Yesterday, fans found out that BARBARA READER finally lost her years-long battle with cancer. May her soul soar over the undiscovered country and across the final frontier.
If you’re not familiar with Barbara but you’re a fan of Star Trek fan films, she gave our community a precious gift: The STAR TREK REVIEWED blog site. Launched back in 2009, Barbara’s humble website quick grew to mind-blowing proportions, containing resources and information about nearly EVERY Star Trek fan film ever released! In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever found a Trek film that wasn’t already listed somewhere on Barbara’s site. If you think I’ve covered a lot of Trek fan films here on Fan Film Factor, I’m just peanuts compared to an outfit like Star Trek Reviewed!
I never thought of Barbara and her blog site as a “competitor.” Like firefighters and police officers, there’s similarities but also a lot of significant differences in what we do. STR covers EVERYTHING, but mostly as a “jumping-off” point to outside articles, interviews, and of course, the YouTube links to the fan films themselves. Barbara once told me she thought of herself mainly as the “librarian” of fan films.
I’m more of a “roving reporter,” and although Fan Film Factor doesn’t cover nearly as much, those fan films I do spotlight receive a deep-dive into the production process for each project along with getting to know the people who make them.
Together, Barb and I (or rather, our blogs) made a great team!
Speaking of teams, Barbara ultimately had to find a team of her own to help keep STR going. In 2016, with cancer starting to get the better of her (although she never complained or asked for pity), Barbara reached out to the fan film community and asked for some help. Up until that point, she had somehow managed to keep track of pretty much every old and new Star Trek fan film—and maintain what seemed like an infinite number of individual web pages (one for each production)…for SEVEN years all by herself!
Now she needed some help, and a number of volunteers stepped forward. These included KIROK L’STOK (real name Alan Anderton) from Australia along with SVEN MATTHES from Germany, and JAMES HEANEY (from Minnesota). Barbara and Sven would find all the fan film content, Kirok would write it up and enter it on the website (and post to Facebook), and James was the IT guy. Even now, they’re working on moving all the material over to a new website and should have it set up as a searchable database soon. They were hoping to have it running before Barbara passed away, but it wasn’t to be.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Barb’s personal history. But fortunately, James Heaney provided some enlightening background…
Years before Star Trek was a gleam in Roddenberry’s eye, when Barb was still a child, she discovered her first love: comic books. She became a prolific letter-writer, and one of the younger names to regularly appear in Marvel’s letters columns.
Then Star Trek came out, and life happened, and things changed. Decades later, after graduating from Yale, surviving a harsh marriage, and riding the roller coaster of Trek fandom in the ’70s and ’80s, Barb found out about this fledgling thing called the Internet. Although she had fallen out of touch with her old comics fandom, she discovered there were some comic book BBSes (that’s Bulletin Board Service for you kids out there), and decided to check in.
One of the first threads she found was called, “Whatever happened to Barb Reader?” and it consisted of a bunch of old comics grognards from the 60s sharing old letters of hers from the letters columns and asking if anyone knew where she’d ended up.
When she replied, she of course fit right in, as if she’d never been away. That was the kind of fan—and friend—Barb was. She was relentless. She cared passionately. She would never let anything as trivial as the passage of time get in the way of what’s important. And she never stopped being completely surprised when she found out what a huge impact she’d had on the people around her.
Thinking about my (Jonathan’s) own memories of Barb, I always found her to be a woman with very strong opinions that she was never shy about sharing. In fact—and most of you don’t know this—early on, she would quietly send me friendly “corrections” to some of my blog entires…and not because she wanted to show me up or get some kind of credit as an editor or fact-checker. Indeed, she instructed me not to mention her input publicly. No, Barb sent me corrections because she wanted the proper information out there. And I’m proud to say that, after a few years of blogging, I would almost never hear from Barb with corrections anymore.
But I did continue to hear from her, even as recently as a few months ago, and those messages were always welcome. Although Barbara had strong opinions, like me, she would never openly criticize any fan film effort…no matter the quality level. Barb couldn’t stand the trolls and detractors. She believed in honoring the fans who showed their love through these projects, and she would always stand up for fan filmmakers everywhere.
I reached out to some of those same fan filmmakers, past and present, and asked if they would like to say a few words about Barbara Reader in tribute. The responses flooded in…until the final minutes before I published this blog. First, however, I want to share the official statement from the Board of Star Trek Reviewed: Kirok L’Stok, Sven Matthes, and James Heaney…
Barb was a fan’s fan. She cared about Star Trek and the ways we participated in Gene’s universe… and she didn’t give a hoot how good our stuff was or whether she agreed with it, she just cared that we made it. No one loved fan films more. We’re honored to carry her legacy forward, but we’re gutted that she will no longer be there with us every day — finding links, fixing errors, and cheering on the Star Trek fans she loved.
