Heinlein Readers Discussion Group Guest Authors – Joe Haldeman, Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven

Heinlein Readers Discussion Group

April 21, 1999 5:42 P.M.

Guest Authors – Joe Haldeman, Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven

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4/21/1999 5:42:49 PM Opening “Chat Log 4/21/1999”

The Robert A. Heinlein Reading Group & The Great Sci-Fi Reading Group Guest Chat (edited)

BC Spotlight

April 21, 1999, 9:00 to 11:00, PM, EDT

Joe Haldeman, Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven

Topic: Influences on the writing of Sci-Fi

NOTE: “BkCnGuest (P)” is, depending on some method they worked out between themselves for the reply, either Pournelle or Niven, who were at the same location, using Niven’s computer. “Haldemansf” is Joe Haldeman. Pre-Chat informal discussion began at around fifteen minutes before the hour É and is picked up in progress, the authors having been asked informally by Avendoral for advice on “how to write.”


Pournelle: Well the great secret to becoming a writer is..

Major oz: yes……yes…..????????

Avendoral: ::though I find being relaxed catches more flies than worriing over little things.

Pournelle: You have to write.

Avendoral: ::bing bing bing:: Jerry wins the prize

Haldemansf: Yeah, well, I knew that. I thought you had a pill or something.

BkCn SciFi: Good evening all.

BkCnZim: ROFL … evening SciFi … Jerry, Larry, Joe, meet John … he leads a group whose name is obvious

Pournelle: Is there any way to change the name on this thing, or am I stuck with BkCn Guest?

Avendoral: Sorry Guest. You’re stuck with it.

[Editor’s Note:] I have changed all of the BkCn Guest entries to Pournelle or Niven as may be indicated. My apologies to Mr. Pournelle and Mr. Niven, if I have inadvertedly mis-attributed a posting]

BkCn SciFi: Thank you David… Great to see you Jerry, Joe & Larry! thanks for entertaining us this evening.

BkCnZim: Sorta … the time would be prohibitive … I’ll explain “Guest” by saying there’s really two of you on there.

Haldemansf: “He leads a group whose name is obvious” sounds like an answer to a loan.

Pournelle: Of course you knew that, but it’s astonishing how many people ask me that and DON’T know it. Amazing numbers of people think they can be writers without doing any writing.

Avendoral: ::yes, i write every day….alas, some of it really bad. ::chuckles::

Avendoral: alas, half the stuff I write turns out shoddy….grammer errors….

Haldemansf: Don’t sweat the bad stuff, Aven. You can always throw it away.

Avendoral: but, thats learning, right?

BkCn SciFi: LOL Joe.. sure does

Pournelle: If you write, you must then FINISH what you write. Do complete works. Not endless restarts.

BkCnZim: I recall something very like that in 2 addresses/essays of someone dear to my group’s heart made …

Avendoral: That’s the main problem I had starting out.

Pournelle: As to grammar errors, get a good grammar program like Grammatique in Corel Word Perfect.

Haldemansf: You really DO have to write every day. If it’s shit, it’s shit. But you’ll write better tomorrow.

Pournelle: Work with that until it doesn’t find mistakes. You will be writing flat but good grammar.

Avendoral: Actually I use word perfect::heh, mental spell checker?::

Pournelle: THEN you can try breaking rules. But you must know the rules first. No, grammar checker.

Avendoral: I’ve been told even with good grammer, I write pretty good.

Haldemansf: I don’t like spell checkers or grammar checkers. I use odd gramar, and know when I’m breaking the rules.

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Pournelle: I don’t like them either, Joe, but this isn’t for you or me; this is for someone asking how to get our job.

BkCnZim: They slow you down and make you start revising, Joe?

Haldemansf: As Raymond Chandler said, “When I split an infinitive, it _stays_ split!”

BkCnZim: Hi, Darlene, hi, Doc!

Avendoral: ::chuckles:: I do know the grammer and usually spot em. Just the hard drive’s full:)

BkCnZim: Welcome … we’re informal now, we’ll start formally in about 11 minutes

DarleneAin: Hi

Pournelle: Lots of people don’t write so good, and when they ask someone else to read their stuff they argue over it and learn nothing

Avendoral: ::if anyone else wants to talk to em, go for it::

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Avendoral: True.

Haldemansf: I don’t revise a lot, Zim. I make my mistakes carefully.

BkCnZim: “Guest” is sometimes Dr. Pournelle, sometimes Mr. Larry Niven!

Avendoral: And sometimes both.

BkCn SciFi: Welcome Star!! 🙂

Pournelle: No, it’s always me. Niven is getting me a sandwich,. It’s dinner time and I spent the day setting up his machine.

Avendoral: One typing on the left, one typing on the right of the keyboard.

BkCnZim: Evening Star, we’re informal now but will be formal when chat begins in about 11.

Avendoral: ::ok, bad joke::

BkCn Star: Good, I have to get everything adjusted

BkCn Star: <g>

Pournelle: Niven would be playing “Starshp Titanic” but his game machine uses this monitor so he can’t.

BkCn SciFi: That sounds more like something Piers Anthony would do Aven 🙂

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Avendoral: Is it any good? ::I’m hung up on Knights and Merchants. ::and funny thing is, that wouldn’t surprise me at all

Pournelle: Anyway, Niven is more right brain. But we talk to ourselves so our right and left brains communicate.

Avendoral: Bah, nothing like typing then losing your story. ::my left and right brains argue:;

BkCnZim: Would you folk chat among yourself for a bit … I’ve got to change some prepared statements.

Haldemansf: I’m your corpus collusum, however you spell it.

Pournelle: Right and left brains are supposed to argue. But one has to be boss.

BkCn SciFi: Will do Zim… we’ll hold down the fort here for a few.

BkCn Star: Oh right Zim, just chat among ourselves

Avendoral: Actually it’s the middle brain::don’t ask, it’s a long story:: that bosses the other two.

Pournelle: The corpus collusum is too narrow band which is why we talk to ourselves. To communicate across the barrier.

Avendoral: ::I call it my little voice, tells me to stop it and get on with your piece::

Pournelle: Most of us don’t have time for voices. Too busy writing.

