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June 27th, 2003

"But goodness alone is never enough. A hard cold wisdom is required, too, for goodness to accomplish good"--Robert Heinlein

Lately I wonder if the wisest things I've read come from science fiction novels in which improbable stories filled with hastily approximated science speculation combine with dubious philosophy to create a complex brew, purely to entertain. I think that genre fiction, and in particular science fiction, features a wonderful willingness to seek a certain profundity that "literary" fiction lacks. Science fiction characters continually start new religions, or liberate dispossessed peoples, or have their entire universe-view altered by an exchange with an alien, and yet more human, species of beings. Too many short literary short stories, by contrast, seem stuck on "Aunt Lacey and Uncle Raymond work hard all their lives, and they don't understand me and my MFA". I sometimes like people who dream big more than people who dream precisely. Yet, I also like people who believe their dreams can sometimes come true.

Today a buyer from Italy agreed to pay the magnificent sum of 4 dollars for "Chess Poems for the Tournament Player". He wrote me a kind e mail asking if he could send Euros in cash form through the mail. I had to use the upps.gov search engine to ascertain that it would cost 2 dollars and 40 cents to mail the book to Italy. A chess poet from California, meanwhile, sent me a nice e mail expressing appreciation for her copy, which touched me very much. I like to write light entertainments, meant to delight a very few in a very particular way. When something I do achieves this goal, I feel a sense of accomplishment.