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Launched at the start of 1997, The Official Star Trek Fact Files was a weekly Paramount Pictures-licensed partwork magazine series that was marketed and distributed in the UK, Europe, and Australia by GE Fabbri, on behalf of end copyright holder Midsummer Books Ltd. In print from 1997 until 2002, 304 issues of 28 pages were published, producing a combined reference work of 7,904 pages – when discounting the cover and table of contents of the magazine issues. 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 yet 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.

The completed partwork is reputed to have become the largest Star Trek (in-universe) reference work by far, ever to have been released in print, only later on superseded in both content and scope by this wiki, Memory Alpha. [1] [2]

Sections

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

Section 1: The Guide to the Star Trek Galaxy (Files 1 – 18)

  • This section featured a timeline of events, and file/card 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, respectively.

Section 2: Federation Starfleet (Files 19 – 32)

Section 3: Non-Federation Starships (Files 33 – 42)

Section 4: Personnel Files (Files 43 – 58)

Section 5: Equipment and Technology (Files 59 – 66)

Section 6: Starship Log (Files 67 – 80)

  • 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 (Files 81 – 105)

  • Served as an index for the entire magazine series, with a file assigned to each individual letter

Higher files numbers had to be "invented" late in the series to accomadate what information derived from the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise became incorporated after all at the eleventh hour close to the conclusion of the partwork series.

Parts

This article or section is incomplete This page is marked as lacking essential detail, and needs attention. Information regarding expansion requirements may be found on the article's talk page. Feel free to edit this page to assist with this expansion.
1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002
Test Release
1996
Part # Cover Contents Part # Cover Contents
Test Part 1 150px Test Part 2 150px
Test Part 3 150px Test Part 4 150px
Test Part 5 150px Test Part 6 150px
Regular Release
1997
Part # Cover Contents Part # Cover Contents
Part 1 Star Trek Fact Files Part 1 cover.jpg
  • File 1, Card 1
  • File 2, Card 1
  • File 11, Card 1
  • File 11, Card 2
  • File 25, Card 1
  • File 25, Card 9
  • File 19, Card 4A
  • File 34, Card 1
  • File 55, Card 1
  • File 59, Card 1
  • File 67, Card 1
  • File 69, Card 73
  • File 81, Card 1
Part 2 Star Trek Fact Files Part 2 cover.jpg
  • File 2, Card 1
  • File 8, Card 1
  • File 8, Card 2
  • File 25, Card 10
  • File 25, Card 3
  • File 30, Card 1
  • File 35, Card 1
  • File 52, Card 1
  • File 43, Card 27C
  • File 60, Card 1
  • File 70, Card 1
  • File 71, Card 1
  • File 81, Card 2
Part 3 Star Trek Fact Files Part 3 cover.jpg   Part 4 Star Trek Fact Files Part 4 cover.jpg  
Part 5 Star Trek Fact Files Part 5 cover.jpg   Part 6 Star Trek Fact Files Part 6 cover.jpg  
Part 7 Star Trek Fact Files Part 7 cover.jpg   Part 8 Star Trek Fact Files Part 8 cover.jpg  
Part 9 Star Trek Fact Files Part 9 cover.jpg   Part 10 Star Trek Fact Files Part 10 cover.jpg  
Part 11 Star Trek Fact Files Part 11 cover.jpg   Part 12 Star Trek Fact Files Part 12 cover.jpg  
Part 13 Star Trek Fact Files Part 13 cover.jpg   Part 14 Star Trek Fact Files Part 14 cover.jpg  
Part 15 Star Trek Fact Files Part 15 cover.jpg   Part 16 Star Trek Fact Files Part 16 cover.jpg  
Part 17 Star Trek Fact Files Part 17 cover.jpg   Part 18 Star Trek Fact Files Part 18 cover.jpg  
Part 19 Star Trek Fact Files Part 19 cover.jpg   Part 20 Star Trek Fact Files Part 20 cover.jpg
Part 21 Star Trek Fact Files Part 21 cover.jpg Part 22 Star Trek Fact Files Part 22 cover.jpg
Part 23 Star Trek Fact Files Part 23 cover.jpg Part 24 Star Trek Fact Files Part 24 cover.jpg
Part 25 Star Trek Fact Files Part 25 cover.jpg Part 26 Star Trek Fact Files Part 26 cover.jpg
Part 27 Star Trek Fact Files Part 27 cover.jpg Part 28 Star Trek Fact Files Part 28 cover.jpg
Part 29 Star Trek Fact Files Part 29 cover.jpg Part 30 Star Trek Fact Files Part 30 cover.jpg
Part 31 Star Trek Fact Files Part 31 cover.jpg Part 32 150px
Part 33 150px Part 34 150px
Part 35 150px Part 36 150px
Part 37 150px Part 38 150px
Part 39 150px Part 40 150px
Part 41 150px Part 42 150px
Part 43 150px Part 44 150px
Part 45 150px Part 46 150px
Part 47 150px Part 48 150px
Part 49 150px Part 50 150px
Part 51 150px  
1998
Part 52 150px Part 53 150px
Part 54 150px Part 55 150px
Part 56 150px Part 57 150px
Part 58 150px Part 59 150px
Part 60 150px Part 61 150px
Part 62 150px Part 63 150px
Part 64 150px Part 65 150px
Part 66 150px Part 67 150px
Part 68 150px Part 69 Star Trek Fact Files Part 69 cover.jpg
Part 70 150px Part 71 150px
Part 72 150px Part 73 150px
Part 74 150px Part 75 150px
Part 76 150px Part 77 150px
Part 78 150px Part 79 150px
Part 80 150px Part 81 150px
Part 102 150px  
1999
Part 103 150px Part 104 150px
Part 155 150px  
2000
Part 156 150px Part 157 150px
Part 206 150px Part 207 150px
2001
Part 208 150px Part 209 150px
Part 258 150px Part 259 150px
2002
Part 260 150px Part 261 150px
Part 304 Star Trek Fact Files Part 304 cover.jpg
  • File 5, Card 41
  • File 202, Card 1
  • File 31, Card 24
  • File 42, Card 19
  • File 42, Card 3O
  • File 43, Card 27P
  • File 43, Card 45M
  • File 43, Card 51M
  • File 59, Cards 2M & 2N
  • File 206, Appendix Card 2A
  • File 103, Card 6
  • File 104, Card 4
  • File 104, Card 4
  • File 105, Card 3
Star Trek Fact Files.jpg
Binder
End Series

