Saturday, February 04, 2006

You can't collect what doesn't exist

It's a fake!
It's really hard to put together a comprehensive list of Star Trek Files Magazines and related publications from Hal Schuster's various companies from the 1980s and early 1990s. I didn't buy many of them because they were overpriced and generally not very good and because there was an unending supply of them. I didn't want to encourage them. So, making a list of them has been difficult.

It doesn't help that their lists of available books often list the same book by different titles, that they published different books with very similar titles, and that they recycled the contents of some of their books into other books. These things are a bibliographer's nightmare. So, on the Hal Schuster page of the website, I listed some items as confirmed and some as not confirmed. And I accidentally included one in the wrong section.

I think I'd been contacted even before then by the mysterious figure I will refer to as Floyd (not his real name, probably). Floyd was desperately seeking the Files magazine on The Galileo 7, as listed in some of the other Files publications. I only had a few email exchanges with Floyd. I was lucky.

John Patuto, whose own Trek books site now has probably the most complete Trek Files list (he's made more of an effort to track them down than I can see myself doing), has been hearing from Floyd for several years. He hasn't been able to convince Floyd the book doesn't exist, either.

And it's not just us collectors and fans being contacted. After seeing my accidental "confirmation" of the book's existence, Floyd went back to hounding some of the writers associated with Hal Schuster. A peeved James Van Hise contacted me asking how the heck I'd managed to confirm the book existed (that's probably the first I realized it was in the wrong spot of the page) and said he'd been hearing from Floyd for almost ten years. That was in 2003, and Floyd's still at it now.

The common thread in a lot of Floyd's emails is that there is a warehouse somewhere full of all the unsold Files magazines, and he just has to find the person who has access to it. What he doesn't answer is who's paying for the warehouse. Hal Schuster died years ago. He had a reputation for not paying debtors when he was alive. The writers were paid little and the ones I've communicated with seem to be glad to have left all that behind. If there's someone out there paying good money to warehouse a lot of this junk, you'd think they'd make an effort to sell it.

I can understand desperately wanting something that doesn't exist. I want to read The God Thing, even though it only exists as an incomplete manuscript (or perhaps a number of different incomplete manuscripts). And I know why I want to read it. It's a very different vision of what Star Trek might have become after the original series went off the air, written by the man who created Star Trek.

I don't know, though, why Floyd wants to read The Galileo 7. Is it because he has every other File publication and thinks he needs this to have a full set? Does he think there's some important information in it? I don't know, and I'm not going to ask.


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