Tag: letters

Dear Mr. Campbell

Dear Mr. Campbell,

I am a relatively new reader of your incarnation of Astounding Science Fiction and I thought I should take a minute to tell you how much I have been enjoying what I’ve found in the magazines so far. I say your “incarnation” of Astounding, because, you see I am time traveler from the future and where I come from, the magazine has a slightly different name, but is still regarded as one of the finest magazines in the field. (I don’t want to give away the future and tell you what the name is, but I will say that if you ever decide to change the name of the magazine, be sure to change it to something that maintains what has become the standard abbreviation, ASF).

I write this letter from more than 70 years in the future, having gotten halfway through the October 1939 issue. It is the forth issue which I have read painstakingly closely from cover-to-cover. I started with the July 1939 issue, which in my time is regarded as a milestone issue of Astounding. While my favorite story in that issue was C. L. Moore’s “Greater Than Gods”, I would suggest you keep a close eye on that Asimov fellow. His letters can be a little bit heated, but I think he’s going places. In the August 1939 issue, Lester Del Rey’s story, “The Luck of Ignatz” was a marvelously entertaining piece, as was that clever tale by Mr. Heinlein. He’s another one to keep an eye on. I was especially fond of Willy Ley’s article on “Space War” which I think made some points which are as important and relevant here in 2011 as they are back in your time. I’m afraid that I didn’t think the September 1939 issue was up to the standard of the previous two issues, but that’s not to say there wasn’t some good stuff in it. In particular, I enjoyed Mr. Gallun’s yarn, “Masson’s Secret”. How I wish I could tell you how and when the moon landings actually unfold, but that is against regulation. Needless to say when it finally does happen, you’ll find that the reality is just as good as the fiction. R. S. Richardson’s article on astronomers was absolutely charming, by the way. I hope you have more of him.

Many of the correspondents in the letter columns complain about the art work. I am no art critic, but I can say that I generally enjoy the covers more than the interiors, and that Rogers and Gladney are outstanding in my book. I’m not going to ask you for smooth page edges, but I would like to humbly suggest moving the letter columns to either the beginning or the end of each issue. The middle seems like an awkward place at best. And keep the letter columns going! They are fabulous to read, and whether or not you realize this, Mr. Campbell, they are of vital importance to science-fiction fandom.

I realize that some of your revenue comes from advertising in the magazine, but surely you, Mr. Campbell, with your background, must have some hint at the dangers of smoking. I imagine there’s no way to eliminate these ads from your pages, but the fact of the matter is that they look antiquated and strange from seventy years in the future. But you live and learn, I suppose.

To sum up, Mr. Campbell, I awaken each day eager to thumb through the next story in the issue that I happen to be reading. Being a time-traveler, I don’t have to wait a month for the next issue to come out. I simply dial my time machine to the appropriate date and presto!–I have the issue in hand. These issues provide me with not only a greater appreciation for the short fiction form (I am, I must admit, a very minor science fiction writer where I come from), but they provide a wonderful respite from the busy world around me. They are a calm point in my otherwise hectic day and when I am stuck in the doldrums of a menial task, I look longingly at the yellowing issue sitting on a table not far from me, wishing that my nose could be between those pages.

So thank you, Mr. Campbell, for producing such a fine magazine. And thank you for what you will do for science fiction. I can’t tell you what that is at the moment, but I can say that your name will be remembered honorably by generations of science fiction fans and writers to come.


Jamie Todd Rubin
Falls Church, VA

“First of all, it was October…”

“…a rare month for boys.”

It’s one of my favorite opening lines to a book, ever and I can only use that line once a year or so. If I’m being repetitive, well, what’s new really?

Some bills paid today, rent, phone bill, and a few others. Had a letter from Trevor and thepopeswife over the weekend, as well as a thank you note from amo2761 (which explains why he emailed me asking for my address earlier in the week).

Today is the first day of Fiscal Year 2008 at work, but it still seems as though there is some focus on FY2007. It’s silly if you ask me.

