The Alliance Convention

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Name: The Alliance Convention
Dates: August 22-25, 1997
Location: Blackpool's Norbreck Castle Hotel
Type: fan-run with celebrity guests
Focus: Babylon 5
Organization: Wolf 359, and the Babylon 5 UK Fan Club
Founding Date:
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The Alliance Convention was a mostly Babylon 5 convention featuring Walter Koenig, many, many other actors from the show, and a surprise guest: Gareth Thomas. It was held in the UK.

Reactions and Reviews

For those hardy souls who braved the never-to-be-forgotten queues at Blackpool's Norbreck Castle Hotel in July — and particularly Trekkers — it was a treat to see Walter Koenig among the many guest stars who gave talks and autographs over a long and popular weekend at The Alliance, organised by Wolf 359, and the Babylon 5 UK Fan Club... Reflecting on the admiration of fans and the popularity he was now bringing to his role in Babylon 5 as the sinister Psi Cop Bester from the Psi Corp, Walter said it was almost as if he had been thrown back to the late 60s again, and the exciting days of Star Trek (Classic). The role was very different (from that of Enterprise navigator Pavel Chekov), and much more challenging; for one thing, he had more to do. Even then, another fan asked if he was disappointed not to have played a more leading character such as Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner). Walter, though, was more than happy to be starring in such an ambitious series. One person asked, rather unfairly in my view, how the Star Trek and Babylon 5 fans compared? (I wanted to leap up and shout "Hey! They're one of the same. I like both series!"). Walter replied that he did not want to go too much into that, but explained there was room enough in this sci-fi universe for people to appreciate both shows. There were some fans, he knew, that would watch Star Trek and Star Trek only. However, showing you enjoy Babylon 5 does not mean you are being disloyal to Star Trek, or vice-versa. (I heartily agree!). He recalled the early days of The Next Generation when die-hard Classic Trek fans said they would not watch this new-breed, but after seeing some episodes of The Next Generation accepted it was "rather good", and were gradually won over.... Surprise guests called in too... Blake returns.... but not on BBC! To satisfy devotees of other sci-fi shows or films, Gareth Thomas (Blake of Blake's Seven) and Warwick Davis (of Willow and Return of the Jedi) were among several other surprise guests over the weekend. At the SFX Magazine awards evening there was a neat tribute to the late Jon Pertwee (Dr. Who). Also at these awards, Babylon 5 scooped most of the prizes (best individual episode Z'ha'dum beat ST:DS9's Trials and Tribble-ations).... As expected, the dealers' room offered more sci-fi show goodies than you can shake a Minbari stick at! Speaking of Minbari fighting sticks, I missed the competition hosted by the Edinburgh Alliance, but understand a few Klingons got in on the act! With theme parties and actor talks spread evenly over the four days, there was always something to do. The fancy dress competition brought over a record 50 entrants, which included (in the Trek contingent) some Klingons and a Ferengi. Now, was that Ferengi Quark's mother? I don't know what Blackpool residents think at 'convention time', but the sight of fully-costumed Centauri ladies strolling down to the sea an hour before the fancy dress was something to remember, not quite Dr. Who and The Sea Devils (aliens on the beach) but it reminded me of it! One personal disappointment, though, to my first convention, and a discouraging one if I ever think of attending a similar event, was the rather off-hand manner of many fans... In America so far, 85 has not caught on like it undoubtedly is doing here. For instance, the queues had to be seen to be believed at The Alliance, around two hours or more for autographs. Possibly, the programme is hidden away in the plethora of channels in the States. To you sci-fi fans over there, track it down (if only to see Walter Koenig's Bester!) You don't know what you are missing! [1]


  1. ^ from Star Trek Action Group #126