Haldemansf: Makes sense to me. But it’s pretty late out here.

Avendoral: ::chuckles:: And the good news is, I got brave enough to send the piece out to an e-zine.

Haldemansf: Before we get started — good to be in touch again, Jerry and Larry. We keep missing each other.

Avendoral: If I can get past that,::and survive it:: then I’ll aim for your level:)

Pournelle: That’s Heinlein’s third rule. 1. Write. 2. Finish it. 3. Send it to an editor. 4. Start on a new one. Recursive.

DarleneAin: I’m just happy I’ve got a keyboard that works, which I didn’t, a minute ago!

BkCnZim: I’m ready, Joe. Going to start officially in about 4 …

Pournelle: Mr. Heinlein used to give that speech a lot. How to be a writer Most of his friends picked it up.

BkCn Star: Glad you can type once again Darlene

BkCnZim: Expect people will be walking in while it goes on …

Avendoral: yep, on 4th….also 5th…Get going on another piece….if you get dulled by the first.

Pournelle: So it’s what we tell people now.

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Avendoral: Then 6th, Go back to the first piece, once you have a few GOOD ideas.

Pournelle: Look. It takes about a million words to become a professional writer. Some get away with fewer. Many have to do the whole million.

Haldemansf: Many do ten million, and still don’t make it.

Pournelle: That’s a million words of finished material. Most published writers have a couple of novels in their trunk.

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Haldemansf: Jay and Barbara are here, Jerry.

Avendoral: ::chuckles:: actually for this piece I’m plucking away at a 4,000 word piece.

Haldemansf: They said to say hi; they’ll see you at Oasis.

Pournelle: Hullo, Jay and Barbara… And Mary Gay

Avendoral: And a larger, 100,000 or 500,000 word one. 🙂

Haldemansf: It’s a bitch to have to cook a family dinner and then run to the keyboard!

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Avendoral: What? No no no…you must cook dinner at the computer. Saves on the milage.

Sentence: <–Will stay as long as possible. An evil twister lurks nearby.

Pournelle: Doens’t your computer come with built in microwave oven?

Haldemansf: An actual tornado, Sentence? Where are you?

DarleneAin: I just want a computer that will *cook* dinner.

Sentence: Oklahoma. About 40 miles away now.

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Haldemansf: Been there. Born there, actually.

Pournelle: Tornado Alley. Wave as you go by…

Sentence: heh heh heh I will.

BkCn SciFi: It’s been pretty nasty up here by me as well. Sentence: hopefully Mr Weather won’t interfere.

BkCn Star: Ooooh, Auntie Em…!

Avendoral: All the beeps and whistles.

Sentence: I hope not too! I may have to find those magical shoes…

Avendoral: Actually I hear it’s madem weather.

Haldemansf: Just click yer heels together and say AAAAAAAAAAAAAA

BkCnZim: Okay … about to start …

Avendoral: Next day, they find the roof in jersey.

BkCnZim: Welcome Everyone! Get ready for a long macro. This is a BC Spotlight Author chat, and tonight we–The Great Sci-Fi Group and the Robert A. Heinlein Group–have invited two brilliant science-fiction writers to be our guests … Joe Haldeman and Jerry Pournelle.

Joe is the author of many fine novels,including two: The Forever War and Forever Peace which have won the Hugo, science-fiction’s readers best novel award. Forever Peace won it just this year. Joe also wrote an autobiographical novel, 1968, of his experiences as an enlisted combat engineer in Vietnam.

Jerry has written, with others and by himself, numerous famous novels: The Mote In God’s Eye, the Falkenberg Legion series, Jannessaries, Footfall, and Lucifer’s Hammer are only some.

As an added bonus, Dr. Pournelle has been kind enough to use Larry Niven’s computer tonight. Mr. Niven was his co-author in several great works. They are both present and jointly using the name “BkCnGuest” on the stage. Thank you very much for that kindness to us.[See Editor’s Note above]

What many of their novels have in common are two things: they deal with science fiction about the military and some say they are influenced–or react to theme and thought expressed, by the writings of Robert Heinlein.

Both our guests have agreed to talk about their works and the influences on the writing of “speculative” fiction (as he called it) by Mr. Heinlein.

Before we start, there are some ground rules: obviously TOS applies as it does in all chats on AOL, this will be a protocol chat as my colleague BkCnStar has probably already explained to all in her greetings, and my colleague BkCnSciFi, up here on stage will maintain and announce the order for questions.

Star and SciFi are co-leaders of the GreatSciFi Group and I am leader of the Heinlein Group. I may call upon Major oz and Doc4kidz, in the audience, our Heinlein group assistant leaders to help out from time to time.

One thing: if I go to ALL CAPS I desire strongly and suggest that everyone in the room pay very close attention to anything I say.

MI Fleet Sergeant Zim has 3 little rules of his own he expects everyone to follow: be polite, be patient and–the third one changes all the time–tonight it’s ask the question.

Star, would you be so kind as to run on screen your macro about the protocol we will follow? Then we’ll start! Thanks for all your patience.

BkCn Star: Okey dokey

geeairmoe: Twister? Where?

Avendoral: ::gives the two a look, then settles in::

BkCn Star: In order to accomodate Questions and Comments…

We will ASK for Questions or Comments…

If you have a Question Type…?

A Comment…Type !

We will put you in a Queue if you are selected… WAIT to be called on…(but have your Question ready to send out when we do.) We will take the first 10 Questions or comments at a time …follow thru and let the author answer them… Please send any IM’s to a secondary host, And PLEASE DON’T IM the Author!!! Then once again…We will CALL for Q’s and C’s….and take the next 10. It is very difficult to keep up with the audience section if this room is crowded…The bottom screen flies by so fast! So…we ask all of you to share a bit, Let everyone get a chance to ask Questions! 🙂

BkCn Star: GA

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Pournelle: A mad rush…

Haldemansf: I have a question for both Jerry and Larry. How well did you know Heinlein?

Pournelle: We were pretty close friends. I was Heinlein’s executive officer for the ’76 Worldcon. I used to go to Colorado Springs about twice a year, and after they moved here to California Larry and I used to drive up to Santa Cruz a few times a year.

