16 October 2012

"B-b-b-but, I'm weary": Why I stopped caring about David Gerrold and the War Against the Chtorr

Okay kids, it's story time.

When I was twelve or thirteen I was a regular reader, like many fanboys, of Starlog magazine. It was a great time. There were interviews with Tom Baker, with Gene Roddenberry, with Rick Baker and Tom Savini, and reviews and previews galore of SF and Fantasy books and movies I might not have known of otherwise in my dull suburban doldrums. And there was a column by David Gerrold, called (as I remember, though this memory may be faulty) Soaring. In it Gerrold would expound on subjects near and dear to his heart--on one memorable occasion he wrote about what makes a hero a hero, and how the context of the heroics matters--otherwise Darth Vader would have been the hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, not Luke Skywalker. (Which, seen through the lens of an additional thirty years and the sad reality of the second trilogy, is more than a little ironic.)

One day I picked up an issue of Starlog, brought it home--and, instead of Gerrold's usual column, something else had taken its place: the introductory chapters of Gerrold's new novel, A Matter for Men. 

For those of you not in the know, A Matter for Men is the opening book in Gerrold's War Against the Chtorr novels, detailing the fight against a vicious alien ecological infestation that threatens to devour (literally) the world. The story is told from the first-person point of view of Jim McCarthy, a biologist and US Special Forces soldier fighting what looks like a hopeless battle in a post-plague ecological apocalypse, painted in hellish shades of red, and splashed with buckets of blood. The opening chapters (and here I will give you a very minor SPOILER ALERT) deal with a very young, very green Jim McCarthy, who watches helpless as one of his fellow soldiers is forced to kill a little girl playing in a Chtorran settlement, and exactly how he discovers that there was no way to rescue her.

I was taken--no, that's not the word. I was mesmerized, and transported, and knocked for a loop, and haunted, by those opening chapters from the novel. They were dark and mature and unlike anything I'd ever read--they were Heinlein-like (the basic idea of the novels--young soldiers fight against buglike critters--is very much descended from Starship Troopers), but also light-years beyond Heinlein in scope and theme. I was quite seriously blown away by what Gerrold was doing, and I knew immediately I had to get that book.

And here, Dear Reader, my troubles began.

 I bought the novel--Timescape had it out in a trade paperback with a beautiful Boris Vallejo cover (above)--and read it from cover to cover in about a day. I was so thrilled buy it I began recommending it to my friends who were also SF/F fans--I even read the first few chapters aloud to a couple of them, something that in retrospect had to be annoying as all hell. I was a Witness for David Gerrold, and little would dissuade me from my proselytizing.  I think I must have read that Timescape edition about ten times over the course of a year. I wish I still had it, if only for the Vallejo cover.

In 1985 the sequel, A Day for Damnation, was published, and I rushed right out to buy that, too. It had another sumptuous Vallejo cover (and man, I miss those Boris covers--he and Kelly Freas were the shit and the tits, folks), and the sequel in many ways deepened the mystery of the invasion and  what/who the invaders were, and brought a deeper, even darker human element to the story. It was clear that Gerrold meant business with these books, and I thought (and still think) that A Matter for Men and A Day for Damnation were the best one-two punch I have ever seen a science fiction writer land on an unsuspecting readership. I eagerly awaited the appearance of the promised third book in the series, A Rage for Revenge.

Only it didn't appear. 

It was rough being a fan before the internet. You had to haunt the bookstores and the libraries, and hope your favorite author's new novel would show up in the stacks at some point. There were few other ways to get information about upcoming publications unless you subscribed to fanzines or Locus, and even then who knew how accurate the information was--one look at the continuous parade of fail that is the history of The Last Dangerous Visions will tell you that. (No offense Unca Harlan, but that bad boy was supposed to be out when I was three. I'm now pushing forty-three.) So every month or two I would check a copy of Locus and haunt the stacks, and hope that Gerrold's next book would hit the shelves. No such luck.

Time passed. I found other stories to read, began to write myself (inspired largely by Gerrold and Stephen King, in fact), and moved from the suburbs of Chicago to the city proper. I still haunted the bookstores, and still checked the G section halfheartedly, more out of habit than anything else. And then I found them--new editions from Bantam, standard paperbacks this time with new covers (nowhere near as compelling as the Vallejo covers on the Timescape editions), and containing (and this was the big selling point for me) a great deal of content that had been excised by Timescape for reasons that were plainly absurd, and which when restored to the original two books actually made those books better and more cohesive.

