'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Rejected George R.R. Martin as a Staff Writer

Thursday, 24 August 2017 - 8:26PM
Star Trek
Thursday, 24 August 2017 - 8:26PM
'Star Trek: The Next Generation' Rejected George R.R. Martin as a Staff Writer
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YouTube / CBS
Oh, what might have been: somewhere, in an alternate timeline (presumably where everyone has goatees), there exists a version of Star Trek: The Next Generation that was written, in part at least, by none other than George R.R. Martin himself.

Sadly, Martin was rejected during a job interview for a Next Generation staff writer position, which he revealed in a workshop at UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination back in May. According to Martin, his fatal flaw was admitting he was a sci-fi writer to a producer who claimed Star Trek wasn't actually science fiction.

That's right - an unnamed producer working on The Next Generation was apparently opposed to hiring sci-fi writers for the most sciency, fictiony show in television history, as Martin tells it:

Opening quote
"I had an interview with Star Trek: The Next Generation for a possible job as a staff writer. I remember coming in to the office of this producer – who thankfully did not last long on the show and you can see why when I tell the story. He said 'I don't know who you are can you tell me your credentials.'

And I said 'I am just coming off Twilight Zone where I worked for a while, but before that I wrote novels and short stories. I am primarily a science fiction writer.' And he said 'Oh really, well Star Trek is not a science-fiction show, it is a people show.' I was fooled by the photon torpedoes and starships. I was misled. Needless to say I did not get that job."
Closing quote

So there you have it - George R.R. Martin, who at the time was best known for winning several Hugo awards, was rejected from The Next Generation for being too qualified for the job. Crazy, right? Just imagine, Worf beheading Picard with a bat'leth, Data hooking up with Lore, Wesley ruling the Captain's chair with a will or iron until his untimely death by poisoning - what a show that would have been.

You can hear Martin's full story below:

Except (and some might consider this heresy, so be warned in advance), maybe that was actually the right choice. After all, the big appeal of The Next Generation is not just its weird sci-fi elements, but its statement on humanity, and what it means to be human. Hence, characters like Data, villains like The Borg, and even memory-altering technology that asks how we can trust our own perception of ourselves.

Put simply, this unnamed TNG producer was half right - while definitely sci-fi, the show is "a people show". That's the whole appeal - it explores the nuances of modern society through the lens of speculative fiction, and it's the reason why the characters are so much more iconic than those found in other Trek shows (without naming any names).

Take, for example, the impassioned speech on consciousness given by a holographic (but very much human) Moriarty in one episode of the show. This is a sci-fi show, yes, but it's arguable that Martin's own sensitivities as a writer might not have fit The Next Generation when the focus was more on telling stories about people than it was concerned with saying "wouldn't it be cool if...", as Martin had done on the 1980s' revival of The Twilight Zone.

Either way, of course, it's worth assuming that if Martin has an eagerness to write for Star Trek today, with the success of Game of Thrones behind him, CBS would be glad to have him. Considering the network's plans to regularly kill off main characters in this fall's Star Trek: Discovery, things have come full circle for George R.R. Martin regardless.
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