Background information

  • At the time of the publication's regular launch in January 1997, GE Fabbri had already entered into a full joint venture with non-fiction partwork publisher, Midsummer Books. It was actually Midsummer Books' owner Stan Morse who came up with the initial idea, and who together with his editors Chris Bishop and Martin Ritchie, became the initiators of the Fact Files, after which Jennifer Cole and Ben Robinson (both specifically hired to this end by Midsummer Books as freelancers) were appointed its editors-in-chief, succeeding Bishop and Trisha Palmer who had served a short spell as such. Bishop had requested to be returned to Midsummer Books' real world subject partworks, whereas Palmer was pulled to oversee her broader duties as Midsummer Books director – but who would a year later draw the assignment to serve as an editor-in-chief alongside Robinson for the US Star Trek: The Magazine derivative. As partner Fabbri was the better funded company and able to pay the hefty Paramount licensing fees up front, 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 (physical) production and distribution costs. Initially, a two-year production run was envisioned for the publication, with 96 issues planned. [3]
  • All design and editorial work however, was done solely at Midsummer's offices in Hammersmith, London, and not out of GE Fabbri's own London offices in Covent Garden. For as long as both companies were aligned with each other, this meant that Midsummer Books legally remained the actual end copyright holder of not only the Fact Files, but also the publications derived from them later on, even though all of them were produced under the Fabbri flag. When the Fact Files turned out to be a huge success, Midsummer Books did eventually increase its profits cut to 15%, though it let Fabbri remain entitled to the lions' share of the profits. [4] Midsummer Books was credited in the partwork's colophons as the creator under its "Aerospace Publishing" imprint – a reminder of their real world partwork subject roots.
  • In 1996, six issues were test-marketed in the Devon/Cornwall, UK, area, accompanied with television advertisements only aired in those regions, to fathom the potential interest in a Star Trek partwork thus conceived. Much to Midsummer Books' glee, market research based on these isssues showed that enough interest was there to go national. [5]

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.
    Franchise mainstays Mike and Denise Okuda were also approached to serve as technical consultants because of their huge knowledge of Star Trek minutiae, but backed down early on in the project once they fully realized the scope of the project. According to Nemecek, they did so, because they came to consider the Fact Files as a direct competitor and threat to their own Star Trek Encyclopedia. [6]
  • Much of the information used in Fact Files was reproduced (in edited form) as the in-universe portion of the US The Magazine publication, published by Fabbri Publishing (US) (the US arm of GE Fabbri); the Fact Files themselves were not distributed in the United States and Canada. It was for the American publication that Palmer and Robinson became appointed as its editors-in-chief, necessitating Tim Leng to take over the role of the latter as such for the British partwork publication in 1999, becoming the partwork's sole editor-in-chief after Jennifer Cole too was pulled as well a year later in order to oversee other Midsummer Book publications. [7] Leng however, was reinforced by his predecessor Trisha Palmer who was (re-)appointed in his support as "Managing Editor", combining it with her concurrent The Magazine editor-in-chief role. Ironically, Palmer essentially replaced Jennifer Cole, by whom she had herself been replaced two years earlier.
  • Larry Nemecek gave two reasons for why it was decided against to publish The Fact Files in North-America; while partworks were already a common and popular publication format in the Commonwealth (Canada excepted) – and Japan for that matter – , it was all but an unknown phenomenon in North-America, and the financial risks were deemed too great to warrant a try with a for American readership unfamiliar format, or as Tim Leng had put it, "[the untried formula of] partworks do[es]n't work in America because it's such a big market." [8] Additionally, the print franchise company Pocket Books was offered the opportunity to release the project in one format or another in the home market, but they declined, erroneously believing the British project a mere simple rehashing of their own Encyclopedia, which also resulted in the partwork formally becoming prohibited to be sold in North-America. In a sense, The Magazine proved Nemecek's and Leng's point as it was later terminated prematurely due to dwindling subriptions as the issue prices were deemed too steep by American magazine readers – subscriber loyalty being a prerequisite for partworks to work, which simply is not there with the primarily price-motivated American readership. How wrong Pocket Books had otherwise been in its assessment became apparent when, according to Nemecek, the Fact Files license fees turned out to be the franchise's third-biggest moneymaker for Paramount in the late 1990s – which was a remarkable feat as it achieved this without the home market, at the time considered (equally erroneously) the biggest and most important one by far by the franchise. [9]
    As a result, the Fact Files are all but unkown in North-America, and a complete set is nearly impossible to get for an American fan, despite having been printed in their millions. [10]

