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Trekker versus Trekkie: The Controversy

By Fran Black    11/7/06

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The Star Trek fan base is, after all a widely diverse group. Attending a convention, you will see young and old, male and female, from all walks of life. The ideology of Star Trek captures the interest of more than science and technology “geeks.” I’ve known well-educated professionals to don a uniform and attend a convention as enthusiastically as the pop-culture groupie. Can one term describe them all?

Apparently not. In the late 1960s, science fiction editor Art Saha used the word “Trekkies” to describe a group of early fans who were wearing pointy Vulcan ears at a science fiction convention. The label caught on, although some devotees felt it sounded too much like “crazies” and preferred to call themselves trekkers. To a trekker, the term trekkies creates images of fanatics struggling to distinguish between reality and fiction.

Our friends at the USS Dauntless (http://members.tripod.com/~learnb/dauntless/recdeck.htm), a web-site devoted to Star Trek trivia, makes these comparisons between the two:

A Trekker wears a STARFLEET uniform to a convention because its fun…
A Trekkie wears a uniform to a convention because s/he has heard that it is in style at the academy.

A Trekker has a STARFLEET Academy window sticker on his car…
A Trekkie is cramming for the entrance exams.

A Trekker thinks Wil Wheaton was a lucky kid who got to play a kid on Star Trek…
A Trekkie thinks that Wesley Crusher was a lucky kid who got to sit on the bridge.

A Trekker thinks that it is a shame that the show is coming to an end…
A Trekkie thinks that it is a shame that the crew is being reassigned and the Enterprise is being decommissioned.


A Trekker knows that there are gaping holes in the technology, but ignores them and enjoys the show…
A Trekkie can't wait for the price to come down on those home food replicator units.”

Those self-identified trekkies, however, have their own fodder to fling. They associate the term trekkers with pretentious nuts obsessed over minutiae and details. Moreover, they accuse ‘trekkers’ of being too ashamed to admit they are ‘trekkies.’ Apparently this camp has the good graces of Gene Roddenbury, the creator of Star Trek. According to his former assistant, Richard Arnold, Gene Roddenbury spoke during a convention and used the term trekkie. Someone attempted to correct him, to which he responded, “Excuse me, did you say 'TrekkER?' The word is 'TrekkIE.' I should know, I created them." (http://www.trekdoc.com/database/fanfeed/1.htm)

And so the question still rings, trekkers or trekkies? What is the correct term of usage? My advice? When labeling any group of people, political correctness rules the day. Just to play it safe, maybe use “Star Trek enthusiast.”

About the Author
Francesca Black has always enjoyed Science Fiction and she manages the content at: Science Fiction Corner http://www.science-fiction-corner.com

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