I first found out about Trekology back in April 2013. Some of the Trek Mate family were talking about the event, what they were hoping for and that some would be attending. Of those attending was Laura Fawcett, who I became acquainted with after Destination Star Trek London, we soon became friends and something remarkable happened. I had not planned to go to Trekology but Laura had not only booked a ticket but she also entered a competition to win a ticket for the event. Laura actually won the competition and offered me the ticket. I can remember my shock at the time when the ticket was offered to me. I will always be grateful to Laura for offering me the ticket since I would go on to have a great weekend.
Soon enough Bunny Summers and Matt Warwick were attending the event as well. I would be sharing with Matt (a special thanks to Matt for that) and Bunny would be sharing with Laura. While we all knew each other I had not spent much time with Laura (although we did meet previously at Collectormania) and Matt. I was looking forward to getting to know them and of course catching up with Bunny.
Trekology is a UK based dedicated Star Trek convention. Although it is small in comparison to other events Trekology endeavours to bring the best of both worlds with fun, interactive activities as well as star guests from the Star Trek universe.
The event was run by the crew of the USS Fortitude. The ship / group was founded in 2011 and within the first two years they have run over four successful Star Trek events including “Dawn of the Federation” and this was the third Trekology event. The “face” of the Fortitude is the well known CBS “Trekologist” Raules Davies but the rest of the crew are a dedicated group of Trek fans.
Trekology was being held at the Trafford Hall Hotel in Manchester. This was the third and final time the event would be held at this location. Trekology also supports the charity Help the Heroes with all monies being raised going to support our brave troops. This year the show would have two guests attending; Chase Masterson (Leeta from Star Trek DS9) and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim from Star Trek Voyager).
My journey began on the Friday. Travelling by coach to Manchester allowed me to ponder what my expectations were going to be for the event. My event experiences so far had only been DSTL, Collectormania and LFCC so this was going to be a new type of event for me. I really didn’t know what to expect. After DSTL I did not expect much guest interaction, I thought the guests would appear when needed and then we would not see them until their next scheduled appearance. I was hoping to meet more like minded fans; I was hoping to see some wonderful costumes and to get to meet some new friends. I expected some activities and talks but was not sure what they would be.
Finally arriving in Manchester I spent some time with Bunny running around comic shops trying to find the X-Files comics and Batman / Superman number one. Imagine two people with their cases behind them trying not to knock anyone over while still trying to break the sound barrier. Already I could tell it was going to be a fun weekend. Soon we met up with Laura and after some much excitement of our tram journey where we looked liked a group of tourists we arrived at the hotel. We were met at the front door by Matt. Greetings over we decided to get something to eat, something to drink and to plan the weekend.
At this point I should say that if Matt ever volunteers to direct you somewhere using his phone you should politely decline, walk away, look to the sky and direct yourself! We had some fun trying to find the local Tesco to use the cash point. As always it was right under our noses but this gave us some nice bonding time and exercise.
The evening was spent admiring Bunny and Laura’s room. While Matt and I had a standard twin the ladies had three beds, a sofa and a much bigger window than us. Totally unfair! At this point it was decided that this would be base camp. We would record any video blogs here (quite ironic since the only blog we did in a room was filmed in our room) and any other things that needed to be done. It was a nice evening since we had a few laughs, played with the Dictaphone (some recordings should never be heard) and had a few drinks (mostly me to be honest).
Saturday morning began with registration. We had a nice goody bag with a wrist band, a badge (or pin for our American friends) and some other bits. This was our first chance to take a look around the event, to see what would be happening and to see if we were in for a treat. To get a better look of the event I suggest you check out our video blog where Laura and I give a tour highlighting all the things to do.
We had about half an hour before the opening ceremony so that gave me a chance to finally sit in the “big chair”. When the Star Trek experience came to Hyde Park in 2002 there was an exact duplicate of the Enterprise D’s bridge but we could not sit in the chair. You could not imagine how annoyed I was! Some eleven years later I sat in the chair, relaxed and felt right at home. The chair actually belonged to a member of the Fortitude and he uses the chair at home in his front room. He allowed Trekology to use the chair over the weekend. What was a really good idea was that if you wanted you picture taken in the chair you were asked to donate a pound to Help the Heroes.
We wandered around the hotel, which was divided into zones. We had Ten Forward where the main talks would be heard, we had the museum where Kirk’s chair would be as well as some models, props from some of the Trek films and where autographs sessions would take place. We had the armoury which had a great display of various weapons, scanners, pads etc. There were also a wide range of uniforms on display; these were from all the various versions of Star Trek from over the years.
