Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek Fact Files Part 1 cover Star Trek Fact Files
The very first issue cover

The Official Star Trek Fact Files was a Paramount Pictures-licensed partwork magazine series, distributed in the UK, Europe and Australia by GE Fabbri, and designed to give information about the Star Trek universe, written from an in-universe point of view. It ran from 1997 to 2002, with 304 issues of 24 pages each, totaling a work of 7296 pages of in-universe information.

The series covered all seasons of Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise, as well as the first nine films. Although based on canon productions, and featuring graphics and information directly taken from the studio, Fact Files often introduced non-canon material in its reference material. It did not incorporate any information from Star Trek: The Animated Series, for at the time of publishing TAS was not considered canon.

Between 1999 and 2004, a German language edition was released under the title Die Offiziellen Star Trek Fakten und Infos as well as a French one, Star Trek Les Dossiers Officiels (published by Data Base Factory). The French edition came with one-episode VHS tapes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and unlike the German edition, did not complete the whole run of 304 issues, but ceased publication after 117 issues, making room for the newly conceived Star Trek: Les Nouveaux Dossiers Officiels. Likewise an Italian language edition, Star Trek Official Files, published by De Agostini was published but not completed, ceasing publication after 120 issues.[1] On 4 March 2003, a translated version of the Fact Files started its run in Japan under the auspices of licensee De Agostini (Japan branch), which, while much the same as the English language version, 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. [2]

Much of the information used in Fact Files, that itself saw no release in the United States and Canada, was duplicated in edited form during the run of Star Trek: The Magazine, published by Fabbri Publishing (US), the US arm of GE Fabbri.

For all language editions, each magazine consisted of a number of articles, to be taken apart and filed under their respective sections, they in turn to be collected in several binders (one binder being supplied every 16 issues).

Behr and Fact Files

Ira Steven Behr with several Fact Files folders

The Fact Files received some criticism in fan circles for inaccuracies, notably in the starship sections. However, as Larry Nemecek, a major contributor, explains in the talk section of the Akira class: "[...] 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, simply because very limited established information was available on many subjects, with additionally written texts, resulting in that fair amounts of canonically established information was interlaced with apocryphal information.

An officially licensed publication, 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-affiliated contributors were Tim Gaskill as consultant editor, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens as authors. Marcus Riley also contributed to the project. [3]

Star Trek Fact Files Part 69 cover

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

A first for licensed Star Trek print publications, it was the Fact Files that firstly employed actual live-action produced CGI models for print representation in the magazine. It was Fabbri's chief 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 and both 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 this project 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." [4] Robinson followed up with the inclusion of the first-time use of (adapted) beauty and orthographic views of a live-action production CGI model, that of the Voth research vessel, featured in, and prominently on the cover of issue 69 (1998) of the Fact Files. CG imagery thus conceived, and likewise featured on the covers, was included onward ever since, it also being the case for the entire run for its US derivative, Star Trek: The Magazine. Prior to the Voth vessel, non live-action production CGI versions of the Oberth-class, D7-class, Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd century) and Daedalus-class were already especially constructed the previous year at either effects house for representation in the Fact Files. It was Bonchune who has done (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, it was the Fact Files that often offered its readership the first (and not seldom, only) detailed look of the models actually used in the episodes during its later run.

Sections Edit

Fact Files issue 19 cover

Typical cover image (issue 19)

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 canon 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 (ENT seasons 2-4 are not covered) 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.