I wasn’t always a fan of Star Trek. Growing up, I used to HATE that my Dad would record over our VHS tapes with original series episodes, and refused to have anything to do with them. Later on I liked the movies, but never followed any of the television series. That all changed in my final year of college. I was interning at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, my first time out on my own, in an adorable little loft apartment on the outskirts of town. As fate would have it, I caught the first episode of Next Generation, in a syndication run, and proceeded to watch every episode, in order, since they were on nightly. It became my evening ritual, and I got INTO IT. I could tell you where in the season a given episode was from based on the star date. I became a dedicated Trekkie.
Attending a convention would seem only logical, and once I was back in Boston, I aimed to do that very thing. I don’t remember what year it was, but I remember my Mom and I standing outside the convention building on a cold winter morning. I remember getting the news that the prior night’s snowfall had collapsed the roof of the building, and the convention was cancelled. MEH.
It wasn’t until MANY years later, now with a family of my own, that I tried again. It was in 2013, and as we drove into Boston’s Pru Tunnel, we noticed something very wrong. It was dark. I mean DARK, like straight out of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand.’ I had to turn the high beams on just to hit our exit, but we made it to the parking garage. That was traumatic, but we were there! As we made our way toward the entrance, and started passing people in costume, my excitement level increased. But it wasn’t long before we got the news that a main transformer had blown, knocking out power for a large section of the area, and nobody was sure if the convention was still on. We waited there for a while, but with two young and impatient kids, we made the call to bail. Turned out the power did come back on about an hour after that, but we were long gone, and once again my Trek trek had failed.
As they say, though, third time’s a charm! This past June, we finally made it. We attended the 2013 Creation Entertainment Star Trek Convention in Boston. We saw Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Robert Beltran (Chakotay) on stage (Robert Beltran is one saucy officer by the way), and had pictures taken with both. We successfully bid on a golden Spock decanter from the 70s in the memorabilia auction (and during that auction, the actor who plays Dr. Phlox bid-bombed one of the items – totally delightful). We bought tribbles. The kids flashed Vulcan sign at every passerby who would look at them, and were delighted with all the reciprocation.
The Hynes Convention Center has also been the location for PAX East, which I’ve attended several times, and the intimacy of the Trek convention was a striking contrast. At PAX East, you are part of a THRONG of humanity, I mean it’s like an ant hill. I’ve tried on several occasions to connect with friends while at PAX East, and failed every time. I knew a friend was going to be at this Trek convention, and without even really trying, we ran into each other three times. I like that smaller scale.
I expected a bigger vendor hall I think, more like what was in the Trekkies documentary, and maybe more costumes and such to be for sale. And one thing I learned is that the schedule and attendees list shifts a LOT, right down to the last minute. Nothing wrong with that, but if/when we attend another, I will probably wait until closer to the day of to buy photo op tickets. Also, there are hard decisions to be made if you can only attend a single day of the 2-day event, because many actors are there only one of the days. One has to prioritize, and I would VERY MUCH have liked to see Karl Urban in person. Just sayin.
Lastly, what stuck with me the most was how gracious and dedicated actors from the Trek universe are. It’s not just that, as both Tim and Robert mentioned, the demands for filming a tv series are ongoing and grueling (16 hour days on the set, and even more for those needing alien prosthetics). By signing up for a role in Trek, you’re signing up for a life-long commitment to the fans, and there are definitely conventions in your future. You WILL come face to face with the people, some of whom are quirky, and maybe a little obsessed, or socially awkward, but all of whom are united by a deep love. With great power comes great responsibility.
“They already know about tribbles in this one, Mom! We want to see the first time!”
So, Dad, I thought you should know that the rest of the day was a marathon of Star Trek: The Original Series via Netflix, starting with The Trouble with Tribbles. Instead of being cheap and gimmicky like I was afraid it would feel in our era of modern special effects, it was delightful.
After all this time, I’ve finally paid proper attention to the series that started it all. Scratch another item off the bucket list. 🙂