Friday, March 13, 2015

Read Free How Star Trek Developed from Gene Roddenberry's Roots as a Young SciFi Fan - Excerpt from Unauthorized Roddenberry Bio Out in June 2015

From media journalist James Van Hise's forthcoming Gene Roddenberry: The Man who Created Star Trek, first book in his The Unauthorized Guide to Trek series. Due out June 2015.

Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was born in El Paso, Texas on August 19,
1921. The young Roddenberry, who spent his formative years in Los Angeles, was a science fiction aficionado from the word go. It started with a battered copy of Astounding Stories magazine, and took off from there. Of course, he never considered writing in any genre or medium until much later in life, after college.

When he did, there would be no denying that he had a certain knack for it! Young Gene was a sickly boy whose parents often worried about his developmental problems. They failed to realize he had a vividly active imagination which made the trials of reality easier to bear. His discovery of science fiction, including Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, actually led him back to reality, demonstrating the possibilities of existence. Adolescence brought improvement in Gene's health, and he soon became a highly active youth. "I was somewhat handicapped as a child," Gene freely admitted. "I had the good fortune to lose most of it. I was a science fiction reader from the time I was about eleven years old. Since the age of four I've been reading everything in sight. I suspect if you gave me a telephone book I would read it. At the age of fourteen I read Days of Our Years by Pierre Van Paassen, which is a story that is sort of outmoded now, but it was the first statement I read about the evil of war and that wars are often manipulated for reasons other than the ones offered. I should say the whole range of reading through school, I could think of fifty-five writers, but not [only] one or two [that have influenced him.]"

As a child, Gene had radio (the home entertainment system of the day), but television didn't exist yet. He became a reader. He'd go to the library every week on the W-Line streetcar and then home again. "I remember getting some peanut butter and crackers and falling into the dream world of books." He noted, "If something comes out by Arthur C. Clarke, I grab it immediately."
[The book then identifies the surprising magazine that may have inspired basic elements of Star Trek TOS.]
George Clayton Johnson, who wrote the first episode of ST ever aired, "Man Trap." once said, "I remember having an argument with Gene Roddenberry, the great speckled bird of the universe himself, in which I said to him, 'I'm unhappy about this.' And he said to me, 'Look, George, it may well be, and I don't argue with you. You know one hell of a lot more about science fiction than I do. ...However, I know more about this show because I created this show.'
    "Whereupon I started to remind him that he created this show by reading Captain Future." Captain Future featured a handsome hero with three sidekicks, one of whom was an android, another a robot, and a third a brilliant emotionless scientist, Simon Wright, who existed only as a brain in a transparent floating case. George felt that elements of these characters were ancestral influences on Star Trek.

This may be true. Captain Future was very popular in the 1940s in a vein of science fiction very similar to E.E. Smith, another science fiction writer whom Gene named as a definite influence on his own work.

No comments:

Post a Comment