It’s been thirty years since I bought my first copy of The Klingon Dictionary.
How can I describe what it was like back then? For a start, Doctor Who had yet to have the final year of its classic season. The Power Rangers, Babylon 5, Netflix and the internet did not exist. There was only one series of Captain Scarlet - Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Like Thunderbirds, the only version was hte one with the puppets.
And there was only one Starship USS Enterprise. Star Trek III had just run the year before, Spock was back, the movie with the whales hadn't been made and the registry was NCC-1701. No bloody A, B, C or D (or E ... J either).
Ah, yes - and Star Trek III the year before had featured some Klingons and their language.
Sol III ‘85 had been and gone - it had taken place at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, and this convention during the August Bank Holiday was in what used to be the St George’s Hotel in the St John’s Precinct. Don’t ask - it’s a Liverpool thing. We do not discuss this with outsiders. It’s now owned by a different hotel chain anyway.
This was the final day of the convention, and while everybody was packing up to go home there was one last round of merch dealing in the dealers’ room before the formal closing ceremony. And it was during this final day that somebody mentioned that there had been this new book, just recently released, that allowed one to learn to speak Klingon.
At first, I thought someone was pulling my leg; but then, I went to the dealer room, and there it was. Last copy in the house. I just had to buy it, sight unseen; if I had not, I would not have seen the book again for another year, during the Galileo convention during the August Bank Holiday of 1986, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
This first copy of The Klingon Dictionary remained on my bookshelf for a while, to tell the truth; several months, as a matter of fact. But then there was a convention coming up, and I was asked if I could turn up and compete in a contest. I chose tlhIngan Hol as my specialised subject. I came second from the bottom, but my limited knowledge of Klingon at that time must have impressed whoever was attending, because I became known as a Klingon language expert from that time forward.
It has been thirty years and a long journey from having just one (now threadbare) Klingon Dictionary, to owning several copies, plus Klingon for the Galactic Traveller and The Klingon Way and maintaining two Klingon language blogs, as well as being a proud owner of boQwI’ on my Android tablet.
And during that thirty years, I’ve been invited to places I never thought I’d see from the inside, from TV and radio studios to lecture halls, from muddy fields outside Cardiff to five star hotels. I’ve been feted by the best, people have attempted ridicule (only to fall foul of my Emma Frostian snark) and along the way, I have acquired converts and students alike. Not to mention the occasional lover along the way.
I have been a Klingonist, now, for more than half my life, and I could say that I will be a Klingonist for the rest of my days. Sanvam vIlajqangchu’neS.
And as long as I can type I’ll keep on presenting this blog, to try and encourage a new generation of younger people to pick up copies of The Klingon Dictionary and keep Marc Okrand’s, and my, flame alive.