And now, let’s hear from some of those fans whom she loved so much…
JOHN ATKIN and STAN WOO – Yorktown: A Time to Heal
John: Barbara Reader was one of the great champions of the fan film community. She was thoughtful, smart, and extremely well organized. The final reel of her life may have run through to the end, but her memory will live on forever.
Stan: I was dreading that this day would be upon us. I knew Barbara was ill because she let it slip in one of her posts. She took on her cancer so bravely. Her posts were always so positive and not a hint she was seriously ill. I will miss seeing her comments about Star Trek fan films and current political events.
JOSE CEPEDA – Star Trek: Nature’s Hunger
Barbara Reader was such a great advocate of fan films. She helped to nurture and promote Nature’s Hunger as well as offering helpful tips. Her scholastic research and awesome support will be greatly missed.
DAVID CHENG – Star Trek Fan Productions International
Sorry to learn this news. She reached out to me when I was working on my first fan film. I appreciated the fact that she took interest in the project and was probably the first to publicize it. She will be missed.
SAMUEL COCKINGS – Temporal Anomaly
Barbra was a friend to all fan films. She made her website a personal mission and legacy. From the earliest days of Temporal Anomaly, she supported us. She checked in every year on the progress…wanting to keep her website as up to date as possible and because she generally wanted to see the film. It was always nice to see that at least someone remembered my film when it was still a production work-in-progress!
I know hers is a name that almost every fan film maker knows, and that is a testament to how much she cared. She will be missed…but she leaves a legacy of support for so many of us.
NICK COOK – Intrepid
I first encountered Barb when she messaged me about Intrepid, and I was honoured to learn we were her gateway into Star Trek fan films. Many of you may not have known Barb, but the fan film community owes her its gratitude for her efforts and her kindness over the years. She was one of us and she will be sorely missed.
GARY DAVIS – Dreadnought Dominion
Just getting the news of the passing of Barbara Reader. I had the chance to chat with her over the past few years about our fan film. She was a fan ever since the episode featuring Tracey, my wife, who is deaf. Her parents were deaf, and she was thrilled we had a deaf character in our production. Even before that, Barbara did us the honor of featuring our productions on her website. Barbara, we will miss you!
LEE GARTRELL – The Romulan Wars
Barbara Reader was the first to find my LOW budget fan films. She was a great supporter of Star Trek fan films and posted every one she could find on her blog. But, unfortunately, my friend has died, and I will miss her. She was a very nice lady, and I wish I had known her more before this. She will be greatly missed.
ROBIN HIERT – Star Trek: Dark Armada
Barbara, or as she once called herself to me: “the librarian of Star Trek fan films,” was such a lovely person and always fun to have a conversation with about anything. She was as devoted to publishing and learning about fan films as the creators are to making them…no matter how big or small the production. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and the many friends she’s made all around the world. Thanks for everything, Barbara.
JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX – The Avalon Universe and Interlude
VICTORIA: I only spoke to Barbara a few times, but it was immediately clear that her joy and enthusiasm for fan films was unrivaled. A lot of people may never have realized what an incredible gift she was to this community because she never sought to place herself in the spotlight; she was so busy focusing on others. We all owe her a wealth of gratitude, and she will be sorely missed. May she shine among the stars.
Josh: I only had the opportunity to trade a few emails with Barbara. But she was very kind. She reached out to me, which was sweet, and I could tell by looking at her site that she was dedicated to following and promoting fan films. It was amazing to think that someone was taking the time to seek out and promote other people’s fan films. There are so few selfless people like this in the world. The fan film community has suffered a very big loss.
SCOTT JOHNSON – Starbase Studios and many other fan productions
Barbara was a supporter of us here in Oklahoma City when we were Starbase Studios. Definitely will be missed in Trekdom!!! She was THE BEST.
GEORGE KAYAIAN – Starship Antyllus
Barbara Reader was an awesome lady. She loved Star Trek fan films and found me on the web. From that point on, she promoted, defended, and enjoyed my work. In the process, we became good friends. I will always be grateful for the many memories we had together. Let’s honor her memory. Long may it live on through us.
MICHAEL L. KING – Starship Valiant
I just learned of Barbara Reader’s passing. I’m so saddened by this. We had many conversations, and she was always so down to earth, so sweet and so caring. I’ll miss her, and fan film fandom won’t be the same without her presence. She loved fan films and often times she was a voice of reason, acceptance, wisdom, and inclusion. Thank you so much for all you have done for fan films, and from my heart, RIP dear Barbara.
