Surrounded By Robert Benchley-Killers


When I happen to be in the bookstore I occasionally pick up the science fiction magazines, for the same reason all their buyers do: I have vague thoughts of someday being published in them and you’re supposed to scope out your target markets. Anyway, the cover story of Fantasy and Science Fiction for May/June was this piece by David Gerrold. A normal person hasn’t got the faintest idea who that is, but he’s the guy who wrote the Tribbles episode of Star Trek. He’s also the guy who figured that for Next Generation it’d be much more sensible if the show focused on Will Riker leading Away Teams instead of Picard giving speeches until the aliens surrendered, but I believe he changed his mind once the actors were cast.

Anyway, right next to this was the July issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and there there’s another cover story by David Gerrold, “The Great American Airship Mystery, Or, Why I Murdered Robert Benchley”. It’s a title meant to grab my attention, but why is David Gerrold surrounding me entirely in magazine covers? I didn’t think he even knew me.

Long story short, I scurried out without looking to see if he had also grabbed the cover of other magazines like Entertainment Weekly or People Fondling Motorbikes or Pictures Of Local Historic Stuff Bimonthly. If he’s doing something with more magazines I don’t want to know it.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

4 thoughts on “Surrounded By Robert Benchley-Killers”

  1. I was always struck by the astonishing similarity between a Tribble and the flat cats from Heinlein’s ‘Space Family Stone/The Rolling Stones’. Apparently Heinlein invented a lot of the good Trek stuff.

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    1. Well, it’s hard avoiding Heinlein’s influence, for better or worse. And these days it’s harder avoiding Star Trek‘s influence. Heinlein apparently, at least according to Gerrold, didn’t think the similarities too striking. They were both drawing from the rabbits-in-Australia story and a bit of Pigs is Pigs, with the tribble design based on what could be done to suggest tens of thousands of creatures on a TV show budget.

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      1. Heinlein did so much to define mid-twentieth century sf. He also invented the modern waterbed, apparently describing it so well that it he was eventually awarded the patent. Kinda cool.

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        1. For better and worse, he did much to define mid-20th-century science fiction, yeah. The waterbed thing is an urban legend, though. Also, there’s no evidence that people doing remote manipulation by robots commonly call them “waldoes” however much science fiction fans try to insist that they do.

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