Star Trek has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; one of my earliest clear memories is of the Animated Series and I think I remember a commercial for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (I do, however, remember a commercial for Alien, even though at six I was far too young to see it for many years — and I didn’t, not until years after I’d seen its sequels and read its comic books.)
Doctor Who has not been a part of my life for as long; I didn’t see it until 1984 when the local PBS station made it a Saturday afternoon fixture, showing the Tom Baker episodes plus “The Five Doctors” in the movie format. In high school I watched Doctor Who with greater regularity; the PBS station in Morgantown showed it in the wee hours of Saturday night, and I loved the brashness of Colin Baker, was indifferent to Sylvester McCoy, had my mind blown by finally seeing the black-and-white episodes of Hartnell, and have blamed/thanked the show for my atheism, since there was many a Sunday morning where I was too groggy to attend church.
In the late 80s I occasionally picked up issues of Starlog. I remember seeing in one issue an ad for some vendor of sci-fi merchandise, and they were offering a book that combined Star Trek and Doctor Who — The Doctor and the Enterprise.
Was I intrigued? Oh yes.
Did I order it? Oh no.
A few years later a friend, one more plugged into Who fandom, told me it wasn’t worth it. “It’s a total send-up. The characters aren’t even named correctly. ‘The Captain,’ ‘The Science Officer,’ that sort of thing.” He hadn’t read it, to be fair, but what he said wasn’t inaccurate. There was a story, it had been published as a book, and all the names were wonky to escape the notice of the copyright cops.
The original version of the story was written by Jean Airey and published in a fanzine in 1982. In that fanzine version, though, all the characters had their proper names. The story was printed and reprinted in fanzines, either in toto or as part of a serialization, over the following few years, and then a publisher, seeing the potential for dollars, published that unauthorized knock-off I saw advertised in Starlog.
What’s amusing about this to me know is that until that moment it had never occurred to me that Star Trek and Doctor Who might go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Star Trek and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe, certainly, but not Doctor Who.
In the mid-90s I finally read Airey’s story. I was in college, the Web was something nascent, I got online, and I found a text file of the original. Over the next few years I found a sequel to Airey’s story by Rob Cowell, Airey’s own sequel, an impressive series of stories (totally unrelated to Airey) by Paul Gadzikowski that spanned Doctors and multiple Star Trek series, and a number of other fanfics, all mixing the worlds of Star Trek and Doctor Who.
In all the years since I first saw that ad for The Doctor and the Enterprise I assumed that the Doctor and the crews of the starships Enterprise would forever meet only in unlicensed unofficial fan fiction.
This May IDW Publishing will prove me wrong when they publish the first issue of Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2, an eight issue mini-series that brings together Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the eleventh Doctor for an adventure that pits them against an unholy alliance of the Cybermen and the Borg that threatens the galaxy. According to startrek.com and IDW’s official press release, the series will be written by Scott and David Tipton (IDW’s Klingons: Blood Will Tell, among others), with assists by Tony Lee (IDW’s ongoing Doctor Who series) and artwork by J.K. Woodward.
Frankly, I’m beside myself with glee.
It’s Star Trek! It’s Doctor Who! All in a single package! Well, all in an eight-issue package!
This is what comics can do so well. You couldn’t do this on television. Heck, Star Trek: The Next Generation isn’t even in production any more. You could do this in a novel, but crossovers aren’t really a part and parcel of prose literature in the way they are in comics. This is the kind of story that’s uniquely suited to comics. I’m still agog that this happened; after Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes it was clear that Paramount was game, but I harbored doubts that the BBC would ever countenance this. (A proposed crossover by John Byrne a few years ago went nowhere, for instance.)
And it’s not just me that’s excited. There’s excitement elsewhere in fandom. Dayton Ward is thrilled. So is Stuart Ian Burns. Doctor Who Magazine‘s Gary Gillatt, however, is not a fan; it’s safe to say that this project won’t receive favorable notices in Doctor Who‘s official propaganda rag.
I admit, I’m not as jazzed by this as I was for Star Trek/Legion, and it’s down to the familiarity factor. As I’ve noted, I’ve been reading stories like this for the last decade, in old faded mimeographs and in newsgroups or LiveJournals. Still, I’m excited, and I’m amazed, and I can’t wait for Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 to rock my world this May.
At the end of the day, this is a story for that ten year-old Doctor Who and Star Trek fan inside all of us.