LIVE LONG AND PROSPER Before the Empire struck back, there was the Federation and the USS Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, which first aired on the small screen from 1966 to 1969, ingeniously used science fiction to address real-life issues like race and gender relations, gaining a cultlike following of fans who are unlike any others on this planet—possibly the galaxy (who else dresses up like Klingons when it’s not even Halloween?). Trekkies have been meeting to talk Trek for some thirty years (supposedly there is a Star Trek convention going on somewhere in the world every weekend), and on November 15 and 16 they’ll ask Scotty to beam them up to El Paso (Roddenberry’s hometown) for the Great Bird of the Galaxy Star Trek Celebration 2003. Most will be dressed as their favorite character, whether it be a Federation member like Data or an alien such as a Borg (the costume contest is beside the point), and will cruise the dealer tables looking for Star Trek paraphernalia or check out the exhibit featuring Michael David Ward’s artwork (George Lucas and Leonard Nimoy are collectors of his paintings of the cosmos). But, of course, the real draw is that almost all of the original cast members of the TV series, including William Shatner (the dashing Captain James T. Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura), will be on hand to sign autographs and answer questions such as, Do Romulan cloaking devices really work? “It’s life, Captain, but not life as we know it.” (See El Paso: Other Events.)