The leaves are just beginning to change color around here, just barely and in patches but I imagine it will pick up over the next couple of weeks. It may have already started up where strausmouse and rmstraus live; possibly where vickyandnorm live too.

I had an amusing message from AJ and Denisse yesterday but haven’t had a chance to call them back yet. Maybe later this evening.

October is certainly not a rare month for birthdays: Andy, Carmen, Jim, Kelly, and Norm all celebrate birthdays this month. Possibly more people, but I haven’t checked the calendar yet.

And as I was writing this entry, the mail was delivered and I received the December 2007 issues of both Asimov’s and Analog.

Hump day

Trouble focusing on tasks today for some reason. I’m getting things done but not as much as I hoped. Maybe part of it is the bright blue sky I can see just out my office windows. The weather cooled off a bit today. It’s in the 70s and absolutely beautiful out.

Had Chinese food for lunch which is incredibly rare for me.

Forgot to mention a strange coincidence yesterday. I sent off a handwritten letter to Trevor and thepopeswife because I owed them one from months ago. Later in the day, I got a call from Trevor saying that they were coming out Virginia in early October, so I’ll get to see them soon, which is nice.

I’m halfway through The Reagan Diaries (my reading has slowed down this last week for a variety of reasons), but it is still an interesting read, even if I still don’t think much of Reagan.

A mini happy-hour after work today at 6 PM. I was staying late anyway for a meeting at 4 PM.


Just home from work and sitting in the mail were the November issue of ANALOG and the October/November issue of ASIMOV’S. As good as these magazines usually are, ASIMOV’S has a very special treat in this issue.

They’ve reprinted Isaac Asimov’s famous story, “Nightfall”.

In part, this is because it’s the 30th anniversary of the magazine, and in part it’s because of the Robert Reed story, “Night Call” that precedes it.

For anyone who has never read “Nightfall”, it is a must read. Originally written and published in 1941, “Nightfall” has, over the last 65 years repeatedly been voted the greatest short piece of science fiction of all time. I’m not even going to try and explain what the story is about. To have the full effect, you need to read it yourself. I can be found in dozens of anthologies and short story collections. Or rush out to your local book store and pick up a copy of the October/November issue of ASIMOV’S and turn to page 88.

Oh, and if you turn to page 12 (the letters column), you’ll find that the first letter printed in the Letters column is by someone named Jamie Todd Rubin. I wonder who that could be.

Take a peek at some of the other stories in the issue while you’re at it. You may find a gem that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. That’s what’s great about science fiction.

Restful evening

I headed home at 4 PM as usual and started In Memory Yet Green on the train, which is a pleasure as always. I love starting the these two volumes of Asimov’s autobiography because they total some 1500 pages and 650,000 words and I enjoy them immensely. I am always wistfully sad when I finish.

I watched 24, which I had TiVo’d last night. I also wrote a brief note to Trevor and thepopeswife because they recently moved and because I owed them a letter but haven’t had time to sit down and write one at length. And would you know it, while I was writing the note, I got a call from Trevor. He was at a Minnesota Twins game and the Twins happened to be playing the Orioles. How crazy is that!

I did a few chores. No mail of significance this evening. In fact, it was all junk. Now I’m off to bed. I’m going to read for an hour or so, and I have a tall glass of chocolate milk sitting here beside me. I feel guilty for not going to the gym today, but I simply couldn’t resist the gorgeous weather we had. The rest of the week is going to cool off dramatically (below freezing at night!) and so I think it was worthwhile.

Back to the grind tomorrow…

Mail call!

Several of my chores and errands are complete. It turns out that I am going out later than I expected so that gives me more time to kill. I can probably get through a few more stories in SF AGE. Or finish the final draft of “4005 B.C.”