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Haldemansf: We were never “pals.” Of course I respected his writing very much. We had lunches and dinners together and enjoyued one another’s company.

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Haldemansf: I subbed for him in a blood drive. He was very kind in his assessment of my work.

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Pournelle: Robert was kind enough to send my first book in 1968 to his agent, and when Niven and I did MOTE he did a 120 page critique of the story with editorial changes which he suggested and we made. Helped the book enormously.

Haldemansf: Good Lord! 120 Pages?

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Pournelle: But he made us swear not to tell anyone until he was dead. He liked MOTE a lot.

HAL9000XX1: !

Haldemansf: Well, he had good taste. A great book.

Pournelle: He didn’t want all his friends asking for the same type of editorial makeover.

BkCn SciFi: Go ahead Hal… anyone else… start lining up.

Pournelle: Robert was godfather to one of my boys also.

Doc4Kidz: ?

Haldemansf: One thing that always struck me about Heinlein was his, I don’t know, gentility.

HAL9000XX1: Just wanted say “Thanks!!” to Mr. Pournelle for giving us one of the greatest SF epics ever with Mote!

Haldemansf: He was absolutely polite to anybody, the weirdest fan … or whoever. He was a gentleman, always totally contained and cool.

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Pournelle: Well, he was certainly one of the last of the old gentlemen school. He gave friendship unconditionally and expected the same from his friends. That could be hard. I have a long story on that.

ATOMICBOHR: ?

SageMerlin: ?

Major oz: ?

BkCn SciFi: Ok Doc… you’re up 🙂

Doc4Kidz: For Jerry and/or Larry: Could you comment on the dedication to Mote?

Pournelle: Well, we wanted to dedicate it to Robert, but he wanted to puff the book, so we used a different dedication. He thought it looked bad for a book to be dedicated to someone who said in print that he really liked it.

BkCnZim: ?

HAL9000XX1: ?

BkCn SciFi: ok… Atomic.. you’re next

ATOMICBOHR: Joe, there has been a lot of controversy among fans between Forever War & Starship Troopers. What is your take?

Haldemansf: Heinlein wrote me a wonderful note when The Forever War won the Nebula Award. He said that we would never see eye to eye in politics, but beyond politics, we agreed on some very basic things. He iterated them. He was a real gentleman.

BkCn SciFi: That he was Joe… ok Atomic you’re up

ATOMICBOHR: That was mine so I’l defer to the next in line.

Seanspanks: ?

Haldemansf: My own feeling is that Starship Troopers is one of the most effective science fiction novels ever written, in the didactic sense. Heinlein wrote a book for young men, to make them gung-ho about the military. And on those terms it works extremely well. When I teach SF Literature at MIT, I team ST with LeGuin’s The Dispossessed — also a didactic novel, equally successful for _its_ chosen audience.

BkCnZim: (That would be Sage … when Joe’s done.) g/a Joe

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ATOMICBOHR: ?

SageMerlin: To all, does it not seem that the philosophy of war is an essential theme in much science fiction and why?

Kubernat: ?

Haldemansf: War is a natural subject for fiction. Automatically dramatic and relevant.

BkCn SciFi: Anything from you on the subj Jerry? or Larry? Are you still making dinner? 🙂

Haldemansf: Science fiction gives us a huge canvas to investigate the problems associated with war.

Pournelle: Heinlein was a Naval Academy graduate, from a time when the 4th verse of The Star Spangled Banner was required memorization.

“Thus be it ever //

when free men shall stand //

between their loved homes //

and the war’s desolation.”

That’s pretty well the theme isn’t it?

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Haldemansf: That’s only part of it, Jerry.

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Haldemansf: Nowadays. there are almost always civilians involved.

Pournelle: Well of course it’s only part of it. Jesus, typing one line at a time I am supposed to be profound?

Haldemansf: That really changes the variables.

Haldemansf: Yeah, one line, Jesus.

BkCnZim: Okay … I agree it’s really hard … Sage, say again your question please.

Haldemansf: We’d all like to be able to go offline and write a considered paragraph or two. What a crippling format!

BkCnZim: Or, do we need that “To All, does it not seem that the philosophy of war … etc.”

BkCnZim: It is, but there are improvements on the way. We cope, but it’s tough

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Haldemansf: Sage, I don’t really understand your question.

Pournelle: Sidekick used to allow you to write off line and squirt it back up. I don’t have that here.

Haldemansf: Seems to me that the philosophy and conduct of war is as interesting in science fiction as it is in the rest of fiction.

BkCn SciFi: Ok Oz.. you’re up

Major oz: Jerry: re Janissaries and the John Christian Falkenberg works: did being a student of military history motivate the books or did doing the books cause you to become a student….etc…???

Pournelle: The profundity of the one liner. Sound bites on line. Can’t escape the sound bite.

Seanspanks: Joe, do you think the gender relations in TFW were grafted into the movie version of ST?

Haldemansf: I know more about that than I want to talk about. Sorry.

BkCn SciFi: You’re 2 down in the queue Sean… will get to you in a sec… thank you

BkCnZim: (There’s a tool you can use, which I’ll show you when I’m “up”)

Pournelle: Whose turn is it?

BkCn SciFi: ok Hal.. you’re on

HAL9000XX1: I’m sorry Mr. Niven I didn’t know you were here too! Thank you too! And both for Lucifer’s Hammer!

Pournelle: Larry is getting me dinner. He isn’t here.

BkCn SciFi: Ok.. Sgt Zim SIR!! you had a question for our illustrious guests?

Haldemansf: Off to refill the wine glass. Back in 40 seconds.

Major oz: …did mine come through???

BkCn SciFi: yes Oz… you’re did… Sean you’ll be up in just a few moments.

Seanspanks: ?

Pournelle: When I left West Point to go to the University of Iowa I had Western Civilization from George Mosse, probably the best living historian at the time. Why Iowa had so many good people is a long story. Mosse got us all fired up about history, and I have been so ever since.

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Haldemansf: Is that Jerry or Larry who went to Iowa? I did too!

Pournelle: As to military history, that’s the decisive means of history. And if Niven went to West Point it is a surprise…

BkCn SciFi: Ok, Sean… it’s your turn.. fire away!

