Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The Official Star Trek Fact Files was a Paramount Pictures-licensed partwork magazine series that was distributed in the UK, Europe, and Australia by GE Fabbri. In print from 1997 until 2002, 304 issues of 28 pages were published, producing a combined work of 8,512 pages. The series was designed to provide information about the Star Trek universe from an "in-universe" point of view.

The series covered all seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise, and the first nine Star Trek films. It did not incorporate any information from Star Trek: The Animated Series, as the series was not considered canon at that time.

Although based on canon productions and featuring imagery and information made available by the studio, the Fact Files frequently introduced non-canonical material when its writers and editors were unable to find relevant background material in the licensor's archives.

Each magazine consisted of a number of articles that could be taken apart and filed under their respective sections, and in turn, collected within several binders, with a binder supplied to subscribers every 16 issues.


Binder design

As a partwork, each (double-sided) sheet was endowed with a designation, a "file"-number with a corresponding sub-ordinated "card"-number.

Section 1: A Guide to the Star Trek Galaxy

  • This section featured a timeline of events, and file sheets on various planets, spatial phenomena and historical artifacts encountered by the crew of each show. It also featured specialized sections on the Federation, the Vulcans, the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Ferengi, the Dominion, the Borg and the Q Continuum. The final "file" in this section dealt with less influential and one-time-only aliens such as the Vidiians and the Mintakans.

Section 2: Federation Starfleet

Section 3: Non-Federation Starships

Section 4: Personnel Files

Section 5: Equipment and Technology

Section 6: Starship Log

  • Contained a file for each Star Trek series (up to ENT Season 1) and every film up to Star Trek: Insurrection. Within each file was a sheet for each episode with a synopsis, stills, quotes (usually the Captain's Log from that episode), and trivia.

Section 7: Database

  • Served as an index for the entire magazine series.


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Background information

  • At the time of the publication's launch, GE Fabbri was owned by non-fiction partwork publisher, Midsummer Books. It was Midsummer Books' owner Stan Morse who came up with the initial idea, and who together with editors Chris Bishop and Martin Ritchie, became the initiators of the Fact Files, after which Jennifer Cole and Ben Robinson were appointed its editors-in-chief. As subsidiary Fabbri was the better funded company and able to pay the Paramount licensing fees up front (aside from the fact that it were they who specialized in the release of fiction partworks stemming from entertainment properties), it was decided to have Fabbri become the official publisher, with future profits divided on a 90-10% basis, Fabbri being the recipient of the larger cut, as they paid for the production costs. Initially, a two-year production run was envisioned for the publication, with 96 issues planned. [1]

Ira Steven Behr with several Fact Files folders

  • Paramount Pictures assigned three Star Trek staff members to assist Fabbri's editorial office in researching and collecting reference material for use in the publication: Penny L. Juday (credited as Penny Smartt-Juday) as research coordinator, Larry Nemecek as photo editor and author, and, from issue 71 onward, Guy Vardaman as art director. Other Star Trek franchise-affiliated contributors were Tim Gaskill as consultant editor, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens as authors.
  • Some of the information used in Fact Files was reproduced (in edited form) as part of the US publication, Star Trek: The Magazine, produced by Fabbri Publishing (US) (the US arm of GE Fabbri); the Fact Files themselves were not distributed in the United States and Canada.

