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Gene Roddenberry’s son comes to the Star Trek Convention with valuable lessons

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In the genes: Rod Roddenberry will be a highlight of the 2011 Star Trek Convention.
Lohr McKinstry, AP

Imagine yourself as a child, and everyone calling your father “The Great Bird of the Galaxy.” Would kind of warp your world view, wouldn’t it? That was the quandary Rod Roddenberry found himself in growing up with an über-famous father, the creator of a little thing called Star Trek.

Rod had been to dozens of conventions as a young man, including the one in Las Vegas, and even took over Roddenberry Productions (the family’s merchandising arm) in 2001, 10 years after his father died. But he still felt like he had never gotten to know the real Gene.

That changes with the release of Trek Nation, a documentary Rod worked on for four years with collaborator Scott Colthorp. A few minutes will screen at the Star Trek Convention at the Rio on Friday, and it airs on the Science Channel this fall.

Through interviews with fans and celebrities at conventions from 2001-2005, Rod not only got a chance to see his father as a person, he got real insight as to the reason Star Trek and all its iterations remain so important to so many people after 45 years:

“A lot of humanity needs to believe in something. Star Trek has reached out and in its own way said, ‘Believe in yourself first and foremost. Believe in humanity.’ We have the potential to be something spectacular, and if we thirst and crave for uniqueness and diversity for the differences in our planet, that is the way the species will succeed.”

And he offers advice parents should heed: “There’s no way for a son to identify with a man on a pedestal.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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