Sci-fi fans are left to their own devices

For a whole generation, “Star Trek” has always been on the air in some incarnation — until UPN canceled “Star Trek: Enterprise” in February.

But a handful of tech-proficient fans, some working in Hollywood’s backyard, have kept on Trekkin’ with Web-based series expanding on the “Trek” universe.

One group, in a tiny studio in Pasadena, Calif., is producing the sixth season of a fan-created series called “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.”

Sure, the first couple of seasons at http://www.hiddenfrontier.comare sometimes difficult to watch — “We’re still very proud of our pilot episode, but it’s not necessarily our best,” says writer/producer Carlos Pedraza. – but thanks to the addition of real actors and better writing, the series has picked up steam.

The Web series has even boldly gone where no official “Trek” has gone before, introducing a gay character, Lt. Corey Aster, played by JT Tepnapa.

It’s all volunteer; the only reason Par isn’t shutting them down for copyright violation is that they’re scrupulous about not profiting from the series.

Exec producer Rob Caves and his crew create the 25- to 30-minute episodes from his home. Caves, who handles much of the f/x work, estimates he spent $2,000 for the initial equipment. Cast members perform before a green screen and backgrounds are added in post.

And they’re not alone. Another online fan series, “Star Trek: New Voyages,” has posted two episodes at http://www.newvoyages.com

The site made national news when it announced actor Walter Koenig — who played Ensign Chekhov on the original series — had agreed to make an appearance in an episode penned by veteran “Trek” scribe D.C. Fontana.

And like their official counterparts, the voyages of the “Hidden Frontier” crew will come to an end. Caves and Pedraza say next season will be their last.

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