Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Star Trek and Doctor Who (Popular Fictions Series)
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Science Fiction Audiences examines the astounding popularity of two television "institutions" - the series Doctor Who and ^Star Trek. Both of these programmes have survived cancellation and acquired an following that continues to grow. The book is based on over ten years of research including interviews with fans and followers of the series. In that period, though the fans may have changed, and ways of studying them as "audiences" may have also changed, the programmes have endured intact, with Star Trek for example now in its fourth television incarnation.
John Tulloch and Henry Jenkins dive into the rich fan culture surrounding the two series, exploring issues such as queer identity, fan meanings, teenage love of science fiction, and genre expectations. They encompass the perspectives of a vast population of fans and followers throughout Britain, Australia and the US, who will continue the debates contained in the book, along with those who will examine the historically changing range of audience theory it presents. and continue to attract a huge community of fans and followers. Doctor Who has appeared in nine different guises and Star Trek is now approaching its fourth television incarnation.Science Fiction Audiences examines the continuing popularity of two television 'institutions' of our time through their fans and followers.
Through dialogue with fans and followers of Star Trek and Dr Who in the US, Britain and Australia, John Tulloch and Henry Jenkins ask what it is about the two series that elicits such strong and active responses from their audiences. Is it their particular intervention into the SF genre? Their expression of peculiarly 'American' and 'British' national cultures. Their ideologies and visions of the future, or their conceptions of science and technology?
Science Fiction Audiences responds to a rich fan culture which encompasses debates about fan aesthetics, teenage attitudes to science fiction, queers and Star Trek, and ideology and pleasure in Doctor Who. It is a book written both for fans of the two series, who will be able to continue their debates in its pages, and for students of media and cultural studies, offering a historical overview of audience theory in a fascinating synthesis of text, context and audience study.
engage with trivia at all. For fans, information about the programme, its characters, its production, etc., is information which fits within a very precise context and is used to make sense of 18 SCIENCE FICTION AUDIENCES an even more complex narrative universe. Similarly, fan politics is often concerned with the local rather than with the global, yet it defies academic attempts to define Bosnia as somehow more political than the interpersonal relations between men and women. Several decades
that are ‘classless, without government, ecologically minded…sexually permissive’.49 As Roberts shows, feminist utopian writing and science fiction restore to women’s own use many of the values which patriarchal culture had used to control women: for instance, the association of women with motherhood, with the home and with 38 SCIENCE FICTION AUDIENCES nature. In feminist science fiction, motherhood, reproduction and nature become new sources of female power; and the home and family are
the need is for a community and morality; the means offered to achieve these ends are self-control and adherence to a fairly simple established morality…. Star Trek is a very muddled and partial utopia. Yet it is utopian and I believe that if anything lifts the show out of the class of purely addictive culture, it is the series’ utopian longing and the consequent sense of profound tragedy that hovers just under the surface of that longing.50 Star Trek, in Joanna Russ’s view, restores ‘political
‘relevances’ of Doctor Who in this context. It allowed these girls the ‘power to play’ in the classroom. GENRE COMPETENCES: DISCOURSES OF ‘REAL LIFE’ AND ‘FANTASY’ (YEAR 10, GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL)12 In our audience research with highly academic (selected high school) 14-year-old male fans13 of Doctor Who, we found that the series was most ‘entertaining’ when it drew on their school knowledge of history. The boys particularly liked Doctor Who episodes which used what they called ‘twists’ to
actually ignores ‘contradictory positions within the same group’ in his ‘Nationwide’ Audience work.2 In addition, as Justin Lewis pointed out, he ignores the effect of group dynamics in the interview situation as the group moves towards a unified interpretive position.3 Among followers and fans, this achieving of a unified interpretive position is a significant part of their pleasure in the programme, so it is important to consider it. A unified interpretive position is what makes fans a cultural