And, bonus of bonuses, A Rage for Revenge was finally in print. Bought, devoured, reread to tatters just as its progenitors had been.

In 1993 A Season for Slaughter came out and I thought hot damn, we're in high gear now. I read the hell out of it as soon as I could get my hot little hands on it, and was again duly amazed. The book ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, and I could hardly wait to see what would happen in the sequel, A Method for Madness.

Nineteen years and some change later, I'm still waiting.

Gerrold's contract with Bantam ran out sometime in the mid-to-late 90s, I understand. Since then the first four books have been out of print, available only through secondhand sellers. My copies still haunt my bookshelves somewhere, though I haven't read them in years now. Jim McCarthy's fate hangs in limbo, along with his new wife's, and that of their unborn children, and the mystery of the Chtorran has yet to be solved, though many guesses abound online I am sure. David Gerrold's career has continued unabated; he has kept writing, turning out champion short stories, novellas, young adult novels, and a beautiful book called The Martian Child about his adopted son that was adapted into a sadly indifferent movie. But the Chtorran invasion has languished in the meantime--or it has appeared to do so. Aside from a sample chapter that appeared on his website and a couple of brief excerpts published in anthologies, the Chtorr have disappeared from the SF landscape, leaving behind a series of purple memories, like bruises.

Gerrold himself has gone from garrulous about the subject to circumspect and even tight-lipped. At one time on his website he was voluminous about the status of the project: there are just 40,000 words to go, there is a contract with Tor, there will be revised and expanded editions (in hardcover, yet!), with new cover art, and possibly even publication of The Red Book, the vast "bible" of the Chtorran ecology Gerrold has been working from (and slowly expanding) all these years.

All these . . . holy shit, thirty years.

In that time I have worked on my own writing, buried my mother and discovered my father was dead, gotten married, attended Lollapalooza a total of four times (three in the 1990s and once in 2009) had two children, saw my son start preschool, lost my hair, developed a quite impressive gut, started to go gray, met Harlan Ellison, Peter Beagle, and Spider Robinson. I've written headlines for Fark.com, become a kind of half-assed pop culture critic with this blog--and finally in the past year or two gotten my writing to a point where I finally feel comfortable with it.

I also did one other thing: I stopped waiting for David Gerrold to finish the Chtorr books. I look at it as vaporware in a sense--something whose long-delayed release would have been nice at the time, but now? Well, given the indifference which greeted Chinese Democracy and Duke Nukem Forever after their long-postponed debuts . . . you can imagine how my enthusiasm has waned over the years. (For more than one reason, though I'll get to that in a moment.)

I hadn't given Gerrold's Chtorr books much thought in recent years, aside from occasionally checking his website out of morbid curiosity (and finding the exact same lack of helpful information ever time, I might add). I had other things I was reading, other things I was interested in.

And then this happened. And I sort of sat blinking at the screen for a minute or so, and then made a comment I would prefer not to repeat again, on the off chance my children should hear it.

Speaking now not as a fan but as a writer and as a halfassed pop culture critic, I will now say:

Seriously, Gerrold? Fucking seriously? You dick your readers around for a couple of decades, and then you pull this? Talk about crapola.

First of all, assuming Obama has a second term (which still seems likely but hardly a given), you're then giving yourself three or four years two finish, polish and publish one book and then write two more in rapid succession, all this after claiming on your website that the writing has been difficult and challenging and complicated, so much so that Slaughter has taken two decades of your life to finish, while contracts have run out, publication dates have come and gone, and your fan base is aging right along with you--and the fucking thing is still not done? And yet if Obama gets a second term you'll apparently be able to suddenly jerk off into Open Office and c'est viola! NOVELS!

That's a lot of inspiration to take from a potential lame duck presidency. Just sayin'. Pardon me if I seem less than convinced by your level of commitment here. Especially since the Chtorr FAQ on your website actually lists the reason Book 5 has taken so long as "I don't know."

(What if Romney gets elected, by the way? Will you still write the books? Or will you go back to teasing your fans and giving non-answer answers on your website about what's going on with the Chtorr series?)

