A few year's ago, between million-dollar divorces, squabbles with Scotty and releasing songs with titles like "How to Handle a Woman", William Shatner, the satin-smooth captain of the Starship Enterprise, managed to make the headlines for shouting at a fan to "get a life", and telling the eager autograph-hunter that Star Trek was "only a show". How wrong he was. Haven't years of intergalactic travel in shiny stretch polyester taught him anything? Doesn't he know by now that Star Trek is a multi-media industry of films, series and products that can swallow whole lifetimes if you're not careful?
The existence of this strange life-form totally disproves Shatner's theory. Their existence is defined by Star Trek, and they like to collect Trek- O-Bilia, watch videos and exchange plot minutiae with each other on the Net. People who recognise themselves from that description (and novices who just fancy a laugh) can pop down to Wembley today and gorge themselves on The Next Generation, seeing clips and garnering essential merchandise just in time for next week's new Trek release, First Contact. Exhibits include laser displays, giant video screens and stalls manned by expert dealers in interplanetary objets d'art.
Rather confusingly, it is Red Dwarf's Craig Charles who will compere the day's star appearances, but the list still reads like a roll call straight from the Captain's Log:
Marina Sirtis, aka Counsellor Deanna Troi, will be on stage to dish the gossip, along with Michael Dorn's Worf, an ugly but upright kinda guy, and the only Klingon in Starfleet. Bing Crosby's grand-daughter, Denise, aka Lt Tasha Yar, will be there, rubbing shoulderpads with Lt Barclay, played by Dwight Schultz, who, despite frequent appearances on Star Trek, is still perhaps better known as crazy "Murdoch" for The A-Team.
BEHIND THE SCENES
From the angle of production, the most interesting guest of all is Brannon Braga, one of the producers and writers of the new movie, and a man with some stories to tell about Star Trek: Voyager. Described by the organisers as a "very animated speaker with a very risque sense of humour", Braga will be giving an overview of the series.
MUSIC TO SPOCK EARS
To ease the flow of excited Trekkies around the hall, Neil Norman and his Comic Orchestra will be performing "Science Fiction's Greatest Hits", clad in the official uniforms of the classic sci-fi feature, The Forbidden Planet.
Which goes to show, Mr Shatner, that old sci-fiction doesn't die, it just boldly goes to the big convention centre in the sky.