The opening ceremony began with Raules welcoming us to the event and then introducing Chase and Garrett. They were really relaxed, took some pictures of us while Raules spoke about what was happening over the weekend. Then both Chase and Garrett spoke briefly. Chase spoke about how great it was to see everyone while Garrett spoke about his first convention in the UK where he was convinced there was a ghost at the hotel. You could tell straight away that this was going to be something different, that Chase and Garrett were going to immerse themselves into the event and to those attending.
After the opening ceremony we had some time to wander round the event. We had our own map of the event which was in the middle of the programme. Again this was a well produced programme with a breakdown of the two days and what we could expect. Now for those that listen to me on Ten Forward or the Holodeck you will know how often I mention how I have always wanted to sit in Picard’s chair so no prizes for guessing where I went first!
Over the weekend I lost count how many times I sat in that chair but I can honestly say that each and every time I did I had the biggest grin on my face. The only thing that could have made that experience more enjoyable is if I had been wearing a uniform.
The first talk would be an Academy Lecture from Will Ross who is a member of the Fortitude crew. Will was discussing star ships, warp propulsion etc. Now I have to say that I enjoy a good talk about starships but you do have to have a really keen interest in the subject. Half way through the talk however, Laura came running over to tell us that we had secured an interview with Garrett Wang!
The interview would be held in the vendor’s room upstairs. There was some wonderful merchandise on display and would be a nice place to interview Garrett. Bunny had met Garret before but for the rest of us this would be our first meeting with the actor. What a wonderful chap! Garrett put us at ease very quickly; he was very open towards our questions and wanted to interact with us as much as possible. Again if you want to listen to the full interview jump over to Trek Mate but we did discuss our accents, where we came from, the difficulties working in Hollywood, attending smaller events like Trekology compared to larger conventions, what Garret took away from Voyager and his friendship with Robbie Duncan McNeill. We were given about thirty minutes to interview Garrett and the time flew by. We had so much fun recording, Garrett really is a nice guy and does the perfect George Takei and Kate Mulgrew impressions.
Within minutes of ending our interview with Garret we were running downstairs to get our seats for Garrett’s talk. As you can imagine there was a full house for this, we managed to squeeze our way through to the front and sat on some tables. Garrett knows how to work a convention crowd, he spoke about his first convention, his friendship with the rest of the Voyager cast including the “boys club”, to questions from the floor and I was able to pose a question about Star Trek Into Darkness. Now Garrett’s views on the film may not please everyone but he made some valid points, he was constructive about his points. This really was a fun, insightful and interesting talk, I couldn’t imagine anyone listening and not taking something away from it.
Next up was the quiz. Matt was really excited about taking part in the quiz so we all jumped in! As Worf would say “Death to the opposition”. We didn’t win but it was fun with some really hard questions, we thought we knew Trek! The knowledge the room was astounding.
In between the quiz, the talks we were able to speak to some of those attending the event. We were asking about their time at Trekology, have they been before, what did they expect etc. It was really nice to talk to everyone, to gauge their interest in the event. Everything was positive. Matt and Bunny took some really great pictures over the weekend.
After sitting in Picard’s chair I thought I had peaked but then I decided to sit in Kirk’s chair! Oh my word, that is an amazing chair. It felt so good sitting in that chair, the level of detail was amazing and from the pictures you could see the red bridge rail around the chair. I think I was more fascinated with the rail than the chair. I think from my point of view after seeing so many hours of Star Trek to be actually able to sit down where some of my favourite characters have sat really was incredible. The guys were really great indulging me with my “geeky” moments; I think some of my reactions must have been priceless.
After the opening ceremony, Garrett’s interview and talk we were already using the word “intimate” to describe the event. We all agreed early on that this was going to be a very special weekend and not only from us but from most of those attending there really was a feel good factor around the hotel.
Chases talk would be just as “intimate” but for me very emotive. While we had the normal Star Trek questions around Leeta, DS9; Chase told us some really interesting stories about her first days on set, meeting Avery Brooks and working with such a wonderful cast of actors. Chase also told us about her work with “Big Finish” audio and Doctor Who. Chase has been lucky enough to work with the likes of Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy and now has her own series of audio stories as Vienna, a bounty hunter.
I was lucky enough to ask Chase a question. I asked Chase about her work on the Anti Bullying Coalition. Chase told us how the coalition came about, her own experiences being bullied and the wonderful work they are doing not only to prevent bullying but to support those who have been bullied. For those who know me you will be aware that I was bullied as a child, some things you never forget and as Chase was talking I could not help but look back at my own experiences and wished that I had something like the Coalition when growing up. I could feel myself welling up during the talk but managed to hold it together. I really like Chase but after the talk my respect and admiration for her grew and I knew that I wanted to help spread the word.
