David Gerrold

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Name: David Gerrold
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David Gerrold is a Star Trek writer and fan.

from 1973: The Trouble with Tribbles -- "David Gerrold before Tribbles and after..."

About

"David Gerrold... recieved his B.A. from San Fernando Valley State College in 1967, and has worked in a toy store, in a 'dirty book store,' and as a television producer. He got his star in television with the sale of his script, 'The Trouble with Tribbles.' Since that time, he has written and co-written several other scripts for Star Trek... He has written two books on the series, The Trouble with Tribbles and The World of Star Trek, the latter of which is being re-released in connection with Star Trek III [The Search for Spock] as this fanzine goes to press." [1984] [1]

Gerrold is also credited with co-writing the story from which the TOS episode "The Cloud Minders" was adapted by Margaret Armen.

Gerrold and Fandom

Gerrold is known as the writer of the extremely popular Star Trek: TOS episode 'The Trouble with Tribbles," for his frequent convention appearances, for his marketing of toy tribbles, for his "dulcet voice selling original xeroxed scripts boom over the whining PA system" [at conventions] [2], for what many fans felt to be controversial and offensive remarks during interviews,[3] and for his behavior at conventions.[4]

He has contributed to several fanzines, both as an interviewee and as a non-fiction writer. Gerrold was also the subject of a con panel at SeKWester*Con called "What is David Gerrold and Why?"

Gerrold, who is gay, has a decidedly negative attitude toward slash fan work, in particular K/S. In 1984, while conducting an auction at the U.F.P. Convention in Manchester, England, he chose to ridicule slash fanzines:

The event took place on both Saturday and Sunday of the con. On Saturday, Mr. Gerrold picked up a copy of Thrust and said he found such literature 'annoying to say the least.' He then flourished the cover -- there were small children in the audience and, despite being asked to refrain, he continued to do so -- and gave 'mock readings' in a derisory tone, accompanied by jeers from one sector of the audience. Later, he apologized for having given 'offence' (his word). However, on Sunday, the same behaviour prevailed. Mr. Gerrold used words like 'filth' and 'perversion' with regard to zines, in particular K/S Relay. Readings were given from Sun and Shadow, and it was implied this was a K/S zine. The same suggestion was made of Precessional. [5] The atmosphere of the whole auction was not pleasant... Perhaps readers of UT [Universal Translator]have encountered such a phenomenon before, but I was considerably saddened by it, as it seems so contrary to the spirit of Star Trek [but came] from one who is regarded as a creator. [6]

Also in 1984, he edited a re-issue of his 1973 book The World of Star Trek in which he associated slash fandom with mental disturbance, mentioning it in a section on fans who have stalked the actors or committed suicide over Star Trek.

An equally disturbing phenomenon has developed among a group of female Star Trek fans. To them, Star Trek is not about the Enterprise or its five-year mission, or the noble vision of humanity among the stars—it is specifically about the relationship between Kirk and Spock.

More specifically, these women entertain themselves by writing stories in which Kirk and Spock are homosexual lovers. [He footnotes this with "I am not making this up. Honest."]

Kirk?!! And Spock?!!

The stories are collected and circulated in mimeographed fanzines. More than one unsuspecting Star Trek fan has stumbled unwarily into these zines at some convention or other. The result is usually a started expression and the question, 'Is this what Star Trek is really about?' (It is most definitely not what Star Trek fandom is really about, but more than one young would-be fan has been prohibited from attending Trek-cons or reading Trek-zines because his/her parents have seen this material.

The network of K/S fans -- as they call themselves -- is small, but very active. Some of their stories are very explicit. And some of the artwork accompanying—well, never mind. These women use scenes from the episodes and specifically from the Star Trek movies to justify their belief that this is the secret message of Star Trek . . . . While the K/S ladies have never been vocal enough to be a problem, their projection of their own sexual fantasies onto Star Trek has at times been a nuisance for those who actually have to produce the show. Eventually, Gene Roddenberry, in his novelization of Star Trek I, had to acknowledge their unwelcome invasion of the universe he had created by including a footnote . . . explaining that Kirk and Spock were "just good friends." (This did not even slow the K/S ladies down.)

