Today we were saddened to hear of the passing of Nichelle Nichols, a.k.a. Lieutenant Nyota Uhura from Star Trek, life-changing inspiration and role model of millions. Millions of actors, creators, celebrities, fans, and news sites are online to explain who she is or what she meant to so, so many. For me as a youngster who caught the OG Enterprise crew in reruns, she was an integral part of a stellar interstellar ensemble who showed us, despite innumerable obstacles in their path, that theirs was a potential future for humankind, in which everyone works, lives, and succeeds side-by-side in forging new paths together.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Thanksgiving weekend my wife and I attended the nineteenth Starbase Indy, a homegrown, fan-run convention that’s more intimate than your Wizard Worlds and more stable than your out-of-town, fly-by-night upstarts.
Part One was the costumes; in Part 2, the actors and special guests. A few even dressed up for the occasion.
On this weekend in 1988, the inaugural Starbase Indy introduced Indianapolis to the amazing world of Star Trek conventions, though it later expanded its dominion into other sci-fi TV shows. Setting aside several years skipped during turbulent times, SBI is one of the most persistent fan-run geek conventions in Indianapolis. It’s a fraction the size of Gen Con, Wizard World, and our other regular cons, but we’ve attended SBI more times than we have any other con. The smaller scale allows for shorter lines and less suffocating crowds, while still attracting talented guests from shows and works we know rather well (and some we don’t). For local geeks such as my wife and myself, it’s a regular highlight of our average Thanksgiving weekend, more fun and with far fewer confirmed fatalities than Black Friday.
2014 marks SBI’s nineteenth iteration, and a more diversified guest list not only from Star Trek, but also from the worlds of Stargate and Battlestar Galactica. Before we cover the guest list, though: mandatory costume photos!
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: photos and notes from this year’s Starbase Indy, an annual Indianapolis sci-fi convention my wife and I rather enjoy. Last time we showed you the costumes: this time, the guests.
The headliners: two main cast members from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. At far left: Armin Shimerman, who played Quark, the devious Ferengi bartender. At far right: Rene Auberjonois, who played Odo, Changeling security head. If your TV experiences resemble mine, you’ll also know them as Principal Snyder from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Clayton Endicott III from the old sitcom Benson.
On this weekend in 1988, the inaugural Starbase Indy introduced Indianapolis to the amazing world of Star Trek conventions. Though it later expanded its purview to include other sci-fi TV shows, and was in limbo for a few years during a dark era (long story), its current owners and staffers have spent the last ten years valiantly returning to its glory days and rebalancing the original confluence of actor appearances, hobbyist events, and fan participation/interaction. For local geeks such as my wife and myself, it’s a regular highlight of our average Thanksgiving weekend, more fun and with far fewer confirmed fatalities than Black Friday.
2013 marks SBI’s eighteenth iteration and its twenty-fifth anniversary (for the asynchronous discrepancy I again point you to “long story”), but shows no signs of deterioration. If anything, this was the most efficient SBI yet — speedy photo op lines, gregarious guests all happy to be here, multiple events requiring more room space than usual, wider snack selection in the Con Suite. Best of all: two of the headliners were main cast members from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the greatest Trek series of all time in our household.
Naturally there were also costumes. Apropos of our ongoing TV marathon (as previously mentioned), we had to mark the occasion by meeting a Doctor.
Let’s face it: costumes are the real reason to attend a sci-fi convention. Celebrities are okay. Talented writers and artists are nice to meet if they’re not terrible people. Panels, Q&As, and fan club meetings are great opportunities for great minds to hang out together. There’s also something to be said for wandering the dealers’ room for new hobbyist purchases, whether new items you’ve never seen or vintage collectibles you could never afford. My wife and I even attended an interesting lecture on nineteenth-century forensics, which drew comparisons between the original Sherlock Holmes stories and later historical developments in the field.
When it comes to Internet recaps, though, costumes are the main attraction. They celebrate our favorite characters, they showcase the creativity and inspiration of dedicated fans, they enliven the dullest moments of any convention, and they help distract us from garish hotel carpeting.
Among the best of this year’s bunch: a pink samurai, hanging out for a moment here with one of Indianapolis’ own Naptown Roller Girls.
Despite the focus of Part One on Klingons extraordinaire Robert O’Reilly and J. G. Hertzler, they weren’t the only unforgettable personalities appearing at this year’s Starbase Indy convention. For Trek fans who’d attended previous cons (and therefore already had the chance to meet each Klingon warrior), the headliner would be Nicole DeBoer, making her first Indianapolis appearance. She’s known to us as Ezri Dax, a season-seven regular from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who had big shoes to fill when Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax exited the series.
As if Black Friday weren’t busy enough, my wife and I attended the seventeenth iteration of Starbase Indy on Friday and Saturday. This fan-run Star Trek convention is a longtime Thanksgiving weekend event that she and I have done several times (see previous entry). The convention cordially welcomes actors and fans from other shows and universes as well, but Trek still commands center stage.
Two of this year’s guests approached their Saturday Q&A with an unusual flourish. Fans of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine will remember Robert O’Reilly as Chancellor Gowron, ruler of the Klingon Empire and frenemy of Worf. Don’t let his now-genial features fool you. Once upon a time, Gowron’s gaze was penetrating and frightening. Today his voice is no less stentorian.
J. G. Hertzler was DS9’s General Martok, a longtime ally of Worf, key player in the Dominion War, and successor to Gowron upon his death at Worf’s hands. As with O’Reilly, Hertzler could still be heard at the back of an auditorium even when his microphone malfunctioned.
O’Reilly and Hertzler shared a Q&A on Saturday in style. With the remarkable assistance of makeup artist John Paladin, the dastardly duo spent a few hours donning familiar faces and uniforms that the fans haven’t seen in a very long time.
On and off over the past two decades, Starbase Indy has served proudly and admirably as one of the longest-lived geek-culture gatherings in Indianapolis. Originally a purebred Star Trek convention by design and preference, its scope has broadened over time as organizers and attendees proved amenable to the presence of more than one fictional universe in their midst. Granted, it’s no coincidence that the festivities have grown more inclusive as Paramount Pictures withdrew Trek from prime-time television and lamented the decreasing aesthetic returns from the latter-day movies. The JJ Abrams reformatting certainly didn’t hurt the cause, but SBI today is a smaller, tighter gathering than its earliest incarnations — now run locally and purely For-Fans-By-Fans, not by out-of-town sideshow promoters who fancy themselves the next Gareb Shamus.
My wife and I have attended more than a few SBIs. We took a break for several years during a long, unpretty transitional period, but made our tentative return in 2010 when a few encouraging signs enticed us back. We enjoyed ourselves so much that year, we were happy to attend in 2011 as well. This selection of highlights from our last two SBI experiences is by no means the complete collection of every photo we took, nor does it represent all the SBIs we’ve ever attended. Our souvenirs date back far enough that many were created using the ancient medium that primitive man once called “35mm film”.
Special guests included Ethan Phillips, best known to Trek fans as Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager, also known to even older TV viewers who can remember as far back as Benson.