Files, no. 69, first print use of a Star Trek production CGI model

  • In a first for licensed Star Trek print publications, the Fact Files used actual CGI models created for the franchise in the magazine. It was Fact Files editor Ben Robinson who struck upon the notion, "When we were first doing the Fact Files they were just introducing CG on the show and I realized it was an incredible resource for any publication. If you've got a CG model you can look at something in real detail. We approached Foundation and Eden FX [note: at the time still Digital Muse; both companies being the regular digital visual effects companies for the television franchise at the time] about getting people to render CG models out for us. Rob [Bonchune] was one of the guys who really took that on and we became good friends, so when I started on [the USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual] he was one of the first people I thought of. There’s no substitute for a good render of a starship. It's as close as to the real thing as you could ever get." [2] Robinson followed up with the inclusion of (adapted) beauty and orthographic views of a live-action production CGI model, that of the Voth research vessel, in issue 69 (1998) of the Fact Files. Such CG imagery was included from that point onward and likewise featured on the covers of future issues; this approach was also adopted for the US derivative, Star Trek: The Magazine. Prior to the Voth vessel, non-production CGI models of the Oberth-class, D7-class, Romulan Bird-of-Prey and Daedalus-class had already been especially constructed the previous year by Bonchune for use in the Fact Files. Bonchune continued to contribute (albeit uncredited) most of the CGI renderings of the orthographic and beauty views of the starships featured afterwards. As the television franchise was still in production at the time of the magazine's publication, the Fact Files offered its readership the first (and often, only) detailed look of the models actually used in the episodes.
  • The Fact Files received some criticism in fan circles for inaccuracies, notably in the starship sections. However, as Larry Nemecek explained: "[...] in their defense, the Brits *were* promised all this tech and source detail they were used to with [their] other techie partworks, and then left hanging when it didn't exist--no excuse, but that's what happened. I did some tech writing, but mainly I tracked source refs, imagery and art materials in both the uncharted Licensing archives (some buried, that the dept. didn't even know existed) or from chased-down personal sources." (source) For this reason, Fabbri employed an art department to supplement art and graphics where official source material was lacking. Fabbri also employed staff writers at their editorial bureau to beef out articles with additional content, simply because very limited established information was available on many subjects; as a result, canonically established information was interlaced with apocryphal information.
  • The criticism regarding mixing canon with (some) apocrypha has not been limited to this release alone, becoming a staple for all subsequent Fabbri publications and those of its successor, Eaglemoss Collections, as the Fact Files have continued to serve as a primary source for the majority of these latter-day Eaglemoss publications.
  • The Fact Files turned out to be highly successful, prompting subsequent publication run increases to 128 issues first, and eventually ended at 304 (UK/German) issues, with UK sales having barely slackened off in the meantime. According to Editor Martin Ritchie, 400,000-500,000 English-language issues, priced at £1.99 per issue, were sold weekly in the UK and as exports alone, in the process becoming the all-time largest run and highest-selling partwork ever retailed, up until that point in time. [3]
  • When asked to compare the Fact Files to its successor US magazine publications in 2020, Ben Robinson opined, "It was a little different, it was more like Memory Alpha. (laughing) It was like a paper version of Memory Alpha that you bought for thirty-two (sic) pages a week." [4]

International editions

  • Between 1999 and 2004, a German language edition was released under the title Die Offiziellen Star Trek Fakten und Infos; it ran for the full 304 issues.
  • A French edition, Star Trek Les Dossiers Officiels was published by Data Base Factory. This edition came with one-episode VHS tapes of Star Trek: The Next Generation; it ceased publication after 117 issues, making room for the French-language edition of Star Trek: The Collector's Edition, Star Trek: Les Nouveaux Dossiers Officiels.
  • Likewise an Italian language edition, Star Trek Official Files, published by De Agostini, ceased publication after 120 issues. [5]
  • On 4 March 2003, a translated version of the Fact Files started its run in Japan under De Agostini (Japan). This version, while much the same as the English-language original, rearranged some parts and added some information, mostly to do with Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek Nemesis, resulting in a ten-issue longer run of the Japanese version. [6]

Editorial staff

  • Jennifer Cole – Editor-in-Chief
  • Chris Dows – Staff Writer
  • Ian Fulwood – Staff Artist
  • Rob Garrard – Art Director, Artist
  • Peter Griffiths – Staff Writer
  • Peter Harper – Staff Artist
  • Tim Leng – Editor-in-Chief
  • Marcus RileyStaff Writer
  • Martin Ritchie – Designer
  • Ben Robinson – Editor-in-Chief
  • Stuart Wagland – Staff Artist

External links

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