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Star Trek plans to boldly go to the mall.

Paramount Pictures has licensed its Star Trek: The Next Generation television series as the theme of mall-based entertainment centers that are to incorporate Star Trek into so-called virtual reality games. The computerized playgrounds will use complex software to create the illusion that participants are immersed in a life-size fantasy world.

The stores will be built and operated by St. Louis-based Edison Brothers Stores, owner of 2,800 specialty shops, such as clothing and shoe stores and video arcades.

Edison already runs 10 virtual-reality centers, dubbed Virtuality.

The first Star Trek centers are to be set up in the next 12 to 18 months, although the sites have not yet been chosen.

Company officials are not disclosing the cost of building the centers, but they are clearly facing a pricey proposition. The mainstay of the larger centers _ to be known as Star Bases, as opposed to the smaller Star Posts _ will be a game in which up to 50 people can participate from their various positions at the Enterprise's bridge, holodeck, and transporter and engineering rooms.

Spectrum Holobyte of Alameda, Calif., which already produces computer software games based on Star Trek, is designing the virtual-reality software. It will find a role for all players, and keep them busy with various emergencies and tasks even when the game's central action is taking place elsewhere in the starship.

Gilman Louie, chairman of Spectrum Holo-byte, said the game would probably cost players between 50 cents and $1 a minute.