The tribble sitting on Captain Kirk’s pedestal is authentic.  The ones below the pedestal are not.

This is confidential from Brooks Peck, curator for the Experience Music Project’s new show “Icons Of Science Fiction.”  For anyone who missed all the reruns, tribbles are those hand-sized, furry, purry, and rapidly multiplying critters which gave “Star Trek’s Captain Kirk much vexation in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” easily the most popular episode of the first “Star Trek” TV series, now commonly called “Classic Trek.”

Each new tribble, Peck explains, cost EMP’s stitching team about 8 dollars to make, and I count at least 30 below the pedestal of Captain Kirk’s command chair.  That command chair is the actual one from the series and like many, though not all of the pieces in the new exhibit, it comes from the personal collection of EMP’s founder Paul Allen.  The one surviving tribble from the actual show naturally gets its spotlight on the pedestal itself, near where Kirk’s left foot would sit.

The Experience Music Project Museum houses and/or has access to an enormous amount of artifacts.  For this exhibit, Peck explains, the Museum wanted to emphasize things not seen, or not widely seen, before.

The “Icons” exhibit also revolves around several questions — classic postulations throughout the history of science fiction.  Around each question — for example, “What if we fought a war with aliens?”; “What if we were enslaved by our machines?”; or “What if we could explore the stars?” — revolves a distinct set of artifacts, drawn from television, film, print, and comic art.

The largest and most imposing enemy alien is surely the Imperial Dalek.  My photographer reminds me that the name of this ever-popular intergalactic nemesis is pronounced “Doll-leck,” and not “Day-leck.” Created by screenwriter Terry Nation and designed by Raymond Cusick for the popular British “Dr. Who” show, the Daleks, described by Nation’s biographer Alwyn W. Turner as “genocidal pepper pots,” varied a lot in size and a little in shape over the years.  But they always arrive ribbed around the lower region, rounded around the top, and menacing all comers with two arm-like prongs —  one with something that looks like a bathroom plunger on the end, one without.

With their distorted battle cry of “Exterminate!  Exterminate!”, the Daleks proved the salvation of the sputtering “Dr. Who” show and shuffled their way into UK iconography—to the point of a popular magazine cover urging readers to “Vote Dalek!” in England’s 2005 general election.  Their lack of ability to climb stairs was the subject of much levity, although updated Daleks demonstrated levitation as an answer to this dilemma.

Other legendary exhibits include Christopher Reeves’ Superman suit, a coat worn by Keanu Reeves (no relation) as Neo for the “Matrix Reloaded” film, and the mechanical skull from the homicidal cyborg in the first “Terminator” film.  Never-before-seen sights include the Dalek, the Kryptonese spaceship used to transport baby Superman in the 1978 film, a walking cane used by Yoda in the “Star Wars” films, and the red uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura in “Classic Trek.”

One particular exhibit, a smaller one, catches my eye.  It’s a typical-looking 1950s flying saucer, with the donut shape and a bubble observation dome on top.  It’s a little smaller than a dinner plate. It looks like a kid’s toy. And in fact, it was a kid’s toy in 1959, when a director named Ed Wood bought it, or sent someone out to buy it, from a five-and-ten store.

This particular spaceship toy, however, ended up a star player in one of the most popular films in American history.  Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” widely considered one of the worst movies ever made and still drawing disbelieving laughter 53 years after its release, needed a spaceship.  Ed Wood had very little money.  That’s where the toy came in.

I tell Brooks Peck that I was always sure Ed Wood used a paper plate for his “Plan 9” spaceship, because that’s how very broke he was.  Not quite true, corrects Peck.

So this spaceship, one out of untold, stamped out toys just like it, made the big screen, and then, somehow, into the collection of a man named Bob Burns, who agreed to loan it out to EMP.  Out of everything to see in “Icons Of Science Fiction,” that one sends me away with the biggest smile.