Star Trek: Mission New York kicked off on Friday, with events spanning from informative panels to celebrity sessions on stage, from game-playing to checking out a replica of the TOS Enterprise bridge, from a USPS Star Trek stamp First Day of Issue ceremony, and from a preview of COPD: Highly Illogical: Remembering Leonard Nimoy to a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — Director’s Cut 4K, with director Nicholas Meyer on hand for a Q&A. There’s also a bustling exhibitors’ area featuring products for sale, exhibits to explore and games to play.
Fans, for the entire day, could picked and choose between activities in four different rooms, one of which housed the main stage. Some highlights from Friday’s activities include:
Star Trek writers and editors, including Marco Palmieri, Kirsten Beyer, David Alan Mack, Margaret Clark, Edward Schlesinger and Michael Jan Friedman, gathered for the panel The History and Future of Star Trek Novels. The panel’s title really says it all, as the looked back at Trek past and previewed things to come, as well as discussed how/why they got into Star Trek.
“The hardest thing in the world to do is tie-in novels,” Clark said. “The authors that are up here know Star Trek and how to write.”
“Part of our job is to know all the hidden details,” Mack said. “You have to get someone who’s an expert in canon. We cite our sources and our references in our outlines.”
Beyer said of Mack’s acclaimed book Destiny, “It made me realize, ‘Oh, we can do this.’ It’s never really been the same since.”
Mack replied, noting the challenge on Destiny was “Finding a story that was suitably epic and suitable Star Trek. It helped that I had two editors. I give a lot of credit to my editors that pushed me.”
The development team behind Ubisoft’s new virtual reality game Star Trek: Bridge Crew, including David Votypka and Brian Tate, joined John Van Citters of CBS Consumer Products for a panel explored the game’s cool breakthroughs. And it started with a short video featuring Jeri Ryan, Karl Urban and LeVar Burton, joined by Votypka, giving a demo of the game — which can be played by four people at a time and is set in the Kelvin timeline — a whirl.
“The actors would say that on the shows and in the movies they’d be in front of green screens and pretend to press buttons and make things happen,” Votypka said. “With the game, they’d press a button and things did happen right in front of their eyes.”
“Bridge Crew is a social VR game, where you’re working together as a crew,” Votypka explained. “And you have to work together to succeed.”
Van Citters pointed out that so many games in the past involved shooting stuff, which never quite dovetailed with the Trek ethos of exploring. But the main reticence to a VR Trek game boiled down to, “Is the technology really ready to bring that to reality? And this is perfect. I’m so excited about it.”
Next up was Bringing the Star Trek Universe to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — Meet the Team Behind Star Trek Online. The session featured exec producer Steve Ricossa, lead designer Al Rivera, producer Maria Rosseau and, surprising the audience, actress Denise Crosby!
“Your ship, your customization, your name and registry,” Ricossa revealed, referring to game updates. “Your ship will be sent to you.”
Asked about reprising her roles as Yar and Sela, Crosby said, “You (STO) have given me a chance to go deeper in the role of Sela. When she was introduced in TNG there was so much more potential. A big arc was that she would have to come to terms with her human half and she would begin to understand who her mother was… They kind of dropped the ball, and I sort of came in and came out. It was such a surprise when Tasha was alive and I was able to do this story for STO. It was very emotional to return to this character. It took me completely by surprise and I thank you.”
Julie Nimoy, the daughter of Leonard Nimoy, took to the main stage to preview COPD: Highly Illogical: Remembering Leonard Nimoy, the upcoming documentary she’s made with her husband, David Knight. Fans watched the new trailer for the film and listened intently as Nimoy talked about COPD, short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is an umbrella term for a number of lung diseases, and also shared memories of her father. The film will open in November.
“The documentary is about my father’s struggle and battle with the disease,” she said. “We’re continuing his mission to bring awareness of the disease to people all over the world.”
“Doing this film keeps my dad close to me,” she said. “I see him and hear his voice every day working on it. I’m happy about that.”
