wish i had written that NELSON BOND

Too rarely can the sincere craftsman, upon reading another's story, day with unqualified honesty, "I wish I had written that." More likely he is to mean, "I wish I had conceived that idea" – the great difference lying in the private reservation, "I wish I had written that in my own way."

This reservation in meaning granted, I can confess that there are many stories I would like to have written as I saw fit, but relatively few to which I would take pride in claiming authorship precisely as they appear.

Still there are some which meet this rigid demand. Three most outstanding come to mind. I would like to have written that chapter in James Branch Cabell's Jurgen – a complete short story in its own right – which treats of the heaven of Jurgen's grandmother. I would greatly pride myself on having written any of several of Steven Vincent Benet's fine fantasies; as selection amongst them I decide on Johnny Pye and the Fool Killer, albeit with a pained reluctance I eliminate By the Waters of the Babylon and Doc Mellhorn and the Pearly Gates. Finally, I will affirm that I would vastly congratulate myself had I been the author of Ray Bradbury's magnificent tale, The Million Year Picnic.

I will not attempt to make a final selection amongst this trio. Having already made candid admission that I would take pride in having written all, I cannot with consistency say that I like any one better than the others, any more than I could answer which of my three tales – Mr. Mergenthwirker's Lobblies, Conqueror's Isle or The Gunning of the Beast – I had rather written. All are different, each is finished to the best of such ability as I possess; each has, therefore, my unstinted approbation. So it is with the trio I have named.

One fact, it seems to me, well merits notice. It is that each of the three I have selected – the Cabell and Benet and the Bradbury – has certain attributes not commonly found encountered in the spilth of average fare appearing in the magazines exclusively devoted to the genre. Each has those elements which make a story truly great; novelty of theme, depth of tone, deftness of accomplishment. Further, and most importantly, each of the three is beautifully written – and above all else, my demand of a story is that it have this quality.

Encomium to Benet and Cabell is no longer necessary; the first is dead, the literary fate of the other has long since passed into the hands of his executors – posterity. But of the younger writers, to my mind one name stands uniquely separate from the ruck: that name is Ray Bradbury. So warm is my admiration for Bradbury at his best that I am benevolently inclined even to overlook his somewhat frequent excursions into the mediocraty of pot-boiling, his occasional lapses from grace impelled (I suspect) by the primitive demands of existence. Particularly in the science-fiction journals, good writing is not always well compensated. That this is so is a little sorrow; that it is so accounts for the absence of many names once found within those dismaying lurid jackets.

Yet this, too, I can understand. For understanding I need look no farther than my own not spotless auctorial career. The rueful late consideration of which, it seems only honest to conclude this piece by conceding that just as there are many stories by others which I would like to have written, now that the sins are ineradicably engraved on my record, there are altogether too many of my own stories which I would give much bot to have written.

And this, too, is a little sorrow to me...

This is the first article Nelson Bond has ever contributed to a fan magazine, for which we him as well as for the article itself.

Mr. Bond's next book, "The Remarkable Exploits of LANCELOT BIGGS: SPACEMAN", will be issued 3 August 50 as part of Doubleday & Co's stf line. This loosly integrated novel is comprised of the Lancelot Biggs stories which appeared in various stf magazines some years ago, now completely revised and so combined as to form one continuous narrative.

Also on Mr. Bond's schedule, though still in manuscript stage is a book of fantasies, NIGHTMARES AND DAYDREAMS.


Page scans provided by Tom Veal

Data entry by Judy Bemis

Updated March 6, 2007. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.