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I Survived my First Star Trek Convention

Star Trek the Official Convention 2003, London 3-5 January 2003
Star Trek The Adventure, London 18 December-April 2003

Gate McFadden and Michael Dorn

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I am sitting right now in Caffè Nero on Edgware Road near Paddington, I am waiting for the reading of AR Gurney’s called Love Letters to start, it is with Gates McFadden (Doctor Crusher) and Michael Dorn (Mr. Worf). They both spoke today at the convention and it was quite nice to learn that Doctor Crusher is investing in Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and is now living in the south of France where she is opening a new theater (near Montpellier). She appears to have played in many different things since the end of Star Trek TNG but some projects are not out yet, others never reached England and perhaps, being the sci-fi freak that I am, I never bothered watching those shows.

I asked one question to her today, and I am very pleased with myself that it turned out to be the most interesting one of them all. I said that in the episode Cause and Effect, she hums a song in her quarters before she records the voices from previous loops. I asked her what was that song and if she could sing it. She was very impressed with my question that appeared to fall from nowhere and she asked me if I heard anything about the story behind that song. I said no, but that I liked it. She said that originally they filmed her singing a song she composed for her new born son Jack but that Paramount studios and their lawyers thought it sounded too much like another song (my guess is that it could be a song from the movie Beetlejuice). She said she had to quickly record another song instead. She did not know what the song was but she sang for us the original song that we never saw on TV. Pretty song too.

For Worf I had the honor of being the last person to ask a question, it was again about one of my favorite episode called Parallels. I said that in that episode we saw what he could have been and done in parallel universes (being with Troi, being Commander of the Enterprise). I asked him what he would have liked to do if he could have chosen a different path for his role in the series. He said that he would have liked to play a bigger role in the Klingon internal affairs, like the real power behind the council and the emperor. He added that it may still be possible, you never know in the world of Star Trek. I wanted him to speak about Parallels, but he did not take the hint and he kept it general. He is pretty certain that Nemesis is not the last movie they will make. I sure hope not!

My other impressions of the convention are that it is a money grabbing experience, overall I spent £205 for two days without any extra or autograph that can cost up to £46 each if you wish to have William Shatner’s signature (they should be ashamed with themselves!!!). It is very much like Star Trek the Adventure, the other big exposition that opened in late December in Hyde Park London and that has finisehd at the end of April 2003 (perhaps it will continue until May 2003). That Adventure show is great, and you get the chance to be on the bridge of the Enterprise NCC-1701 D, with real special effects that are just wonderful. There is also an incredible amount of props and other things, like the real bridge of the first Enterprise. You can always get away without spending all your money, but if you are a real fan, it will not be possible. That Adventure show is touring Europe in 2003, so you might want to check the Star Trek websites for dates and locations.

I said that I barely survived my first Star Trek convention because this morning, after going for two days, I thought I would self-combust. I felt ashamed of everything I said when I met those actors. For a start it was embarrassing to meet those actors that were on one or two episodes of the original series and not knowing who they were, and even worse, not caring too much. I don't dispute that these three women (Barbara Luna, France Nuyen and Celeste Yarnall) are just as great looking today as they were originally in the series but they appear to be there either for the money or their career. They pushed us to buy their autograph, photos and books and I almost got angry because it prevented us from having a normal conversation. My publisher in Paris asked me to go to some book fairs in France in 2003 and it does not inspire me too much, I don’t want to end up pushing people who don’t know me to buy my books!!! I cannot blame these women though, it is always difficult to try to get things going, to be part of the business again. I believe also that this is just my own embarrassment for not knowing them too well. I suppose this would be another story if I did love the original series as much as the four others or if I had seen the several great movies these women were in.

On another note I was thrilled for example to meet Morn directly shipped from Deep Space Nine (Mark Allen Shepherd, and can you believe it, I just saw on imdb that he has not been credited for his work on Deep Space Nine though he is virtually there at every episode).

I met as well one of my favorite actresses of all time, Carolyn Seymour who is a famous Romulan on the Next Generation (Contagion and Face of the Enemy), was that woman responsible for the Space Program on her planet in the episode First Contact (TNG) and was also that bitch Mrs Templeton in the holo-novel of Captain Janeway in the episodes Eye of the Needle, Cathaxis and Persistence of Vision. I very much liked her in Quantum Leap as well, she played many episodes there as Zoey. Very sad that she was not in the movie Nemesis. She has also been in many other TV shows and movies.