One long-time Star Trek fan summed up her feelings about the K/S phenomenon this way: "I really don't mind the stories. Some of them are even quite well written. What does bother me though is the sado-masochism in them. Too many of the stories involve beating and rapes -- sometimes even between Kirk and Spock. I just find it difficult to believe that this is an accurate portrayal of the behavior of two of Starfleet's finest officers."

Even more candid are the comments of a gay male Star Trek fan: "The K/S stories I've seen are offensive. It's a woman's idea of what gay men are like, and it's way off base. Besides, I like Kirk and Spock the way they are."

What anyone wants to believe in the privacy of his or her own head, of course, is his or her own business. It's when you start messing around in other people's universes that you have to follow the rules of the local creator. If nothing else, it's good manners.[7]

This rant, of course, had an effect familiar to anyone who's ever been warned not to do something.

In 1985, he followed this up with an Open Letter to K/S Fandom by David Gerrold, setting off another major flap within established fandom. Later in the year, he commented on K/S fandom's reaction in an interview conducted by Randall Landers and Tim Farley, during which he referred to either all K/S fans or just the ones who argued with him about it as "fat ladies with a sexual dysfunction." He shared his position on K/S again in 2013, though, it seems, only in response to somebody asking him about it again.

Gerrold as a Gateway to K/S and Slash

Some fans credit Gerrold with their introduction to K/S, citing his comments in the revised edition of The World of Star Trek.

A fan writes:
I first read about K/S in a rude comment in a David Gerrold book (thank you, Mr. Gerrold!) and then in fan literature. It sounded a little weird, but okay. When I actually saw some, I was hooked immediately. Now it's the only Trek I buy.[8]
Another fan writes:
My involvement with K/S began in early '86. I'd been thinking/fantasizing about Kirk and Spock "like that" for ages... when I finally chanced upon Gerrold's famously funny remarks about the "K/S ladies'; - and practically jumped for joy! I wasn't alone!! The first zine I ever ordered was AS I DO THEE 2, and it was even more wonderful than I'd imagined K/S would be.[9]
And another says:
Fascinating how many of us owe knowledge of fandom of K/S to David Gerrold. Haybe we should get up a petition of thanks, or something. [10]

The Cloud Minders

Gerrold is credited with co-writing the original story from which Margaret Armen adapted the TOS episode "The Cloud Minders". According to the Internet Movie Database, he "conceived the original story on which this episode was based, an outline called 'Castle in the Sky'. He was deeply disappointed with the final script."

It was intended as a parable between the haves and the have-nots, the haves being the elite who are removed from the realities of everyday life – they live in their floating sky cities. The have-nots were called "Mannies" (for Manual Laborers) and were forced to live on the surface of the planet where the air was denser, pressure was high, and noxious gases made the conditions generally unlivable. The Mannies [were] torn between two leaders, one a militant, and one a Martin Luther King figure. (Mind you, this was in 1968, shortly after King was assassinated, and just before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.)

In my original version, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura were captured by the Mannies when their shuttlecraft was shot down by a missile. (The Enterprise desperately needed dilithium crystals. This planet was one of the Federation's biggest suppliers, and Kirk's concern was to restore the flow of crystals. He didn't care who worked the mines, just that the supply was not interrupted. The shuttlecraft was necessary because I felt that the crystals might be too dense for the transporter.) In the process of the story, Kirk realizes that unless living conditions for the Mannies are improved, the situation can never be stabilized.

Because Uhura has been injured in the shuttlecraft crash, McCoy starts treating her in a Mannie hospital. But he is so appalled at the condition of the other patients there, especially the children suffering from high-pressure disease, that he begins treating them as well. Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock have convinced their captors to let them go up to the sky city and try to negotiate a settlement to the local crisis.

The story focused primarily on the lack of communication between the skymen and the Mannies. Kirk's resolution of the problem was to force the two sides into negotiation. He opened the channels of communication with a phaser in his hand. "You -- sit there! You -- sit there! Now, talk!" And that's all he does. He doesn't solve the problem himself, he merely provides the tools whereby the combatants can seek their own solutions, a far more moral procedure.

In the end, as the Enterprise breaks orbit, Kirk remarks on this, as if inaugurating the problem-solving procedure is the same as solving the problem. He pats himself on the back and says, "We've got them talking. It's just a matter of time until they find the right direction." And McCoy who is standing right next to him, looks at him and says, "Yes, but how many children will die in the meantime?"

