One of the neat things about having FreeFind searches on my website is that FreeFind automatically emails me a weekly summary of searches. On the one hand, it's a little depressing. There really aren't many searches being done, which may suggest that the site still isn't getting a lot of hits. (It's been ages since I checked the Well's server stats for the site.)
But it's interesting to see what does get searched. Last Thursday, someone searched for throgs. As it happens, they would indeed have found something, to my surprise. From the blurb for Nan Clark's World's Greatest Star Trek Quiz:
"Fantastic facts and fabulous fun in a fascinating format!"But why, I wonder, was someone searching for throgs?
Mary Moussot, Throgs Neck, New York
There's also some people doomed to disappointment through misspellings ("startrek orgainial sereis" just isn't going to find you anything). I'm also starting to think I should put a little info on the calendars on the site, because at least a couple of people have searched for "calendar," sometimes with more specific calendars in mind.
And one or two people searched for At the Final Frontier. The searches were eleven minutes apart, one in quotes and one not, so it may have been two people. They didn't find anything that time, but they will when this blog entry gets indexed.
And here's what they'll find out.
Two or three years ago a few of the regulars on a couple of Trek books boards invented the legendary lost episode, "Requiem for a Martian," the TOS episode so awful and off-concept that it was aired once and never again shown anywhere in any form. That led to the invention of the book that spills the beans on the whole thing, At the Final Frontier, originally said to be the work of Gene C. Fontana. Here's a version of someone's cover art that I altered just a little for a post on the TrekBBS last week:
It was never anything less than preposterous, but for a little while it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly enough, some people didn't get that it was obviously a put-on. That, in turn, led to some people who knew it was a joke getting peeved by the joke every time it came up again, because there were always some new people who were unaware of the history of the joke and fell for it. (For the record, I don't recall having had any part in creating any of it or propagating it much. As entertaining as I found it all, I didn't want to put deliberate misinformation on my website, even as a joke, though one or two people suggested I do so.)
I have to say, it was never my favourite Star Trek hoax. That honour would go to the Star Trek radio series of the 1940s, as described in a rec.arts.startrek.current post by Amy West, citing Michael Marek. Looking at it again for the first time in eleven years, I don't find it as amusing as I did then. But at the time it just tickled me pink.
We all seem to love the idea that there's some missing chapter to our favourite pop culture phenomena. Whether it's newly discovered deleted scenes from a classic movie, or a just-found reel-to-reel tape with early recordings by a famous musician, or an unpublished manuscript found in a collection of old letters by a legendary novelist, we get excited at the chance to see an old favourite in a new light and wonder about what might have been. See, for example, Lewis Shiner's novel Glimpses, in which the main character is able to get albums that were never recorded in our world because the artists died or the bands broke up. Heck, I had the same idea for a short story well before that book was published, but I suspect every obsessive music fan has. In my never-actually-written story, the protagonist would have been able to get new albums by Joy Division from a world in which Ian Curtis didn't commit suicide and New Order never came into being. Shiner's book is about 1960s rock that doesn't mean quite as much to me (the Beatles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix).
So that's why these little hoaxes are appealing. Add to that the thrill of hidden knowledge, of finding out something that most people don't know, and the occasional little hoax, however humourously intended, is inevitable.
(Now playing: Anthony Braxton and the Fred Simmons Trio, "What's New," 9 Standards (Quartet) 1993.)