Second, this is what it takes to get you off your ass (or more appropriately on your ass) and writing again? Not the need to tell your story, not the desire to share it with others, not even the hopes of earning enough dosh with which to spend your dotage comfortably . . . just a lame political ploy? Jesus wept. The lack of any sort of passion for the work is painfully evident. 

Third: I have to say, speaking as a halfassed pop culture etc.etc., the viable half life of any sort of work is short, and getting shorter every year. By which I mean to say that Gerrold started writing these books thirty years ago, and has only gotten maybe halfway through his story in all that time. An entire generation or two of children has since been born who know nothing of the Chtorr novels, simply because the last time one was in print was when most of them were just starting school, or not even out of diapers. Chew on that for a while, David. And while you're enjoying the savor of the flavor, think about this: while you've been treating your signature series with all the seriousness and urgency of a summer stroll, the genre is moving at lightspeed . . . and leaving you and the Chtorr in the dust. Aside from your core fans, the genre as a whole barely remembers these books. And based on the sample chapters of Madness you posted online about ten years ago (sheesh), nobody is going to want to remember them if Madness ever does make print. 

I'd love to post a link to those sample chapters, but somehow all trace of them seems to have been removed from the internet. I can't imagine why. If anyone can find it I'll give 'em a cookie. I did however find my ten-year old summation of said chapter from a discussion board I used to frequent, and I have excised a portion of it for you, because I'm just awesome like that:

"Thoughts On David Gerrold And A Method For Madness While Drinking Too Much Coffee And Waiting For The Sugar Rush From This Morning's Cinnamon Roll To Wear Off:

"I'm trying to be charitable here. I really want to say that the sample chapters from A Method for Madness are amazing, delightful, action-packed fun, that make me want to rush right out and buy the next book the minute it hits the shelves–assuming it ever does. I really want to say that Gerrold's prose was as captivating to me as it has always been, that the characters of Jim McCarthy and Liz Tirelli-McCarthy are as fascinating and entertaining as ever, and that the Chtorran infestation/colonization of Earth continues to be one of the best ideas ever put forth in a science fiction novel or series. I really want to say that. But I can't.

"Instead, my reaction is: I've spent over a decade waiting for this?

"It isn't that the sample chapters for Method are bad; they aren't. They're as well-written and well-thought-out as Gerrold's writings always are. Unfortunately, what they also are is more of the same.
A brief synopsis: The sample chapters follow the misadventures of Jim and Lizard as their evac chopper, piloted by a bounty-happy pair of bozos, crashes in the Amazon River. Jim and Liz, both injured badly in the previous book, wash ashore with a group of misfit types, who then Abandon Our Heroes To Their Fate In A Most Cowardly Fashion. The pair then encounter Dr. John Guyer, a research scientist who has spent too much time in a Chtorran mandala, and who has "gone native" in a most unsettling way. The end of the last chapter leaves Jim and Liz stranded in the Amazon rainforest, just a handful of kilometers away from the mandala, after Guyer has gone off to get his 'friends'—ooohhh, spooky…

"...What I said about more of the same? This is what I mean: Gerrold continues with his same-old trick of playing the 'making it worse' game. For instance, it's not enough that Jim and Lizard's chopper has to crash in the Amazon; it has to crash into a tree first, the weight of which helps the chopper to sink. Then the supposedly unbreakable emergency radio breaks, and no rescue choppers arrive to carry them back to civilization. Then the Special Forces guys with Liz and Jim want to off them because wounded are a liability, necessitating a lot of lying and storytelling by Our Heroes to avert said fate. Then the soldiers abandon Liz and Jim to their fate, taking the inoperable radio and emergency supplies with them. Then—well, you get the idea, I'm sure. It gets to the point where these 'surprises' aren't surprising any longer, and I found myself anticipating the abandonment well before it happened. More on that in a minute. Another area of sameness is the banter between Liz and Jim, which veers from skin-peelingly-bad puns to skin-peelingly-bad declarations of love. All of this we've seen in other books, and all of it seemed much fresher and more interesting the first dozen or so times around. This time it feels forced, and old hat…and while I understand Gerrold wants to keep his characters' behaviors consistent, I think the 'less is more' approach might serve them—and him—better. And remember, this is a big ol' romantic mush-heart and avowed lover of bad puns telling you this.