Seanspanks: Joe, do you think the gender relations from The Forever War were grafted into the movie version of Starship Troopers? Feel screwed?

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Haldemansf: I met the man who wrote the screenplay for Starship Troopers.

BkCnZim: Neumeir …

Haldemansf: He went to great pains to try to convince me that although he had heard ofTFW, he had never read it.

Haldemansf: Oh, yeah.

BkCnZim: Yeah, he apparently never read Troopers either.

Haldemansf: Actually, I think that within the constraints the director wanted, it was a pretty successful translation.

BkCnZim: I’ve I question for Joe, SciFi, okay?

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BkCn SciFi: You’re sooo right on that one Zim!! sure Sgt sir!! go right ahead!!

Haldemansf: Not at all like the book, of course. Sort of like doing All Quiet on the Western Front with the Marx Brothers.

BkCnZim: Question to Joe: You wrote in Kondo’s Requiem to RAH that you took Glory Road and Cyrano to basic training. Why? And why do you think Mr. Heinlein made Cyrano “villain” of sorts in Glory Road?

DarleneAin: ?

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ATOMICBOHR: You don’t call a Sgt, Sir.

BkCnZim: The second part of the question, also to Jerry (and Larry … )

BkCn SciFi: THIS one we do Atomic!! 🙂

Haldemansf: Bohr, we called sergeants “sir” in Basic .. and never afterwards.

ATOMICBOHR: Too true

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Polgaratex: Zim is a sir in civies much less in uniform

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Haldemansf: I don’t quite get that, Polgar.

BkCnZim: (I think it was a compliment, but I’m not sure)

Haldemansf: You don’t think Zim is convincing?

BkCn Star: She means we always call him sir

BkCnZim: ROFL …

BkCn SciFi: LOL Star.. yes.. he’s more of our resident General than a Sgt!

Seanspanks: ?

Major oz: “we” ?

Polgaratex: (smile) he is to be ahem honored at all times as a wise man

Haldemansf: My feeling is that Heinlein used a broad brush painting Starship Troopers and it was the proper tool.

BkCn SciFi: ok.. lets move on… Bohr.. you’re up

Pournelle: Is anyone less confused than I am here? I don’t know what is happening or why we are here.

BkCnZim: There’s a question pending to Joe and to you in the upper screen … About Glory Road and Cyrano …

Pournelle: What question? Seargeants called me sir, but that’s the nature of the game

BkCnZim: I’ll repeat it … Question to Joe: You wrote in Kondo’s Requiem to RAH that you took Glory Road and Cyrano to basic training. Why? And why do you think Mr. Heinlein made Cyrano “villain” of sorts in Glory Road?

Haldemansf: Two books I read in Basic. I wanted Cyrano for the poetry; something I could reread over and over. I took Glory Road because Heinlein was my favorite writer ,and it was one I wanted to reread.

BkCnZim: Question to Jerry, your answer to the second part, if you wish.

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Pournelle: I have no idea why he put Cyrano in as the champion for a lost cause, except that it was a lost cause, and perhaps the point was that the winner wasn’t all that good either.

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Haldemansf: For me it was just the great lines, Jerry.

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Pournelle: it is hard to make a moral case for either side in Glory Road; which may also have been the point. And of course Cyrano is larger than life.

BkCnZim: Did you think it might have had something to do with the nature of the wars Cyrano fought, essentially against religions.

Haldemansf: “To sing // to laugh // to dream — To walk in my own way and be alone Free, with an eye to see things as they are — To fight! Or write….”

BookPotato: Kate Worley asked me to say hello for her to Joe.

Haldemansf: Hello, Kate!

BkCnZim: Okay SciFi is about to announce the order. Be ready please with your questions

BkCn SciFi: ok… Atomicbohr… you had a Q for our guests… Kuber & Darlene are next… & if anyone else has a question or comment please type a ? or ! to be loaded into the Queue.

ATOMICBOHR: ?

BkCn SciFi: you’re up Atomic.. /ga

Haldemansf: That’s a big question, Atomicbohr.

ATOMICBOHR: Joe, your books have a dystopian feel that seems to be the result of technology, yet you write hard Science Fiction. It seems disconnected.

Haldemansf: Have youe read (in the current New Scientist) that the Uncertainty Principle has gone down the tubes?

ATOMICBOHR: No, wonderful

Seanspanks: ?

Haldemansf: Bohr, I’ve always been kind of a halfbreed. I like the old stuf, hard sf, but I write New Wave +.

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Haldemansf: I don’t have any philosophy about it. That’s just a reductive way of describing whatever it is I do for a living.

BkCn SciFi: ok Kuber you’re up… if anyone has a question, please type a ? to the screen and I’ll call on you when it’s your turn… very interesting, Joe.

Kubernat: To anyone who cares to answer: with Military Science Fiction so popular, and fantasy such a big sell, is the “science” in Sf diasappearing forever? end/

Haldemansf: God, I hope not. Unlike Jerry and Larry, I don’t know unicorn shit about fantasy.

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BkCn SciFi: You’re killing me Joe! 🙂 how about your thoughts Jerry?

BkCnZim: You’re up again Sean …

Seanspanks: Jerry, what is the current situation in Tamarthon? We need another Janissaries sequel!

Pournelle: Well, the book Niven and I just finished is heroic fantasy.

BkCn SciFi: actually its Darlene Zim

Kubernat: Lol, Joe

HutsonOp: I have

BkCn SciFi: but ok Sean.. we’ll go with you since you’re already there

Pournelle: As to Janissaries 4 , it is called Mamelukes and I have 40,000 words done.

Portia1972: ! I believe there is plenty of science possible with military stories–weapons, types of cammo, or other defense.

Haldemansf: Portia, writing about the hardware is fun and easy, but writing about the people is what keeps a book in print, as Heinlein well knew.

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BkCnZim: Sorry … Darlene is next … <run myself around the supply shed>!

Doc4Kidz: (Bronski: Thanks, I’m a bit tired tonite!)

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DarleneAin: I don’t recall seeing anything Pournelle/Niven/Haldeman made into a movie? Would you want that, given Starship Troopers?

