Old Friends, Influences, Paying It Forward and the Joy of Synchronicity
by Robert L. Slater
A few weeks ago Deb Houdek of the Heinlein Society invited me to become a part of Heinlein for Heroes. Deb and I go way back to the Heinlein Forum on Prodigy, the ancient geek times of the internet. She has been a friend, fellow author and my first editor, publishing The Galactic Citizen in the mid-90s.
Our conversation began about my forthcoming book, ALL IS SILENCE, and moved into other shared interests. She asked if I would like to help out with Heinlein For Heroes. The idea for Heinlein For Heroes, or H4H, is to provide books to our service personnel, overseas or on the seas, on bases and in Veteran’s Hospitals. The primary authors are Heinlein and other Golden Age Science Fiction writers like Asimov, Clark, Bradbury, van Vogt, Sturgeon and Hubbard, as well as newer writers with connections to Heinlein like Niven, Pournelle and Robinson.
As a sickly child, books were one of the few ways I could interact with the world and in the library I could travel around the world and to the stars. When I discovered the rocket ship on the bindings of books I was on my way. My most frequent trips began with the Robert Heinlein’s juveniles and move quickly forward through his catalog. I read Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love at about twelve, The REAL Golden Age of Science Fiction. I subscribed to OMNI magazine and was ecstatic when –Number of the Beast came out, serialized. It was like I was reading as he was writing…
Heinlein For Heroes has it all, a way to pay forward my inspiration for becoming a writer and one of the greatest influences of my life, pay back the men and women who have volunteered to put their lives on the line for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, look for books at garage sales, and hang out with new and old friends. H4H is a major win/win.
Deb’s call to action motivated me to go through my books, I am a packrat and buy books whenever I can get them cheap, especially books I want to send back out into the world with a good recommendation. I found lots of extra Heinleins and Spider Robinsons.
John Seltzer, fellow Heinlein Society officer, lives near me in Bellingham. Soon I hope to meet him in person, perhaps over a stack of books at one of my local favorite bookstores, Michael’s Books. In the meantime, John has become one of my Beta Readers and has already read and reviewed my book!
Ahh… Michael’s Books. We also go way back. They have the best free book bin in the business and a store that has stolen some storage tricks from the Tardis or from the Gay Deceiver in Heinlein’s Number of the Beast. I’ve spent many hours and less money than I would have elsewhere purchasing science fiction and fantasy, plays and poetry, children’s books and do-it-yourself books.
I teach English and Creative Writing at Windward High School, where we do Service Learning projects and helping to get those books in the mail to our service men and women fits in with our goals. Now, I get to search for books, find new ‘old’ friends and pay forward my love of science fiction and Robert A. Heinlein.