Satisfying Moments

by Mel Gilden

Last week I went to a holiday party and ran into the son of some friends. The last time I saw William he was in college, but these days he is helping his father run a business that is so technical I have only a vague idea what either of them actually does.

The important part of our conversation was that unknown to me — not everybody who reads my stuff is required to report in — he had read most if not all of a series of children's books called the Fifth Grade Monsters that I wrote in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

William told me that these were some of his favorite books, and that he hoped I would write more. I explained to him that I wrote these books for a book packager and so didn't own the rights to the series. (I am attempting to write my own series that is something like but not exactly the same as the Fifth Grade Monsters. I'll update you on my progress when it seems necessary. I tried a similar approach when I wrote Dangerous Hardboiled Magicians — available at the Kindle Store at I don't own my fantasy mystery Surfing Samurai Robots either.)

In one of the Fifth Grade Monster novels, Danny, who is the normal hero of the series, attempts to turn his bicycle into a perpetual motion machine. He believes that by applying enough oil to the wheels and gears he can do the trick. The trick never works, of course, and I explained why to the best of my ability.

William astonished me by stating that he still remembered that explanation, and still feels that it is one of the most elegant explanations he ever read about why perpetual motion is impossible. Coming from such a technical guy, this was quite a compliment. We conversed for a while longer, and I basked in wave after wave of praise.

Writers don't often enjoy moments like this (another one was the time famed sf author Roger Zelazny told me in some detail how much he liked my Surfing Samurai Robots) and they can take them out and look at them months or even years later.

Moments like that can make attending any party worthwhile.