[FoRK] Douglas Adams: Is there an Artificial God?

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Fri Jul 13 10:34:09 PDT 2007

On Jul 13, 2007, at 11:38 AM, Justin Mason wrote:

> Jeff Bone writes:
>> On that level, the most prescient sci-fi author of the 20th century
>> may well have been Frank Herbert.  Dune is a fantastic discourse on
>> the relationships between religion, power, and society --- and
>> particularly the thorny problems and threats of Islamo-fascism,
>> terrorism, monopoly, and resource-constraint economics.
> fwiw, but Tim O'Reilly wrote a book about Frank Herbert, and it's now
> online:
>   http://tim.oreilly.com/herbert/index.html
> Herbert himself had an interesting angle, mentioned in there:

I'm probably unduly biased towards Frank Herbert.  One of the most  
formative events of my young life occurred when I was a teenager.   
Herbert came on a book tour (Heretics, I believe) to Lubbock, Texas  
of all places.  I skipped school (IIRC) to go have my books signed.   
When I got the the B. Daltons (or the other bookstore, can't remember  
its name now, whichever one was closest to J.C. Penny's at that  
time ;-) where he was signing I was astounded to find *not one single  
other person in line, talking to him, etc.*  His agent had even taken  
off to go do something else.  He just sat there looking rather  
forlorn about the non-excitement his stuff apparently generated in  
places like Lubbock.

I chatted with him for a few minutes and then he said "I've got to go  
get something to eat, want to come with me?"  We walked across the  
mall to the Brittany or Chelsea Street Pub or whatever it was at the  
time and had a great conversation over lunch, one-on-one for a good  
40 minutes or so.  He was absolutely fascinating...  from that single  
experience I acquired a lifelong fascination with linguistics (my  
first question to him was "how do you say kwiasatz haderach?" and the  
second was "where do all these weird terms come from?"), politics,  
the impact of religion on society, the impact of humans on planetary  
ecology, the history of the Middle East, etc.  The man was an  
absolute genius, fascinated with everything, capable of holding forth  
cogently and vigorously on seemingly any subject and able to instill  
that sort of passionate curiosity in others without even really trying.

At the same time he seemed to have a kind of overall sadness ---  
something I naively attributed to the lack of fan response that day.   
It was really only later that I learned of the many things that had  
happened during the previous few years of his life that shadowed him  
until his death.

When we headed back over to the bookstore his agent was back (and a  
bit irate at his disappearance) and a crowd had finally formed up...

Still have the (embarrassingly battered, second-hand) books he signed  
for me. :-)  He died not too long after that, in 1986...  I've met  
and hung out w/ many other sci-fi writers in my time, both before and  
after that.  But that one experience is probably the most singular  
and affecting meeting I've ever had with a writer.



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