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Interview: Robb Pearlman on What Starfleet Means to Him

The Star Trek: Starfleet Is . . . author shares his relationship with the franchise and why Star Trek fans are the best.

Starfleet Is

Starfleet is one of pop culture’s most famous and inspirational coalitions of all time. It has, as part of Star Trek’s mission, boldly gone where no one has gone before, and it is one of the foundational pillars that upholds and unites a thriving community of passionate fans.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry once said that the show “was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.” 

After more than 50 years, 11 television series, 13 movies, and countless fan conventions later, Star Trek fans of all ages continue to gather—in person or virtually—and enjoy, share, and live up to Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of the future.

Now, coming this fall, is a new fully authorized book commemorating this vision. Star Trek: Starfleet Is . . . : Celebrating the Federation’s Ideals highlights 100 of the key traits of the Star Trek Universe.

It demonstrates, through memorable images and beautiful artwork, how these ideals are personified by everyone from Kirk and Spock, to Picard and Janeway, to Burnham and Mariner, and their voyages to everywhere from Earth to Vulcan, from Qo’noS to the Delta Quadrant, and even to the Mirror Universe—and how they are actively and sincerely lived by Star Trek fans themselves. 

It also includes a foreword written by fan-favorite Star Trek: Discovery actor Kenneth Mitchell.

In anticipation of this release, Starfleet Is . . . author Robb Pearlman, who is also the New York Times bestselling author of more than 35 books, is here to talk about what Starfleet means to him.

How did you first discover Star Trek? When did you realize you were a fan?

Pearlman: I’ve been lucky enough to have never lived in a world without Star Trek! It was always playing in reruns in the background of my childhood and was one of the few shows that the entire family—from me up to my grandparents—could watch and enjoy together. 

Looking back, though a lot of the themes and ideas were going over my head, I remember always being really excited about the technology, action, and alien species. I mean, come on—Spock is the best! I guess I’ve never not been a fan!

What is it about Star Trek fans that’s so special?

There’s no easy answer to that, because, in part, I think Star Trek fandom is, like Star Trek, so much more than the sum of its parts. But I think, at its core, Star Trek fans truly embrace the show’s hopeful vision of the future. They actively live the tenets of the show, including embracing the idea of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), and are always ready to welcome new fans to share their passion for the show. 

Rather than serving as gatekeepers who feel possessive or protective of the thing they love, they know and appreciate the fact that though everyone has their own favorite series, characters, or stories, it’s all Star Trek, so it’s all great!

Stark Trek convention
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  • Cosplayers dressed as Starfleet Officers at a convention. 

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why do you think Starfleet has resonated so strongly with fans over the years?

As a coalition of disparate planets who have come together, as part of the United Federation of Planets, Starfleet is representative of many worlds, viewpoints, and even species. 

Because the franchise spans over 50 years, and has told more stories than I can count, it’s afforded every fan the opportunity to see someone who not only looks like them on screen, but the chance to see, and appreciate the experiences, of others. 

Fans love Starfleet because it’s as representational as it is aspirational. And though it’s not perfect, it’s filled with folks who, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, want to know better so they can do better. 

RELATED: The 10 Best Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes

In the book you say “Starfleet is fun. Starfleet is enterprising. Starfleet is adventure. Starfleet is brave. Starfleet is compassion. Starfleet is diverse. Starfleet is evolving.” What does Starfleet mean to you, on a personal level?

I’m not a Vulcan, so it’s hard for me to not get emotional about this. If I’m honest, Starfleet, to me, means family. It means friendship. And it means joy. 

Because of my personal love for Star Trek, and my professional affiliation with it, I’ve been given the opportunities to meet and share experiences with an amazing group of like-minded souls on lots of different levels. I do not take any of it for granted and hope that my participation and contributions live up to everyone’s expectations, and Gene Roddenberry’s mission. 

Pre-order Star Trek: Starfleet Is . . . : Celebrating the Federation’s Ideals today!

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