« Afterthoughts »
was much impressed by the earnestness of the science fiction fans at the Cinvention. It is quite clear to me that they are in a position, because of their organization, to make or break writers. I do know that editors pay considerable attention to letters from them. For that reason I was much surprised that so few editors saw fit to attend the convention. I am sure fans took note of their absence.
For myself, I was amazed at the widespread interest in science fiction and the international aspect it has developed. With the rapid growth of science fiction interest the fans appear to be quite realistic. There were times when I felt that the group might well weed out its crackpots, but it occurred to me that every individualist in past history, in science, religion, and every other walk, has been regarded by his contemporaries as a crackpot. Again, since I had just joined the national organization myself, I was none too sure they might not begin weeding with me!
I realized one thing during the convention: that to the fans science fiction was a serious business. To me, I'm ashamed to say, it had always been the means to a quick check. I began to realize my responsibility to the fans, to such an extent in fact that I questioned seriously whether I had a right to continue a line that was so much a byproduct for me -- as a result of which I have all but withdrawn from writing science fiction. Hereafter I'll wait until I have a story instead of merely "cooking up" a yarn I feel will fetch in some bacon, bread and beans. I owe the fans much for this lesson. Hereafter, though it may be visible only to the very discerning, my science fiction yarns will have theme, meaning, purpose -- and somewhat less nebulous gadgetry.
By the way, since the convention many fans have written me. I am always so snowed under with work -- I handle two weekly radio shows besides my magazine and book stuff -- that my correspondence suffers. I wish to thank every fan who welcomed me to the outfit, until I have time to dig into the pile and answer everybody direct. I'm much ashamed but just can't help it on a current allowance of 24 hours a day. As a science fictionist I should be able to elongate time but find I lack the wisdom of many of my own heroes.