This answer was not a facile one; the viewer was meant to be left as uneasy as Kirk.

But in the telecast version, the whole problem was caused by Zenite gas in the mines, and "if we can just get them troglytes to all wear gas masks, then they'll be happy little darkies and they'll pick all the cotton we need..."

Somehow, I think it lost something in the translation.[11]

Blood and Fire

ad from David Gerrold, in which he sells a unused script for Star Trek: TNG and donates the money to the "AIDS Project Los Angeles."
From the ad: "'Blood and Fire' was written for Star Trek: The Next Generation in May of 1987. It's about the fear of AIDS and what it does to people. (Yes, this is the one with the two gay characters in it.) A few weeks after it was turned in, 'Blood and Fire' was shelved. No explanation was ever given why the script was set aside."

In 1987, Gerrold wrote a script for Star Trek: TNG which included two gay characters and touched upon the topic of homosexuality and AIDS. It was called Blood and Fire.[12] The script was turned down, and Gerrold left his job at Star Trek shortly after.

In 1989, Gerrold sold copies of the script to raise money for AIDS-related charity.

With Gerrold's permission, Carlos Pedraza rewrote "Blood and Fire" as a two-part episode for the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages (renamed Star Trek: Phase II). Gerrold did a final draft polish and also directed. Filming was completed on part 1 in 2007 and the show "aired" online in December 2008: part 2, a year later.

Blood and Fire: Part 1

Blood and Fire: Part 2

The Martian Child

Gerrold wrote the novelette The Martian Child based partly on his own experiences with his adopted son. In the book, the father is gay, like Gerrold himself. However, when the story was optioned for film by Bonneville, which is Mormon-run, they made Gerrold "straightwash" his character. When Bonneville later gave up on the production, the film rights were picked up by New Line Cinema, which retained the straight version of the character.

Otherwords

cover of Otherwords #1
In 1969, the David Gerrold Fan Club published a series of zines about him called Otherwords. From the introduction to the first issue:
Otherworlds (to be quite honest about it) is published for the edification of David Gerrold's ego. (And if you've ever seen his ego, you know it needs a lot of edifying.) Subject matter willl primarily consist of articles by, for and about David. Some will be original, some will be reprinted. Material will include various fan work, unsold professional work, and sometimes letters (and missives) pertaining to both. Should this exercise in narcissism be more than your stomach can stand, we will occasionally attempt to relieve the tedium. Somehow.

A Piece of the Action and a Retraction

In 1974, A Piece of the Action referred to him as "his usual obnoxious but likable self." They printed a retraction in the next issue:

In the March issue of A Piece of the Action, we printed a sentence which requires retraction, or at least explanation, we said, "David Gerrold was his usual obnoxious but likable self." This was partially the fault of the writer, and partially my fault, as editor, for allowing such a statement to be printed. David Gerrold, perhaps more than any other celebrity, has made himself a part of fandom, and perhaps this has something to do with it. Most of us look at him as though he were one of us, and jokes like "obnoxious" get through about him, where they might not with other celebrities. Those of us who have met him and spoken with him know that he is not obnoxious—in fact, it is so obvious that the very statement "obnoxious" is obviously sarcastic. But nonetheless, such a statement needs to be retracted, in order that those who have not met him will realize that it is definitely not true. [13]

Gallery

Interviews and Con Reports

External Sources

References

  1. from Sensor Readings #1 (1984)
  2. from a fan's memorial for the Commodore Hotel, The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter #12
  3. two interviews: one in Sensor Readings #1 and for the convention DraftTrek, see those pages
  4. see the personal statement by [R W] in Universal Translator #23
  5. Both zines deal with devoted but non-sexual friendship between Kirk and Spock.
  6. from a personal statement by [R S] in Universal Translator #23
  7. David Gerrold, The World of Star Trek. Bluejay Books, 1984.
  8. from The LOC Connection #22
  9. from The LOC Connection #22
  10. from The LOC Connection #24
  11. David Gerrold, The World of Star Trek (Ballantine, 1973).
  12. Episode 4x4: Blood and Fire, part 1. (Accessed 20 June 2012).
  13. from A Piece of the Action #14
Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also Maureen Garrett, Richard Arnold, David Gerrold, Susan Sackett
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