One Up, One Down
by Mel Gilden
Last week I told a couple of stories on myself, both having to do with Poul Anderson. This week, I want to tell you about run ins (runs in?) I had with a few other science fiction luminaries.
Some years after my first Poul Anderson experience, I was attending yet another science fiction convention. But this time instead of being a total newbie, I was glowing a little because I had just sold a short story to Damon Knight for one of his Orbit anthologies. Like the other writers I will mention later, Damon was respected and admired by just about everybody. Selling him a story was like selling a story to the President, or to God. I told anybody who would listen all about it.
One of the people I accosted with my boasting was Larry Niven, who for many years has been writing science fiction of various firmnesses. He is known as an all around nice guy, but he is also human and so has opinions that do not always agree with mine. He interrupted me in mid-blather and said grimly, "Damon Knight rejected Inconstant Moon."
Inconstant Moon was a short story Larry had written a few years before, and he had every right to be proud of it. For one very large thing it won the Hugo for best short story in 1972, and for an only slightly smaller thing, it has been anthologized many times since.
Still I did not care to hear that the editor who was wise enough to purchase my latest story was considered an idiot. I went as long as a half hour without telling anybody else that I had sold a story to Damon.
Some years later, Larry had an opinion about another story of mine. I had written a novel called Surfing Samurai Robots — a science fiction mystery about an alien who had come to earth to solve crimes like his hero, Philip Marlowe. The book had become fairly popular, but it was not to everyone's taste — certainly not to Larry's. He told me that he'd tried reading it but that it was "too silly." I sighed. I'm glad it was not and is not my job to make Larry Niven happy.
It may have been at the same convention that I was sitting in the audience of a panel, when a gentleman sitting behind me leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "Are you Mel Gilden?" I admitted that I was. The gentleman then told me how much he'd enjoyed Surfing Samurai Robots. I turned to see who this wise and perceptive person was and saw Roger Zelazny, a popular and respected fantasist. I was now one up and one down on Surfing Samurai Robots. I could live with that.
I turned to see who this wise and perceptive person was and saw Roger Zelazny, a popular and respected fantasist. I was now one up and one down on Surfing Samurai Robots. I could live with that.
(More next week on my life with the great and the near great.)