Thank You Joan Winston

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 22, 2008 in Star Trek |

Star Trek Lives! Co-author Joan Winston

If you’re a Star Trek fanboy (or fangurl) you owe a great deal to Joan Winston — she was one of a handful of people that invented the modern science fiction convention as we know it. Before 1972 there had been science fiction conventions going bak to the 30s, but these affairs were always focused on literary science fiction as the main show. In the 70s thanks to Star Trek this changed, and with it the audience for science fiction (and thus fandom) came in from the fringe to being a larger subculture that is now part of the mainstream of American society.

I was too young to get to those original Star Trek cons in the 70s (although I did talk my parents into a visit to the Star Trek Trading Post before it closed) but those cons served as a role model for the first generation of anime fans to take the bold leap into the larger world of conventions. In fact many of Joan Winston’s friends at the Lunarians played a critical role in allowing the first anime room at a science fiction convention in 1983.

Joan Winston, ‘Trek’ Superfan, Dies at 77

“It was January 1972, and the first Star Trek convention was under way in a rented ballroom at the Statler Hilton in Manhattan. The organizers had expected a crowd of about 500. In the end, more than 3,000 fans turned up, so many that by the final day of the event registrars were issuing ID cards made from torn scraps of wrapping paper. For fans of the series, the convention marked the moment when a diaspora became a nation.

And it made a subculture celebrity of Joan Winston, who played a leading role in creating the event and went on to achieve a second-order fame as one of world’s most avid “Star Trek” fans. She died of Alzheimer’s disease on Sept. 11 at age 77, her cousin Steven Rosenfeld said. She lived in Manhattan.”

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