"No, sugar, I was checkin' out that hunk in the Space Ghost costume yonder."
Alien visitors will scratch their multiple heads and wonder what planet they've landed on at the annual Gateway Science Fiction and Media Convention. The shindig presents many different facets of the sci-fi/fantasy ghetto of pop culture, with something for groupies of Star Trek, Star Wars, Spielbergiana, Tolkien, Lost in Space, comic books, cartoons, 2001, Anne McCaffrey, Japanese robots -- you name it. Celebrity guests speak and sign photos, booths sell souvenirs, and there are an art show and auction, "robot wars," contests, displays and a grand masquerade ball at the climax of it all.
The big story each year is which famous folk the organizers have tapped to appear. This time they include Michael Nelson, writer and host of the Sci-Fi Channel's Mystery Science Theater 3000, and cohorts Kevin Murphy, the voice of robot Tom Servo, and Bill Corbett, the voice of Crow T. Robot.
What would sci-fi be without a hot babe in a jumpsuit to tease the horny and lonely teens of America? Babylon 5's Claudia Christian, known as Commander Susan Ivanova on the show, meets the people less than a year after removing said jumpsuit for Playboy. Jason Carter, who played Ranger Marcus Cole on the same series, and Peter Woodward, who played "technomage" Galen in the spinoff series Crusade, also appear.
The foxy mama of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Erin Gray, will confront her starstruck fans at the convention and tell tales of cavorting on co-star Gil Gerard's hairy chest.
John Anthony Blake, who played Sgt. John Benton of UNIT in the BBC's Doctor Who, and Terry Pratchett, bestselling British author of the 24-book series Discworld, round out the cast of notables.
Message to the home world: The third planet in this system observes ... strange customs, Lord Zyphrax. There is something here called "toasted ravioli" that bears investigation.
The Gateway Science Fiction and Media Convention takes place July 14-16 at the Henry VIII Hotel, 4690 N. Lindbergh Blvd. Cost is $50-$60 for the weekend. Call 314-524-3014 for more info.