Gerrold, David

Tagged: Author

Pseudonym of US author and scriptwriter Jerrold David Friedman (1944-    ), who was raised in Southern California, gaining a BA in theatre arts there. His earliest commercial sales were Television scripts, the first of them a well-known Star Trek (1966-1969) episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles" (1967), the subject of one of his two books about the original series, The Trouble with Tribbles (1973), which includes the script plus a nonfiction narrative. The other, The World of Star Trek (1973; rev vt The World of Star Trek; Revised Edition 1984), perceptively analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the show, and recounts its travails in the world of network Television. He also wrote two Star Trek Ties, The Galactic Whirlpool (1980) and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Encounter at Farpoint (1987), and briefly worked on the subsequent television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994).

Gerrold's first novel, The Flying Sorcerers (1971) with Larry Niven, is a lively attempt to give a scientific rationale to a variety of incidents – which to the observers seem like Magic – when an explorer is stranded on a primitive planet; there are several comic Tuckerisms of sf authors. His first solo novel, Space Skimmer (1972), deals with a man's search for a vanished Galactic Empire and its Spaceships, as described in the title. Perhaps his best-known work is When Harlie was One (fixup 1972; rev vt When H.A.R.L.I.E. was One (Release 2.0) 1988), which deals with the evolution of artificial Intelligence in a Computer, discussing many of the problems of life with an air of profundity not wholly justified by the content (the revised version improves the telling, and updates the Technology, but does not significantly sophisticate Gerrold's rendering of AI). With a Finger in my I (coll 1972) assembles some of his occasionally precious short stories; the title story (in Again, Dangerous Visions, anth 1972, ed Harlan Ellison) is a fantasy about solipsism and Perception showing a strong if slightly undergraduate sense of verbal play. Yesterday's Children (1972; exp 1980; vt Starhunt 1985) is a Space Opera, with conflict between a captain and first officer on a Starship; this was based on Gerrold's proposed (but not approved) Star Trek script «Tomorrow was Yesterday». The Man Who Folded Himself (1973) deals in jerky, short-sentenced prose with a hero who Time-Travels and meets other versions of himself, doubled through Time Paradox, and makes love to several of them (both male and female) in an orgy of reciprocal narcissism. Moonstar Odyssey (1977) deals with an extraterrestrial hermaphroditic society whose members do not have to settle into one sex until after adolescence. In both books, a superficial obedience to "Californian" concepts of the free lifestyle revert to more traditional readings of human morality.

In the 1980s – a decade during which he did extensive work for television – Gerrold's writings lost some of their freshness, and his dependency on earlier sf models for inspiration became more burdensome. The War Against the Chtorr sequence – A Matter for Men (1983; rev 1989), A Day for Damnation (1984; exp 1989), A Rage for Revenge (1989) and A Season for Slaughter (1992), with the first versions of the first two titles assembled as The War Against the Chtorr: Invasion (omni 1984) – mixes countercultural personal empowerment riffs à la Robert A Heinlein with violent action scenes as the worm-like Chtorr continue to assault Earth, with no end in sight; the Starsiders/Chigger sequence – comprising Jumping Off the Planet (2000), Bouncing Off the Moon (2001) and Leaping to the Stars (2002), all three assembled as The Far Side of the Sky (omni 2002) – is a Young Adult Space Opera whose young sibling protagonists have issues with their mysterious father, which are resolved excitedly. Other novels, like The Galactic Whirlpool (1980) and Enemy Mine (1985) with Barry B Longyear – the novelization of Enemy Mine, a film based on a Longyear story – show a rapid-fire competence but are not innovative. Chess with a Dragon (1987) is an amusing but conceptually flimsy juvenile. There is a growing sense that Gerrold might never write the major novel he once seemed capable of – not because he has lost the knack, but because he is disinclined to take the fantastic very seriously. The Martian Child (September 1994 F&SF; exp 2002), whose magazine version won a Hugo, a Locus Award and a Nebula award, which although larded with sentimentality may be his most sustained novel, is not in fact fantastic: it is the semi-autobiographical story of a writer named "David Gerrold" whose disturbed son believes he is a Martian; it was filmed as The Martian Child (2007). In the novel, as Gary Westfahl has suggested, "David Gerrold's" partial redemption of his son is conducted in the real world of an sf writer whose creative imagination provides plausible models for coping, a solution the film translates into a solitudinous fantasy of family redemption, all conducted in an atmosphere in which "Gerrold's" creative imagination is seen as part of the problem, which – along with the grotesqueries of Sci-Fi – he must eschew.

Much of Gerrold's later short work, which he has produced throughout his career, is assembled in Alternate Gerrolds (coll 2004) and The Involuntary Human (coll 2007). [JC]

see also: Clones; Cybernetics; Fantasy; Gravity; Skylark Award; Terraforming; Worldcon.

Jerrold David Friedman

born Chicago, Illinois: 24 January 1944

died

works

series

Star Trek (fiction and nonfiction)

War Against the Chtorr

  • A Matter for Men (New York: Pocket Books/Timescape, 1983) [War Against the Chtorr: hb/Boris Vallejo]
    • A Matter for Men (New York: Bantam Books, 1989) [rev of the above: War Against the Chtorr: hb/Carla Sormanti]
  • A Day for Damnation (New York: Pocket Books/Timescape, 1984) [War Against the Chtorr: hb/Boris Vallejo]
  • A Rage for Revenge (New York: Bantam Books, 1989) [War Against the Chtorr: hb/Carla Sormanti]
  • A Season for Slaughter (New York: Bantam Spectra, 1989) [War Against the Chtorr: pb/Gary Ruddell]
  • «A Method for Madness» (New York: Tor, 2011) [various completion and publication dates announced and withdrawn; this title remains unpublished: War Against the Chtorr: pb/]

Star Wolf

Trackers

Starsiders/Chigger

Sea of Grass

individual titles

nonfiction

works as editor

links

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.