"... All of which leads me back to my original thought: making people wait over ten years for the book has done Gerrold far more harm than good. It's given people time to think, and reread the first four books obsessively, and think some more, and to come up with a lot of answers on their own. It's also given people a lot of time to become thoroughly irritated with Gerrold's mercurial writing habits . . . Because while Gerrold has wasted his time (and, frankly, ours) . . . he has left what I consider his best work to suffer needlessly. As a result I think a lot of us are going to be reading Method next year saying things like 'Yep, saw that coming,' and 'Gee, wonder what that could possibly be foreshadowing," and 'I've spent over a decade waiting for this?'

"The caffeine high and the sugar rush have both worn off, and I'm left with these thoughts:

"Stephen King once wrote that even a long, complicated book should take a good writer no more than two years to plan and write, and that any writer 'who produces one book every seven years is not thinking Deep Thoughts, but is simply dicking off.' Gerrold has not exactly been doing this, of course, but it's pretty damn close. And I know that he writes what he wants to write and not what the fans want him to write, but even so he has come perilously close to ruining this great series of novels for me. There's a fine line between eager anticipation and 'just get it the f@#* over with already,' and Gerrold is very close to pushing me over it. . . [He] hasn't really sunk into creative oblivion yet, though he needs to get off the stick, for sure. My fear is that he's spent too much time in between these books, and the rest of SF has passed him by as a result. There are other authors out there doing more creative things than this, and doing them faster and more regularly"

Yeah, I'm a long-winded bastard; so sorry. Door's over there, don't let it hit you in the ass.

The crux of all this is, I honestly stopped caring about the Chtorr novels at around the time I was writing the above comments nine years ago. Gerrold stated elsewhere around this time that he was about 60,000 words from finishing Book 5; ten years later, Book 5 still isn't done and Tor has pushed the publication date back to 2014. Gerrold blames the complexity of the work and the difficulty of the writing process. My response is that Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer's and is still writing. Stephen King got hit by a fucking truck and kept writing. Ray Bradbury was working almost up to the day he died. Gerrold can't finish these books because they're hard, and . . . ohhh, I don't know. I don't know! Wahhh.

Now, none of this is to say that Gerrold has not been writing--he has been, and I understand that the Chtorr books are not his only raison d'etre. He has other projects to work on. Nor am I saying he owes his fans anything. He can write what he wants, and more power to him for doing so. I once dismissed The Martian Child as "piffle" but looking back on it now, from the perspective of a middle aged father of a young boy, I understand and appreciate the book a lot more. If he would rather produce something meaningful on that level, I can't gainsay it. 

What I am saying in regards to Gerrold is that maybe he's been writing a check his ass can't cash. Twenty years he's been working on these last three books, and the end result is zip, zero, zilch, nada, bubkes. Goose eggs. Maybe it's time to hang up the purple worms and Jim McCarthy's flamethrower and allow them to take their place in what-might-have-been. Because this constant Lucy-Van-Pelt-with-the-football bullshit with A Method for Madness is just absurd and insulting to everyone--to Gerrold's career most of all. And this latest antic disposition of his is just the sour icing on a fallen cake. Enough is enough, already. Boris Vallejo was in his forties when he painted those original covers for Timescape. He's now seventy-one. I was thirteen; Now I'm forty-two. Gerrold was in his thirties. Now he's in his sixties. And I think David and I both have better things to do with our time than keep beating this dead horse.

I don't care about the Chtorr any more. If the books ever come out I will probably read them at some point, just to satisfy whatever is left of that morbid curiosity I mentioned.. But I don't believe they ever will see publication, and I don't give a rat's raunchy backside if they do. My emotional investment is gone. You can tell me differently all you want, and tell me I should care. And you know what? I will simply respond in the immortal words of Porky Pig:

"B-b-but, but I'm weary." 

Sorry, David.

UPDATE, 8/7/2015: Well, it looks like I've been proven wrong in the nicest possible way, as Gerrold has now apparently finished the first draft of Method, and hopefully there is only up to go from there. Congratulations to David, and good luck with the new entry in the series.


  1. I so agree. I remeber picking up the first book in High school and thinking this is a great book. Now I still think the first four books are very good but I am getting old just waiting for a update that it is not done but just wait a couple yrs.

  2. Like myself, you have a lot of pent up frustration for which there is no outlet to satisfactorily vent it. "I feel you". But I remain hopeful that we will all be delighted by the next installment in the series.

