An Interview with WFT Editor Dan Leckie
A few days before The Scotch Trekker turns forty years old, he paused his work on Warp Factor Trek to share his passion for Star Trek and several key projects in his hands. Dan Leckie of Aberdeen, Scotland, is all in as a fan, but he wants to serve his tribe. Usually, he is leading groups of fans creating content. He loves injecting the joy of pondering all things Trek to as many as he can reach.
About a year ago, I was welcomed aboard as a staff writer, satisfactorily auditioning with a few samples of work. On a group Facebook Messenger thread, Dan welcomed me, and others on his staff followed his leadership with kind acknowledgements. These encouragements are the only payments made, as the “free” in freelance writing, on this site, is real. Still, I was excited to be among others who wanted to share their perspectives about Star Trek, some whose work I had been enjoying as a reader.
Dan coordinates many skills for making WFT a growing site including editing, managing content, recruiting talent, arranging interviews, and maintaining relationships with Paramount and various publishers. Dan cut his teeth as a vital administrator to Memory Alpha, an on-line “wiki” of Star Trek facts. Dan’s strength, an internal encyclopedic memory of Trek canon and details, now serve WFT and his other projects. While he no longer serves with Memory Alpha, he still sees his “fingerprints” throughout the website, as his six years of investment in that site’s nascent days remain.
Next, Dan pursued another supportive role as an administrator of a new Trek site, but when its organizing leader became overwhelmed with all the details of launching, gathering new content, technical web-based organization, and more, he decided to give up. Dan wanted him to reconsider, but as he relinquished his desire to bring it all together, he assured Dan that it was an impossible enterprise. A no-budget site, with high quality, is not possible to pull off.
However, Dan decided he could do it. He slipped on the “entrepreneurial” cloak, determined that he could wrangle all the ingredients to make it happen.
John D. Adams, artist and editor with WFT, explains, “I’ve been working together with Dan on warpfactortrek.com since it began a year and a half ago. His dedication to the site and his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Trek universe never ceased to amaze me.”
Staff writer Roger McCoy describes his observations of Dan’s commitment. “I found Dan generous with his time and adaptable to my needs as a volunteer freelancer. WFT is clearly a passion project of his, and it’s been nice to see how he keeps his dedication to it — even when there have been struggles that make his time-intensive-yet-unpaid ‘job’ much harder.“
He continues noting, “It’s easy to see active fan sites like this and just take them for granted, but the amount of work he seems to be putting in behind the scenes is hard to grasp. I can only imagine how much time and dedication has gone into him keeping the site going and expanding, especially since I’m sure he has plenty of his own personal challenges as well.”
Dan’s lifetime of experiences, a difficult family upbringing dynamic, and a lifetime of living on the autism spectrum were not nurturing for pursuing confident leadership. Yet in less than two years, he has built a site, with volunteer talent, that has the attention of Paramount and key talent from Trek actors, designers, and writers. Dan is the captain of WFT and other projects.
He has hosted a YouTube discussion-based show with a panel of likeminded and diverse fans, initially called “The Scotch Trekker” but name-changed to the less host-focused moniker “SubSpace Chatter.”
More recently, Dan has launched another informal but informative fan space. This venture is called “DT Supplemental”, a weekly exploration with cast and crew from Star Trek productions. Listeners can find it as part of a larger network called “Dangerous Thoughts” on Twitter Spaces, co-hosted by Manu Intiraymi, better known for portraying Icheb, a teenage boy breaking his tether to the Borg as a recurring character on Voyager.
Dan, who is trained in music and capable of playing multiple instruments, has formed a few bands in his days. He has also hosted numerous open mic nights and the principle of inclusivity he found at such events has inspired him to create inclusive communities on the Internet.
Dan discovered Star Trek when a recording of TNG, “The Defector”, was an unexpected leave behind after purchasing a used VCR. After this viewing, he was hooked. His desire to see more was not easy, as he discovered that, outside of North America, there were many obstacles to getting Trek content. This is why Dan is passionate about broadcast plans throughout Europe and beyond. He is often frustrated that non-Americans are treated as second-class fans, not in the Star Trek spirit matching the egalitarian ideals of the Federation.
Dan laughed when I asked him if he would have still been overcome with wanting to watch all of TNG if a lower-quality episode, other than “The Defector”, had been his first Trek viewing experience. We’re agreed that “The Defector” was high quality, but he’s unsure how alternate time lines might have influenced him. I’m very glad that “Sub Rosa” or “Shades of Grey” was not his introduction to Trek.
Dan did find affinity with Data in TNG. Data was a theatrical representation of the autistic human, striving to fit in and become more human at the same time. Many on the autism spectrum are on a journey to fit in with the neuro-typical dominant world. Dan found common ground with Data. Daily, Dan struggles with, on the one hand, his goal to include others but, on the other, concerns that he will say or do something to inadvertently push others away.
Dan shared on Twitter, “I always act and speak out of love, but I’m imperfect and autistic. So my intentions are often misunderstood. But please know and remember that my motive is always love.”
Dan and I discussed other autistic role models he thought the Trek universe has provided for fans, that provide insight into different autistic mannerisms. The characters Reginald Barclay of TNG, Tilly from Discovery, and Spock came to the forefront.
Spock is, in some ways, the opposite of Data. Data is openly striving to become more human, while Spock pursues purging his human emotions, often in denial of his matrilineal heritage. Dan pointed out that — at Spock’s funeral in The Wrath of Khan — Kirk commented that Spock was an example of a great “human,” choking up viewers with this high but ironic praise. This was especially poignant as Dan found the relationship between Spock and Kirk the most comforting for his austistic self.
Dan’s depth of recognition of this buddy connection overwhelmed me. “The friendship between Kirk and Spock is inspiring because Spock had an important friendship with someone like Kirk.” The cool kid, Kirk, needed this friendship with the out-of-place autistic kid, Spock, as much as Spock needed it as well. The relationship is beautiful, mutual, and provides hope for those who feel marginalized by autism or any “otherness” that these boundaries can be bridged.
Even in Discovery, Tilly gets blanketed with Michael Burnam’s immediate friendship and full acceptance. Dan’s genius is not creating content, but creating safe, interesting, fun places that embrace nerds talking, creating art, and writing about his favorite fictional universe. It’s great that his passion is seeing the joy of fans gathering around a universe that sees him — a valuable contributing human with a unique point of view.
Frank Kennedy writes and performs original material for thoughtful audiences including a once, sold out off-Broadway stage in the pre-pandemic days. He blends his skills as a storyteller, provocateur, and sleight-of-hand magician telling poignant stories of fatherhood with sons living on the Autism Spectrum. Watching Star Trek almost daily with his Mom as a teen – during the post-cancelation syndicated-rerun days of The Original Series – he is proud that he was part of the fan enthusiasm that turned Trek into a continuum of shows and films, rather than a forgotten canceled show with poor ratings. Along with devouring new Trek content, he has filled his life with adventures to over sixty countries, boldly going and learning about cultures on the planet Earth.