Since I’ve started moving all my Trek-related stuff over to www.jaynz.info I’ve had to deal with a certain type of obsessive ‘fan’ called a ‘canonista’. These are the fans that interpret everything they see about any given franchise absolutely literally, and use that interpretation of ‘canon’ as a weapon against other fans to prove how ‘right-think’ they are and how ‘wrong-think’ other fans are. To a ‘canonista’, worshipping at the mantle of ‘canon’ is a religious calling.
‘Canon’, though, in the actual sense of the words really consists of what the writers in the franchie have to adhere to when expanding on the official fiction. ‘Canon’ was never something for the fandom. It became that, certainly, largely by the fandom defining it for itself (as in the case of Star Trek), and largely to establish a ‘pecking order’ within that fandom. Still, the actual canon, the ones that the writers have to pay to, probably won’t resemble any ‘fandom’ canon all that much.
Personally, I don’t really care about canon all too much. But I do care about believability and consistancy. This is, ironically, is why I don’t care about canon all that much. Why? The handlers of Star Trek, all the way back to the first season of the original series in 1966, absolutely sucked at it. That’s why the internet is full of the same discussions about ships, registries, warp drive, and all those tiny little details, that were around back on usenet before Al Gore invented it.
So, for MY purposes, yes, I get to use what I like, discard what I don’t, and that’s pretty much it. So long as I explain my rationale and try to be internally consistant, I’m golden.