Inside The Enterprise Project

The Conundrum of Canon
March 15, 2009, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Design and Artwork

Canon (can-on)

Pronunciation: ‘ka-n&n

Function: noun

Etymology: Greek kanOn rod, measuring line, rule

1. the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art


Star Trek fans know this word very well. It helps keep all of those episodes, movies, books and etc. sorted out, not only for the fans but the writers and creators as well. Trek has eleven movies, over seven hundred episodes, two hundred novels, various games, theme park rides… well the list is endless so you can see why establishing some sort of official rules to what is “real” and what is apocryphal is important. So to make it easier for everyone, it was established that anything seen in an aired live-action episode or movie is canon, nothing else. (This does leave open things like biographical data seen on a computer screen, extended or director’s cuts but I am not going to touch that with a ten foot pole.) We here in fandom live by that or try to at least. Some have even sworn vengeance on anyone who doesn’t uphold it. Most just keep the faith and hope it all meshes together properly. Some are just looking for some good entertainment and don’t care either way. But whatever your view, canon is a huge aspect of the Trek Universe. I should know. I have learned the hard way.

When I first started this project, I sat for a month watching each episode of Enterprise with a notepad and a pencil. Any little thing that I thought might help me, I wrote down. By the time I was finished, I had information on where everything was located, discrepancies in locations, various equipment, and detail of the major sets and redresses of those sets. I even made a list of equipment and areas that episodes mentioned but we never saw. I had pages and pages and pages of this stuff! My research was extensive and exhaustive. And the reason why I went to so much trouble? I knew if I didn’t I would have Trek fans storming my house with torches and pitch forks. I tried to get everything right. I had good intentions and I thought I had succeeded. Now I don’t think many of the fans understand that most television is made very very quickly and on a limited budget. Due to that, a lot of little mistakes popped up from time to time. Unfortunately, it was up to me to figure out how to make everything work and tried my best. And before I realized it, I had become canon’s bitch.

Funny. It is such a simple word, one that was meant to bring order to chaos. Most would not realize that this ordinary word, this concept, has been the cause of so many arguments, hostilities and even wars over the years. But I guess it is really how you look at it. Like so many things, it can be positive or negative. But when it comes to canon in Star Trek, the duel nature of the concept is proven in spades. For example, some fans believe that the Animated Series was not canon, while others believe parts are, yet others believe the entire twenty-two episodes should be. But either way, fans have been arguing about it since the 1970’s. Even Roddenberry himself couldn’t make up his mind what was what. And here I am, in my innocence, firmly caught in the middle with my ass on the line. So with a fair amount of trepidation, I published the plans one by one online and sat back and waited, hoping my research was enough.

But all in all, things have worked themselves out. I have gotten some negative emails over the last two years. I would have been surprised if I hadn’t. Mostly they have consisted of complaints in regards to some of my location choices with a few quibbles about details and equipment. The most hilarious complaint though was the one about the wall placement in T’Pol’s quarters. I was informed by a fan that I had made her quarters to small and that partition walls should be two feet further apart. How this obviously obsessed fan knew this, I have no idea. But I am very pleased with the responses I have gotten. It could not have been better.

And I can’t help feeling a little relief at the things people haven’t noticed. I made some drastic changes and fudge more than a few things to either fit them in or sure them up engineering wise. I guess sometimes, as long it is logical and sound, canon can be broken. Just don’t look too hard. My seams might be showing.


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