On Saturday, as I was selling books in the dealer room, one of the Klingons stood next to me and said he had a sciatic nerve problem. I let him have my chair every now and then when he needed a rest, and we ended up having a lovely conversation about education (he’s a high school history teacher by day), the Civil War, and—of course—the Klingon culture.
After talking with a few people about Star Trek, I have come to the conclusion that the writers were/are absolutely brilliant. It’s one of those things where I covet their ability to write. Many people might wonder why Star Trek was such a powerful series/movie/s that fans today take the time to buy or make their own costumes and have their own conventions, and I think I know why. Writers, including me, this is the part where you might want to take notes.
First, the writers of Star Trek made the cultures of their various alien lifeforms intricate and real. (Tolkien did this in Lord of the Rings, and George Lucas did this in Star Wars.) The The writers developed their culture so much that they made Klingons seem real. (They even gave Klingons a language and a form or writing that you can find with Google.) Basically, any Klingon fan can take what they now about Klingons(based solely on what they have seen in the series) and create their own weapons, etc.—and they would probably be right on. Now that’s good writing on the part of the Star Trek writers.
Second, the writers of Star Trek patterned their cultures after actually human experience and history. Klingons were actually based on the Russians (according to Klingon Kevin), which is why they became allies with the humans in Star Trek: Next Generation. Because the writers patterned the Klingons after a culture familiar to us, Klingon behavior often makes our human brains go, “Hey, that’s like this-and-such-example that happened during this-and-such era.” It makes their culture easier to believe. The Klingon culture is also one of honor. Well, I can think of many cultures that are similar, and that makes the Klingon cultures seem more real. Patterning created cultures after real ones helps give familiarity to science fiction and fantasy, and that familiarity is helpful for readers. It's something they can grasp onto when they are reading about so many new technologies or fantasy concepts.
Third, the Star Trek writers adopted the Kligong language and colloquialisms to match their culture. The standard Klingon greeting is Kaplah (sp?), which the uneducated fan might think means “hello.” Imagine my amazement when Robert O’Reilly said “Kaplah” to me (Oh my gosh, Chancellor Gowron Kaplah-ed me!), and then told me that it meant "success." I looked at him and said, “You know that tells me so much about the Klingon culture right there.”
You can tell what drives the Klingons. Hawaiians say “Welcome.” Americans say “Hi.” Israelis say "Shalom" (peace). Klingons wish each other “Success.” I’m telling you, the writers of star trek were BRILLIANT! I need to make sure to apply this concept to my gnome and dragon cultures, which I will be introducing in Out of the Shadows.
Tags: Out of the Shadows, Klingon, Star Trek, Robert O'Reilly, KAG, Klingon Assault Group, Gowron