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Klingon for dear life as Star Trek docks in San Francisco

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EVENT Encompassing an entire universe of exotic worlds, cutting-edge technology, and larger-than-life characters, the realm of Star Trek has inspired fans and captivated their imaginations since the first episode of the original television series was broadcast back in 1966.

Created by Gene Roddenberry, who wove many of the pressing social issues of the 1960s into the fabric of the Star Trek ethos, the franchise has continued to live on through several spin-off television series, feature films, books, video games, and more.

San Francisco — which also happens to be home to the fictional headquarters of "Starfleet Command" — will be filled with sci fi fans this weekend for an official Star Trek convention featuring luminaries from the series such as the legendary William Shatner, the newly knighted Sir Patrick Stewart, and several other notable actors.

Two fan favorites who will be in attendance on Saturday are J.G. Hertzler and Robert O'Reilly, best known in the Star Trek pantheon for their roles as the Klingons Martok and Gowron. Both will be making a rare appearance in full costume and makeup, and will be doing some light-hearted improv in character, including what they call "Kling Bling" — a bit of Klingon hip-hop.

Hertzler, who spent several years at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco before beginning his television career, enjoys stepping back into the character, which not only allows him to entertain fans but to interject political and social commentary into the proceedings.

"The thing about being a Klingon is that it allows you to rant. It's on the edge of acceptable human behavior, but it's all acceptable if you're a Klingon," Hertzler laughs.

The fervor with which fans embrace Star Trek is admired by O'Reilly, who also notes that many Trekkers have gone on to make valuable scientific contributions to society after being inspired by the series.

"People really feel deeply about Star Trek. If you see who the fans are, they're scientists, astronomers — they're very bright people," O'Reilly says. "I've talked to astronauts who have said, 'I wanted to be an astronaut because I watched Star Trek and I wanted to get up there.'"

Both actors, who have also done a great deal of work on the stage during their careers, are proud and appreciative of the connections they and others in the series have made with fans over the years, which they say can transcend differences even in culture or location.

"It's truly amazing, I correspond with fans who live everywhere," Hertzler says. "Because of Star Trek, I have friends all over the world."

OFFICIAL STAR TREK CONVENTION 2010

Sat/23, 11 a.m.–9:45 p.m.;

Sun/24, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; $20–$65

Westin St. Francis

335 Powell, SF

(818) 409-0960

www.creationent.com