|FOOTNOTES TO FANDOM #27 | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page ||
25 June 1979
Byron T. Jeeves... you are an old romantic. Did you really have tears in your eyes at the end of Silent Running ? (I bet you said "Ahh.h..h..." with all the kids when R2D2 bit the dust after being zapped by the wicked Sandmen in Starwars...). Well, I suppose that Silent Running set its sights a little higher than most of the pot-boiling SF epics the film industry has regaled us with over the years, but it was over-sentimentalised and posed all sorts of leading questions that it never began to answer.
You're a bit of a romantic about science generally... you always seem concerned with technical achievement and expertise and its attendant gimmickry rather than asking if this sort of "progress" is really necessary. Don't you ever become tempted to ask "why?" when the latest scientific wonders are unfolded? Don't you feel the need for all this expertise to be channelled into areas that will be of more benefit to humanity as a whole?
When I was in India during the war I was appalled by the poverty and human misery: it was a mind-opening experience and changed many of my ideas on priorities. Most of the West's glorious scientific and technological expansion has been achieved at the explained of the "third world", and it surely becomes increasingly obvious that a showdown in terms of sharing out the world's resources is imminent, Don't you think the potential problems of a few test-tube babies being carried for rich bitches rather insignificant compared with the problems of dealing with the over-prolific poverty areas of the world ? Why encourage misdirected research when there's so much to be done to ensure survival, with time and resources running out ?
There are some people who have the view that progress is self-limiting, that the rapid growth of our knowledge of nature has not made it any easier to make rational decisions about mankind's future. I should be happier if your review columns contained even a single item advancing this view for the consideration of your readers; as it is all I see is entertainment & fantasy, or books on the wonders of technology, all fodder for the romantic supporters of scientific progress. Why not try Gunther Stent's Paradoxes of Progress (published by W.H. Freeman) and get the other point of view?
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, etc.
Well, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!
14 September 1979
Dear Terry: I occasionally worry that my sparse and sporadic comments on ERG seem an inadequate response after all the good work you have put into producing the mag, Now a brief note has sparked off a 3-page Ergitorial, and at least a 6-page loc. Wow... that eases my conscience considerably!
I could not at first understand why you had withheld my name, since the letter was intended as fair comment, voicing a viewpoint that seemed absent from your pages. However, I realise that you have used isolated bits from my letter as cues for an indulgent rampage demolishing all sorts of points that were not implicit in my remarks. Hmmm... I think I should have preferred to see my letter reproduced a little more coherently in your lettercol, rather than in its present mangled state sandwiched between your arguments.
Do you really assume I hold the views you attribute to me, or are you demonstrating your debating technique? I fear we have a communication problem and provided that all the red herrings you have seattered don't spread the discussion on too wide and tenuous a front, I'll be glad to return to the matter if you wish.
Meantime, I can recommend Toynbee's Mankind & Mother Earth as well as Gunther Stant's book. While I would dearly love to send you review copies, I regret that I have no influence with the publiahers and had to buy my own copies.
I enjoyed Dave Griffiths' fairy tale of the Naive Govt. Adviser, but I don't see that this bit of folklore or the batch of loose statistics he presents (is it legit to equate budgeted government spending with estimates of teenage spending on drugs?) in order to show how little is spent on the NASA programme, have any relevance as justification for that programme. He's obviously a Believer, like you. To us Doubters, it is a matter of allocating priorities in the increasingly-pressing matter of human survival, On that basis, I think the NASA programme has a lot going for it. This remark may only introduce a few confusing greys into the black-and-white polarisations that seem to be the order of the quarter in the current ERG.
I like your full-colour back cover though I wonder if it is intended as an advertisement or just public relations? Could it be that you are being used as an outer-cover agent for NASA ?
A question of priorities
The case for the prosecution
12 December 1979
Dear Byron T.
I wonder why you are so determined to pursue this image of me as a senile reactionary . . . I didn't pursue the matter last time I wrote because I was awaiting an eye operation and didn't want to get involved in your self-created storm in a teacup, when there were so many more rewarding things to do. Now the operation's behind me perhaps I should do something about your editorial abuse of a lighthearted letter.
Rather than invite further editorial distortion, I suggest that if your rates are not too exorbitant, I might book an advertisement (perhaps two pages) in the next issue, to adequately express my doubts about the treatment you have meted out to me. OK ?
I am less than happy at the treatment given to a letter of mine to the editor of ERG, hence this advertisement. An advertisement seems to be the only way in which I can reach the readers of the magazine without risking editorial distortion or without making undue claims on editorial space. Besides which, while I'm satisfying my sense of fair play, the editor is getting some much-needed revenue. So, that's why this appears in the way it does.
It all started when I sent a letter of comment on ERG 67 which I give below in full:
my letter of 25 June 1979
The only reason I have quoted that in full is so it can be compared with the edited travesty that Terry used in his Ergitorial in ERG 68. Let it be noted that I made no requests for anonymity in the event of any portion of the loc appearing in the lettercol. This was Terry's idea when he mangled my views to serve his own propagandist ends. The first I knew of Terry's ploy was receipt of the mag and a letter accompanying it (undated like most of Terry's letters) which said:
My response to that was
Note how, in the Ergitorial, Terry truncates a comparison between the priorities established between test-tube babies and over-prolific poverty in the third world has been truncated to allow Terry to spew a load of guff about India going to the dogs since the Great White Raj moved out. To move a couple of sentences completely out of context in a way that destroys the original sense in this way is unforgivable and to my mind exceeds editorial privilege - wilful distortion.
The accused cops a plea?
FOOTNOTES TO FANDOM #28
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