Haldemansf: Nope — sold a lot to the movies, including The Forever War, but nothing made yet.

Pournelle: Larry and I have many options. We make a lot of money on them. But so far no movie. AOL just said “you haven’t been doing anything shall I log you off?”

BkCn Star: Say no

TAMarlin: LOL

BkCnZim: Click no … it’s an idiot button we all hate.

BkCn SciFi: LOL Jerry… good ‘ole AOL

BkCn SciFi: Ok folks.. the queue has run dry… we need some more of those insiteful ?’s

BkCnZim: ?

TAMarlin: ?

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BkCn SciFi: The stage is yours Zim

BkCnZim: Let’s talk about politics: in the Spartan novels Jerry posits something like Rome just before the empire. Why that instead of democracy?

Pournelle: How is Rome before the Empire and the US in Kossovo much different?

BkCnZim: Maybe not much … sounds like CoDominium to me … Except it’s UniDominium sorta …

Pournelle: To CoDominium stories were not a utiopia, you know. They were a warning.

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Seanspanks: !

Major oz: ….ooooohhhhhhh……

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Pournelle: Now it is the US and the New World order, and the Congress seems eager to abdicate its responsibilities to the President.

BkCnZim: Was Pax Roma all that bad?

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Pournelle: The notion of a limited federal government is gone. We bombard a sovereign nation with no declaration of war.

Haldemansf: True. And the president has a lot of hot air at his disposal.

Portia1972: !

ATOMICBOHR: ?

Pournelle: We are running out of smart bombs so we will hae to go to iron bombs. We are told that the President is above law and morality, and you should like that, and this is popular. So tell me, just how is it different from old Rome?

Haldemansf: It’s a hard time. I’m glad I’m not soldier age.

BkCn SciFi: as am I Joe… ok Tam you’re up

Haldemansf: It’s always been true. Journalism is more powerful than it used to be, is all.

TAMarlin: Pass it on to Sean I’m way off topic

BkCnZim: Well, we got a list of ?s and !s now, don’t we … <veg>

BkCn SciFi: oops.. sorry Jerry

BkCn SciFi: that we do Zim… that we do

BkCn SciFi: ok Sean… go ahead.. if you dare 🙂

Seanspanks: As an active duty officer, I very much feel Co-Dominium-ish at the moment! And so do all my peers who think.

Pournelle: It says I have been on line for a long time and I ought to get off now. What is going on?

Kubernat: !

BkCn SciFi: It’s AOL’s way of trying to clear it’s clogged phone lines Jerry… just click ok and it will go away

Haldemansf: Jerry, I just clicked “Ignore” and it hasn’t bothered me since.

BookPotato: It is an automated system for getting shed of goldbrickers.

Pournelle: There has never been a wealthy democracy that did not have conscription. Why do we think this one will manage it? It’s not that the army robs the paymaster, but that the President can send it into foreign adventures without worry.

Haldemansf: Jerry, they taught me in school that every meaningful question contains its own answer.

Pournelle: If you do not have conscription, and you have a large military, you will not long have a democracy. It’s that simple, really. Not that conscription is a sufficient condition. But it is necessary.

Haldemansf: I agree, Jerry. And there are circumstances where a democracy is not the most efficient form of government. But that doesn’t mean we should embrace the alternatives.

Pournelle: Democracies are NEVER particularly efficient. Why do you WANT efficiency in a government?

BkCnZim: Perhaps only if you’re conducting a war?

Haldemansf: I really don’t expect efficiency. I just want minimal social services and a maximum of “leave me alone.”

Pournelle: Democracies always end up adopting policies that are inimical to democracy. It seems inevitable.

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BkCn SciFi: ok Portia… you’re on for your question…

BkCn SciFi: And a here here to Joe on that one!

Portia1972: We are way past that point. Pass.

ATOMICBOHR: Joe are you saying we need the draft?

Haldemansf: We need the draft if and only if our country is in danger of being attacked.

Haldemansf: I hated the draft and it came within an inch of killing me. But if people won’t join up, the “organism” that is America does have to defend itself somehow.

BookPotato: Forever War was a great argument FOR the draft…

Major oz: TANSTAAFL

Pournelle: Sure. Like in Sweden, or Switzerland, where they have universal military service. All wealthy democracies are in danger of being attacked or robbed. IT’s part of the game. Incidentally, Robert and I were in total disagreement on conscription. He agreed that the draft was probably necessary, but he also said that a nation that had to have the draft to survive did not deserve to survive.

Haldemansf: You can’t compare Sweden and Switzerland to us. Fine countries, but not superpowers. Different values apply. I go along with Heinlein on that one, Jerry. If a nation can’t muster up enough soldiers to protect its borders, its borders are fictional.

BkCnZim: … but the Goths and Vandals and Gauls aren’t looking at Switzerland or Sweden you mean?

Pournelle: I am no good at one line expositions on important subjects. I give up. Of course that was my point, wasn’t it? We are not Sweden or Switzerland. Nor do we seem to want to tailor our policies toward being left alone.

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Haldemansf: I’m like Jerry. This is too complex to deal with in one-liners.

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BkCn SciFi: ok portia… Atomic you’re on

BkCnZim: I think we agree, generally … it is hugely complex.

ATOMICBOHR: What to you think of the current spat of physicists writing SF masked as science.

BkCnZim: (‘splain, please, what you mean, Atomic. Examples?)

ATOMICBOHR: Ree’s recent book comes tomind. There are tons of unverifiable theories out now.

Joe Fixitt: ?

Haldemansf: Need examples, Bohr. Benford?

ATOMICBOHR: No Benford identifies his as SF. I just thought since all of you are hard SF you might have an opinion on sloppy science

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BkCnZim: What Robert Heinlein might have felt was not within some reasonable postulate and therefore not truely “speculative fiction”?

TAMarlin: !

Portia1972: (Atomic: sloppy? inconsistent, unproved? how is it defined?)

Haldemansf: Given your name, Bohr, might you be talking about Shi’s anti-Uncertainty Principle stuff?

ATOMICBOHR: No, more along the lines of what happend before the Big Bang. How can anyone verify that? Interesting SF premise but how can it be science?

