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"A man held a makework political job, polishing the cannon in front of the county courthouse. It kept him fed and let him put a little money aside, but he wasn't getting ahead in the world. So one day he withdrew his life's savings, bought a brass cannon --and went into business for himself." -- Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Why Spider Robinson has my Eternal Gratitude

I'm enough of a fan to know that I can't do The Dean justice. If you came to Brass Cannon looking for a Heinlein resource, I owe you an apology.

Let me offer it in the form of a story.... It's called "Why Spider Robinson has my eternal gratitude."

Spider created a most unusual anthology, The Best of All Possible Worlds. In it, he alternated between his choice of an under-appreciated jewel of short fiction by an author he loved, and another story chosen by that author. So we got two Heinlein-related gems: a Heinlein short chosen by Spider, and a story of Heinlein's choosing. RAH's pick was amazing: Spider found himself translating "Our Lady's Juggler," by Anatole France.

But that's not where the undying gratitude comes in.

You see, in the introduction, Spider tells us how he got to meet RAH at a book signing; but instead of presenting a shiny copy of the Master's latest novel, he asked for an autograph on his tattered copy of 6xH, because it contained the ineffable short story (and Spider's choice for the anthology), "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants."

Spider told its author, "I have literally never seen the last paragraph of your story clearly, because every time I get to it I am laughing and crying at the same time."

I can't tell you how much I had wanted to tell RAH the same thing, and how much I have regretted not doing it while he was still alive. I'm grateful to hear that someone did it, and that it was someone who could say it as well as Spider did.

(I'm also glad that I got a chance to tell Spider that, and to tell him exactly the same thing about one of his short stories from Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, "The Law of Conservation of Pain.")

Thanks for dropping by. I was inspired to add this page after noticing that some visitors were being sent here by Jason and Heather Steiner, maintainers of the Gay Deceiver Heinlein tribute page. Perhaps you just came from there. If not, you might enjoy reading what they have to say about The Dean, too.


Respectfully dedicated to the memory of Virginia Heinlein, 18 Jan 2003.