weeks with a high-definition scanner. :vulcan:
     
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Good luck, he won't even let me in there.

    I got strawberry jam on a Gold Key comic when I was five.

    :)
     
  11. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    That was very depressing reading, although not for the reasons Dixon intended:(
     
  12. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have often wanted to see bios of notable web personalities. Bautforum is pretty good at remembering late posters. My own epitaph will be "HLV supporter, jerk" but that's fine.

    I want to know what happened to Jeff Robb from GEC.

    mind you, I don't do facebook or social media.
     
  13. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    I respected (and respect) Dixon for his effort and his stick-to-it-iveness (he himself might call it "integrity").

    BUT, he I agree with everyone else that he was a total frak-head and pushed more people away (FAR more people) with his rigidity than he ever drew closer.

    I think his worst failing was his inability to credit that sometimes in canons, things get changed.

    A good example of this is his excoriating of Shane Johnson for Mr Scott's Guide.

    As was said repeatedly for years (and even by Shane himself in an interview with Karen Joseph), he used the sources he was TOLD to use (FASA, etc), and ran things like a Transwarp-equipped Enterprise past the office before he wrote it in. (I can only imagine how utterly pissed he'd be that Shane got the go-ahead for it from Okuda...)
     
  14. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    The last post on the memorial site from March is pretty strange - James is supposedly still dead and supposedly was killed because he found evidence of Nazi UFOs? :wtf:

    In some respects it reminds me a bit of Star Wars fans who insist the Star Destroyers are really "Imperator class" ships based on the name being an early one and showing up on Geoffrey Mandel's blueprints. The fact that Lucasfilm has said in many sources that Imperial class is correct (with a nod to the Imperator name being changed officially when the design entered service) and that Mandel's blueprints are considerably inaccurate when compared to the official stats for the Star Destroyer's size, weapons, complement etc. doesn't seem to bother some of them.
     
  15. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    Unwrapped, he's not dead. That WAS him posting, I'm fairly certain of it.
     
  16. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm with Ian: the last post was Dixon's. Everything about the site screams his handiwork. The over-the-top nature, the frankly ridiculous pictures, the "condolences" post, and just the general paranoid nature of the site.

    I think he was still around as of last March.

    Dakota Smith
     
  17. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    See post #13 here, from January this year: http://s4.zetaboards.com/Terok_Nor_Promenade/topic/8879391/2/

    (smilies didn't copy)
    It appears the memorial is for our benefit. I wonder who the "famous Trek author" is?
     
  18. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Oh, I'm not surprised at all. James and I never really interacted when he was still here, but his reputation was certainly well established. I don't really have enough personal experience to judge, but I do remember some of the drama that went on.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm reminded of how long I've been a member of this board. I recall having some epic throwdowns with Dixon.
     
  20. DakotaSmith

    DakotaSmith Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I remember the specifics of what he references in "ONLINE DIFFICULTIES..." I was around for it. I had never read "ONLINE DIFFICULTIES..." until it was sent to me a couple of days ago. I had started the site in complete ignorance of it.

    So yeah, I've kind of been around a while, too. I'm not quite sure what that means ... ;)

    Dakota Smith
     
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