First Look at Farpoint

Written By: Randy Hall

Published: Issue 27


It's always a bit sad to come home after a weekend fan-run convention. After spending a few days with an assortment of Klingons, actors, and fellow sci-fi fans, paying the gas bill and getting calls from telemarketers just aren't very exciting. Still, it was fun while it lasted...


For those who've never been to cons in Maryland, Farpoint is the "sister convention" (for lack of a better term) of Shore Leave, both of which are held at the Hunt Valley Marriott north of Baltimore. While Shore Leave is held in the summer (late June/early July), Farpoint is always a harbinger of cooler weather in the fall.


Among the many guests this past weekend were most of the members of Deep Space Nine's "Ferengi family," astronaut Ed Mitchell and Victor Lundin, who played one of the first Klingons ever seen on Star Trek. Included in this mix were a number of folks who've written many Trek novels and comics, such as Michael Jan Friedman, Peter David, Bob Greenberger, and Tim DeHaas.


And there were panels aplenty, ranging in subject matter from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda (a new syndicated series starring Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame) to The X-Files. I and several other members of the U.S.S. Chesapeake Star Trek and science-fiction club moderated many of these discussions, and we had a ball, as usual.


Two things I was involved in over the three-day extravaganza were directly relevant to the Bring Back Kirk movement: a panel I hosted called Bring Back Classic Trek and distribution of the new BBK flyer, which I'll discuss briefly first.


As always, I took about 50 copies of the flyer to put on the "fan tables," and they were all picked up by the end of the con. For those of you who haven't checked out the new design, let me highly recommend that you do. Our previous version had text and graphics on both sides of the page and had to be folded in half to be read in the proper order. While this made it stand out from most other fan flyers (which usually have material on only one side and aren't folded), it cost twice as many quatloos to copy two sides. Also, being folded in half meant that our smaller handout sometimes got lost among the full-page materials that fill most fans' bags of goodies.


Happily, these concerns have been addressed in the new version, which has copy on only one side and uses a full-page format, all without sacrificing any information that's relevant and useful to people interested in bringing back Kirk. It looks great, folks! Don't be afraid to download it and pass it around at every opportunity!


I made sure I had some copies of the flyer to hand out at the end of the Bring Back Classic Trek panel, which dealt with both the Excelsior and BBK efforts. As a certain Vulcan would say, the discussion was ... fascinating. As usual, we drew a group of people who were "more seasoned" than the average fan, and some were concerned that many younger fans who don't have cable TV never get the chance to watch Classic Trek on the Sci-Fi Channel. The only solution I could come up with was for those of us with more years as fans under our belts (and maybe a few more pounds there, too) to share tapes or DVDs of original episodes with our younger counterparts so they can see the Trek that led to the national phenomenon many people now take for granted.


The discussion also got interesting when we talked about William Shatner. Not surprisingly, some folks made the usual gags about Shatner's "toop" and waistline, but when I pressed them as to whether or not they'd support a project that undid Kirk's poor death in Generations, they were as eager to see James T. back in action as the rest of us! And we all agreed that the best way to commemorate Trek's 35th anniversary next year was to return Kirk and Spock to the Star Trek spotlight. (Some even wondered aloud if anything other than that could really be as successful.)


One woman had an interesting observation on "Shatner bashing." As his other appearances (like those on 3rd Rock from the Sun and the Priceline commercials) demonstrate, the general public still considers Shatner a big draw. However, she said, Trek fans who've bought into the myths about his ego and "over-acting" view him as a crusty uncle, someone the "family" can make fun of, but no one else. As a result, a Trek movie with Shatner in it might very well be able to draw in people from outside fandom, and isn't that what Paramount execs always say they're trying to accomplish with Star Trek films?


When our time was up, several people in attendance told me they'd enjoyed our chat, and most took BBK (and Excelsior) flyers with them after telling me that they, too, wanted to bring back Classic Trek.


As you might expect, lots of other nifty stuff happened at Farpoint, and we'll take a look at those things from a BBK perspective next week.


Convention Calendar

Since I don't see any cons featuring Classic Trek guests for the next couple of weeks, I thought I'd let everyone know that the first weekend in September 2001, Star Trek's 35th anniversary, might be the busiest in the franchise's history! While at Farpoint, I learned that both Slanted Fedora and Creation are planning big events for that same weekend, and this is almost a year before these cons will take place! Who knows what other cons might be slated for that same time? There'll be more information, hopefully including where William Shatner will be celebrating that milestone, as it becomes available.