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Shore Leave Part V: The Experience

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at July 27, 2003 - 10:51 AM GMT

Members of the Star Trek writing community descended on the Shore Leave science fiction convention in Baltimore, Maryland, earlier this month to talk shop with the fans. But books weren't the only things on the agenda, and Jacqueline Bundy had the chance to sampled the full range of Shore Leave delights.

The fan group that organizes the annual Shore Leave convention sure know how to put on one heck of a convention: there is such a wide variety of programming, a wonderful friendly atmosphere and the guests seem to have as much fun as the attendees. This is by no means a comprehensive report of the convention but rather just a quick look at some of the events and guest presentations I was able to take in during my three days there. Just a few highlights that I certainly will remember for a long time to come.

Among the guests at this year's 25th Shore Leave convention were Star Trek's Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Vaughn Armstrong (Admiral Forrest), Robert O'Reilly (Gowron), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Carolyn Seymour (Toreth, Mrs. Templeton), Alan Ruck (Captain Harriman), Barbara Luna (Marlena Moreau), Judson Scott (Joachim), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar), and Phil Morris (guest roles from the original series to Voyager). Additionally, there was the chance to meet Marc Singer (V), Christopher Judge (Stargate SG-1) and Andrea Thompson (Babylon 5).

There was also an impressive guest list of scientists, writers, editors and science fiction experts. Joan Winston, a member of the original 'Committee' that organized the first Star Trek conventions; Dr. Lawrence Schoen of the Klingon Language Institute; fanzine editor Roberta Rogow; Pocket Books editors John Ordover and Marco Palmieri; Larry and Janet Nemecek. Authors Greg Cox, Ann Crispin, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Allyn Gibson, Robert Greenberger, Heather Jarman, Jeffrey Lang, Andy Mangels, Terri Osborne, Aaron Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein and Susan Wright.

The Klingon Feast on Friday evening was a roaring success. Special guests J.G. Hertzler, Robert O'Reilly and Vaughn Armstrong joined a large crowd for a sumptuous buffet as members of local Klingon ships and fan groups entertained those gathered with music and song. My personal favorite was the bat'leth drill team.

Following the Klingon feast was the 'Meet the Pros Event'. Star Trek authors made themselves available to talk with fans and sign books. Hundreds of fans turned out for this event, taking advantage of the opportunity to talk with some of the folks who tell the wonderful tales featuring their favorite characters.

Saturday offered the opportunity to not only see many of the guests on stage for individual or group presentations but also to attend a variety of workshops and panel discussions on astronomy, writing, film making and, of course, Star Trek. Most of the guests also took a turn on the stage Sunday as well.

Peter David entertained those gathered with stories about previous convention experiences. He explained that the delay in more New Frontier novels was due to other writing projects, in particular his original fantasy novel, Sir Apropos of Nothing. It was so well received that he was asked to write a trilogy. Mr. David assured the fans that "New Frontier was returning with a vengeance in October". He said the question he is most often asked is "What did Mackenzie Calhoun do on the Kobayashi Maru test at Starfleet Academy?". He delighted the audience by reading that scene from the upcoming New Frontier novel, Stone and Anvil.

Vaughn Armstrong talked about his many Trek guest roles, taking questions and telling stories about his experiences on all four of the most recent Star Trek series. Having played a whole host of alien characters there was certainly a lot for him to talk about, but he also wanted to highlight his positive experiences Star Trek fans. Asked if he had any interest in writing or directing Mr. Armstrong replied, "Yeah. I have directed a lot of plays but would love to be given the chance to go to Star Trek directing school if given the opportunity and direct an episode of Enterprise". He added that he has written quite a bit of poetry and has been asked to write a monthly column for an Internet fan magazine in Germany.

Saturday evening was the Costume Masquerade. With categories for both children and adults, the costumes and skits ran the gamut of science fiction and fantasy. This is one of the most anticipated events each year at Shore Leave and the incredible costumes were a tribute to the fans' ingenuity and skill. The huge audience was extremely appreciative of everyone's efforts and it was the perfect way to get everyone in the mood for the big Ten Forward dance party that followed.

On Sunday, I started the day by taking in Mystery Trek Theatre, another annual Shore Leave event. Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger and Peter David, with a little help from Andrea Thompson, treated the crowd to a hilarious and slightly irreverent commentary of the TNG episode "Captain's Holiday" as it played on the big screen. As fans themselves, these three gentlemen certainly put their writing and comedic skills to good use with Mystery Trek Theatre.

Another Sunday highlight was the stage appearance of J.G. Hertzler and Robert O'Reilly. They began by presenting a dramatic reading from The Left Hand of Destiny novels written by Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang. Hertzler read Martok of course, O'Reilly read the part of the clone of Kahless, and Jeffrey Lang was roped in to read the part of the Ferengi character Pharh. Keith R.A. DeCandido and Marco Palmieri completed the 'cast' with DeCandido reading Worf and Palmieri the narration. After the reading, Mr. Hertzler and Mr. O'Reilly took questions and entertained the crowd with their stories.

To say Shore Leave was a fun experience would be a massive understatement. It is certainly one of the best conventions I have ever been to. It was exactly what conventions are supposed to be — a group of fans from around the world who have gathered to learn new things, make new friends and share their enjoyment of science fiction and Star Trek.

A full Shore Leave photo report will follow in the next few days.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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