Parade.com asked me to write a story for them about some of the more memorable Star Trek fans I've encountered over the years.
"That sounds great," I said, "but I'm not going to do something that makes all Trekkies out to be some sort of freakshow. I'll highlight a couple of the funnier interactions I've had, but I am a Trekkie myself, and I won't contribute to the whole 'get a life' thing."
The editor at Parade agreed, I turned in my column yesterday, and it went live earlier today.
“Trekkies” are Star Trek’s legion of fans whose dedication to the series led to an unprecedented letter-writing campaign in 1968 that saved the show from cancellation and earned it a third season. Some fans feel that “Trekkie” is pejorative, and prefer to be called “Trekkers.” Whatever they call themselves, they love Star Trek and gather several times a year at conventions all over the world. In fact, as I write this, I’m preparing for one of the largest annual conventions, coming up this August in Las Vegas.
On this occasion, Parade.com asked me to recount some of my more memorable encounters with my fellow fans, and I’m happy to oblige:
I worked on a movie about a decade ago, and one of the other leads, a very well-known dramatic actor, sat down across from me during lunch one day.
“I have to out myself to you,” he said.
Wow. He’s coming out, and he chose me? I wonder why? I thought.
“Okay...” I said.
He paused for a long time. Finally, he said, “I am a huge Star Trek fan!”
We spent the rest of lunch talking about how cool the Borg were.
[There are also] people who loved Star Trek so much, it led to a life in science and technology: people like Caltech researcher Angelle Tanner, who pointed out earlier this year that her Space Interferometry Mission PlanetQuest will scan the star system 40 Eridani for planets capable of sustaining life, particularly for the planet Vulcan. When I interviewed Dr. Tanner earlier this year, she admitted to writing the press release because the average person has no idea what 40 Eridani is, but everyone's heard of Vulcan.
I'm not crazy about the word "admitted" in there, which I believe was edited in for space. I originally wrote, "When I interviewed Dr. Tanner earlier this year, she told me that she wrote the press release because the average person has no idea what 40 Eridani is, but everyone's heard of Vulcan." I think "admitted," while a good space saver, is a loaded term which implies something to be ashamed of or that was done on the sly. Dr. Tanner wasn't ashamed at all, but was really excited to put science into terms everyone could understand, because just about everyone in the world is familiar with Star Trek.
I sure hope that this column comes off the way I intended, which was to reflect fondly on some of the more memorable people I've encountered, without making fun of them. This was more of a challenge than I thought it would be, because I had to keep the column under 750 words, which is really not easy for a long-winded guy like myself, whose average Geek in Review is about twice that length.
Anyway, check it out, and be sure to vote for your favorite Star Trek series *cough*TNG*cough*.