Wed, Jan 31, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Trekkies in Taiwan

To boldly go where few Taiwanese have gone before

By Joseph Yeh  /  CNA

A group of Trekkies are pictured in San Diego, California. Though fewer in number, Taiwan’s Trekkies are just as enthusiastic about the Star Trek franchise as their US counterparts.

Photo: AFP

On a Sunday afternoon, a group of people dressed in colorful yellow, blue and red self-made costumes gathered at a Taipei gallery. They were not there to attend an art exhibition but to learn an alien language.

They were Trekkies, fans of the Star Trek franchise.

The gathering was part of their regular meeting and was meant for them to learn Klingon, which is spoken by the fictional Klingon race in the Star Trek universe.

Since its creation by Gene Roddenberry in 1966, Star Trek has entertained fans around the world with its compelling stories and colorful characters as viewers follow starship captains and their crews aboard space exploration vessels on interstellar adventures.

Few other science fiction series have become so interwoven with popular culture. Almost everyone is familiar with the names of Captain Kirk, pointy ears Spock and his signature Vulcan salute, even if they have never seen a single episode of the TV series.

The decades-old franchise has recently enjoyed a rebirth, with three modern Star Trek movies hitting theaters over the past eight years, enjoying huge box office success. The latest and sixth installment of the Star Trek television series since the 1960s original series, also aired in September of last year.

All these are concrete evidence showing the huge and everlasting global fan support of Star Trek.

FANS IN TAIWAN

In Taiwan, however, Star Trek was never as popular as in other parts of the world, not only because of the language barrier but also because local sci-fi fans had limited access to the franchise.

But this has not stopped Trekkies in Taiwan from following in the footsteps of the USS Federation in exploring the universe in search of new worlds and new life and boldly going where few Taiwanese have gone before.

One of the longest-running Star Trek fan clubs in the country, Starfleet Academy of National Taiwan University (NTU), will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year.

Also, Taiwanese Trekkies regularly hang out to share their passion for the Star Trek universe, and the Klingon language lecture was one of the meetings they held.

The Klingon language lecturer tlh’raS (Lai Chiao-ti, 賴喬迪) was one of those hardcore Trekkies.

A lover of language, he was so devoted to the series that he started to pick up Klingon and even bought dictionaries to study the language, created by American linguist Marc Okrand.

Bing, a web search engine operated by Microsoft, even added Klingon to Bing Translator in 2013.

tlh’raS said that he fell in love with the show when he saw Star Trek: The Next Generation in junior high school.

“I love how the TV series sees our future in a positive way, where the humans and aliens work together to promote peace,” he said.

tlh’raS’ lecture was attended by dozens of local Star Trek fans who were also visiting the Wrong Gallery next to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park, where an exhibition of Star Trek collectibles, including uniforms and gadgets, was being held.

Ho Kuo-chun (何國均), organizer of the lecture and exhibition, said the gathering was launched in the hope of promoting Star Trek in Taiwan so that more people can learn about the franchise.

According to Ho, unlike fans of Star Wars — arguably the most successful sci-fi series in cinematic history — who are generally more extroverted, Trekkies are likely to be more low-key.

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