    Based on very little, I suspect that Mr. Gerrold has gotten a bit OCD with his series. As you noted, time moves on and so does the field of SF. I think Mr. Gerrold has felt compelled to rewrite his series so that it comports to existing technology. In other words, he's spent a lot of time dealing with the anachronisms that exist in his series which deals with a future that some of which is now our past.

    And I don't disallow that he might have placed his series in an alternate future timeline. Doing that suggests some interesting possibilities and even a potential deus ex machina.

    Either way, that's a lot of work. I think Mr. Gerrold has gotten both sensitive to criticism of his series and is also working hard based on a heightened standard that he's set for himself. I've noticed what could be a significant change in what he is looking to put out there as a writer. I think he isn't looking to write about our trending towards a dystopia anymore but rather how humankind will overcome what has beset us and construct a better world.

    I chatted with him online, briefly, once or twice and e-mailed him as well. That was a long time ago but I think I got some sense of the man. Imo, he's agonizing over this series and wants it be more than what he originally intended for it.

    He's not just working the series, he's working out his relationship to the world. That's my 2 cents. :)

    I'm glad I found your blog.

    1. Well thought-out and spoken. I was an avid reader of the Sci-Fi genre for many years, until I took up history and sociology. I of course started with the masters in H.G Wells, Jules Verne and Robert Wyndham, then moving on to others like Robert Heinlein, Niven and Pournelle, and Ursula LeGuin to name but a few of the modern greats. What all these have in common is that there novels on the whole were stand alone and complete. I was weary to buy any book that was to form part of an on going serious, as I was concerned that the author, for what ever reason, may not go on to complete the story. So I only purchased the books of a serious once I knew that the final book had been published. Such was the Rama serious by that other great, Arthur C. Clarke. However, in total violation to my stand on not buying any book serious not yet completed, I, upon reading the first chapter of 'A Matter For Men' at my local book store back in 1990, could not put this book down and immediately purchased the book, knowing it stated on the cover that it was 'Book One' in a serious, and digested it quicker than a Chtorran worm. I thought it was brilliant! Writing at it's best, and yes, I wanted more! But even after just the first novel of this story, I realised that this entire scenario, was going to be an extremely tough one to complete in just two or three books. That it may take two things, five or maybe six books and plenty of TIME! Man, was I right about the second one. But the great things in life are worth waiting for, and the fifth book by David in this saga is indeed worth the wait of the last 27 years. So no matter what any mortal says, David, complete the book, publish it. We shall one and all buy it, read it and rejoice. With the conclusion of this wondrous saga your name will be added to the afore mention list of Sci-Fi greats. Not that you seek it, but because this serious of novels, "The War Against The Chtorr" has earned it for you!

  3. I've also chatted with Gerrold briefly in person and online and I can say this ... I have no further interest in reading his books or funding him in any way. That's too bad. If he had just shut up and wrote, I'd have been happy to call myself a fan. But he had to loudly proclaim his politics and shoot his mouth off and alienate people who enjoyed his writing.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Get over it! We are not all, gods! Mal DeRium.

  4. I agree with everything you said..another sci fi author Stephen Donaldson also has taken way to long to finish his series but his last book is finally coming out in the next couple of months...36 years later since he wrote the first...some of us die before we ever get to read the ending !!!

  5. you hit the proverbial nail right smack on the fucking head, mate. Loved the Lucy and Charlie observation. Again, dead on.

    If you have read the other dribs and drabs that Gerrold floated as tests from, supposedly, Madness or Treason, they are not very good. Sure, maybe still rough drafts worth a spot in an anthology or new mag. But, they point to the story, his interest in it, or the plot machinations, collapsing of their own ponderousness.

    And all this while there's been a RABID fan base that's been interested in...nay, BEGGING and fuckin'g PLEADING for him to at least roll out the next book, let alone finish the series. Talk about wasted opportunity (and whining about it to boot).

    Folks have said he's going to "pull a Jordan" (alluding to the Wheel of Time series, duh), but it's not even that prestigious. Making the comparison to the Wheel of Time series is also probably a slight on Jordan. At LEAST Jordan, his spouse, and the estate saw the series finished in good form.

    Like you, I forecast that Chtorr will not consume the planet or the solar system, but die a quiet death, killed off by the (lack of) effort(s) by one (now) elderly man who is apathetic about seeing it finished.