When the mail came this afternoon, I saw what looked to be the familiar backside of a self-addressed stamped envelop that all writers quickly recognize as the sign of a rejection slip. So I was surprised when I flipped the envelop over to find a letter from thepopeswife and Trevor. It was a double surprise, really, because (a) it wasn’t a rejection slip and (b) it’s always good to hear from Trevor and Andrea. And now I get to write back!

I had a lunch at T.G.I.Friday’s (while listening to Metallica’s Garage, Inc.). Spoke with Doug earlier today. Also left messages with jen_ashlock and jkashlock. Otherwise, things are quiet here this afternoon.

Cards and letters

Yesterday was a good mail day, with two gems left in the pan after sifting out all of the junk. First, I had a holiday card from Twila, with a picture of her almost 3 year old daughter. Next, I had 2 letters and a card from Trevor and thepopeswife. Trevor wrote one of the letters, Andrea wrote the other, and then there was a post card with photos of the two of them that made them look like J Crew models in Central Park. (Except that they are not J Crew models and they live in Minnesota.)

I started to write a reply but I didn’t have time to finish it up last night. I’ll get it finished tonight and then out in the mail tomorrow. It so happens that I have about 5 things to mail tomorrow anyway so a trip to the post office is in order.

Off to bed

I just finished watching Heroes and Studio 60 and now I’m packing my lunch and I’m off to bed. Studio 60 has gotten better in the last several episodes, its started to acquire some of that stuff that The West Wing had in its first couple of years. It’s nice to see that.

I had a letter in the mail today from Trevor and thepopeswife which was a nice way to wrap up my afternoon, and to which I replied early this evening. That should go out in the mail tomorrow.

I have a full schedule at work tomorrow, one of those days where my calendar is more meetings than anything else. I don’t typically look forward to a day full of meetings, but I am trying to improve my attitude about work in general. I’ve been too cynical about it lately, and I think that says more bad things about me than my cynicism says about work. So I’m off to bed. I may try and sneak in a chapter or two of Rollback. We’ll see…


It took about an hour, but I finished the letter to Trevor and Andrea and it will go out in the mail tomorrow, and they should have it in hand Saturday or Monday. And to personalize it, I not only autographed the letter, but, after I packaged it all up neatly in its envelope, I (accidentally) spilled caffeine-free Coke on it and now there is a stain. I hope it survives!

Now I can have my dinner!

Good mail day

I left the office half an hour later than usual and had to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things. I was trying to figure out what to do tonight (Wednesday evening is the one week night evening where there is nothing good on TV). I arrived home to find that today was a good mail day.

First, my autographed copy of Visions arrived, personally signed by strausmouse right beneath the article he wrote on his recent skydiving experience. Believe it or not, I have a small collection on my bookshelves, of items signed by my friends. I have a Master’s thesis signed by Tawnya. I have a signed copy of Healthy Pet magazine, which Lisa edits. I have a signed copy of an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune featuring Dan. I have a signed copy from an Oxnard newspaper mentioned Grandpa. I have a signed copy of an article from the UCLA Law Review, “On Regulating the Internet: Usenet, A Case Study” by Paul. I have a guest editorial in the Rockland County Journal written by none other than Doug many years ago. (That one, alas, is not signed. I’ll have to bring it to Seattle with me next time I go.) And now, I can add Eric’s article to my collection. I swear, the day I finally publish something, I’m going to sign 50 copies of it, personalize each one of them (“To Jamie, a really swell guy!”) and stuff my shelves with them!

Second, I received a letter from Trevor and Andrea (aka, thepopeswife). Actually, it was two-and-a-half letters, as Trevor wrote one letter, Andrea wrote another letter, and then she included an addendum to tell me that she agrees with my spelling thoughts! And so our mutual snail-mail, letter-writing pen-palism continues.

I now know what I am going to do tonight. I am going to compose a letter back to Trevor and Andrea. I may even autograph it for them so that they can start a collection on their bookshelf (if Trevor clears away some of the Lord of the Rings DVDs to make some room). Those autographs will be worth something, someday!