RANDY LANDERS – Potemkin Pictures
Barbara was a friend to Star Trek fan films and their creators, casts and crew. Her website, Star Trek Reviewed, is a testament of her love of them. She will be sorely missed.
MARK LARGENT – Stalled Trek
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Barbara Reader. She was always very supportive of my work, and I enjoyed our correspondences. Most know her as a champion for Star Trek fan films, but she was also a comic book fan in her youth and wrote many letters to the editors at DC Comics that were published in their letters pages. I’ve found a few of them, and she was a champion for good storytelling and had a sharp eye and wit! Crestfallen that I wasn’t able to share this last film with her.
MIKE LONGO – Look Forward to the Day
I only knew of Barbara and her work. She cared about our fan film efforts and catalogued them so they could be seen. It is sad news for us in the Star Trek fan film community. Second star to the right…
VANCE MAJOR – The Minard Saga and The Constar Chronicles
She always took the care and the time for each project, no matter how big and small. Her heart was very big, and most of us don’t realize how much of an impact she actually had. She was such a warm person, and I’ll miss her dearly.
GARY O’BRIEN – Chance Encounter and The Holy Core
I remember that what seemed like just hours after Chance Encounter first went public, I received a friendly and warm email from Barbara who somehow already knew all about the film and already had a page set up for it on the Star Trek Reviewed website! She was super-dedicated and a very welcoming presence to me as I first dipped my toe into the world of Trek fan films. Wherever she is now, I’m sure it’s a little better for it.
ALEC PETERS – Axanar
Barbara’s website what is the predecessor to Fan Film Factor. She blazed the trail, and we’ve all benefited from her dedication and passion. Her tireless work cataloging all Star Trek fan films is a very important part of Star Trek‘s legacy.
RAY TESI – Starship Republic and Neutral Zone Studios
Barbara’s passing is a great loss to the Trek fan film community. Star Trek Reviewed listed every fan film ever made, and she maintained it right up to current. She was a friend of ours as far back as Starship Republic and continued to be a friend through Tales from the Neutral Zone. She will be missed…
GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS – The Federation Files and WARP 66 Studios
Dan: Although I never physically met Barbara, she reached out to me several times and was insatiably curious about every detail about our films. I’ll remember her for her extreme fairness for every Star Trek film she reviewed and her fair treatment for every production regardless of budget, story or those making it. She was loved and will be missed.
Glen: If you have a UFP flag, it should be flying at half mast today. Star Trek fan films lost an icon yesterday. Barbara Reader, founder of Star Trek Reviewed, was taken from us. While your mortal journey has come to an end, Barbara, I pray you Rest In Peace. Your spirit will live long in the hearts of all Star Trek fans. Barbara, you are a giant in Trek circles and will be missed greatly. (Fade to a star-filled sky with one new bright star being born.)
There were also a few comments posted by members of the Fan Film Forum Facebook group (whom I invited to share their thoughts)…
MARTIN BENNETT – She loved all fan films big to small, she was a very caring person who will be missed in the community.
JON TESSLER – Even though we only talked on Facebook, I considered her a friend. She helped me meet plenty of fan film creators. She never let her fight with cancer run her life. The fan film world is in mourning right now, but we will soon be warmed to know our world is richer because she was in it. “It is a far, far better thing that I have ever done; it is a far far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
“Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.”
ANDREW J. LUCAS – Oh no. I chatted with her a few times. Her curation of the many, many smaller films was such a welcome archive, and her insight into many of the fan films will be missed.
PER KRUTKE – Barb and I had a really good online relationship. Yes, we were not all the time on the same page, but that happens with family and friendships all the time, so what? I will miss her dearly. I’m still touched by how long she was able to fight this beast that eventually overcame her. She’s been really strong all those years. Barb gave us the legacy of Star Trek Reviewed—and what a huge legacy it is! “barbreader” – Godspeed!
And finally, to end this tribute with another person who has given of themselves to the entire fan film community, here is ERIC. L. WATTS, founder and chairman of Treklanta, and creator and producer of the Bjo Awards, with a special award plaque and personal dedication…
Barbara Reader’s passion for and devotion to independent Star Trek fan films is absolutely unequaled. That she would channel so much of her time and energy towards compiling and maintaining the most comprehensive and most authoritative resource of independent Star Trek fan films, a staggering achievement by any measure, is a profound testament to just how much she loved them. It goes without saying that The Bjo Awards would have been impossible to create and produce without Barbara’s phenomenal work on Star Trek Reviewed on which to build them, and I will be eternally grateful for her support.