The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: David Gerrold

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by David Gerrold, the author of over 50 books, hundreds of articles and columns, and over a dozen television episodes—including the Star Trek Original Series classic “The Trouble with Tribbles.” David recently released 12 of his classic works in ebook format, including When Harlie Was One, Moonstar, and Child of Grass. Find out more about all of the ebook releases at Gerrold’s site, and check out an excerpt from Child of Earth, book one in The Sea of Grass trilogy, here on!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

I once had a week-long fling with a former Mouseketeer.

What is your favorite short story?

The one I’m writing now. It’s always the one I’m writing now. Just like my favorite dog/cat is the one sitting in my lap while I’m petting it.

Describe your favorite place to read or write.

A chair. Any chair. 

But it turns out I do a lot of reading while waiting in lines, waiting for the plane to board, on the plane, in restaurants, during commercials—everywhere but in bed. 

My favorite place to write? I have one room of my house as an office. My desk faces the window so I can watch the weather. That’s where the big computer and the huge monitor are set up. 

I have a backup office in a corner of my bedroom with a laptop connected to its own monitor (big, but not as big as the main system.) 

When I get tired of sitting and staring at one screen, I go to the other room and sit and stare at that screen. I write different stories on each machine. 

If you could choose your own personal theme music to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

Saint-Saens’ Third Symphony, The “Organ” Symphony. The triumphant part of the fourth movement. 

If you regenerated as a new Doctor, what would your signature outfit/accessory be?

Something Edwardian. Like Oscar Wilde. 

Do you have a favorite underrated author?

Daniel Keys Moran.

Do you have a favorite phrase?

Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order. 

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

Aphids are born pregnant.

If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?

Aside from the temptation to name an oversized gas giant after a certain puffed up radio noise…. 

I would want to name a binary star system after Verne and Wells. I would want to name its major planets Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, and Clement.

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.


What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn? 

Well, it wasn’t for Halloween, but I got to be an ape in one of the Ape movies.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Rare roast beef on rye bread with mustard, lettuce, and tomato—and a layer of cole slaw.

What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?

It’s a tossup between “feelies,” true rejuvenation, and direct portals to other planets. If I had to choose, I’d go for rejuvenation so I could hang around for another couple centuries and see how things turn out.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

“Space Patrol” on television. “Rocket Ship Galileo” by Robert A. Heinlein, in the library. 

Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?

Heroes are more fun to write than villains because villains don’t have to grow, heroes do. The process of heroic growth is the most exciting part of the story.

Having finally established communication with a distant alien species, what’s the first thing that we should tell them about Earth/humans?

“We’re not out of diapers yet. Be patient.”

Cast the main characters for the Hollywood adaptation of your book.

For The Martian Child I wanted Robin Williams. 

For The Man Who Folded Himself I’d want Alfred Enoch, who plays Wes Gibbons in How To Get Away With Murder.

If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any two characters, who would they be?

Commander Buzz Corey and Cadet Happy. (“I know how to make that cadet happy….”)

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?

George Lucas. I’d rattle my chains and moan, “Story structure…. Story structure… You must learn story structure….” 

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

1) Sometimes I’m so subtle even I don’t get it.

2) All my characters are gay. (Or at least, bisexual.) Some of them don’t know it yet.

3) Usually, I have no idea how the story will end when I start it. I get to be one with the hero and figure it out as we go.

If you could find one previously undiscovered book by a non-living author, who would it be?

A Heinlein juvenile would be at the top of my list. After that, either a new book by Jules Verne or Charles Dickens, I’d even accept a complete mss. of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Or the complete Satyricon by Petronius.


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