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Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth Sale and…

Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth Sale and Final Production of One Episode (original 1973; edition 1973)

by David Gerrold

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423439,333 (3.82)5
From the award-winning science fiction author who created it, the behind-the-scenes story of one of Star Trek's most famous episodes.   Aired in 1967 as part of the second season, "The Trouble with Tribbles" was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation--though it lost out to another Star Trek episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever"--and has been a mainstay of best-of and fan-favorite lists ever since.   Here, David Gerrold, the creator of "Tribbles," recalls how this popular episode of Star Trek was made, from conceptualizing the first draft to the final script to shooting on set--and explains the techniques and disciplines of TV writing.   Also included are thirty-two pages of photos, original illustrations by Tim Kirk, and more!  … (more)
Title:Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth Sale and Final Production of One Episode
Authors:David Gerrold
Info:Ballantine Books (1973), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read, Read this year, ebooks, Boxed, Working on, BOMBs
Tags:Fic, SF, !dunno, _BB_SFBoxes, __scanned, _BB_SF_06, !HB, StarTrek, __make_cover, _import190417

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The Trouble with Tribbles by David Gerrold (1973)

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Mildly interesting - it was fun seeing the Star Trek back-lot stuff. I'm far less interested in Gerrold's travails as a new scriptwriter, which is a large part of the content - what his agent said and what he said and the legal niceties of selling ideas, scripts, and rewrites (each separately). The actual script (more or less - he mentions quite a few bits where what was on paper (that he could find, years later) and what was filmed differed slightly) was amusing to read - it's not my favorite episode, but it's one I enjoy. There is a chapter on Heinlein's flatcats, and how Gerrold didn't use them as a pattern, at least consciously. Including that legal took it up with Heinlein and all he asked for was a copy of the script (which he got - signed by Gerrold, who hadn't realized the problem at that point). This is one of multiple mildly amusing reminisces. Glad I read it, but I doubt I'll bother to reread. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Nov 30, 2019 |
(Original Review, 1980-11-19)

I have always found the similarities between RAH's "Flatcats" in THE ROLLING STONES and Gerrold's "Tribbles" in THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES to be more than just coincidence [2018 EDIT: Incidentally Star Trek writers wrote two episodes based on this same story: "The Trouble with Tribbles" (Star Trek) and "Trials and Tribble-ations" (DS9)]. For the uninitiated, Flatcats look EXACTLY like tribbles, except that they have three tiny eyes in their fur. They purr when stroked in a pleasing manner, and, most importantly, they REPRODUCE like... well, like tribbles. The ROLLING STONES have an interesting time when they bring one aboard their spaceship and then take off on a long trip... it produces 8 little'uns, which in turn quickly produce 8 each... which... Anyone who knows Gerrold, can you find out if he knew about RAH's book... and in any event, if I was RAH I would have screamed bloody murder...[2018 EDIT: Here] Read THE ROLLING STONES instead. It’s much better.

[2018 EDIT: This review was written at the time as I was running my own personal BBS server. Much of the language of this and other reviews written in 1980 reflect a very particular kind of language: what I call now in retrospect a “BBS language”.] ( )
  antao | Nov 7, 2018 |
This review is also published on my blog.

Time for another step back in the Trek schedule. Today, we'll take a look at David Gerrold's The Trouble With Tribbles, published on 12 April 1973.

This book goes into some detail about how Gerrold came to write the titular episode, and includes several drafts as well as the final script, each annotated with information about how and why some of the earlier concepts were changed for the final script. In addition to describing the writing process, Gerrold gives a bit of information about how the props were made and how shooting went, and finally reflects on the impact the episode has had, both on him and others. He concludes the book with an anecdote about sending a spare tribble to a hospital to encourage a girl, paralyzed by meningitis, in her recovery.

This isn't the first time I've mentioned this book--I noted it last year, when I wrote about Gerrold's The World of Star Trek (published simultaneously), but I've only recently acquired a copy. Was it worth the wait?

Not really. It's well written, of course, and amusing enough to read, but by the time I got through the final draft of "The Trouble With Tribbles", I was pretty well sick of the story. Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek goes into more interesting detail about the production aspects, and Gerrold's own The World of Star Trek is a more interesting look at the writing. The form of the book is basically autobiographical, but it's rather scant of details. There's a little talk at the beginning on how Gerrold has always been a fan of science fiction, and a few more anecdotes scattered throughout, but otherwise the focus is very much on the revision of the script.

My suggestion: unless you're a particularly big fan of "The Trouble With Tribbles", read The World of Star Trek, instead.
  Sopoforic | Sep 10, 2017 |
Gives an interesting perspective of the progress of a story from idea, to script to actual episode.
  ariaflame | Apr 24, 2007 |
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This book should be dedicated to
Erwin Blocker and Gene Coon and Gene Roddenberry and William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley and Jim Doohan and Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nicols and Majel Barnett and George Takei and all the other good people who made it possible
But I'm sure they'll understand that this book is a special one - so it has to be for 
        Betty Ballantine
who's pretty special herself.
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This book is the story of a television script, where it came from, how it was written, how it was eventually filmed and finally got onto the air as an episode of STAR TREK.
In 1966, I was a rabbit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Careful! Do NOT combine with Photonovel of the same name by the same author!
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The Complete Story of one of Star Trek's most popular epidodes:
  • From first draft to final shooting script
  • The how and why of a TV writing
  • Three previously unpublished episodes
  • Workong on STAR TREK lot
  • Personal stories of the stars
  • 32 pages of photos
  •  Original illustrations by Tim Kirk


Back in 1966 NBC began airing the first intelligent science fiction series the tube had ever seen, STAR TREK, Its impact was immediate.

Around the same time, a fellow named David Gerrold wsa discovering he wanted to be a writer. He was still in college when he saw his first STAR TREK episode, but he knew that was the market he wanted to crack.

He had never written anything professionally before so it is certainly among the more improbable events in creation that David Gerrold and STAR TREK should have gotten together. But then science fiction is full of the improbable made fact. And David Gerrold, with the single-minded dedication of a new talent making itself known, found a way to make the improbable happen.. not only did he sell the story, but he wrote the script as well for what turned out to be one of the most popular episodes of a series whose popularity itself has become a legend.

So this is the blow-by-blow account of how a TV story gets sold, how the script gets written, how it is translated into a final script despite the money (or lack of it), the censors (oh, those touchy networks!): it is the story of the men who cut, and change, and re-write; it is the story of the men behind the scenes, and of the action - all of whom have ideas on how to change, re-arrange, rework.

And it is of course the story of the man who has to pull all those elements together into a show that can be aired. It is, (no pun intended) an exhausting and illuminating work.
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