Oh captain, my captain

Marc Wagner: Captain, U.S.S. Independence NX-75029

Photo courtesy of Marc Wagner

U.S.S. Independence NX-75029, the local chapter of Starfleet: The International Star Trek Fan Association Inc. meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Saturday of every month at the Carmichael branch of the Sacramento Public Library, 5605 Marconi Avenue. For more information, visit www.ussindependence.net.

Years before he took command of the USS Independence NX-75029—Sacramento's maiden voyage into a global society of Star Trek fandom—Marc Wagner was just another kid in front of a TV waiting for the cartoons to start. It was then that Wagner first stumbled upon the original Star Trek, being rebroadcast decades later in all its swashbuckling, swinging '60s glory.

Mind blown. Now a working student, Wagner says the appeal of the often-allegorical series has endured through cancellations, spinoffs and reboots because its core premise tickles something elemental in our nature. “It fascinates me in the same way NASA's efforts to go to Mars do,” he says. “It's the human condition to explore the boundaries of what we know and try to figure out what we don't. That's what Star Trek is all about.”

Wagner recently started U.S.S. Independence NX-75029, the local chapter of Starfleet: The International Star Trek Fan Association Inc. Here, “Captain” Wagner discusses whether Muggles are allowed in his new club, why there are no STDs in the future and whose mind he'd like to meld.

Why did you decide to start this chapter?

I used to run an online Star Trek guild which played Star Trek Online and some older Trek games. Did that for almost a decade. I heard about Starfleet International and decided to join up and find my local chapter. Came to find there wasn't one, so I figured I would change that.

How hard is it to get into Sacramento’s Starfleet?

Not hard at all. Just go to our website and sign up, or stop by one of our meetings. Some come in their favorite uniform and some don't. It's really up to you.

What do you do when you meet?

We talk about chapter business at first—get all that out of the way. Then we do some sort of activity—either a game, social time or watch an episode of one of the series. We played Star Trek Pictionary at our last meeting and it was a blast.

How many people have signed up thus far?

We currently have 22 crew members and, of them, 19 are members of Starfleet International.

Does this group allow Klingons?

Yes! In fact we have visitors from the local Klingon group quite frequently.

How about Muggles?

Well, I myself don't use magic, so if I can be in it I don't see why anyone else can't.

Favorite Star Trek character?

Wow, that's a tough one. I think I'll have to go with Dr. McCoy. He's so matter-of-fact and his arguments with Spock are hilarious. Even in the new film series, he is portrayed in that same cantankerous manner. It makes him stand out against the others.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry presents an idealized future in which humankind has solved most of its problems. In this timeline, how do you think we cured STDs?

Well I think Captain Kirk's womanizing proves they didn't do it by abolishing sex. Gotta love that 23rd-century medicine.

Star Trek presents a diverse future, but you don’t see many plus-size people. Is that because the uniforms are so unforgiving?

The uniforms are unforgiving to those of us who are not plus-size, so I think I can understand. Seriously, though, Scotty was plus-size in the feature films and he did OK.

There’s that famous Saturday Night Live sketch in which William Shatner tells a convention of Star Trek fans to get a life.

That’s one of my favorites. If you really think about it, most fans do have lives—very creative ones. It all comes down to how they choose to spend their free time.

What non-Star Trek character or figure would you mind meld with?

I would have to say George R. R. Martin. I’m dying to know how “A Song of Ice and Fire” will end.

Some fans aren’t too pleased with director J.J. Abrams’ reboot. What about you?

I enjoyed those films for what they were. Their intent was to introduce the franchise to a younger audience and it worked. Let me tell you a story: When I went to see the first one in 2009, I was sitting in the theater and a few rows ahead of me was a big group of high-school kids. Must’ve been about 20 of them. Now, I’m not talking the chess club; they were cheerleaders and jocks. Not the kind of kids who I would see in the theater for the previous Trek films. At the end of the movie, they all got up and gave a standing ovation. So the filmmakers accomplished what they set out to do and I can't fault them for that.

Now that you’re a Starfleet captain, how long until you lose all your natural hair?

Well, there's no history of that in my family, so I think I'm safe. Anyway, there are plenty of captains who still had hair.