As a jaded New Yorker, it’s in my DNA to think I’ve seen it all (oh look- the Statue of Liberty and 100,000 people. That’s nice). And as someone who’s attended various ComicCons over the last nine, years, I pretty much have (oh look, a guy dressed as the Planet of the Apes’ Statue of Liberty and 100,000 people. That’s nice, too). So it takes a lot to impress me. So the plan was to attend my first Creation Entertainment Official Star Trek Convention in Vegas on my way home from San Diego ComicCon and Los Angeles, where I’d be for my day job as Associate Publisher of books and calendars for Universe Books and, coincidentally, at the same time, launch my new book, “Fun with Kirk and Spock,” published by Cider Mill Press. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but assumed it would be…nice.
I won’t list the Original Series cast members who signed the pages of my personal copy of “Fun with Kirk and Spock” (ok- I can’t resist: William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Grace Lee Whitney, Michael Forest, and Sean Kenney- all of whom couldn’t have been nicer and more complimentary about the book), the panel discussions that were both entertaining and informative, or the lovely things folks were saying to me about the book at my book signings. All of those were wonderful moments. But the thing I found most extraordinary—and most memorable—was the incredible and genuine sense of community I witnessed and experienced every moment of every day.
I’m not one of those people who believes that if you like Trek you can’t like Star Wars; or that you have to pick between Marvel and DC. C’mon- there’s way too much good stuff out there to deny yourself the pleasures of it all. But the one thing I noticed at the convention, and it’s the one thing that’s been a constant during my writing of the book, and talking to people, is that there’s something particularly unique about a Star Trek fan. The conventioneers hailed from all walks of life, all parts of the world, and from the look of some of the cosplayers, beyond of this world. People of all ages, genders, orientations, abilities, socio-economic backgrounds came together to celebrate their common interest. I can’t think of another time or place where all of these disparate people would or could come together, and it’s fascinating how many fast friendships (and even a marriage!) were created within a group of people who would otherwise never have known one another. I’m sure it’s because of the way Star Trek has incorporated the ideas of inclusion and acceptance over the years- a theme really not found as profoundly or consistently anywhere else in pop culture.
I think of Kate Mulgrew’s appearance on stage, in which she not only remembered, but encouraged the entire audience to sing “Happy Birthday” to a special needs girl she had met that morning. I think of the men and women who kitted out their wheelchairs and scooters to look like shuttles. I think of the kid who didn’t bat an eye at the man dressed as Uhura any more than they did the woman dressed as a Ferengi (to be honest he was much more interested in the Tribble he was playing with than anything). I think of the woman who stopped me in the casino to tell me how much she liked reading “Fun with Kirk and Spock.” And I think of Sunday afternoon when I was trying to do some work in between panels at Starbucks (cell reception is always a little better when accompanied by a latte), when I noticed a man staring at the toy—I mean collectible—that he’d just bought. He was at it for a good 15 minutes when, suddenly, a man dressed as Riker, approached him. They chatted about the convention, the toy—collectible—and other small talk for a few minutes. “Riker” left, and then the man shook his head, stared back at the toy, and whispered, “This is so cool.”
It was, sir. It was.
Fun with Kirk and Spockcosts $14.95 in the U.S. and $16.95 in Canada. Click HERE to purhcase.