One panel that most fans had never, ever seen the likes of before was The First Convention and How It Helped Resurrect Star Trek. That first convention, planned by avid fans and done on a shoestring budget, took place in 1972 in Manhattan and set the stage for all the sci-fi and Trek cons that followed, including Mission New York. Eight hundred fans were expected… 3,000 showed up. Committee members/organizers on the Mission New York dais included Stuart Hellinger, Elyse Rosenstein, Joyce Yasner, Devra Langsam and Linda Deneroff. They were full of anecdotes about the landmark con and the ones they put on through 1976, and also took time to pay tribute to the late Joan Winston, their friend and co-organizer.
“Science fiction fandom changed because of Star Trek,” Hellinger said.
“It was Roddenberry; he said yes and he was for it,” Rosenstein said. “It was good for him, good for Star Trek and good for us. One time, Gene Roddenberry was at a con looking for the hospitality suite,” Rosenstein said. “There was food and booze in there. He was wandering around. A young, male “helper” stopped Roddenberry. He wouldn’t let Roddenberry in because he didn’t have a badge. Roddenberry said, ‘I am Star Trek.’ And that’s how he got in.”
“There was a lot of press,” Ellinger recalled. “The one network that didn’t want to cover it was… NBC, the network that aired TOS.
“We never understood the total scope of the interest people would in the conventions,” Langsam acknowledged. “We underestimated it.”
A short time later, fans settled in for a panel titled Star Trek Costuming, Prop Creation & Special Effect Makeup, which examined the principles of costuming and prop making, and how to create special effect makeup using latex and other materials.
Lawrence Neals Jr. explained, “I’m relatively new to costuming. If you’re starting from scratch, with not a lot of money, find something that already exists and modify it. Find something, tear it apart, and put it back together again. Cannibalize it. Cannibalization is an awesome tool!”
“It comes down to where to buy, what to buy, who to buy from, who not to buy from,” Michael Nguyen said. “Always think of the three ‘C’s’: How close to screen accurate go you want it? How comfortable do you want to be? How costly can it be?”
And, offered Foxy Squire, “Just as you need to practice what you sew, you also need to practice your makeup. Don’t rush. Put the extra time it takes to be better. This is your vacation; don’t over-stress. The party starts when you get to the party/con.”
Outside it was early evening, but inside the Javits Center, Mission New York was still going strong with StarTalk All-Stars Present: The Science of Star Trek, a panel that featured Dr. Charles Liu (NYU), Chuck Nice (co-host), Summer Ash (Columbia University – Astro physicist) and Andrew F (astronomy book). The conversation focused mainly on space and astronomy, and Star Trek’s influence on them.
“The furthest that we’ve sent something is the Voyager probe,” Ash noted, “which is about 23 light years away.” Added Summer… “All of Star Trek is within the Milky Way.”
Andrew Fazekas commented on the possibility of discovering a planet that could support life. “Scientists are looking for an inhabitable zone or what is the Goldilocks Zone. Not too hot, not too cold.”
And out on the floor, fans flocked to the exhibitors’ area. They bought books and art and games and apparel. Many visited the Ubisoft booth and signed up to try out the VR game Bridge Crew. You could hear players oohing and aahing as they experienced the adventure.
Also, fans enjoyed stepping into the Original Series Set Tour elements that made the trek from Ticonderoga, New York, to the Big Apple. There was the Enterprise bridge, as well as long glass cases filled with actual and replica props. Personally, we loved the Balok head.
The final panel of the day, IDW and the Wonderful World of Trek Comics, featured IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall, group editor Sarah Gaydos, writer Mike Johnson and a rare appearance by writer/photo manipulator John Byrne.
Discussing the evolution of his popular New Visions photo comics tales, Byrne said, “I realized there was enough Star Trek material out there on VHS that you could put together at least a half hour episode.” That turned into over 15 40-page issues based on the TOS photo-novels from the 70s. “I take existing shots from The Original Series and make a new story. It’s new stories.”
Mike Johnson was Mr. Prolific, having written the ongoing Kelvin timeline comic that ran 60 issues. “Thank you,” he said, “for giving us the opportunity to tell these stories.”
Now, with that series concluding, it’s time to go beyond, so to speak. As Gaydos put it, “We’re refreshing the line with Boldly Go #1, with the same team. This is definitely not negating anything that happened before.”
Other new titles include Waypoint, an anthology that celebrates every iteration of Trek, except for the Kelvin timeline. Also on the way: a Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover sequel. It’ll be out in December.
Be sure to visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow for recaps of Day Two at Mission New York.
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