By MARK NEWMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Fans of an iconic science fiction franchise may soon be able to gather aboard the USS Ottumwa.
Star Trek enthusiast Kenneth Malcom believes there's enough interest locally to start an official fan club in Ottumwa. While the name of the club would be decided democratically by members, it's traditional that clubs develop an identity involving the final frontier.
"Each club either has a star ship or star base as its designation. The people I've talked to like the USS Ottumwa," said Malcom. "We would be a chapter of Star Fleet International, which is the international Star Trek fan club association."
Potential members aren't limited to those who enjoyed the original series, which starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as explorers adventuring through outer space. Since that series ended 40 years ago, reruns became extremely popular. There have been new television series based on the show, as well as movies, comic books, video games and novels.
The number of books available may surprise parents or teachers who want to recommend reading material for science fiction fans. Malcom said there are hundreds of novels.
He's a regular at Books n' Movies in Ottumwa.
Owner Rob Hatton said he's seen interest among readers go back and forth between Star Trek and another fan favorite, Star Wars. But he echoed Malcom, who said that the latest set of movies brought renewed interest in Star Trek.
"When the [first] new one with [actor] Chris Pine came out, we got a ton of sales," said the bookstore owner.
Now, he maintains at least one full book shelf of the novels. Malcom said every series, from the original to Star Trek: The Next Generation to the adventures of the lost star ship Voyager, has it's own set of novels.
In fact, said Malcom, maybe Wapello County fans could have a book of the month club, where everyone is reading the same novel in order to facilitate discussions.
"But first, we would like to have people get together so we can talk about the club, we can start putting something together and have an initial meeting. To be a local chapter, we have to have at least 10 members. Basically, we'll get together once a month, watch movies or episodes, possibly buy, sell or trade Star Trek collectibles, go to the future birthplace of James T. Kirk, Riverside (Iowa), once a year to Trekfest; anything fun that pertains to Star Trek."
And if there's enough regional interest, there's no reason a Star Trek convention couldn't be held in Ottumwa, he agreed. Club members would also do charity work in the community, something the international club encourages.
"We want to do it right," Malcom said, "and make it fun and accessible to everyone."
— To contact Malcom, email KennyMalcom@yahoo.com.
To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark