Alternate Gerrolds is a collection of short stories by David Gerrold, subtitled “An Assortment of Fictitious Lives”, with an Introduction by Mike Resnick (a good number of the stories here were written for his Alternate Presidents/ Kennedys/ Warriors/ Outlaws/ etc series) and a back cover endorsement by Orson Scott Card, of all people – I couldn't see this happen these days.
All stories in this collection have been previously published, ie there is no 'new' material here besides the Introduction by Resnick ('10 Reasons why I Hate David Gerrold'), and a piece in response by Gerrold titled 'Skip this Part'. Every story comes with a very brief intro/explanation/quip by the author – despite their brevity they actually manage to provide a further layer, a further dimension to most stories.
Below is a run-through of the stories in the volume – if you feel that this would affect your enjoyment of these, and might contain spoilers (it might indeed) then stop here – this is a book well worth reading and enjoying; it's not David Gerrold's best work (there can only be one of those!), but it's full of interesting thought experiments, weird but wonderful ideas, and stimulating alternative thoughts.
A slice of life, telling of the narrator (a dying, worn out, man? Thing? Post-human?) encountering an “Allura” - a physically perfect and most elegant assassin. It's an alluring story (sorry), and makes you want to know more. Any story which can draw you in completely over 6 short pages must be rather great...
The Impeachment of Adlai Stevenson
“They used to say that Adlai Stevenson was too intelligent to be president. They called him 'the egghead'. You have to wonder what's wrong with a country that thinks intelligece is a liability.”
The Kennedy Enterprise
“In hindsight, yes. It was the perfect decision. John F Kennedy as Captain Jack Logan of the Starship Enterprise.”
A reminiscence. On Kennedy as an actor. On Star Track. And on the power of TV.
Story of the bomber crew flying the first nuclear bomb – to Berlin.
Franz Kafka, Superhero
Kafka – transformed, nah, metamorphosed, by Marie Curie's life-altering rays; into a super being able to change into a giant bug, and fight evil. This is the story of his fight against Sigmund Freud, aka Psyche Man. Delicious!
Trouble at a private pet dinosaur zoo. Both trouble with the dinos (ok, only really the T-Rex which keeps eating the rest) as wll as the owner's marriage. Entertaining, if a tad tedious in regards to the relationship squabbles. Not the strongest story in the lot, in my book.
… and Eight Rabid Pigs
A tale about Satan Claus, the dark counter-piece to the modern-day 'myth' of Santa, and of what happened at Xmas. This didn't really catch me, I have to say, even if I also don't like modern 'Christmas'.
The Ghost of Christmas Sideways
The Elves have killed Santa, taken over Christmas, merged it with Halloweeen (thus increasing Merchandising potential) and sold the Reindeer to a Hunting Farm. But now the spirit of Christmas has come calling, and it's not pretty...
A Wish for Smish
A 10.000$/h Hollywood Lawyer goes up against a Djinn from a Magic Lamp – a battle of wits, at a rarefied level...
The Seminar from Hell
POV of an attendee at a sales pitch by the Nine Circles Corporation (in direct competition with the Yahweh Corporation). Neither a new idea nor executed in a way to make it stand out, I found. Might work better for you, of course.
The story of the author's neighbours from hell, and the spell he finally wrought to deal with them. As sparkling and light as the previous story was drab a tedious...
Digging in Gehenna
The only 'proper' SF story in the book, playing during an archaeological dig into a settlement of the 1st alien race which humanity has discovered. It's got it all – scientific argument. Young Love. Drama. And Childcare Rotas. A classic Gerrold tale – nicely done to the point.
What goes around
A tale of the Manson murders – Charles Manson and “The Family” have been gruesomely murdered in Sharon Tate's former home...
The opening sequence reads like something from a Peter Watts story. And there is an Author's Afterword: “One of the reviewers said I got my facts wrong”.
Ouch – it's great stuff, btw.
The Fan who Molded Himself
The truth about Sherlock Holmes. And a terrible pun of a title.
The Feathered Mastodon
Another piece of Gerrold taking the piss out of Resnick – and I hope they are really good friends...
A story of the crew who is throwing the Summer Olympics Comet at Earth, from out in the Asteroid Belt: “This was a zero-tolerance nightmare.[...] They only wanted a fly-by, not a direct hit. That would void the contract, as well as the planet. […] Folks on the Big Blue Marble were touchy about extinction-level events”.
Fun – as is the collection, overall.
More David Gerrold
Title: Alternate Gerrolds
Author: David Gerrold
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher: Benbella Books
Publisher URL: http://www.benbellabooks.com
Publication Date: 2005
Review Date: 140215
Price: USD 14.95
Format: Large Format Paperback
Topic: Short Stories