CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Anybody who doesn't think this is the cutest little news story of the day must be a Klingon.
The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming is holding a "Name the Tribble" contest. The idea is to promote American Archives Month and show people that archives aren't just repositories of musty old documents — they can be home to cool stuff, too.
Such as a tribble, a small creature from the Star Trek television series. The American Heritage Center houses items donated by several celebrities including the late Forrest J. Ackerman, a science fiction publisher credited with inventing the term "sci-fi."
Ackerman had no ties to Wyoming but years ago donated many boxes of manuscripts, photographs, movie stills, correspondence, books, movie posters and artifacts including a tribble from the Star Trek set.
"A tribble is a little furball-type thing. It looks like a hairy softball that is very soft and cushy," said Lander journalist Ernie Over, who was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's personal assistant from 1985 to 1990.
Tribbles have no arms, legs, heads or even eyes. The idea was to mass-produce them as simply as possible, Over said.
In the famous 1967 Star Trek episode that first featured tribbles, the prolific creatures multiplied and overran the Enterprise until Montgomery "Scotty" Scott beamed them onto a Klingon ship.
Ha-ha: Klingons despise tribbles. And tribbles hiss when they encounter Star Trek's best-known bad guys.
Tribbles are sought-after Star Trek souvenirs nowadays. Archivist and Trekkie Keith Reynolds said he couldn't resist running around with the furball when he found it in the Ackerman collection.
"The people who had no idea what it was, they were completely grossed out. They thought it was a toupee," he said. "Or some dead animal."
He said the tribble isn't much to look at, just a tuft of fake fur.
A good tribble name should sum up "tribble-esque qualities," said his co-worker, Rachael Dreyer, organizer of the naming contest.
The deadline for entries is Oct. 22.
Contact Mead Gruver at http://twitter.com.meadgruver