The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Memory of the Masters

Am I embarrassed!  In a recent article I wrote on the “three Questions of Science Fiction” I forgot to mention who first formulated the “What If? If Only? If This Goes On…” rules that influenced so much of the field.   And I got spanked for it, as well I should.  Mr. Heinlein was a gentleman and a scholar, and the hours I spent with him were some of the best in my life.  There is so much to be learned from an encounter with greatness—and he definitely held that space.  While I can’t say I loved everything he wrote (“Farnham’s Freehold,” anyone?) he was, as someone once said about Clint Eastwood, one of the least-disappointing Icons I’ve ever met.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting each of the “Big Three” of SF: Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. There were interesting differences with each, and one way to describe that difference would be in the ir basic attitudes toward interaction with their fans.
Asimov’s attitude seemed to be: Look how wonderful my mind is!”  Now, his mind was an absolute marvel, and he said it with a twinkle in his eye, with malice toward none.
Clarke’s attitude was (at the time I met him.  Sir Arthur is still alive):  “Look how wonderful the universe is.”
Heinlein’s attitude was:  Look how wonderful YOU are.  Come with me young man, young woman, and I will show you how to get the very best from yourself.”

What an incredibly generous, brilliant, sweetheart of a man.  We should all aspire to have such qualities, to both develop our gifts to the utmost, and to help others d the  same.

In ’06, why not commit to making the career breakthroughs you’ve always desired?  Why not write harder, more honestly, take more risks?  Why not form a writer’s group and help other reach their potential?  And most of all, why not re-connect with your own dreams of writing and sharing your visions, knowing that your success will inspire others? That’s what I want for each of you…a dream to share.

The world needs all the greatness we can manage. 

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