Sam Sackett, in his IDEAS IN SCIENCE FICTION rippled his colors beautifully. The note informing the reader that Sam is an English teacher at a university was hardly necessary.

The fact shows through.

I have no resentment against men who teach English in universities. Only against men who teach English in universities and who sum up writers and writing with a neat flourish of their "singularly perceptive" pens.

Sam, like an abundance of his colleagues, sits atop a drifting white cloud and sharp-shoots this aspect and that with what (he thinks) are bullets of precise analogy.

Hi Ho, Sam.

You are firing blanks.

Let's start with the summation of Sam's article.

He says, in effect, that science-fiction can provide the best "idea-trading post" of all the mediums of fiction. He could be right.

But it is the investigation of how this may come about that got Sam's powder wet.

This post, I assume him to mean, is one where ideas of morality, philosophy, etc. are to be traded. The best of these ideas (of morality, philosophy, etc.) will then be channeled on for the benefit of the entire world.

Happy Day, Sam.

For illustration Sam uses black and white: Captain Future and Ray Bradbury.

This is unfortunate; a man of Sam's perception ought to have tried the gray zone. Surely there is more science-fiction between Future and Bradbury than at either of these extreme ends.

But to follow Sam's pattern, he says, in effect, that the followers of Future are weak, stupid and sterile. And so we may assume that followers of the Bradbury-type story are strong, intellectual and virile.

Perhaps at this point it might be wise to change Sam's sinularly perceptive pen to one that is singularly silly.

He expands by saying the Future reader is interested in nothing but the advance of physical science. Ideas of morality, philosophy, etc., etc., do not worry him.

On the other end of the spectrum the Bradbury reader is primarily interested in ideas (of etc., etc., etc.).

He points up the latter by saying that a Bradbury - at the pure, white end of things - can find an audience even in a medium accustomed to printing nothing but Future material.

And this is precisely where the white clous upon which Sam sits, drifts so high, he cannot see the ground or the prople on it.

Come down here, Sam.

The water (humanity, people) is fine.

By the simplest reasoning it is easy to see that Sam means a Future writer appeals through the means of identification: the reader becomes something he is not, really, for a glamorous interlude.

A Bradbury writer appeals through the means of presenting an "idea" - the reader receives a jolt of intellectual stimulus.

Again, Sam. Hi Ho.

It is obvious that the Future writer knows a hell of a lot more about the world and the nature of its occupants, than Sam has yet discovered inside his dusty tome.

The appeal in either case is the same. There is, of course, the extent of the appeal. And the way the appeal is handled.

But the appeal is the same, and the difference is the ultimate effect.

In other words, the reason who Bradbury has found readers in a Future audience is simply because he has given them stories with the same basic appeal. And it is the total effect of Bradbury's presentation that has put across his stories, along with his ideas.

Not the ideas alone.

It will be a shivering day, indeed, when you can sell a story to the editors of Thrilling, Startling, Planet, etc. (and consequently their readers) on the strength of a new idea of morality, for instance, without injecting into it the basic appeal of a commercial story, such as the Future stories contain.

Or perhaps you've tried it lately, Sam?

All of us, in some degree, are Captain Future readers. Most of us read to be entertained, and we are best entertained when we can project ourselves.

The writers of Captain Future know that.

Bradbury knows that.

The essential difference is that Bradbury is a hell of a lot better at his trade. Through his understanding of people he is able to make the projection finer and deeper.

The intelligent reader feels it. But so does the so-called Future reader.

Captain Future gives you conflict.

Bradbury gives you conflict.

But the difference again - Bradbury does it better. So much better, in fact, that you forget the framework of his story structure and think only of the total achievement.

The framework is there, though. There is the conflict, the projection, and the story is held up together by a premise. This premise, or idea, is the strength of framework, the quality that makes Bradbury's work superior - whether or not he could paint a better picture, or build a better mood.

Sure, Sam, we need more stories of strength in science-fiction.

But we won't get them simply through ideas. We'll get them through the establishment of more writers in the field who can offer both projection and idea to the reader of their stories.

And that will happen when we have more good writers, period.

Ideas by themselves, in essays, in editorials, what-have-you, will not get it, not in the mass-readership of the pulp science-fiction medium. But stories, fiction stories, like Bradbury writes, and like those of other skilled writers - stories that pull out segments of life and give them to you, so you can feel them and breathe them and live them - stories like these, and only stories like these, will bring forth the ideas you want, Sam.

Captain Future writers lack because they are not good enough writers; they lack talent - or more likely they lack the ambition to acquire the talent. But they do have the comprehension, at least partially, of the human citizen.

Otherwise they wouldn't be writing at all.

You have ideas, Sam. You have background, education, the history of humanness, as lettered in the best works of literature.

Why don't you step off the cloud and touch the pulse of the living man? Find out why and what he wants, feels, loves, hates, IS.

Maybe you couls offer a part of the answer to the weak science fiction.

Like I told you.

The water's fine.

Palo Alto, California


Thank you for the sample copy of Rhodomagnetic. Inclosed is $2.50 for a years subscription. (Don't stop reading yet)

Will you please tell me the name and address that I should write to, in order to subscribe to OTHER TIMES as reviewed by L. Per Gjorn, on page 50 of the 19th issue of Rhodomagnetic Digest. This seems to be the Magazine that has everything that appeals to me. Wonder wy it izn't publushed in the yeast coast.

65 Canal Street
Port Jervis, New York


The magazine looks excellent. I was surprised to see my little note published as a separate article. (I'm referring to "The Cliche: Interim"); I didn't think it that important. I think the article itself is much more effective when you print big portions of it at one time - as you did a couple of months ago - instead of chopping it up into little bits - as you did the first couple of installments. Formerly I didn't hold this view - as when I wrote you to split it up as you wished - but I certainly do now.

Right now I'm doing an article for Roy Squires of S.F. Advertiser - this one is not part of the "lecture" series - after which I'll do at least two more for the Digest. (These articles will be the ones on Fort & Einstein - some combo, huh? -- for more details see that issue of the Digest in which the "lecture" course was listed; I intend to follow this schedule right down the line).

1917 Midvale
Los Angeles, Calif.

Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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