When I arrived at the Metro Convention Centre on Friday afternoon for my first-ever science fiction convention, it was a bit overwhelming. There were tons of people (many in costume) and lines everywhere. I wondered to myself, “Am I as much of a sci-fi fan as these Wookie-fur-wearing, Klingon-speaking folks?” As I overheard conversations in line, people really proved the stereotype by firing off non-stop opinions about every show and every character from every episode. I guess this was where I would test my mettle as a fan.
The annual Canadian National Expo, as it’s officially called, is a sci-fi convention, an anime convention, a comic book convention, a horror convention, and a gaming convention rolled into one “perfect storm” of a geek event. Despite the many things going on, my plan was simply to attend “Intimate and Interactive” sessions with some of my favourite sci-fi stars. Hot off the 45-minute wait to get my convention pass, my first guest was Adam Baldwin (Jayne of Firefly/Serenity). I rushed over to a line-up that was already really long, but I was one of the last to get into the undersized room and was left to squeeze in on the floor. Like all the other guests that I would see over the weekend, Adam (all geeks call celebs by their first names as if we are totally in-the-know and chummy with them) was humourous and friendly, and appreciative of fan support. [Another tip for first time convention-goers is that you have to know your cast names by heart. The guests never use last names either (since they are actually chummy with fellow cast members) and it’s up to you to know which Patrick, Brent, Nathan or Scott they’re talking about.] It was a fun hour and as I uncurled my legs to get up and leave, I really started to feel the fatigue that lining up and sitting can cause. So, to my eternal regret, I skipped the other session that I planned for Friday (Tim Russ, a.k.a. Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager) and called it an early night.
All hail Empress Sato!
Next morning, bright and early (10ish) I headed back, all ready to get into the lotus position to sit at the feet of Linda Park (Ensign Hoshi Sato of Star Trek: Enterprise). Arriving at Theatre 1, I was urprised that there were no people around the front lining up. Maybe Hoshi was not as popular as Jean-Luc or Ryker? Luckily I noticed the line snaking all the way around the corner behind the theatre, but we were all able to get good seats. The highlight of that hour was when two of the fans went up to give her roses and opened their replica Enterprise jumpsuits to reveal t-shirts with the slogan “All Hail Empress Sato”, a tribute to a fan-favourite episode where an alternate-universe version of her character took over the Federation and made herself empress.
Saturday afternoon was spent without any lineups because I went to see a screening of an old gem: Rock N’ Rule (if you know that one, I tip my hat to your geekdom), which is a Canadian animated film from 1983 where the power of love saves a girl and the world from a demon summoned by her perfect voice and a Mick-Jagger-esque villain named Mok). The screening room (or “screaming room” as it was renamed as part of the Horror Con) was virtually empty, but I was happy to be reacquainted with a long lost fave (and was able to pick up the newly-remastered DVD – yay! – upstairs in the exhibition hall).
Deanna Troi can be sassy too!
Finally, Sunday was sessions with Margot Kidder and Erica Durance (two Lois Lanes) and the capper was an hour with Marina Sirtis (Counsellor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation). If you know her character, you might expect her to be a bit tightly-wound, but on the contrary, she was very funny and sassy (she mildly cussed-out the security guard when he shut the door, depriving the huge lineup of people who couldn’t get in and even asked everyone video-taping to turn off their cameras so she could dish and speak her mind without fear of it biting her in the end). She regaled us with anecdotes about other actors on the show; her reactions when her character ineptly crashed the Enterprise in the first movie; and when she refused to allow a director to film her from below on account of her slightly long nose. Since I’ve always loved Troi, it was great to see another side to Marina.
Conventions like these are all about fan devotion. People (not me) lined up for hours for autographs with the celebs. There were costumes aplenty and I especially wish I knew all the anime characters because those fans had the best costumes. They devotedly dragged suitcases around to carry them in; and I even spotted a crowd of anime kids in the corner between sessions, watching a movie on someone’s laptop computer. For me, the energy was undeniable, infectious and lingering: similar to what you might find in a concert arena or (I would imagine) a sports stadium. I know this for a fact because despite being in sore need of a nap, when I got home the first thing I wanted to do was watch a few more episodes of Battlestar Galactica. All hail sci-fi! Geeks rule!