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Captain’s Log: AwesomeCon 2021

3 min read

Cosplayers on the AwesomeCon Main Stage (2019). PC: AwesomeCon

Star Date 47634.44

For three days Awesomeness descended upon Washington, DC, on the Class M planet of Earth. Making its return after going virtual in 2020, AwesomeCon provided a much needed opportunity to connect with like minded individuals (without the assistance of the Borg) after 18 months of pandemic-induced isolation. 

Under the guidance of my partner, over the last few years I’ve expanded my Star Trek knowledge beyond the Chris Pine movies to only the best, curated episodes from across the series’: TOS, Next Gen, Voyager, and DS9 (and the newer Discovery and Picard, but that’s a conversation for a later day). And while I’m no expert on Federation activity, I can say that I truly enjoy immersing myself in the worldbuilding and science fiction. Therefore I was VERY excited to see the plethora of Star Trek actors and panels throughout AwesomeCon weekend. 

BLUF:

William Shatner on the Main Stage: Skip

George Takei on the Main Stage: Must See

Star Trek Science Fact or Fiction Panel: Prepare to be even more afraid of the Borg

Star Trek cosplayers: 👏

Now let me explain. William Shatner is THE Captain Kirk, and his real life personality somehow seems even more egotistical and self aggrandizing than that of Kirk. Shatner spent much of his panel expounding on his experience on Shark Week or turning a lame horse into a breeding mare. I think there were life lessons in there, but for me Shatner’s Main Stage appearance was mostly cringeworthy and patronizing. 

George Takei saying Live Long and Prosper
George Takei gracing the Main Stage. PC: Jaya Ghosh

In contrast, George Takei was a delightful balm for our Trekkie souls. Yes, he hammed it up for the crowd with his Vulcan greeting, but we LOVED it. Takei opened with a conversation on Asian Hate, making parallels between violence against Asians during the COVID pandemic and his own experiences with Japanese internment during WWII. He shared behind-the-scenes stories from filming Star Trek; spoke of the power of the Star Trek fanbase, who made the third season of the Original Series possible; and how proud he was of the Star Trek “grandchildren,” the Discovery and Picard series.

The National Science Foundation hosted a panel on Star Trek tech, and how close real world technology is to what Gene Roddenberry imagined. Dr. Tim Brown, a researcher in the area of neurotechnology and neuroethics, shared examples of how 21st century scientists are developing brain sensing technology through virtual or augmented reality, which could be the precursor to the 23rd century hive mind. Dr. Brown also noted ethical considerations around privacy for brain to brain connections (in the Borg there is no privacy) and the ethics of virtual incarceration, drawing on the DS9 episode, Hard Time. 

Dr. Brown left us with a philosophical question. The Star Trek transporters replicate mass from one place to another, and seem like a great advancement in transportation technology, but are we just patterns to be replicated? 

Make sure you put the 2022 dates on your calendar: June 3-5, 2022. May you all live long and prosper.

Claudia Rivera's booth at AwesomeCon 2021. PC: Jaya Ghosh
Claudia Rivera’s booth at AwesomeCon 2021. PC: Jaya Ghosh

 

P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite parts of AwesomeCon – the Artist’s Alley. This year I happened upon the amazingly talented Claudia Rivera. I was first drawn to her booth by the beautiful manta ray painting, and I am now the honored keeper of this gorgeous jellyfish painting she’s holding. Check out more of her work on Instagram.