George R.R. Martin Tells Why He Was Rejected As Writer For ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

In the mid 1980s George R.R. Martin was still a decade away from writing A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series that spawned the hit HBO series, but he was already a well regarded science fiction writer with multiple Hugo Awards. He also had some experience writing for television, so when Paramount decided to bring Star Trek back to TV, he went in for an interview to talk about joining the staff. Apparently, it didn’t go well.

Speaking at at a workshop at UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination in May, the prolific writer got onto the subject of how there has long been a stigma against science fiction. To illustrate this, he told the following story about being rejected by Star Trek: The Next Generation:

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.

While he did not specify the name of the producer, it is a good bet that it was Maurice Hurley, who was the showrunner for much of the first and second seasons of TNG. Hurley, who had no experience with science fiction before Star Trek, had a reputation for not getting along with a number of writers on the show and left at the end of the second season.

You can watch Martin talk about TNG below in the video posted by UCSD.



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George R.R. Martin writing for Klingons is something I would pay to see.

Right?! I’d love to see him write a Klingon novel

The Dothraki are like Klingons, in a number of ways. Kindasorta.

Maybe, excelt Klingons don’t have sex with their targs. Only Shran does that.

Talk about missed opportunity!

Isn’t literally every tv show a people show? Wtf? Guess I can see why he was fired. Geesh.

The title is “A Game of Thrones”, not “Game of Thrones”.

-You’re Friendly neighborhood Pedantic…

Should read “Your friendly neighborhood pedant…” ;-)

That also explains the poor 1st and slightly better 2nd season if that was the mentality behind the scenes. BBC America is currently running a season 1 marathon and wow I forgot how different TNG was back then. Picard was so easily annoyed as a character and so stiff you would have thought Starfleet was a full-blown military organization. He was more Jellico than the Picard we know and love.

Watching Chaos on the Bridge Maurice Hurley seem like one weird guy. Of course we don’t know if its him who said that but it wouldn’t be shocking. He seems to even realize he didn’t really get the show and seem pretty set in his ways.

Interesting. Watching that documentary, I felt he seemed the sanest, most grounded person in that nuthouse!!

While the reason behind the rejection is of course incredibly stupid, I am sort of glad he didn’t get the job. it’s bad enough they’re turning DISCO into a bad GoT xerox now, but at least he wasn’t able to infest the earlier spin-offs with his unrestricted brutality.

Ahem. You’ve never read any of GRRM’s sci-fi works, did you? Do yourself a favor, get “A song for Lya”, “The Plague Star” or “Men of Greywater Station”. Those would make a marvelous Star Trek.

@Smike. Wha?

Someone get me a Universal Translator…. I have no idea what the heck smike is trying to say!

Not everything the guy does is GOT type of stories. This was a guy who was a writer on the 80s Beauty and the Beast TV show for pete’s sakes. Its not like he was going to go in there and turn the entire production on its head. TV writers, especially staff TV writers, have little clout unless they actually have producer credits. Sure they can come up with story lines but it still has to pass muster with the show runner and the other 12 writers in the room. And during that time Roddenberry was the one in charge. Even if he wasn’t the show runner he basically had the final say to everything and what he said goes.

“. . .it’s bad enough they’re turning DISCO into a bad GoT xerox now”

Wow. Up till now I’ve thought your concerns about too much sex and violence were reasonable, but this is really unhinged.

How exactly do you know this, not having seen a full episode?

You really shouldn’t say something like this when it is pretty much obvious you are missing more than half of the required information for such a statement.

Just as well. Martin and the “Roddenberry rule” could never peacefully coexist in the same universe.

Neither could DS9…and thank god it didn’t adhere

Do you only know GoT?

I couldn’t help but notice your pain….

That being said, I’m sure Maurice Hurley’s script for “Generations” was better than the one they used. I mean, how could it have been worse ?

‘Worf, stop decapitating people!’ ‘Wesley, Starfleet will make a place for you now that you’re a eunuch.’ ‘Beverley, You’re their mother. Can’t you get your deagons to stop incinerating admirals?’ … It would have been glorious!

Deanna would have been the Mother of Dragons, not Beverly. Beverly and Wesley would be plotting to overthrow Riker, who had killed off Picard to seize command of the Enterprise for himself. Meanwhile Geordi gains a second sight and become the Three-Eyed Lieutenant and Data Snow is exiled to a remote outpost where he discovers the Klingon Walkers are planning a massive invasion of the Federation…

Judging by last week’s ep (7/6), the ravens have transporters.

If he got the job, that show would still be on the air, in it’s what, 31st season. But we wouldn’t have Thrones, so it worked out.


Nah, the show wouldn’t have made it to Season 8, because they cast and crew would still be sitting around waiting for GRRM to finish the next script…

“George, this is the 8th script in a row where one of the bridge crew is raped or brutally murdered. This has to stop.”

Aww, GRRM writing Trek would have been great. He’s a supremely talented writer. And no, everything he writes is not like A Song of Ice and Fire.

“Oh really, well Star Trek is not a science-fiction show, it is a people show.”

Just one of TNG’s many problems, courtesy the new enlightened outlook of Gene Roddenberry in the 80’s. Sadly, Gene couldn’t wait to re-invent the wheel he had created.

While I would agree that the “Roddenberry Rule” was mostly counterproductive, it was his show, and his place to call the shots. Are you the same person you were twenty years ago? He saw some flaws in TOS in retrospect and wanted to improve on them, instead of just resting on his laurels. Even if I disagree, I think that’s actually pretty admirable.

Except that he wasn’t resting on any laurels, he was addlepated from substance abuse and smoke being blown up his arse at conventions in the 1970’s that convinced him that he was ‘The Great Bird Of The Galaxy’ who could still write. One problem, he couldn’t do so any more (from the never produced Star Trek: The God Thing script and Star Trek: The Motion Picture onward), and the first & second seasons prove it. Plus, his worldbuilding was also now crap (he didn’t really figure out the economies of the United Earth Republic or the UFP, leading people to still be guessing years later); in short, he only got back into TV due to old man ego.

TNG should have been left to Gerrold, Fontana, Piller, Torme, Moore, Snodgrass, and anybody else who knew how to run and write scripts for a show better than Roddenberry did at this point, and frankly Roddenberry should have been credited for creating TNG and working out the basic concepts, but not allowed to have control over anything else.

Good thing he wasn’t hired. We’d still be waiting for the 5th season at this point.

Dude needs to vacate Picard’s chair. Immediately. If not sooner.

Why so angry? No seriously, I really want to know :)

Years ago I went on a Star Trek messageboard and bemoaned the lack of real SF writers on Star Trek shows and was told by certain trekkies that Star Trek was NOT a science Fiction show