Pournelle: What do you mean that Heinlein was not within some resonable postulate?

BkCnZim: One of his essays or addresses makes a distinction between what is plainly impossible and not rationally explained, and something that is within the realm of some reasonable explanation even if not very likely.

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Kubernat: (extrapolation…also, if big bang didn’t happen, it makes a difference, Bohr)

Pournelle: I am lost. I have no idea what the topic is.

Portia1972: (Atomic: I think we just wandered into the problem of … defining the sci-fantasy boundary–that I do not think exists)

BkCn SciFi: so am I Jerry… shall we move along Zim?

ATOMICBOHR: Forget I ever asked

BkCnZim: Go.

BkCn SciFi: ok Kuber…you’re on!!!

BookPotato: <<–watching Heisenberg go down in flames..

Kubernat: Well, I was going to comment on astatment earlier, but I’ll pass, now, sorry

BkCn SciFi: tis ok Kuber…. TaMarlin.. you had a comment?

TAMarlin: I am put to mind of the rejection of “empirical” Science in “Fallen Angels”

ATOMICBOHR: ?

Haldemansf: What kind of science is not empirical?

HutsonOp: lots of authors/scientists can’t stand sloppy science

TAMarlin: so true

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HutsonOp: Check out Wil McCarthy’s Bloom

TAMarlin: Loved the Story the irony of it

HutsonOp: He hates the .. “black box” theory. Saw him get into it with Elizabeth Moon

BkCn SciFi: Fixitt… you’re on.. /ga.. if you have a Question or comment.. please type a ? or ! and you’ll be called upon shortly.. thank you

Pournelle: All science is based on observation but not all observations are science.

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Kubernat: ?

Major oz: Hey fellow fans: decorum needed. Post a “!” for a comment and a “?” for a question and SciFi will call you … in order!

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PFERDKOPF: Dr Cornelius Lancaos, whom I had the good luckto know

BkCn SciFi: ok.. Fixitt is gone.. Atomic.. you’re up again & thank you kindly Oz

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Haldemansf: True enough, Jerry. But even zany observations have to be explained by science. Explained away,

PFERDKOPF: seemed to believe that space may have a frequency structure, Is anyone following that possibility?

Haldemansf: As if the believers would accept our explanations.

Pournelle: Think about divination. Slice up a pig and examine the entrails. It may tell you the future. Certainly that was long believed. But then that was because in the old days magic worked, an the pig would TELL you the future, but then they stopped doing it so you torture the pig to get him to talk. We have ways…

Pournelle: Fallen Angels was about the tendency to elevate Pyramids and Crystals to the status of real science.

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Haldemansf: Beyond me., Pferd. Never heard of him.

TAMarlin: LOL

BkCnZim: wb, Fixitt … bumped? g/a with your question.

BkCn SciFi: yes, Fixitt you’re up

Joe Fixitt: My question is: What would you authors suggest for young writers trying to break in? Or get started in writing.

Pournelle: Write

Pournelle: Write a lot

Pournelle: Finish what you write

Pournelle: Don’t talk about it or show it to friends, write!

Haldemansf: If there’s anything else that you can do, do it. These are hard times.

Haldemansf: Write every day. Same time, same place.

Pournelle: Depends on what kind of writing. I’d hate to try to break in to make a living today.

Haldemansf: Best thing to do is think of it as beer money. Then if it later starts to be real money, you can change your life to suit.

Pournelle: But there are probably more employed writers now than ever before. Not freelance though.

Haldemansf: The average income for people who identify themselves as “Writer” in the National Office of Vital Statistics data make less money than only one category: migrant garm worker.

Pournelle: The genteel poverty of the mid list writer who lives on academic teas is pretty well gone. You either make it big, or write for hire.

BkCn SciFi: Kuber, you’ll be next.. but I’ll sneak in with one of my own.. Joe & Jerry… how easy or difficult was it for you to break in yourselves?

Haldemansf: I mean farm worker. “Garm” workers really clean up.

BkCnZim: <g>

Pournelle: Easy for me. but I had written my million words.

PFERDKOPF: In how many stories did Heinlein use the Glaroon?

BookPotato: What specifically was the break?

Haldemansf: I sold the first things I wrote. Happened to about a third of the professional writers I know. No correlation with literary skill.

Pournelle: “In the long run luck comes only to the well prepared.” Von Moltke

BkCn SciFi: very interesting.. hope it’s as easy for some of us 🙂

Haldemansf: There’s no way to make yourself lucky, but of course you can always prepare yourself for getting the wrong end of the stick.

BkCn SciFi: ok Kuber.. you’re on

Kubernat: This is for Jerry: If I remember correctly, you had a connection to H.Beam Piper(?), if so, do you know of any plans to reprint his stuff?

Pournelle: What is a Glaroon?

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TAMarlin: <Crossing Fingers>

Pournelle: Beam’s entire estate is owned by Ace Books in fee simple. Ask them. Beam’s widow sold Ace all rights for the cost of a funeral.

Haldemansf: That’s rough.

TAMarlin: <sniff>

Kubernat: Ouch. So what they do is what they do, then…oh well….

BkCn SciFi: lol Joe… ok… we’re empty… who else would like to pose a question to our esteemed guests?… type a ? and I’ll reform the line

HutsonOp: ?

TAMarlin: ?

Pournelle: I have the legal right to write in his universe, but I don’t have any present plans to do so.

BkCn SciFi: go ahead Hut

Kubernat: (Would love to see that, Jerry!)

HutsonOp: Joe you know Connie Willis, correct?

Joe Fixitt: ?

Pournelle: As to how to be a writer, nearly everyone will get one break, but most can’t use it.

Pournelle: Sure we all do.

Haldemansf: Know Connie and love her. I have a story.

HutsonOp: Then could you explain her relationship with Harrison Ford?

HutsonOp: 🙂

BkCnZim: Go with the story please, Joe.

Haldemansf: She and Harrison are involved in an illicit sexual realtionship that also involves an otter.

Major oz: ! & ?

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HutsonOp: LOL!

Kubernat: ?

Seanspanks: ?

ATOMICBOHR: ?

