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Destination Star Trek: Birmingham 2019

Saelanna reports on the annual Star Trek convention.

By Saelanna Thu 07 Nov, 2019 8:26 PM
The 25th, 26th and 27th October 2019 saw the return of Destination Star Trek to the NEC near Birmingham. This was my third time attending this convention but for the first time, I attended for all three days, rather than just the Saturday and Sunday. My travelling companion was my seven-year-old daughter; it was also her third time at DST but unfortunately, we had to leave Rockape behind as he had to work.

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Size:  81.8 KBThe opening ceremony was on Friday evening and the packed Enterprise Stage caught glimpses of most of the guests, but the biggest cheer of the evening was for George Takei. As the only member of the Original Series main crew in attendance this year there was a sense that he was the Star Trek royalty in the room.

Included in our Lieutenant’s package were two paid talks on the Saturday the first one being a panel to discuss the classic movies and featuring George Takei, Robin Curtis (Saavik from Star Trek III onwards) and Stephen Manley (the 17-year-old Spock in Star Trek III who famously undergoes the Pon Farr finger ritual with Saavik). With only Sulu being in all the classic movies the discussion naturally focussed on The Search for Spock and ended with Robin Curtis declaring that, in response to a question regarding whether Saavik was pregnant with Spock’s child after the Pon Farr scene, she had indeed “done” Spock.

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Saturday was mainly about Sir Patrick Stewart as this was the only day that he was scheduled to appear. He wasn’t available for photos or autographs; in fact, he was due to fly to Paris to attend another convention an hour after his presentation finished so it was literally a flying visit to [mostly] promote his new series. It was standing room only in the Enterprise stage as, yet again, the Ferengi seeking to make a profit had sold more tickets than seats (remind me to tell you about the “Batch 9” fiasco for the photoshoot with Kate Mulgrew at DST 2018). He talked about his career and his relationship with Star Trek (and how it all started with a bottle of whisky), but the conversation naturally gravitated towards the hotly anticipated new series that’s due to hit Amazon Prime in late January 2020. Interestingly Sir Patrick was quite candid in stating he hoped all the Next Generation crew would eventually reprise their roles in Star Trek: Picard. There was also an exhibit devoted to Picard which included lots of memorabilia from the Next Generation series and movies and I’ve included a picture of the new Starfleet uniforms from Star Trek: Picard – a world-first for the convention as they hadn’t been seen outside the studio before coming to DST. I wouldn’t be at all surprised when it appears as paid content in Star Trek Online at some point in 2020 (I’ll buy it as it looks really good!).

Next up on Saturday was a talk titled “Strength of Character” with Levar Burton and Denise Crosby joining the host on stage. Both actors spoke about their respective characters' strengths and responded to questions from the floor. Denise became quite emotional when talking how her character had demonstrated that women could be both strong and feminine; the sight of Levar comforting her as she shed a few tears was very touching and demonstrated just how friendships have been forged thanks to their involvement with the Star Trek universe. Interestingly when the question of reprising their roles in Star Trek: Picard was raised Denise was an immediate “YES” (as Sela) whereas Levar was a flat “NO”; make of that what you will.

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Size:  104.4 KBSunday was the day I had my one photoshoot of the weekend, with George Takei. He is such a wonderful person, very patient with my daughter who didn’t want her photograph taken and just stood to one side. Ever since meeting Robert O’Reilly (in costume) at DST Birmingham 2016 – she was just four at the time – my daughter has loved all things Klingon and she declared that she wanted to meet another one. Sadly, too late for the in-costume photoshoot, she elected for a picture with J.G. Hertzler. He was an absolute sweetheart and I think quite taken with his [possibly] smallest fan of the weekend.

Our first paid talk of the Sunday was “Discovering Spock” with Ethan Peck. Descended from Hollywood royalty as the grandson of legendary actor Gregory Peck, he spoke of the enormous pressure he felt when taking on what is possibly one of the most iconic roles in science fiction television history. He was an utterly charming speaker answering the questions posed by the audience with humour and grace, despite suffering from a cold (which seems to have affected several of the guest stars present). I think quite a few of the women (and some of the men) in the audience would have been happy to rub his chest for him!

The most memorable paid talk of the weekend was “Oh My!” with the legend that is George Takei. He is a remarkable man who has seen and done so much with his life both within and without the Star Trek universe. He moved much of the audience to tears with the harrowing account of the morning that he (aged five) along with his four-year-old brother, baby sister and their parents, were all escorted at gunpoint from their home following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. He spoke about how his involvement with Star Trek had empowered him to become an activist for many causes most notably as an advocate for equal rights for the LGBT and minority communities. A truly remarkable human being!

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Size:  112.3 KBThe convention closed with an announcement that Destination Star Trek will continuing as an annual event and will be returning to the ExCel in London for the 13th/14th/15th November 2020. This has met with a mixed response from the convention-attending community. On one hand people prefer the central location and cheaper accommodation available in and around Birmingham. On the other hand, London is easier for many people to get to just for the day. Guests already announced include Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan and Roxann Dawson; as next year sees the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager I expect we’ll see a few more actors from that series being announced over the coming year. Will I go? Yes, it is more than likely that I will. Would I go for the whole weekend? Probably not; I live within an hour from London [on the train] so will probably attend the convention on the Saturday and not pay out for a hotel in London. I certainly wouldn’t pay out for a package again; I much preferred previous years when I bought an entry ticket and then chose what I wanted to do and when. There were lots of other things to do and see at the convention but a lot of the other talks I was interested in clashed with the activities included in my lieutenant package. I missed all of the STO talks because they all clashed with the paid talks I was due to attend (I did manage to send greetings from the UFP to Ambassador Kael); I don’t want to be tied into a specific timetable next time because I felt that I missed out on a lot this time round.

In closing, if you love seeing the stars of this beloved franchise and meeting other like-minded individuals then attending a Star Trek convention is a great thing to do. I have met and made lifelong friends at past conventions who I only see at these events. There were a couple of exhibits to have a look around including the above-mentioned Picard Museum and a stand manned by the European Space Agency (ESA). In addition to all this, there were the obligatory merchandise stands that entice you to part with more of your hard-earned cash. As always there was a lot of empty space in the hall which could have been put to better use; on the quieter days it felt very empty. There were the usual problems of nowhere to sit down for a rest, over-selling tickets for activities and woefully inadequate queue management which plague DST every year; but despite all that I can’t wait until next time!

What did you think of this article? Are you planning on attending a Destination Star Trek in the future? Let us know by commenting below!

WRITTEN BY Saelanna -
EDITED BY Infinity

Thu 07 Nov, 2019 9:00 PM
Fantastic read, I’ll have to go to one of these conventions at some point - maybe next year for the 25th anniversary. It’s also great to hear Sir Stewart wants to see the TNG cast reprise their roles and hopefully that will happen!
Thu 07 Nov, 2019 9:02 PM
Enjoyed reading the article, it sounded like you had a lot of fun!
Fri 08 Nov, 2019 4:33 PM
Nice, well done.
Fri 31 Jan, 2020 5:45 PM
As big of a Trek fan as I am, I have never been to a convention. This was a nice breakdown of how the events work and gave a good feel to how these operate. Very well written.