You can't, and mustn't, deny that the allure of the sci-fi convention is the novelty of meeting and greeting the faded crushes and fallen icons of decades past. It's a kick to shake the hand of Adam West or listen to Maud Adams and Tanya Roberts swap Bond-age stories or watch Traci Lords try to dodge the guys who want her to sign bootlegged reminders of her illicit past. For a few hours, these celebs--some major players in lucrative franchises, some bit parts in the occasional made-for-airplane movies--are trapped in suburban convention centers, and they're yours for the right price: $20 for a signature on a color photo, with a little fan-friendly chitchat thrown in gratis. Such is the blessing and curse of being affiliated with a sci-fi series: Your signature's worth something to someone in some town every weekend, and damned is the fool who passes up the easy money.
But if the tag seems a little steep for fans, you can't put a price on meeting in the flesh the stuff of childhood fantasies, be they sci-fi or sigh-fi. Face it, every guy in his mid-30s would have paid a million dollars in 1980 to spend a few minutes in the company of Colonel Wilma Deering of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Seriously, 20 bucks? Holmes, that is a bargain. Alas, that estimable heroine of futures past, Erin Gray, is probably not the hottest draw at the Dallas Comic Con and Sci-Fi Expo this weekend. That honor would probably fall to Marina Sirtis of Star Trek: The Next Generationor Billy Dee Williams, whose turns in Lady Sings the Bluesand Brian's Songand The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kingswill likely be overlooked by those con-goers wanting a tiny piece of Lando Calrissian during his Saturday stint doling out expensive autographs. Also attending are Buffy and Angelregular Julie Benz, Dean Haglund of The Lone Gunmen and Robert Picardo, the holographic doc from Star Trek: Voyager--fine guests all, but none possessing the iconic status of Erin Gray, star of Silver Spoonsand Buck Rogersand damned near every other TV series that aired from 1980 to 1990. In this battle of the network stars, she is the clear winner.