Portia1972: LOL

BkCn SciFi: LMAO Joe!! that’s hysterical!!!

Haldemansf: No fun for the otter, either.

Pournelle: Hard lines on the otter, though. Also on Connie’s kid…

BkCn Star: <Koff>

BkCnZim: <staying away from that with a proverbial eleven footer>

HutsonOp: I’m sure

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HutsonOp: Story?

BkCn SciFi: ok TaMarlin… I pass you Zim’s eleven foot pole 🙂 /ga

BkCn SciFi: ooops.. sorry.. go ahead Joe

Haldemansf: When the current Nebula finalist list came out, a magazine editor called to congratulate me. I said. “yeah, yeah, but Connie’s going to win.” She said she just talked to Connie, and she said “yeah, yeah, but Joe’s gonna win.”

TAMarlin: Speaking of Reprints any chance for another printing of Inferno? I’d love to share it with more of my friends.

Pournelle: Niven and I may add another book to Inferno and put it out again. We just discussed that at lunch today.

TAMarlin: Great

ATOMICBOHR: Purgatorio? Paradisio?

TAMarlin: of course

BookPotato: Lucifer’s Monkey Wrench?

Pournelle: Well, in our conception there is no real difference between the Inferno and Purgatoria, and Paradisio isn’t describable.

BkCn SciFi: that would be wonderful Jerry & Larry…

BkCn SciFi: ok Fixitt… go ahead with your question

Haldemansf: Lucifer’s Match.

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Pournelle: Lucifer’s Pickle Fork according to Rotsler.

BkCnZim: (… or two chapters to the front a la Milton?)

Joe Fixitt: For Mr. Niven and Mr. Pournelle, with the recent rash of comet-hitting-the-earth movies, did you ever get asked by Hollywood if they could use Lucifer’s Hammmer?

Haldemansf: You think H’wood would ask experts?

Pournelle: Hammer has been optoned several times, but not by the people who made the current movies. Everyone says “Hammer would have been a better picture”

Portia1972: ?

Pournelle: But Hammer is VERY complicated, and would have to be cut to almost nothing to make into a movie.

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Haldemansf: I get that with “Starship Troopers.” Non sequitur.

Portia1972: & !

ATOMICBOHR: think Starship Troopers

Seanspanks: As the great Eve Howard said, if it didn’t waste it’s talent, it wouldn’t be Hollywood!

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BkCn SciFi: ok Oz, you’re on stage!

Pournelle: The fact is that you can’t make a great novel into a 2 hour feature War and Peace took what, 20 hours and it was cut a lot. Now Hammer may not be a great novel, but it’s pretty good, and it is very complicated in struture and characters. It wouldn’t make a good movie unless it was very long.

Major oz: Pass……subject covered…..

Polgaratex: Like Dune…

Haldemansf: Another thing you can’t cover in this format. Dune is our genre’s case in point. Cross-posted, Polar

Pournelle: Frank always said he liked the big 5 hour version of DUNE. But no one would show it in a theatre

Polgaratex: sigh, I bet not

Major oz: zzzzzzzzzz

ATOMICBOHR: 3 day mini series

Kubernat: (unless movie is serialized ala “movie of the week”)

BkCn SciFi: My sentiments exactly Joe.. I’ve rambled at length about that one.. he did Jerry? I thought it was even worse

Pournelle: No, Frank liked the uncut Dune. Or told me he did.

Haldemansf: People don’t approach movies with patience. I would sit through the seven hours it would take to screen BLEU-BLANC-ROUGE, but how many other popcorn buyers would?

Pournelle: Eight hours of Hornvblower but it’s a TV series…

Haldemansf: Good stuff, too …. Gay’s taping it for me.

BkCn SciFi: ok Oz.. go for it 🙂

Major oz: I said I pass…..Portia’s next

BkCn SciFi: actually its Kuber… /ga please

Joe Fixitt: ?

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BkCn SciFi: after Kuber it’s Sean, Atomic, Portia & Fixitt

Joe Fixitt: Mr. Niven and Mr. Pournelle: Any plans to revisit the world of Oath of Fealty?

Kubernat: A while back “breaking in” was mentioned. Any thoughts on whether the Web is a boon, or not to new writers?

Joe Fixitt: oops…

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Haldemansf: Kuber, I think that if someone presents himself as literate and thoughtful on the net, he really stand out from the rest. That can be a real plus.

Portia1972: (Zim: I’ll withdraw Q & think some more)

Haldemansf: (Helps if he can type, though)

Kubernat: LOL

Portia1972: TEEHEE

BkCnSciFi: LOL Joe… ok Sean you’re on

Seanspanks: sorry, pass this turn. I was talking dirty with the ladies..

Doc4Kidz: ?

BkCnZim: Okay, we have only 20 official minutes left, 14 in room. Free chat … ask anything but let them answer it before you load up … chat’s informal Doc … no protocol anymore. Shoot!

BkCn SciFi: oops.. ok .. what Zim says!! lol.

Haldemansf: You have to share, Sean. Did it work?

Doc4Kidz: Can you comment on who the people “really” were in Footfall…

Doc4Kidz: Virginia and Robert Anson is a giveaway

Seanspanks: Ask Hutson, Joe..

Doc4Kidz: and I think YOU were Wade Curtis (a pseudonym)

Doc4Kidz: who were the others?

HutsonOp: Hey now… no smearing my rep, Seanie

Pournelle: Haldeman, Carolyn Cherryh, Niven, were the main ones. The odd thing is that it was all quite real. If aliens did come, the Navy would call Mr Heinlein who would have called me. We were on the same committee I chaired, and we wrote most of the SDI papers for Reagan. If aliens had appeared it wold have been odd if the did NOT call on us.

BookPotato: 1968 was a good book about being in Nam… What about sequel… being back home?

Haldemansf: Book, I don’t like to do sequels, though I have done it. Seems like an admission that you didn’t cover everything.

BookPotato: As a counterpoint… Vets coming home… many never adjusted..

BkCnZim: But you can go back to basic themes, can’t you Joe? I thought FP did rework some pretty well in TFW.

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Haldemansf: A question for the younger readers — like under 40 — which Heinlein works hold up best for you? Asking as a teacher, not a wrier.