    Sad, really. Hard to believe that it was never realized as a couple of B+ or A- sci-fi flicks. I mean, even Dune made it to the screen and made-4-TV a couple of times, and THAT was a complex series.

    Finally (ahem, see your "door" comment above!), thanks for the link to the political manipulation by Gerrold. The guy puts FAR more effort and time into Facebook and drum-beating political, in-your-face, my-way-or-screw-you messages than writing as far as I can tell. I used to follow him on FB but got tired of the reams, and reams, and fuckin' REAMS of screed that flowed out of him. About the 2nd time he posted a "don't do this or I'll drop you like a hot rock as a friend" rant, I unfriended him.

    Good luck to him and maybe the remaining books will emerge some day...maybe. If you're willing to place a bet, consider this: Gerrold could have financed the fucking project off of small donations from his fan base and earned interest these past umpteen years. It's been that long. Still a betting person and willing to pony up?

    I didn't think so.

    1. All agreed. The first four books showed a steady decline in plot progression, mostly just getting more hopeless. This is fine if the plan is really to wipe out humans, and perhaps most or all of terran biology, though that does not seem to be the case. Gerrold has every right to write whatever he wants, and not what he does not want. Where he has failed himself and his fans is in lying for now 20 years about the next book(s) in the series. To repeatedly hear about how much is completed and how soon Method will be released is just nasty and stupid. The Lucy and Charlie Brown analogy above is great. Can we picture Gerrold: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!?

  6. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, David Gerrold is not your bitch.

    1. I never said he was. And not really a refutation of anything I've said.

    2. David Gerrold is MY bitch...and If I ever meet him I am gonna let him know. Neil Gaiman be damned!

    3. Isn't he the guy who wrote the Duran Duran biography? Hard to take him seriously. At least we'll get the ice and fire endings from HBO. Can't say the same about this hack.

  7. You do care, and care a lot, about this series.

    Otherwise you would not have put so much energy into writing about it and trying to prove you don't care.

    "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

    1. Ahhhh, but the subject of my post is not why I don't care, but why I stopped caring. And I point you to the part above where I point out that I am extremely long winded. Pour enough coffee into me and I'll blab your ear off. I had a lot of coffee that particular day.

  8. Couldn't agree more.
    Gerrold is a professional and this is an open project for 20 years. Well, if I have a project, i sit down and finish it. It might take me longer than I want if I don't like it, but I'll still do it.
    To start a project and not finish it is a failed work, a failed project.

    it was stated as a trilogy, so when I buy books 1,2 and 3 I expect the story to end. If you then decide to make it an heptalogy, then I expect the other 4 books also to be available, or I should get my money back. You promised me a finished product, but you delivered an unfinished one. Who would ever buy half a car?

    In my opinion, he lost interest, he found other things he could make more money on, so he moved on. Financially understandable, but it doesn't sit well.

    1. Pretty much this. I don't give a damn about his politics and I don't think he owes me anything, but the prima donna level of behavior he's gone to with this series is just short of astounding. This "You'll get it when you get it" line he's taken sounds more and more pissy-surly with every passing year, and calling a critic who dares point it out to him a "spoiled-brat reader [with] his/her panties in a twist" (ref. http://jbwhelan.blogspot.com/2012/10/follow-up-on-david-gerrold.html)--which always amused me since it completely missed the point of what I was saying above.

      Perhaps it's for the best. Given the attendant indifference that greeted long-awaited "vaporware" projects like Duke Nuke'Em 3 and Chinese Democracy, I don't see how new Chtorr books can regain what once was. If Gerrold is happy doing what he's doing, more power to him. I can't gainsay that. But the long tease does nothing for me except make me yawn.

    2. There's 40,000...no, 100,000 words...um, 1/3 of every 5th page in every other chapter. There's a pub date on Amazon or Torr. Wait! No there's not - he's confirmed that was "a mistake." There's a chapter published in Rat Bag Weakly. Beware, there are spoilers!!

      Meh. Here's a clue for anyone with enough connection to the series to still care about the characters (which, BTW, is a big part of the continuing draw to otherwise predictable plot devices)...

      When is MFM going to be released?


      If enough people carp about it, maybe he'll put a clause in his will to have the existing drafts destroyed, and WHEN he dies before finishing the series we let this thing die with him.

