Five years ago today, the canon wars ended.
Okay, so the canon wars didn't end. But I did happen to notice the other day that today is the fifth anniversary of the following, as posted on TrekBBS:
EVERY FAN'S CANON PRIMER
DICK: Say, is this here item cannon?
JANE: Does it fire large iron balls at your enemies?
DICK: Huh? No, I mean is it official Star Trek, you know, cannon.
JANE: You mean canon. The term originally referred to the books of the Bible that were chosen by early Church leaders to refer to those books that would be retained and accepted as those directly inspired by the Word of God. One of the original and still most popular literary uses of the term refers to the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, to differentiate them from the thousands of stories about Holmes written by other people. Many Sherlock Holmes fans dislike the imitations and thus read only the canon.
DICK: Whatever. Okay, so is this canon?
JANE: Is it a Star Trek movie or episode produced and released by Paramount (or Desilu, if it's old enough)?
DICK: Why, no, it's a b--
JANE: Well, then, it isn't canon.
JANE: If it isn't an official Star Trek episode or movie, it isn't canon.
DICK: Well, it's a book.
JANE: Right. So it isn't canon, is it?
DICK: It could be.
JANE: Is a book aired on TV or shown in movie theaters?
DICK: No, but--
JANE: Then it isn't canon.
DICK: But this here book was written by someone who used to write for the series.
DICK: Well, doesn't that make it cannon?
JANE: Canon. Not cannon. Not any kind of artillery or weapon in general. Don't make me go through this again. Or are you one of those Star Track fans?
DICK: Okay, doesn't that make it canon, then?
JANE: The creators of the shows don't regard each others' books as canon. They feel completely free to contradict what Jeri Taylor wrote in her books, for example. So what does that tell you?
DICK: I don't know.
JANE: It tells you that the books aren't canon, no matter who writes them. Because the books are not TV episodes or movies.
DICK: I don't understand. My dog Spot told me that Attack of the Clones had forty different references to a children's book from 1984 about Ewoks, because in Star Wars everything is canon. Even the Happy Meal boxes.
JANE: Is Star Trek part of Star Wars?
JANE: Is Star Trek related to Star Wars in any way?
JANE: Does it make sense to compare ten hours of filmed story with five or six hundred hours of filmed story?
DICK: Well, I dunno, not really.
JANE: Then what in the Black Hole of Carcosa does Star Wars have to do with this discussion? I'll answer that for you: nothing.
DICK: So this book isn't canon?
JANE: Is it a book?
JANE: Well, then?
DICK: I guess it isn't canon.
JANE: By George, I think he's got it.
DICK: But maybe it could be canon if enough fans think it's good enough to be canon.
RICK BERMAN: Dick, I'm Rick Berman. I run Star Trek. The books aren't canon. Period.
DICK: But what about Gene Roddenberry?
THE GHOST OF GENE RODDENBERRY: Dick, I don't even think some of the movies are canon. And if I was still alive I'd be going on about some of the newer Star Trek TV series not being canon. And you want the books to be canon? Didn't you people get the message from my boy Richard Arnold?
DICK: Yeah, but I can call it canon if I want.
THE GHOST OF NOAH WEBSTER: Words have meanings, my lad, and you seem not to grasp the meaning of that word.
DICK: Huh? Whatever, word nazi. Anyway, I'm a fan. I am the true owner of Star Trek because I keep it alive. I can determine what is canon.
JANE, RICK BERMAN, THE GHOST OF GENE RODDENBERRY, AND THE GHOST OF NOAH WEBSTER: The hell with this.
SOUND EFFECTS: Jane, Rick, Gene, and Noah apply the Steel-Toed Doc Martens of Correction.
Five years later, ain't a damn thing changed.
Well, actually, some things have changed, not that you'd know it from the occasional recurrences of the Holy Canon Thrash. People are somewhat more aware that calling Expanded Universe stuff canon is not accurate, thanks to little things like this summer's new Clone Wars movie, among others. Rick Berman and the people then running Star Trek have moved on to other things. The only filmed Star Trek in the works is a movie that may or may not be consistent with what we've long thought of as canon. Its return to the TOS era leaves the 24th century without a canonkeeper.
Though the thrashes come up with annoying regularity, canon doesn't matter so much. If you want 24th century Star Trek, books and comics are the place to go, and there's really not much chance that they'll be contradicted by any movies or TV series in the foreseeable future.
Canon is pretty much irrelevant now. And that's a good thing.