Sunday, January 13, 2008

Alexei Panshin


Thanks for the followup on your Shootout piece.

Tom Collins sent me his account, which you saw on stencil, in the form of a limited circulation fanzine, Transient 31, dated 29 May 1974. He also sent me your account in Transient 34, no date, but clearly done shortly afterward. The two mimeographed versions, now beginning to flake at the corners, have been in my Heinlein folder ever since.

I don't agree with everything you've written. Particularly, you characterize my actions and motivations in ways that I wouldn't. For instance, in the original - which is the account I think at this moment that I'd prefer to follow precisely because it was closer to the event - you say: "Panshin left with Collins." That is what happened. Heinlein repeated, "Good day, sir." It was clear he didn't intend to talk with me, and I saw no point in argument, so I left with my wife and Tom. In the new version, you change this to: "Panshin fled. There is no other word for it." Dear me - fled, did I? And there are other things you say in this version that seem like projections to me -- how you think you would have felt, but not necessarily how I did feel.

But I don't want to "correct" you. I simply want to post what various people who were there had to say about the event at the time. To the extent that my own home movie goes differently, that will be expressed in my own account.

As Tom Collins said after publishing what you wrote: "As often happens with conflicting versions of an event, the truth is likely not either, but some combination of both. Reconciling our differences, and determining whether Guy's account supports or undermines some of my own conclusions, is left as an exercise for the indefatigable reader should there be any so inclined."

The incident from 1974 was still being discussed at the last L.A.Con. Your understanding is generous. Speaking of Tom Collins, I hope he won't mind my saying how much I've valued his friendship since our days at UC Berkeley.

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