Are there any alternatives to gerrymandering? Making political geography the domain of elected state legislatures seems like a recipe for trouble...Are there alternatives? Sure. The big one would be to get away from single-member districts. It's certainly possible for states to elect all Members of the House, for example, at-large, the way that Senators are elected. Sure, that would be goofy in a state the size of California, but you could do it. Or you could have a proportional representation scheme.
But if you stick to single-member districts...if gerrymandering is simply drawing district lines for political reasons, then yes, we're stuck with some sort of gerrymandering. The main point that I'd make (following Bruce Cain) which I think people don't adequately realize is that even neutral-sounding rules generally have very predictable political outcomes, and in a world in which political operatives know that, a fight over whether or not to have neutral rules will almost always be a disguised political fight.
I should explain that, perhaps...we all know that voters are not randomly distributed, correct? It's not only possible, but certain that any particular set of criteria -- say, that districts should be "compact" and that they should respect county lines when possible -- will have a predictable partisan effect. Since both parties have experts, they'll both have run simulations and will know whether those criteria help or hurt them, and then (generally) choose their position based on what will help them.
That said: most gerrymanders are not partisan gerrymanders (which maximize seats for one party), but bipartisan gerrymanders, which protect incumbents from both parties. And most estimates of the total effects of redistricting tend to be relatively low, at least compared to any plausible geography-based districting; claims that gerrymandering drives partisanship are knocked down by partisanship in the White House and the Senate.
On the whole, I'm in favor of more competitive districts than fewer. Partisan gerrymandering tends to be better for that than bipartisan gerrymandering (because incumbent politicians are happy to have 90% districts that "waste" lots of votes for their party. And yes, I know the argument that bipartisan gerrymandering has the benefit of making most voters very happy with their representative -- since everyone lives in very partisan districts -- but I think it's outweighed by voter interest in having at least a fair number of representatives who have to worry about re-election). Still, a large part of the answer is that it's less of a problem than many suppose it is.
(Updated for word-level typos, whatever the word for that is)