Radio drama, as a form of mass-media entertainment, was close to extinction at the start of the 21st century. The public had been lured away by the instant gratification of TV's eye candy and radio in its turn had dropped drama as part of it's programming, focusing instead on news, talk shows and music.
It was in 2001 that audio production and distribution was revolutionized by the release of the iPod and the development of the internet as a public access and distribution platform. Podcasts began springing up as amateurs created their own shows giving news and views on subjects that interested them and it was only a matter of time before creative fans realized that they now had the tools and distribution medium to make and share their own audio dramas.
2008 has been a year of consolidation and diversification in Star Trek audio dramas as existing groups build on their experience and new fans realize that this represents an accessible way of breaking into fan productions. Star Trek: Defiant and Star Trek: Lost Frontier, from Pendant Productions and Darker Projects respectively, still represent the benchmark against which other groups are measured but their position at the top is being assailed by some newer groups that are good and getting better.
Star Trek: The Continuing Mission for example came on the fan production scene at the end of 2007 promising professional level production and delivering just that with two more episodes in '08. Star Trek: Unity released their first episode at much the same time and have followed it up, one year later, with their second episode, the conclusion to the first.
Frequency of production is a problem for all fan productions and audio dramas are no exception. Star Trek: Dimensions, which released a well-received premiere episode in August, has addressed this with a bold decision to voluntarily go into hiatus until March '09 when they hope to have three full seasons finished and ready to roll!
Creatively, Star Trek audio dramas represent a wide spectrum of styles from Star Trek: Eras character-driven 'broad canvas' that spans two hundred years of Star Trek to Star Trek: Excelsior's RPG based, plot-driven action. In between you have the political drama of Star Trek: Diplomatic Relations, the ill-fated Starfleet Renegades and Star Trek: The New Frontier and the unique Star Rabbit Tracks.
This issue of Acrux fanzine, Day six of The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, is yet another installment in my annual review of Star Trek fan productions, this time covering Trek audio dramas produced and planned in 2008, posted on our Blogsite, to be released on completion as a twenty page fanzine.
[And the fact that I'm punching out issues of Acrux like they're going out of fashion has nothing to do with making up my bimonthly quota for the year! Click the thumbnail to see the 'zine cover]