Volume 2, Number 1, Winter, 1984

Letters

More Hari-Kari

A couple of items in the fall, 1983 issue of Prometheus need a reply-even if they don't deserve it.

Prometheus must really be hard up for material to publish Ned Ludd's incoherent ravings.

He starts off with an ad hominem attack on Sam Konkin, then tries to take on Sam's article in your Summer, 1983 issue writing against government space programs without, it seems, a thorough reading of Sam's article—or anything else on the subject.

Yes, we had a Delos D. Harriman —more than one, in fact—and there are laws preventing "rocketing off to the asteroid belt." Gary Hudson is one example—talk to him about the shenanigans that threw him out of the private space company he founded—and why that company never launched until NASA personnel were firmly in charge.

Look into the international laws that forbid private liability for space shots and in effect require permission to launch from your local government—who by law are liable if your spacecraft crashes on some Eskimo's igloo.

And look into the way that Otrag—which wants to underprice government launches—has been chased from country to country to country —there's at least a fair chance that the U.S. government's hatred for Khadaffi stems from his onetime invitation to Otrag to launch from Libya.

Even a "militarist scum" (I'm quoting Ludd's letter) like Jerry Pournelle once admitted to me that the real reason there won't be any real free-enterprise space efforts is that the military would never permit it.

Further proof that Ludd can't read is that, contrary to his ravings on the point, Nineteen Eighty Four was nominated for the Prometheus Hall of Fame. I know—I was one of the people who nominated it. (I'm not sorry it lost last year though—it obviously should win this year.)

Another piece in the "hard up for material" category is Neal Wilgus's attack on the first Prometheus Award winner, F. Paul Wilson's Wheels Within Wheels. Regardless of the merits of Wilgus's arguments, publishing this piece—and running it on the page after Wilson's remarks at your last awards ceremony—has my nomination for the Hari-Kari Award for organizational Newsletter Publishing.

To begin with, highlighting an attack on a book published five years ago, and which—as a previous award winner—is no longer in the running for your award, is gratuitous. It's also rude as hell to Paul Wilson. It's also a sure way to throw into question the value of future Prometheus Awards. What was the point?

Robert Heinlein told me back in 1973 that he doubted the libertarian movement would ever succeed because he couldn't find two libertarians who could agree with each other. I think I'll one up Mr. Heinlein: I doubt the libertarian movement will succeed until people other than libertarians are in charge of promoting it.

J. Neil Schulman
Long Beach, California

 

I meant no disrespect to F. Paul Wilson when I printed Neal Wilgus' review of Wheels Within Wheels. Obviously, I think highly enough of Mr. Wilson to print his very entertaining remarks in the same issue. Nor do I think that disagreement about the literary or libertarian aspects of a Prometheus Award winner damages LFS or the movement. Few winners of the Prometheus Award will win by an unanimous vote. If we in LFS think science fiction is a way toward a freer society, won't our discussion (and arguments) aid us in those goals? Isn't that why Prometheus has a letters column and a Fiction Forum? The only thing libertarians must agree on is the right of every person to disagree and to act (without hurting anyone) on their beliefs.—The Editor

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