The press officer For the Love of Sci Fi con in Manchester in December must have the cushiest job known to man or alien.
They come into the office, tap the words “William” + “Shatner” into a press release, lean back in their chair with a contented smile and a hot chocolate (extra marshmallows), and watch the ticket applications flood in.
I’m joking, of course, but the truth is this is an easy sell. The nouns legend and icon are bandied about rather too freely these days, and yet both terms are probably too small for Shatner. Star Trek is a global cultural phenomenon that originates – and for some, ends – with Shatner’s Captain Kirk and his late co-stars Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and others. Simply put, he is a pop culture god.
The captain of the Starship Enterprise is not, of course, the only attraction at FTLOSF. While other cons promote guests who can best be described as “3rd alien from the left”, or are niche names well known only within their cultural cul-de-sac, For the Love of Sci-Fi has signed up LEAD actors. These are household names, faces recognised by all age groups. Look at the list. It’s relatively short but it’s an exercise in quality rather than quantity.
Dolph Lundgren: This mountain of a man has appeared in the James Bond, Rocky and Expendables franchises, as well as taking the role of He-Man and Marvel’s Punisher. He’ll soon feature in the DC Universe as Aquaman’s father.
David Hasselhoff: A brand in his own right, The Hoff was the first on-screen Nick Fury and starred in the classic 1980s series Knight Rider, as well as guilty pleasure Baywatch, which was recently rebooted with a big budget movie.
Ernie Hudson: Most famous for cult favourites Ghostbusters 1 and 2 and The Crow, Hudson has had a lengthy career that includes appearances in hit shows like The Incredible Hulk, The A-Team and Stargate SG-1 TV series. Most recently, he acted in the eagerly-awaited relaunch of Twin Peaks.
Casper Van Dien: Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers blasted Van Dien into popular consciousness and the movie’s continuing appeal as one of the most beloved 1990s sci-fi films has never dimmed.
Star Wars, the most popular franchise in movie history, is well represented. Also on the guest list are Billy Dee Williams, Dave Prowse and Jeremy Bulloch – core characters Lando Calrissian, Darth Vader and Boba Fett, respectively. There will also be light sabre tuition and a light sabre duel starring Andrew Lawden, Liam Neeson’s stand-in from The Phantom Menace. They even have dancing stormtroopers from Britain’s Got Talent!
Cosplayers are well catered for, too. Top cosplayer and DC’s go-to Wonder Woman Jennifer Wenger will be there and anyone attending as a Star Wars character will be able to kick back in the Cantina Bar (watch out for Rodian bounty hunters!) and pose alongside a TIE fighter.
The excellent selection of vehicle props also includes K.I.T.T. (from Knight Rider), Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, a Batwing batplane from 1989’s Batman, the power loader from Aliens and a Viper from Battlestar Galactica.
Lastly, the greatest British comic character of all time, Judge Dredd, will be represented by the UK’s biggest collection of screen-used props, including costumes, Lawgivers (guns), a Lawmaster (motorbike) from 2012’s Dredd and the imposing city cab from Judge Dredd (1995). All Brit-Cit citizens are warned about their conduct as there will be a strong turn-out from the Hall of Justice to see these items.
As you can see, even from this incomplete description, we should all have a job as easy as the For the Love of Sci-Fi publicity person.
For the Love of Sci-Fi is over the weekend December 2-3 at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Longbridge Road, Manchester.