Great Bird of the Galaxy (glossary term)
|See also:||Uncle Harve, Papa Lucas, TPTB|
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According to "Star Trek Encyclopedia" 2nd ed., p. 178), the nickname was given to Roddenberry by associate producer Robert Justman and was used in the original series as an inside joke.
The ultimate origin of the nickname could be "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" by Robert A. Heinlein, in which a group of evil creatures (Sons of the Bird) believe that the universe was created by the Bird. Star Trek: The Original Series contains other borrowings from Heinlein; the tribbles in David Gerrold's "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode are (perhaps) inspired by the "flat cats" in The Rolling Stones.
Roddenberry is billed in the book jacket blurb for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture novelisation (Pocket, 1979) as "The Great Bird of the Galaxy".
In the early 1980s, SASTREK in Australia hosted Roddcon, which celebrated Gene Roddenberry's birthday. The Little Bird Awards were trophies presented at this convention to winners of the art display, fiction writing and costume parade.In a letter to Interstat #88 (1985), Harve Bennett used the phrase, "Great Bird" in a letter to fans:
To all my INTERSTAT friends: 1. Shatner is set. 2. Nimoy is set. 3. The Great Bird returns. 4. We are beginning the final work on story. 5. We plan to use all the STAR TREK regulars. 6. I'll be there too. And that's the news that is. All previous rumors and hysteria are to be disregarded. And thanks to all our friends who had the patience to let events take their course. See you at STAR TREK IV.
An in-joke on a computer screen in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) featured a cartoon drawing of Roddenberry as "The Great Bird of the Galaxy".
Image Publishing (USA) and Boxtree (UK) published the trade paperback book, Great Birds of the Galaxy: Gene Roddenberry and the Creators of Trek, in 1992.
In the licensed Star Trek: New Frontier novels (Pocket Books, 1997- ) by Peter David, a starship crew has an actual encounter with the mythical, phoenix-like "Great Bird".