|Fandoms:||Star Trek: TOS|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
David Gerrold is a Star Trek writer and fan.
"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."  
Gerrold is also credited with co-writing the story from which the TOS episode "The Cloud Minders" was adapted by Margaret Armen.
He was supposed to have worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but quit after the first season. He describes this experience and his work with Gene Roddenberry in an open letter reprinted with permission at StarTrekdom and dated July 19, 2007. He also talks about it in the 2015 film Chaos On The Bridge.
David Gerrold For PresidentEllen M. Kozak, David Gerrold was encouraged to run for president of the United States:
He sounded so good that someone wondered aloud how to get his ideas through to the President. Then a better though occurred to those assembled.
"Hey, David," someone asked, "are you 35 yet?"
"I turned 35 in January."
"Then why don't you run for President?"
There was momentary silence in the room, then an electric buzz of approval."
Why not, indeed? David may be the most intelligent potential candidate on the national scene. And it is clear that he has neither patience nor respect for many of the nonfuctional sacred cows of Washington.
And David has hope -- the same kind of hope James T. Kirk possessed, the kind of hope that really holds Trekdom together...Take up the challenge yourself. If David's words sound good to you, write him in care of Starlog... Tell him to run. He may be the candidate we've been waiting for? 
Gerrold and Tribbles
In either a crafty marketing move with Paramount, or a reflection of Paramount not covering all its bases (possibly both), David Gerrold personally sold a lot of tribbles.
Small tribbles were $3, you could get 10 small tribbles for $20. Large tribbles were $5 a piece, and you could get 5 of them for $20.From a 1973 ad:
In 2016, Gerrold explained that tribbles had their part of making him decide to stop going to cons:
Tribbles are available in the following colors: soft russet, shaggy gray, fluffy white, velvet black, outrageous calico, shocking zebra, and miscellaneous. Pleas specify second and third choices when ordering. Sometimes we run out.Tribbles are the exclusive creation of David Gerrold, and are copyright in his name. They were created for STAR Trek, and have appeared in "THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES" (live action) and the forthcoming "MORE TRIBBLES, MORE TROUBLES." (animated).
I knew it was time for me to stop going to conventions when I showed up at one and there were thirty people selling Tribbles. You say to them, "You don't have the right," and they say, "Fuck you, you made enough money off Star Trek. Now it's my turn." This was the shift. In '72 or '73, you'd meet the fans, and they were grateful for the opportunity to meet people who worked on Star Trek. By '75 or '76, the attitude was "We own Star Trek now. The studio doesn't care. We do." 
Gerrold's ad for tribbles for sale in 1972 from Star-Borne #4
Gerrold and Fandom, Sometimes Complicated
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] , for what many fans felt to be controversial and offensive remarks during interviews, and for his behavior at conventions.A Piece of the Action (1975), the editor had a statement regarding the remarks about Vul-Con in the previous issue. It is one that spotlights the uneasy relationship that fans had with TPTB's Involvement and Interference: David Gerrold straddled a line, between being a fan, with the much larger role he played, that being one of the original creators of the show (mainly via his screenplay, "The Trouble with Tribbles" and his part in writing for-profit Star Trek books). He was sort of one of "us," but fans also knew he was perhaps a conduit to the TPTB, and treated him both with gingerly respect, and but also with a conflicted anger over many of his remarks and actions at cons and elsewhere; the editor's remarks in A Piece of the Action hint at this constant back-and forth, and in the end, illustrate he knew which side fandom's bread is buttered on:
A number of people have been upset by certain parts of the Vul-Con report in the June "A Piece of the Action" -- D.C. Fontana, Bjo Trimble, David Gerrold, Virginia Walker, Janice Scott, Diane McClaugherty, to name a few whose comments had reached us by press time. Exceptions have been taken to several opinions expressed by the article's author. Some found Vul-Con to be a thoroughly enjoyable Con, and we hope to have their contrasting reports in the next issue. Others took exception to the rough treatment accorded the panel discussion. Because of the questions posed by the panel moderator and those asked by fans in the audience, those panel members who were knowledgeable about putting on a con or at whom the questions were directed did the answering — therefore David Gerrold might not deserve to be considered as having monopolized the conversation [the original topic of the panel was never mentioned]. The views expressed in the Vul-Con article were the author's opinion of an event and not intended as personal slander. Further, the author was not a spokesman for STW, but was functioning as a guest writer. News should be the primary function of any newsletter, but constructive criticism is essential as well. Pointing out faults which may lead to alternative action in the future is a necessary part of progress. However, the editors feel the references should have been edited and regret that they were printed. This incident points out to us that we do not often enough remember to express our appreciation to friends and supporters. David Gerrold is indeed a very good friend to the Star Trek Welcommittee and a valuable member of Star Trek fandom. We regret any embarrassment this may have caused him. David has long been a booster of the Star Trek Welcommittee. Thousands of first-discovery fans write him as a result of his two Star Trek books, and each receives several pages of informative flyers from David — which includes a lengthy and detailed description of the Star Trek Welcommittee, tells fans to contact the Welcommittee for Star Trek information, urges them to get our "fantastic directory", and plugs A Piece of the Action for the current Star Trek news. David has contacted A Piece of the Action regarding his concern about the fact that derogatory remarks have gotten out of hand in Star Trek and science fiction fandom. David dealt with this problem at length in his recent WesterCon Keynote Address..."