I would have to say that my most pleasurable experience though was when I was eating a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps when I suddenly came face to face with Chase Masterson who plays Leeta, the sister of Kira Nerys on DS9. Worse, the only thing I could say was: I liked you in Sliders (she played in one episode, she was the sister of the main girl). I think she thinks that I think that I did not know she was in Deep Space Nine, that I mistook her for the main character in Sliders. How embarrassing. She had a piece of paper with some emails on it and she asked me to add my email address. God, I surely hope this is not the extent of her marketing campaign for her next movie called Inhuman (Creature Unknown) where she has the lead role. Stupid as I am I said: that looks more like Buffy the Vampire than Star Trek, and she answered: this is Sci-fi.

I would have liked to say that it should be classified as Horror, and not in the same section as Sci-fi. Thank god I did not get into my theories that there are two types of Star Trek fans, the first kind love the science and usually like Stargate as well. The other kind love Buffy the Vampire and Angel and usually don’t care much for the science though they are not put off by it. I don’t care much for monsters, unknown creatures and obvious fake vampires right out of LA, unless there is at least 5 minutes of great science dialogue somewhere in the movie. I do love Masterson though, and not for her breasts either.

And of course, quiet in his corner, there was Scott MacDonald who was a Klingon, Tosk, a Romulan and appeared in five or six episodes. Full information in his website Temple of Mac.

At the auction I promised myself that I was not going to buy anything. Then there was this great final where they kept adding things and you could have the whole lot in one shot. Everybody was betting and out of curiosity, almost, I put my arm in the air. Suddenly everybody stopped betting. I had to buy the whole lot for 85 pounds, including an autographed photo of Sulu (heek!!!).

The second day started with Chase Masterson speaking and singing, and while our head were still spinning, Alexander Siddig alias Doctor Bashir came on. I don’t understand why some actors are trying their best to look bad when they can look so great on TV. He had long hair and a beard, the contrast with his photo on the screen was just too much. But his very nice personality was still there and he certainly proved to us that he was as charming as when he plays James Bond in the holo-suite. He also appeared lost and my question to him proved to be too confusing.

I am not certain if it is my fault or if it was his memory that was the problem, but it was very embarrassing. I asked him if he had to act any differently when he was replaced by a founder. Well, perhaps the question was not clear enough, he had to first figure out that a founder was a changeling and was asking me if he had ever been a changeling. And then he asked me if I meant when he was a prophet. Uncertain if he was not fooling around with me in order to be funny, I could not say another word after my question, and he finally said that he would have to come back to me with his answer. I would have liked to disappear in a wormhole at that point, it almost made me think that I should not attempt to ask Captain Janeway a question.

So, for the two hours before Kate Mulgrew came on, we were wondering what question I could ask her. Unfortunately in the first 2 minutes before the questions she had answered them all. Moreover she was asking the people who wanted to ask a question to come to the front to speak in the microphone. Since only kids have the guts to do so, only 14 years old and fans dressed as trekkers with mental problems went to the front. So the question period turned into: I love you Kate, you are my biggest inspiration in life. At times it was even more embarrassing than my own incomprehensible questions to Worf and Bashir. So at the end, feeling bad because she did not looked at me because I had not ask a question, I walked to the front without looking at anyone. When I reached her at the table where she was going to sign autographs, I touched her and stupidly asked her while touching her arm: can I touch you? For a moment there I think she was afraid, she did not know what was my purpose, if perhaps I was insane and do something horrible. That look came back to haunt me for days, I cannot believe I could not say instead: I really admire you, you are my inspiration in life (like those kids). I had to say: Can I touch you! Thankfully I immediately said: thank you very much, and suddenly relieved that I was probably just a fan that for some weird reason wanted to touch her, she answered back: thank you very much.

So, that was my first experience at a Star Trek convention, I am not certain if this is going to be my last. I guess we will have to wait next year to find out.

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Roland Michel Tremblay
27 April 2003

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