      Yeah. That's harsh. My excuse is that I drank too much coffee too.

  9. Hi there Jay,

    I just recently discovered the Chtorr-Series - by accident - and am now in the middle of book 2. Great stuff!
    While browsing the web on background information on David Gerrold I found your blog - bummer that the 4 book series ends with a cliffhanger (which I did not know before).

    However, after reading this, I have a more important question: do YOU have any books out?? I enjoyed reading this text so much, I want more!!! :-)


    1. Hi Andreas,

      Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you've been enjoying the Chtorr books, as they were and still are longtime favorites of mine. Sorry I dropped a spoiler on you for Book 4!

      I do not have any books out--yet. I have some short work out for consideration at various zines and websites, and a couple of trunk novels I would not foist on someone unless I really didn't like them--trust me, they're that bad. I do have a novel I'm in the planning stages on, which I will begin formal work on next month. I'll mention it here when I do. In the meantime if you poke around you'll find some flash fiction pieces I've written in the last few months, and my recent essay about the Who's Quadrophenia album, which I think is one of the better things I've posted here.

      Glad you like the blog and my writing so much! I have more in store, so hang around. :)

  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20040401143722/http://www.chtorr.com/books-chtorr5/chtorr5.htm

    is your link to those chapters previously published on the chtorr.com website. Can I have my cookie now? I think I have a better chance of getting the cookie than I do getting a chance to read the completed series.

    And, if they ever do get published, I will probably read them, but maybe from the local library or something, because I really don't want to give Mr. Gerrold any more of my money after all of his hostage tactics he has done with this series over the years on his website (vote for X, or if I make $X on tribble crap I'll post more chapters, etc, etc, etc).


  11. Honestly, after reading the hell out of the series, then waiting for more Chtorr books since the Internet was just barely a thing, and more recently after following Gerrold's self-serving rants on Facebook, I just don't care about his work any longer.

    Should the books make it into print, I'll certainly read them, but 2nd hand, because the dude doesn't deserve any of my money any longer.

    Terry Pratchett and Neil Asher, though, you can keep spending my hard-earned dollars.

  12. Yeah, I stopped caring too, though obviously when I think about it I get curious enough to google it and that leads me to places like this.

    What it did teach me was to wait until a series is ended before reading any of the books. Well, actually both Gerrold and GRR Martin did this to me. I read the first two Song of Fire and Ice books and looked at the pace at which they were coming out and decided to wait until the series was done to read any more.

    I agree with Gaiman, but it also means I hold back my dollars until the series is finished. I will not fund a series by buying in installments.

  13. I also will not buy the next book in the series, or the next, until it's done. Mr. Gerrold has taught me to NOT buy anything from a series until it's completed. Hmm, funny that a writer is having a negative effect on other writers sales, sad really.

    But my problem is, I really want to find out what's gonna happen and who really are the Chtorran's. This series is like crack to me and I want my fix. But as I am now in my 40's, I am willing to wait it out. When the series is finished, that's when I'll give in to my addiction and buy the books.

    I could never put my anger and frustration into words, but you really wrote all that has been in my head. Even most of these posts rang true. I spent money on an unfinished product. I spent time with these books over the years, just to be disappointed by a writer that doesn't care about his work as much as I do. It's like being in love only to find out that the object of my desire doesn't love me back. It sucks.

    Not only is David Gerrold a wonderful writer. I have read most of his books, and really enjoyed his style and ideas. I have gave him my money (in book sales) because of his abilities (and as strange as it sounds) because somewhere in the back of my mind I hoped that my money would help him finish this series. But no longer. He will never see another dime from me (I'll buy them second hand if they ever come out).

    He does have talent - he knows how to turn a fan into a person that could care less about any of his writing... and that takes some talent.

  14. A few months ago I started following him on facebook on the off chance he might drop some hints.

    Yep, almost 2 months ago he asked if people would be interested in funding him via some crowd funding site to finish up the next novel. Just to finish up the next 50,000 words or so, and was only looking for another $5K - $6K to do it.

    If the man stayed off facebook, I think he could finish it up no problem. At the time, reviewing his recent posting activity, I figured that in about 2 months time he was posting at least 100K words give or take 10 or 20K. Hard to gauge on facebook, because you don't always get the same results when you re-examine a page.

    And in the meantime he has redesigned his website. And chtorr.com now gives a redirect to gerrold.com saying the page is not found.