The evening began with Misty Chance; a drag artist who we all first met at Star Trek London. Misty wears some amazing Star Trek costumes including Seven of Nine’s. Misty wowed us with her act; it was hilarious and knows how to work a crowd. The audience really enjoyed the show and to end the act Misty was joined by Chase who sang together. Chase then went on to sing a few numbers and these were brilliant, Chase is a wonderful singer and we were all captivated by her. I know Laura was moved and had a wonderful hug from Chase.
We were lucky enough to spend some time with Chase straight after her set. Chase actually remembered Trek Mate from a previous event and we spoke about her work with the Anti Bullying Coalition and Trekology. Chase was looking forward to our interview the next day with her. While we were talking the disco was in full swing, then to my shock (but not to my surprise) “Star Trekkin” came on and the place went wild! Now before that evening I did not know there was actually a dance to go with the song and if you could have seen my face when it started you would have been in stitches. Chase then took to the floor, grabbed Bunny, Laura and I (Matt was wise & stood well away) and off we went. What a crazy dance, we then also danced to Doctor Who Joe 90 and many more. Everyone was having great fun, I have to say this was most probably the best evening I had had in months. Sharing the evening with Matt, Laura and Bunny was very special and won’t be forgotten.
Garrett too was at the event, he partied well into the night. He performed with some glow sticks to everyone’s delight. Again this just highlighted how much fun Trekology was, how the actors could relax too and get to mingle amongst the guests. It really was a special evening.
Now I would be in remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderful both Bunny and Laura looked on the Saturday night. Bunny was wearing her Trill dress along with some very accurate spots and Laura was in a Starfleet uniform top / skirt. Matt and I felt underdressed all evening.
Sunday was a much slower day for us. The event itself was pretty much laid out the same as the Saturday. Garrett and Chase’s talks were at different times but that was it. We spent the morning interviewing some of the attendees and those from the U.S.S Fortitude who had made the event possible. We were also able to speak to Raules Davies who was the brains behind the event and of course the CBS Trekologist. We recorded a tour around the event which was a lot of fun. I am not normally comfortable in front of the screen due to a lack of confidence but once I started it went quite smoothly.
We attended Chase’s second talk in the morning. Chase again thrilled us with tales from DS9, about Big Finish and all the other projects Chase is currently involved. It was great that Chase mentioned her talk from the Saturday but most of the content was new which for those who attended the previous day appreciated.
Most of the morning was quite lazy, we did not attend the academy talks or quiz but instead spent time talking to people, discussing the day before. The day was slightly overrunning so Garrett decided to hang with us in the bar. It was quite surreal having Garrett sit with us on the large sofa talking with us like one of the guys (which he is). We also managed to have a picture of the four of us in front of the green screen. We chose as our background the bridge of Voyager and I have to say it’s a really nice picture.
The time to leave was fast approaching. We would have time to see some of Garrett’s second talk but would need to make a discreet (or so we thought) exit. The only downside was that we were not able to find time to record an interview with Chase. Garrett’s talk was again really enjoyable; he was taking about the night before, his experiences on Voyager and upcoming projects.
Half way through the talk we had to leave. We quietly got up but Garrett noticed us and actually stopped what he was talking about, said goodbye to us, mentioned how great it was to meet us and actually invited the audience to say their goodbyes. It really was a nice moment but did take us by surprise. We then caught up with Chase who was nearby; we explained that we had to leave since we had coaches to catch and places to go. Chase was visibly upset that we were going which was very moving. Chase was upset that we did not get a chance to record an interview but has asked us to contact her to set something up on Skype. We did have enough time to ask for a group picture with Chase, we chose the original series bridge set and after some careful planning from Bunny we had the perfect picture.
It really was difficult to leave that Sunday afternoon. We were going to miss the closing ceremony, the Sunday night disco and much more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we should have made a whole weekend of the event. We won’t make that mistake again! What was equally hard for me was saying goodbye to Bunny, Laura and Matt. Over the weekend we really became good friends; we got to know each other quite well and can’t wait to do this all over again. Bring on the SF Ball next February.
Within the next few days I began to edit all the material we had recorded from the weekend and it was not until six podcasts later that I actually began to feel the post con blues. Listening to all the material we had recorded I was able to relive the weekend but when it was all done and dusted I felt very sad that it was all over. Trekology was an amazing weekend; we met and got to know Chase and Garrett. We met some wonderful Star Trek fans (some of whom I have kept in touch with) and managed to produce some really good material for Ten Forward.
However, if asked what was the main highlight for me over the weekend I would have to say it was spending the weekend with Bunny, Laura and Matt.