• Michelle Johnson

Destination Star Trek 2019: personal highlights from this year's best sci-fi convention

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

This weekend marked my fourth year as a panel host for Showmasters events, and my third time hosting Destination Star Trek. The convention, held in the NEC Birmingham, is one of my favourite events of the year. Not only was it the first one I ever hosted, but the love that the fans have for the seminal TV show shine through every session, and is completely infectious.

My personal highlights from this year's con included joining the crowd in singing happy birthday to Star Trek: Discovery star Anthony Rapp (above), during a panel where everything that could go wrong, did. Plagued with sound issues, we were darting across the stage to share mics through much of the panel. Anywhere else, this might have been a disaster but, with this cast and this crowd, it was nothing short of hilarious.

I also had the opportunity to host a Powerful Women of Trek panel starring Denise Crosby – who played security chief Tasha Yar in The Next Generation – and Alice Eve, of Star Trek: Into Darkness fame. Denise, in particular, was completely inspiring, sharing her experiences of playing the Enterprise's chief security officer. As a woman playing a traditionally masculine role, she shared her great accomplishments – namely, ensuring Yar was a three-dimensional character – and why she thinks Star Trek and sci-fi and fantasy more broadly are such powerful tools in educating and empowering girls and young women.

The ultimate highlight, however, was leading a discussion with Star Trek: The Original Series star George Takei.

Takei is not only a fan favourite and convention regular, he is also a broadcaster, writer and activist whose work – and mastery of internet communication – have brought him a swathe of new, young fans.

During our panel talk, Takei spoke, of course, about his time with Star Trek, but the discussion soon turned to his childhood and activism work. Takei and his parents were incarcerated in US Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, and along with his stage play Allegiance, Takei now campaigns tirelessly against US President Trump's approach to immigrants and immigration policies. He spoke movingly of his own memories of internment and highlighted the similarities in the US today, urging fans to protect and defend one another, to speak out where they could, and to take nothing at face value.

History is something we must learn from, he said, not repeat.