Susan Sackett on The God Thing
Inspired to update The God Thing page following an active thread on the subject of The God Thing at TrekBBS, I emailed Susan Sackett and asked if she'd be willing to answer some questions about her experiences working on the book. She responded quickly, and graciously allowed me to reproduce her answers. And for the heck of it I'm posting them here as well as on the slightly revised God Thing page.
Q: Walter Koenig said in his autobiography that he worked on The God Thing at one point, adding 83 pages to Gene Roddenberry's 69 pages. Did you go back to GR's own work and drop Koenig's work from your version?
A: Yes. I didn't have any copies of Koenig's work, and really don't remember it.
Was there really so little of the story written by GR?
Yes. He had the completed screenplay, of course, but the ms. based on it was a work in progress.
Friedman told me that what he had was about novella-length and needed a lot of expanding to become a full-length novel.
Correct. That was why Fred and I were requested by Gene and Pocket Books to "flesh it out."
Do you still have the work you did on the book?
Probably, but I have no idea. I'm a pack rat and have trouble throwing things away! I might have an old-style floppy disc with it stashed away somewhere. My secretary, Jana, was doing that for us at that time -- typing Gene's original and putting it on floppies for us to work with. But since we didn't have a deal hammered out, we didn't really do much work on it.
Had you gone beyond outlining some planned expansions and begun writing new material?
No, I think Fred and I were still outlining where we wanted to take it.
Did you think GR's work was a good beginning, or did it need a lot of work?
Gene was the genius behind the idea, and he had a good beginning, middle and end. It needed a lot of description added, as I recall, and perhaps more action. It's been such a long time -- hard to recall all this.
Do you think it would have much relevance now, when Star Trek has faded somewhat from the public eye? Or, on the other hand, with the reportedly anti-religious attitude of the story, do you think it could be more relevant and timely now that writers like Richard Dawkins and several others have bestselling books on atheism?
It's not really anti-religious or pro-atheism. Perhaps it is anti-religious dogma. The premise was that the entity who demands worship and praise and all that turns out to be the "great trickster," i.e., the entity commonly called "Satan" in Earthlore -- nothing supernatural at all, just an alien life form who can do things that seem like magic to those who are ignorant of the mechanism (I believe this was something Arthur C. Clarke once stated -- "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.") It was certainly an iconoclastic way of looking at things, and Gene was very much the iconoclast. It would certainly have relevance to today's favorable climate for people who are challenging ancient superstitions -- people like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett et. al.
You're welcome. Hope you liked Inside Trek -- tell your friends!