My first experience with David Gerrold was an absolutely hilarious novel he co-wrote with Larry Niven (whose name was no doubt the reason I picked the book up) titled The Flying Sorcerers.
I have two copies of that book in my collection – one held together with a bit of tape and a lot of hope. That’s how many times I’ve re-read it. (The second I picked up at Boskone from the NESFA giveaway table and its in pristine condition – and will remain that way. I’ve got a grandson coming and I’ll be reading it to him as a bed time story in not too many years.)
The Flying Sorcerers was my literary introduction to fannish humor; painfully bad puns, big name author cameos and a very close examination of the divide between science and mysticism.
I didn’t realize that I’d met David before. He was the author of that fan favorite Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles. It’s one of my faves too. (The foregoing is largely unnecessary; as David himself has lamented, the first thing most people think when they hear his name is TTWT.)
A few years after those initial encounters – exactly when escapes me – I spent some time with him at a con (which one escapes me) racing elevators from the lobby to the top floor and down again. This staid activity was accompanied by the creation (and rejection) of numerous fake religions and much laughter.
Over the years between then and now I’ve watched other television shows scripted & edited by DG (Star Trek the Animated series; The Land of the Lost) and read many of his other stories and novels – The Chtorr series!!!, The Man Who Folded Himself, The Martian Child, When Harlie Was One, the Star Wolf series– and
published a comic script he wrote called A Doctor For the Enterprise (which of course you can buy right here on Amazing Stories).
David has kept his hand in the Star Trek franchise (both the animated series and ST:TNG have included clever reprise episodes of Tribble mayhem), which has extended to the fan-run Star Trek: New Voyages (also known as Phase II), which has named him its showrunner, and is working on the feature length film Star Trek: Axanar as a creative consultant. A good move, considering how much influence he has had on this iconic franchise almost from its very beginning.
Let me return for a moment to that first David Gerrold read – The Flying Sorcerers. David co-authored that novel with Larry Niven. (Another one of my personal favorites.) Mr. Niven has, for quite some time, often been held up as an example of a science fiction author who leans right, while David has become a recognizable champion of the LGBTQ community (and many other left-leaning concepts) on Facebook and elsewhere. Their Flying Sorcerers partnership back in 1970 or thereabouts is quite a telling example of how our community used to present itself, which is of course, a presentation that put the works, and the fun, well before any other considerations.
This year, David will be both Sasquan’s Guest of Honor and a co-host of the Hugo Awards ceremony with Tananarive Due. The GoH slot has traditionally been one of the highest honors that SF fandom can bestow upon an individual (congratulations, David – this is well deserved!). The Hugo Award emcee slot is usually reserved for someone who knows fandom well enough to be able to entertain it on its own level, while at the same time has enough presence among the processionals to be able to shuffle the winners off the stage gracefully.
This year, David (and Tananarive) have the unenviable task of presiding over events amidst a great deal of controversy (I won’t mention what here), other than to quote David’s response to questions about whether or not the entire ceremony would be cancelled:
We are not cancelling the Hugo award ceremony. Not as long as I have anything to say about it.
There are people who are on the ballot because they deserve to be. They deserve your fair consideration, they deserve your votes.
It’s their night to be honored. The award ceremony is our night to celebrate excellence. It’s our night to come together as a community. It’s our night to party like it’s 2015.
I like to think I know this community well enough to have a sense of where our hearts and souls really are. I’ve attended enough events and seen enough of fandom to know that there’s a unique spirit here that simply cannot be crushed. We can be beaten up, but we can’t be beaten down. We’re just too fucking resilient.
Fans don’t quit. Fans don’t give up. Fans are the kind of people who — if you give them lemons — come back with key lime pie and you’re left scratching your head, wondering how they did it.
So we will have a Hugo ceremony. It will be a celebration of our deserving nominees. It will be a celebration of excellence in the genre. It will be a celebration of our history and our traditions. It will be a celebration of us.
There will be some jokes. There will be some surprises. Some of the best people in the genre have stepped up to the plate — and we’re planning a celebration that will be joyous and fun. I intend that we will end up feeling proud that we haven’t lost our ability to be the greatest fans on Earth — and in space as well.
When we step back and take a larger look at our history, at our traditions, at ourselves and the scale of our dreams and the scale of our accomplishments — this year’s little kerfuffle is merely a momentary hiccup in a much bigger history.
I wish I could be there. Fortunately, the entire thing will be livestreamed on UStream (visit the Sasquan website for details).
Of course, being GoH and Co-Emcee doesn’t mean that David gets to relax and rest on his laurels. So far this year he’s had a couple of short stories published and has two more that will be appearing in Asimov’s The Great Pan American Airship Mystery, or, Why I Murdered Robert Benchley (which I have got to read!) and F&SF’s Entanglements.
Knowing David as little as I do, I’m sure we’re in for some laughs at this year’s ceremony. And some surprises!