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." [11] 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.
  • Larry Nemecek however, begged to differ with Robinson's recollections, as he has claimed that it was he who took the initiative to utilize the production CGI files for print purposes. He explained that he approached Foundation's Senior Supervisor Ron Thornton with the request to come up with a cost-effective way to provide the publication with CGI assets for print purposes. He has credited Thorton for coming up with the protocol of instructing his digital modelers (which included Bonchune) to simultaneously create orthographic views and a ¾ beauty view of the model for the partwork, whenever they were working with a model for a live-action production. [12] In all fairness, Nemecek had a point as the first production-used CGI model appeared in a 1998 issue, one-and-a-half year before Robinson even set foot in the USA to co-head The Magazine.
  • The Fact Files received some criticism in fan circles for inaccuracies (coined "canon ridicule" by Nemecek [13]), 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. [14]
  • 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." [15]
  • Robinson incidentally, was acutely aware that the Fact Files constituted a somewhat cumbersome reference collection in the end. It inspired him to launch the Illustrated Handbook reference book series in 2019 for his subsequent employer Eaglemoss. He brought this series to fruition, feeling that there was an eagerness within the fan-base to access this material more easily, and offered, "The thing about the Fact Files, as you say, they’re massive and unwieldy and 18 binders long. I always wanted to take the best material from the Fact Files of those incredible illustrations and put it out in book form. Those illustrated handbooks are really the most thorough attempt to document the ships as they appeared upon screen with illustrations of pretty much every room that you saw on the screen." [16] The bulk of the series' contents was one-on-one lifted from the Fact Files and it derivative.
  • When Stan Morse went into retirement in 2012, his company Midsummer Books, which had retained all Star Trek contents copyrights of the publications created for the company, [17](X) ceased to exist. [18] However, that Robinson was even able to embark on the Handbook series at all, was indicative that Morse had sold the contents copyrights of the Fact Files and its follow-ups to Eaglemoss at one point in time afterwards. Incidentally, the first by Midsummer Books previously owned copy that was repurposed unaltered by Eaglemoss, concerned contents from Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 8, which was reprinted in the 2017 reference book Star Trek: Designing Starships Volume Two.

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. [19]
  • 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 more information, mostly to do with Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek Nemesis, resulting in a ten-issue longer run of the Japanese version. [20] No Nemesis material has appeared in any of the other editions, but it was still created by the UK-based Midsummer Books staff for the Japanese edition nonetheless, some of it appearing in the GE Fabbri follow-up publictions after all, issue 24 of The Collector's Edition in particular.

Editorial staff

  • Chris Bishop – Editor-in-Chief (Midsummer Books, replaced by Cole and Robinson)
  • Jennifer Cole – Editor-in-Chief (sub-contractor, replaced by Palmer)
  • Chris Dows – Staff Writer (sub-contractor)
  • Ian Fulwood – Staff Artist (sub-contractor)
  • Rob Garrard – Art Director/Senior Artist (sub-contractor)
  • Peter Griffiths – Staff Writer (sub-contractor)
  • Peter Harper – Staff Artist (sub-contractor)
  • Tim Leng – Editor-in-Chief
  • Trisha Palmer – Editor-in-Chief/Managing Editor (Midsummer Books, replaced by Cole and Robinson)
  • Marcus RileyStaff Writer/Senior Editor
  • Martin Ritchie – Designer (Midsummer Books)
  • Ben Robinson – Editor-in-Chief (sub-contractor, replaced by Leng)
  • Sharon Wallace – Production Designer (Midsummer Books, replaced by Ritchie)
  • Stuart Wagland – Staff Artist (sub-contractor)

While most of these staffers were credited in the colophons, the temporay freelancers only in those issues they had actually worked upon, some were not; the uncredited ones, like Bishop and Wallace, were only decades later identified/acknowledged by Martin Ritchie on his website, where it was also divulged that the majority of artists and writers had been freelancers subcontracted for the project; the artists under Garrard (who already had freelanced for Midsummer Books for over ten years by the time the Fact Files were launched), and the writers under Leng and Riley.

External links

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