Star Trek At 33 Cents A Lick

By Bill Kraft
Trade Paperback
248 Pages

A trip to the PO Box  usually results in a surprise as I’ve often no idea when someone is sending something to me: books from various publishers, comics, DVDs, manuscripts (please stop sending those!), the occasionally bizarre and sometimes a welcome present from someone working on Amazing Stories.

Earlier this week I received one such package from our resident philatelist – Gene Mierzejewski – a copy of Bill Kraft’s MAYBE WE NEE A LETTER FROM GOD: The Star Trek Stamp.

In terms of formal fandom, I was a Trekkie before I was a fan.  Thousands of hours in front of the TV with the original series, several hundred hours at Trek cons buying production stills, handmade buttons, t-shirts, hanging out with the actors, taking the first ever 100 question trivia test (98/100, but I wouldn’t do nearly as well these days) and learning of the storied lore of a television show that has become a legend and a force to be reckoned with.

Enterprise-one-of-a-kind-StampYou know that something different is going on when hundreds of authors and thousands of fans pen a successful petition to restore a cancelled show to the airwaves; you know that something special is happening when that same block of fans is responsible for getting blockbuster films produced by Hollywood and you should know that the pillars of our society have been shaken to their foundation when that block of fans takes on the entire nation and successfully imposes its will to the extent that NASA named the first space shuttle Enterprise.

Star Trek fans have had an enormous impact on our society today (thank you, Gene!).  What you may not know is that they didn’t stop with getting a real spaceship named after a fictional one.  One more chapter has been written and Bill Kraft has written it, both figuratively and actually.

star trek stampMaybe We Need A Letter chronicles Bill’s quest to get a US postage stamp commemorating Star Trek to be approved by the Klingons Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee – a multi-year odyssey characterized by sticky red tape (precursor to red matter), the ceaseless efforts of fanatical fans, the cunning and conniving of personalities that can win the Kobayashi scenario and –

Hundreds of letters from high profile authors, actors, scientists, administrators and politicians.

Bill’s book is quite the entertaining biographical profile of the effort, one that concluded successfully with the issuance of a .33 cent First Class Star Trek stamp in 1998.  Included are many fine examples of the letters submitted to them by variously typed high-profile individuals – Ray Bradbury, C. J. Cherryh, Frank Drake, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Senators Paul Simon, Paul Wellstone, Dave Durenberger,  among them.

What I found most interesting (besides the tactics used by the Star Trek Stamp Committee – Bill Kraft, Lori Kilpatrick, Deborah Cecchi, Mark Schnoor and Todd MIller) was the breadth and depth of Star Trek’s infiltration of the mainstream culture. If anyone is interested in lobbying the Federal government about anything related to Star Trek or science fiction, Bill just handed you a rollodex of useful fellow travelers. (Given how many congressmen and senators are represented here, I’m honestly surprised that there isn’t a Star Trek Caucus somewhere in DC.)

The book itself is quite the hefty trade tome, lovingly laid out and quite the quality offering.  I think it a must for any Trekkie (oh, OK, Trekkers too), for any fan of genre interested in how a successful national campaign can be run to favor their faves, for genre inflected philatelists and anyone who has a general interest in the history of Star Trek.






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