The hot rumor at this weekend's Salt Lake Star Trek Convention is that movies V and VI are coming.
"It'll be Geriatric Trek, at this rate," sighed Lynnette Knox, when she heard the news Saturday. But the Provo mother, first officer of USS Alioth, Utah's chapter of the International Star Trek club, is ever loyal to the aging characters Captain James Kirk and Mr. Spock and Doctor "Bones" McCoy that she claims are part of Americana. "We'll still love them."No quantifiable evidence exists to prove that an obsession for things Star Trek is genetic. But most Trekkers would agree that exposure runs through families, and Knox's children appear to follow the trend. Her son was seen Saturday sporting plastic pointed Spock ears.
Knox was outfitted in a red-and-black Star Trek crew uniform that she figures cost about $100 to assemble. She's been to nearly a dozen of these conventions, and travels with a group of friends to one major national gathering each year. She's met all of the original show's major stars, so she wasn't rushing to get the autographs of Spock's dad, played by actor Mark Lenard, or Nurse Chapel, played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, both of whom were on hand in Salt Lake City Saturday.
Science fiction continues to be big business. This weekend alone there were three other Star Trek conventions held across the country, not counting the gathering at the Salt Lake Airport Hilton.
Some 500 people shelled out $12 to $15 a ticket to spend Saturday watching sci-fi slide shows and upcoming film clips, stumping other buffs with obscure trivia and loitering at dealer tables.
"The young men love the alien thing," said merchandise hawker Stephen Walker, pointing to an $11 black t-shirt with florescent pictures of grotesque alien creatures. More mature fans, however, spend their pocket cash on futuristic-flavored electronic toys, like a $200 die-cast phaser gun. Some of the women customers lean heavily into the romantic fantasy of shows like "Beauty and the Beast," snatching up memorabilia like a full-length poster of Victor. The most popular futuristic television shows have spawned "fanzines," which are publications ranging in price from $2 to $20. Written by the fans, the magazines include possible storylines, poems and character sketches.
Volumes, including doctoral dissertations, have been written about the cult following of the original 1966 Star Trek show, which spawned a new popular syndicated series, as well as four fan-beloved, but critically panned movies. While the addiction to a television show that first aired more than 20 years ago might not be news anymore, it's still incomprehensible to those who don't share the fascination.
"There is nothing else more important than seeing the show," said Carol Lund, describing her 14-year-old daughter, Stacey's, devotion to the new TV series. "These people are crazy."
In fact, Stacey dragged her mother to the convention, but made her promise they would leave in time to see this week's episode, which airs at 6 p.m.