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Theodore Sturgeon
 
STURGEON, THEODORE
(1918–1985). American writer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Wrote: "Verdict from Space" (1951), episode of Tales of Tomorrow; "Shore Leave" (1966), "Amok Time" (1967), episodes of Star Trek; "The Betrayed" (story with John W. Bloch; script Bloch) (1967), episode of The Invaders; Killdozer (story; script with Ed MacKillop) (tv movie) (Jerry London 1974); "The Pylon Express" (1975), episode of Land of the Lost.

Film based on his work: "Once Upon a Planet" (1973), episode of Star Trek (animated); "A Matter of Minutes," "A Saucer of Loneliness" (1986), episodes of Twilight Zone.

 
To epitomize Theodore Sturgeon as a science fiction writer, one could say that he displayed tremendous imagination, and tremendous compassion. In the 1940s and 1950s, drawing upon these rare and substantive virtues, Sturgeon wrote a series of remarkable stories and novels that established him as one of the field's greatest writers. Then, explicably, Sturgeon's well ran dry: he announced in the early 1960s that he had simply run out of story ideas, and while he could still produce an occasional masterpiece like "Slow Sculpture" (1970), he essentially spent the last twenty-five years of his floundering, haplessly looking for things to do. And, since he was by that time an admired and beloved figure in the field, many people came forward to help him—including some friends in the television industry who got him some work as a screenwriter and thus brought him into the purview of this volume.

Granted, his contributions to television were hardly extensive and not always memorable. It is interesting to note that he was invited to write the premiere episode of the early anthology series Tales of Tomorrow, but the episode is apparently lost and beyond critical scrutiny. One suspects that his scripts for The Invaders and Land of the Lost were necessarily unremarkable, given their series' limitations. As for the television movie Killdozer, well, if fast-paced adventures featuring has-been television actors is your cup of tea, Killdozer will provide precisely the sort of entertainment you're looking for, but its story of a runaway bulldozer with a murderous mind of its own had already been done, and done much better, in Richard MATHESON's and Steven SPIELBERG's Duel (1971).

Sturgeon does merit recognition, however, as a major force behind the success of Star Trek, significantly contributing to its mythos in two crucial episodes. He displayed his imagination in "Amok Time": while writer D. C. FONTANA was endeavoring to make Spock seem just as human as everyone else, Sturgeon insisted upon his alienness, and he crafted a story that strikingly established Spock's bizarre sexuality and distinctive Vulcan culture without in any way diminishing his appeal as a sympathetic character. In that episode, he also wrote one of the series' standard catchphrases, the Vulcan greeting "Live long and prosper."

Sturgeon displayed his compassion in "Shore Leave": uniquely realizing that a starship crew would need some place to unwind and enjoy themselves, Sturgeon created a wonderful world where anything they imagined could come to life, providing any sort of illusory experience they might desire. And, whereas Gene RODDENBERRY would have employed such a story to deliver pompous jeremiads about the dangers of living in a dream world (as in his episode "The Menagerie"), Sturgeon insists that this sort of vacation is both harmless and desirable, and he concludes the episode with Kirk officially designating the world as a regular locale for shore leave. While Sturgeon's vision was initially betrayed by a sequel episode of the animated Star Trek series recasting the planet as a dangerous deathtrap, a mellower Roddenberry later bowed to Sturgeon's wisdom, placed a small version of the "shore leave" planet in his new Enterprise, and renamed it the Holodeck, providing everyone in the later Star Trek series with a delightful place to relax and get away from the grim business of battling the evil forces of the galaxy. Theodore Sturgeon always loved his characters, and the Holodeck should properly be regarded as Sturgeon's kindly gift to the Star Trek family.

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