To Boldly Go…

When I was about 4 or 5, I caught an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series on early morning TV (in the early 90s). I don’t remember what episode it was and there’s a good chance it was one of the sillier ones but a bit like when I picked up the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the first time I was hooked. Star Trek would go on to be a very significant presence in my life but there was one thing I’d never done and never even entertained the thought of doing, going to a convention.

Until now.

On Sunday, I ventured to the NEC in Birmingham to attend ‘Destination Star Trek’. This being my first convention I didn’t really know what to expect, sadly a lack of funds meant that I was unable to purchase a bridge photo shoot or photographs with my favourites but I did buy tickets to hear William Shatner enthuse about the mysteries of the universe and to hear George Takei and Walter Koenig talk about their memories of working with DeForest Kelley. Money definitely well spent, especially in the case of latter. There were several free talks, the highlight for me being the look at the upcoming Roddenberry Vault release (which I have pre-ordered…) but at first I was a bit dismayed about the lack of things to do outside of talks.

There were a few vendors selling various Star Trek themed things but nothing that really stood out and there were only a few costumes and props on display. I don’t know what it’s like at other conventions but it all seemed a bit lacking…then I saw someone dressed in an utterly amazing Luxwana Troi costume (who turned out to be Misty Chance, a UK based drag artist who is utterly fabulous). After psyching myself up (social situations are difficult for me), I started asking the amazing cosplayers if I could take their photos I soon I was having a great amount of fun.

Yes it would have been amazing if there had been a ‘gaming zone’ (particularly as I have a several decks of the Star Trek Customisable Card Game and absolutely no idea how to play) and themed food & drink rather than just the bog standard burgers & beer but after a spectacularly long day (I had to leave my flat at 5am) I came to the conclusion that it was seeing several hundred people coming together to celebrate fifty years of a science fiction series which really made my day.

I look forward to attending more conventions in the future.

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(If you want to see the photos I took, they’re up on my Instagram :))

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Recommended Reading: ‘The Lost World’ by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)

Synopsis: Unlucky in love, but desperate to prove himself in an adventure, journalist Ed Malone is sent to interview the infamous and hot tempered Professor Challenger about his bizarre South American expedition findings – especially his sketches of a strange plateau and the monstrous creatures that appear to live there. But rather than being angry at his questions, Challenger invites him along on his next field trip. Malone is delighted; until it becomes clear that the Professor was telling the truth about the terrible lost world he has discovered.

Review: During the nineteenth century science fiction was known under the much less inspiring name of ‘scientific romance’, and whilst there are stories dating back to the second century that you could put under the sci-fi heading the genre really started with the publication of ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelly in 1818 later to be continued with stories by HG Wells, Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe.

Someone who is often forgotten about because of his contributions to the crime genre is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He tends to get forgotten a lot, his historical fiction (‘Sir Nigel’, ‘The Refugees’, ‘The White Company’ etc…) and his ‘Brigadier Gerard’ short stories, also forgotten is his science fiction story ‘The Lost World’ featuring another classic character in Professor Challenger – a disagreeable pompous scientist with a tendency to throw journalists down stairs.

Other characters include our narrator Edward Malone, who is looking for adventure to prove to the woman he loves (Gladys) that he is the type who takes action, looks for adventure and will have his name remembered. He’s sent to interview the journalist hating Professor Challenger about his mysterious visit to the South American jungle two years previously, after a brief fight Challenger agrees to speak to him and we hear some extraordinary claims.

A deceased American explorer was found to have a notebook that had illustrations of a mysterious unexplored plateau deep in the South American jungle nothing really unusual in itself, except there appears to be a drawing of a dinosaurs in the picture. Challenger went to see for himself and also encountered strange creatures, he personally shot what appeared to be a pterodactyl but lost his specimen in an accident, he’s due to present his findings and challenge the established science at a meeting of the Zoological Society where predictably he’s met with jeers and scorn over his claims.

Lord John Roxton, a celebrated hunter and explorer who knows the Amazon volunteers, along with another scientist called Professor Summerlee, to join Ed Malone in verifying Challenger’s claims and so with directions and a cryptic envelope only to be opened a certain time and date they set out for the Amazon. During preparations for the mission where they recruit several ‘half-breeds’ to help them with their equipment and guide them. Challenger joins them at the appointed time they were supposed to open the envelope and leads them off on what will prove to be the journey of a life time.

What follows is an awesome adventure to a place that evolution forgot about, where dinosaurs are still part of existence and a fearsome tribe of ape-like beings (the ‘missing link’) wage war on a tribe of humans, which our are heroes are unwittingly caught up in, and a journey to find a way home. The action is packed and it’s a juicy romp of a story with great characters and a wonderful land that I would give anything to visit (if nothing for the 10ft guinea-pig!).

This is highly recommended to lovers of science fiction, adventure stories and more importantly fans of dinosaurs.