Gerrold and Remarks on Slash
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.  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. 
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 supposedly 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.
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
Another fan writes:
And another says: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.
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. 
Gerrold and Conventions
Gerrold was a very, very frequent guest at cons. He often ran the auction, gave presentations and talks, and was a general raconteur.In 2016, Gerrold explained his role in Star Trek fan networking:
The first convention had been the only hint that something was happening. Then they were going to do one in '73, which I went to, and six thousand people showed up. The following month in Los Angeles, people showed up there, too. That was the first real hint that this thing was not dead. But the studio said, "Three thousand people is no big thing." You really needed to demonstrate a continuing phenomenon, which had not been demonstrated at that time. So my book was out there, and here were all these fans who did not know that other fans existed. But every fan who got the book got a list of fan clubs and things like that, and every fan found out about other fans. We kept the fan club and convention list updated, so that by the time the conventions started to peter out, we noticed that an incredible network of fans had been created. I don't take credit for all of it, but I claim credit for triggering a large part of it, because I also helped the other conventions build up their lists. Once the process was initialed, it became a chain reaction, and toward the end of '74 and '75, we began to notice that the phenomenon had developed into something really big. 
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.
Blood and Fire
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". 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.
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.
OtherwordsDavid 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. 
1973 flyer by Gerrold, Tribbles on clearance, and hey, even if you don't buy stuff, write some letters (buying stuff is better though): "We're trying to generate the biggest mail response in TV history. We need to reach 100,000 people or more... It's going to cost a lot of money, though, not to mention printing a paper costs. But we're not asking for contributions. We don't want to take your money without giving you fair value in return. That's why this letter is going out with an advertising packet. When you buy a tribble or a book, you're helping us cover the mailing cost to you, but to two other people as well."
a fan's cartoon from Rigel #1, Phil Avram: "We dedicate this page to David Gerrold, who was always looking for the potty..."
a bit of David Gerrold from Satire Trek Comicordance
Interviews and Con Reports
- David Gerrold Answers Your Questions (1969)
- Third Annual Emory Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium Interview with Robert Bloch and David Gerrold (1983)
- David Gerrold's 1984 UFP Con Report (1984)
- DraftTrek Interview with David Gerrold (1985)
- from Sensor Readings #1 (1984)
- from Academy Chronicles #8
- from "The Fifty Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History" by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, published in 2016 by St. Martin's Press
- from a fan's memorial for the Commodore Hotel, The Hole in the Deck Gang Newsletter #12
- two interviews: one in Sensor Readings #1 and for the convention DraftTrek, see those pages
- see the personal statement by [R W] in Universal Translator #23
- Both zines deal with devoted but non-sexual friendship between Kirk and Spock.
- from a personal statement by [R S] in Universal Translator #23
- The suicide story has circulated in fandom since the early 1970s in various forms. It may well be an urban legend. There is a discussion of the fan suicide story on TrekBBS.
- David Gerrold, The World of Star Trek. Bluejay Books, 1984.
- He seems to have an obsession with female fans' weight. In the 1983 edition of The World of Star Trek he refers to a woman who allegedly went around various conventions -- reading to presumably unwilling listeners her 150-page single-spaced study of Spock and Vulcan -- as "a charter member of size-nineteen Star Trek fandom."
- from The LOC Connection #22
- from The LOC Connection #22
- from The LOC Connection #24
- from "The Fifty Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History" by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, published in 2016 by St. Martin's Press
- David Gerrold, The World of Star Trek (Ballantine, 1973).
- Episode 4x4: Blood and Fire, part 1. (Accessed 20 June 2012).
- For details on what really happened with "Blood and Fire" and why Gerrold left the show, see David Gerrold Talks Frankly About TNG Conflicts With Roddenberry & Berman + JJ-Trek & more, Trekmovie.com, 2014-11-12.
- from A Piece of the Action #14