    I've decided the man has zero interest in finishing the series, and probably never will.

  15. David Gerrold is a cantankerous old man and a hypocrite.

  16. Yeah, It happened to me too.most of your comments echo myfeelings. since the last book I too I have lost my hair and put four children through high school. My father gave me that book to read and I was stunned at how well it was written. My kids are now at an age I can recommend the book to them... But I won't. I won't have them go through the same frustration I went through. At least I didn't start out reading the previous books.
    Then one day out of curiosity I wondered if MFM was finished and I came across MFM available at Amazon for pre-order. I'm afraid to pull the trigger for fear that the rig will be pulled out from me.
    I'm stunned at the arrogance of anyone in this day and age to assume they can complete anything or that they won't die before completing it. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. It's the height of arrogance and presumptuousness. My next book will be my last... from him anyway.

  17. I think we are actually the same person! All the way down to suburban Chicago, this is my life. Thanks for a great post ... as the morbid curiosity has struck and I've landed here with you bunch of rabbit men.

  18. Great post, agree with the sentiment. A great series start that will never be satisfactory ended. Too bad.

  19. Well, here we are....waiting yet again as another possible release date goes by.....The closest dates I've seen are 1/14/15, 1/31/15, and sometime in February 2015....keep stringing us along....if it ever does come out I think I'll burn the damn book. It might make good tinder for a campfire.

    1. Yesterday, 1/29/2015, Mr. Gerrold asked for crowd funding to finish books 5 and 6 via his facebook page. Any donation over $50 gets you a preview link of the first 90 pages of book 5, and 2 chapters of book 6. At various levels above $100, you get to name worms, sponsor chapters, etc. $1000+ and you get a character named after you in books 5, 6, and 7.

      So anything appearing in 2015 is very doubtful. Unless you care to donate $2500+. Then you get an autographed preview printout of book 5.

      He also does mention that he has 2 other unrelated novels completed, and 2 more near completion, "and 4 novellas on various desks."


  20. I'd just like to say. I'm 16 years old, and I've just finished reading my dad's collection of the first four books. My reaction to it was partially that it was ahead of its time. Mutliracial and non-straight protagonists in a world charged with ecological science ia EXACTLY what a series needs to get into the public consciousness. Together with all the sex, I could easily foresee it coming back into the limelight with a decent marketting campaign and all the books finished.

    All this to say, I do NOT think these books are dead. I'm writing this at 3:01 AM becauae I spent the last fourteen hours staring at marked slices of tree, hallucinating vividly that I was on board a massive airship trying to keep the world green and play international politics while watching the horrors of Coari. I'm not unique, I'm certain, and I do believe that there are many others who would thoroughly enjoy this series as I have. Even now I have two friends with books on loan from me.

    It doesn't matter to me how many disillusioned old men wanna give up hope, but I guess Aristotle was right in his descriptions of old and young men. I'm not giving up on this and I'm gonna be awaiting this more eagerly than the next Halo game.

    I mean, it's not like anyone ever explained to me everything I wanted to know about the biology of mgalekgolo.

    1. I'm also hoping that if the author dies we'll still get to read what he HAS written, and all his notes. It happened with Tolkien, vis'a'Silmarillion.

    2. You know what, my young friend? I honestly hope you get your chance. :)

  21. Sadly once every couple years I google this topic and 100% agree with you. Perhaps someone else should just write them

  22. Sadly once every couple years I google this topic and 100% agree with you. Perhaps someone else should just write them

  23. Sadly once every couple years I google this topic and 100% agree with you. Perhaps someone else should just write them

  24. Earthlings invent an enormous bird whistle and point it at the heavens after which gargantuan space birds swoop down on earth early one morning and devour every last Chtorr. End of story.

  25. HEY LOOK - It's Sept 2017 and there is STILL NO BOOK!
    Seriously David?
    You gain a following that loses sleep waiting for the next chapter in this saga and all you can say is "it's hard". CUT THE CRAP, you've had WELL over 20 years to make this good; and if it is still not good, you ain't the writer I thought you were.

  26. It is now 2018. I remember for a while his webpage was called "I am not dead". Seriously, die. Die slowly so it takes 30 years.
    Every time he says it is nearly finished, it is ONLY to get more money from people. Meh. I would rather read "See Spot Run"