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.