Saturday, January 30, 2010

More about The God Thing

Here's what I just added to the page for The God Thing, Gene Roddenberry's unpublished Star Trek novel:

It had forgotten its name. That had been forgotten those eons ago when it first knew itself to be dying. Stars without number had ignited and faded as it searched this prison galaxy for a way to youth and wholeness again. Although it would be eons more before it would cease to move and think, that end now seemed perilously close.

So begins the manuscript purchased by a collector who prefers to remain anonymous. (He hasn't given me a copy and he probably won't give you one either, so don't ask.)

The collector writes that he saw the manuscript listed on eBay and won the auction. (Frankly, it never would have occurred to me that this manuscript might show up there, so it's no surprise that I missed it.) Here's what he won:

Pages 1 - 68 are photocopies (page 40 is missing). Marked GR and dated between 8/19/1976 and 9/10/1976.

Pages 69 - 152 are mostly on onion skin typewritten pages, initialed "W.K.," and dated between 10/29/1976 and 12/21/1976. Each of these 83 pages is also autographed by Walter Koenig, as is the title page.

In general, the descriptions of the novel on your site are accurate, except possibly Chekov having become captain.

When reading it, I was struck by two things: one being the controversial nature of the material as well as the similarities to ST:TMP in its various incarnations (novel, script, and film). Some of the similarities include:

  • Kirk on leave in Africa
  • mention of Egypt Israeli Museum
  • Spock on Vulcan (Gol) training, seeking to eliminate the last vestiges of his human half when he senses the entity
  • Enterprise in space dock being refit after completion of 5 year journey
  • Kirk promoted to Admiral
  • Transporter accident killing a crew member, this one beaming with Kirk
  • Starship (Potemkin) destroyed by entity
  • Entity approaching Earth
  • Kirk reassembling our familiar crew and taking control of Enterprise
  • McCoy left StarFleet and became a veterinarian. Similar quip by McCoy as to why he became a vet - "it's the only field of medicine that has completely sensible patients (a line like this appears in the first draft of Star Trek: In Thy Image)

So, a good portion of the Roddenberry portions of this novel were recycled for use in ST: TMP. Or taking a different perspective, this novel (based on Gene Roddenberry's 1975 draft) really represents the genesis of ST:TMP, when combined with elements from "The Changeling" and Genesis II's "Robots Return."

So maybe, Star Trek: The God Thing has been here all along.

I asked the collector whether he could confirm the presence of some specific scenes described by various sources, like the big confrontation between the entity and Kirk in which the entity presents itself as different images before appearing to be Jesus Christ, and, for that matter, the odd kinky scenes Susan Sackett describes.

Re: Susan Sackett - yes, it is confirmed. Pages 58-63 have Kirk engaged in what could be best described as nude oil wrestling with three women. "They were nude of course except for their paragame sandals, and young women that way had a disconcerting way of looking quite different. It disconcerted Kirk that the thought made his own genitals tighten against the metallic mesh which protected male vulnerability during the game" (from page 59).

Also confirmed about the entity appearing first as the prophet Hamid, "a tall striking Masai black man of thirty years" "born in the calendar year 1969 in time to give his life in 1996" (from pages 130-131). The entity then transforms himself into Jesus of Nazareth after it realizes that no one knew of Hamid.

Another sample from the manuscript:

Kirk stood near the center of the crowd at the bus station. He felt it important to blend in and so he smiled and applauded lightly as the pretty eight year old in the [illegible] costume mastered her simulated fiber wool jump rope with a succession of graceful little hops. The innocence of the wide eyed child was both a joy and a sadness to him. "The passing of things dear," Kirk thought. There would be no freedom from sin, from guilt for a world overlorded by a vengeful self-proclaimed God-thing. There would be fear, there would be treachery. There would be death and destruction in the name of sanctity. There would again be the Dark Ages.

And the manuscript ends with this paragraph:

As the men approached, those in waiting began to applaud. Even as they pumped his hand and embraced him warmly, Kirk's eyes were raised toward the stars. Next time, he thought, next time... please... let it just be Klingons.

The collector included some photos, with much of the text blurred; he's worried about violating copyright. In this case, given the use of only three paragraphs from a manuscript of 152 pages, and given the more or less scholarly nature of this web page, I'm confident that we are well within the bounds of fair use.

Based on the information and the samples, in addition to all the information gathered over the years, it looks very much like publication of the manuscript would be something of an anticlimax, given the similarities to The Motion Picture and Roddenberry's lack of experience writing prose fiction. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have a copy, whether just a photocopy or an edited and revised published version.


At 11:08 PM, Blogger Pala said...

Wow - that's some very interesting, novel, info! Thanks for putting that together, and a "cheers" to the anonymous-buyer who was willing to share that.


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