Seanspanks: I’m 37… still love the juveniles!

BkCn Star: I’m older than that and still love the juveniles…

Polgaratex: I am older than dirt and I do too

HutsonOp: Starship Troopers and To Sail Beyond The Sunset.

ATOMICBOHR: Almost everything prior to and including The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, With exception of Friday nothing thereafter.

HutsonOp: ohh I change mine to Moon

BkCn Star: LOL Pol

Joe Fixitt: When I was 21, I liked Puppet Masters best of all.

BkCn SciFi: I’d have to agree with Sean & Star… read Stranger way too early… ameliorated my mind for way too many years 🙂

Joe Fixitt: Moon is a Harsh Mistress and ST close behind

Polgaratex: Ah my fave too Joe, and Star Beast <G>

Seanspanks: Puppet Masters, ST, Time Enough (and Methuselah’s Children)..

Haldemansf: I think my overall favorite, and I know that Heinlein’s is DOUBLE STAR. In many ways. a perfect short novel. would probably classify it as a lesser work.

Portia1972: Interesting attitude on sequels. Some writers go on and on, adding plot elements until they cannot resolve the story. Drives me NUTS, as I am usually hooked and want to know what happens.

Pournelle: Robert became self indulgent as he got older and discovered that editing didn’t sell any more than not edited.

Seanspanks: I bought Starship Troopers for all my Lieutenant’s professional reading.

Pournelle: Double Star was excellent. Still readable.

BookPotato: Double Star was the bio of Reagan…

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Polgaratex: ah agree with Double Star

Haldemansf: Interesting take, BookP.

Kubernat: I think the only way a sequel should be done is if it adds to the theme, not for the sake of doing one

BkCn Star: I’m a sucker for Door into Summer.

ATOMICBOHR: What is are the best SF novels of the past 20 years?

Pournelle: Double Star was written a long time before anyone had any thought of Reagan in politics.

BkCnZim: Naw, Joe Douglas was … before the fact, both! Door is my favorite.

Pournelle: We hired Reagan to speak in the 1964 campaign, about the 3rd who did when I was County Chairman in San Bernardino.

Haldemansf: DOOR is great. Haven’t read it in some years.

BookPotato: Have Spacesuit, Will Travel… dumb title, wonderful book

BkCn Star: True, Book

Polgaratex: Wow, Bohr ask a hard question next time!

Sentence: Some of the newer novels are pulling away from the old classic format. Mixing SF, Fantasy, Horror, etc. Do you think this is good?

Haldemansf: I don’ wanna go there, Bohr ….

BkCnZim: ROFL

Haldemansf: Sentence, editors tell me No, a thousand times no,

Sentence: I personally hate it too.

Major oz: Mr. Niven: Will we ever know who / what left the “boxes” in the Known Space series?

Haldemansf: don’t mix genres. But they seem to be the books I enjoy most.

Sentence: Still, I’m seeing so much of it.

Kubernat: (Bohr, OF course Pournell and Haldeman, and Niven HAVE to be on that list:))

Haldemansf: The word is they don’t sell as well as pure category.

BookPotato: If they dont know where to shelve it… they send it back

Pournelle: The Matrix is a fantasy-sf mix

HutsonOp: or they just shelve it wrong to start with

HutsonOp: it’s annoying sometimes

Portia1972: As for mixing genres, I find I am attracted to sf/fantasy/satire, more and more.

Kubernat: (Major Oz…do you mean “Slaver” stasis boxes?)

Sentence: Cross-genre is confusing.

Portia1972: Also humor

Pournelle: Well, Portia, you ought to like Fallen Angels then…

RHarr83176: Jerry, Rah is reported to have written you a classic letter on writing when you were new. Any chance of it seeing print?

Major oz: yes….couldn’t remember the correct name

BookPotato: I hope you guys come back to AOL. If you do, let me know where…

Portia1972: Hmmm.

Doc4Kidz: Yes, Portia, you WILL like Fallen Angels!!!!

Seanspanks: For cross genre, try Dean Ing…they keep changing his catagory.

Portia1972: Yessir.

Haldemansf: As a closing statement, I would like to say that I have to run off and take a pee.

Pournelle: Robert said we could not print it while he was alive. Ginny has the same view.

BookPotato: There are an infinite number of chat rooms possible

BkCn Star: LOL

Haldemansf: I will stay for 2.7 minutes longer.

ATOMICBOHR: Any chance of getting you guys to post to AOL’s Sf message boards like Turtyldove, Flynn & Stirling?

BkCnZim: I would like on behalf of everyone to gratefully

BkCnZim: thank all three authors for spending a wonderful

BkCnZim: two hours with us. We hope you enjoyed it de-

BkCnZim: spite the difficulties of the forum. We certainly

BkCnZim: did. I’m going to leave this room open for as long

BkCnZim: as anyone wishes to remain, either authors or

BkCnZim: audience …

BkCnZim: A round of thanks and applause please for these

BkCnZim: wonderful writers.

Portia1972: !!!!!!!!

BkCn Star: You were most gracious…

ATOMICBOHR: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seanspanks: Thank you, gentlemen!

Pournelle: Any last questions before I give Niven his computer back?

RHarr83176: Three cheers

BkCnZim: ::::::::::thunderous applause::::::::::

Doc4Kidz: <APPLAUSE!!!>

Seanspanks: Hot Jets!

BkCnZim: And my personal thanks to you all.

Major oz: clappy

Joe Fixitt: *stands and applauds*

ATOMICBOHR: How about and email

BkCn Star: Thank Mr Niven for his computer use

BookPotato: :: Shucks!:::

BkCnZim: 3 day passes for everyone!

BkCn SciFi: here here.. thank you tremendously for gracing us!!! <<<cheers>>>

Haldemansf: Thanks for the questions!

BkCn Star: Go Pee

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Kubernat: Thanks for the answers!! It was nice to pick your collective brains 🙂

Pournelle: Het I gotta go weeeeee

BkCnZim: Let me get out of my uniform … be right back.

Polgaratex: Thank you gentlemen

4/21/1999 7:58:43 PM Closing “Chat Log 4/21/1999”

Final End of Discussion Log


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