An amusing vignette by Bruce Pelz rounds out this 'Welcome to the Future' issue.
Back in the Cold War era of the 1960s, visions of the future were sometimes a bit
scary. Even famous authors were not immune from apprehension, as we will see.
It started at the 1961 Worldcon in Seattle. The Guest of Honor, Robert Heinlein, used his GoH speech to predict Dire Events (of the nuclear kind) for the near future. He was talking about Fallout Shelters, Emergency Rations, and the many other things that were suggested for Survival in such perilous times.
His fans applauded, and for the rest of the convention he mingled in the pleasant party-like atmosphere of the smallest Worldcon in many years. My introduction to him was smoothed by my having set "Green Hills of Earth" to music a couple years previous. I had sent him a copy and he professed, Gentleman that he was, to prefer my setting to the professional one. If we were ever to come through Colorado, we should stop by.
The party rolled on, through the last day of Seacon. In spite of the transportation and inter-personal problems that the Los Angeles fans were having at the time -- the former engendered by an accident rendering unusable the van in which a number of us had arrived, the latter being far too complicated even then to discuss in short form -- I enjoyed the con.
I have no idea what the general audience reaction was to his speech, but RAH scared at least one person: himself. He promptly went home to Colorado Springs and built a Fallout Shelter.
At Chicon III the following year, RAH appeared in a figurative puff of smoke at the Banquet, to accept his Hugo for Stranger in a Strange Land. He then proceeded to Hold Court in a penthouse suite at night, and Many Were The Fans And Pros To Sit At His Feet. The invitation was renewed at some time or other as conversation swirled around the room.
When Discon came around in 1963, four Angelenos decided to drive across the country to Washington: Fred Patten, Ted Johnstone, Dian Girard, and me. Dian wrote up the trek -- which we made in her car, named 'The Dammit' (as in "Start, Dammit!" or "Move, Dammit!") -- for the apa SAPS. And, of course, we inquired if the invitation to Colorado Springs was still open, and if it would be appropriate to accept it when we were going to be in the neighborhood. It was, and it was!
The Heinleinian House was wonderful, the hospitality delightful. I photographed the original illo from Colliers of "Green Hills," which they had hanging on the wall, and the delightfully convenient swinging wall between the kitchen and dining room, which allowed tables for parties or dinners to be prepared in the kitchen and rolled under the swung-out wall into the dining room. RAH spoke of many interesting things (including why the cat was named 'Shamrock O'Toole'.)
We were invited to spend the night, and when the time came to bed down we were offered two couches and two roll-away cots in the Fallout Shelter. Dian and Fred got the couches because Ted and I grabbed the Fallout Shelter, of course.
We gleefully followed our host outside to the Shelter, and after he showed us the available sleeping facilities and pointed out where important features like the light switch were located, RAH left. I got out the camera again, and we staged an Entry Scene anew, with Ted in the picture. As usual. We closed the door, looked around, and crashed out. We slept, quite comfortably, and departed in the morning extremely delighted with the event. For a couple of kids in their early twenties, it was a "Wow! Keen!" sort of feeling that I, at least, do not have the color-writing skills to carry onto paper.
It's been more than 38 years since that night, and neither Ted nor RAH are still with us. I guess that makes me the last remaining member of The Robert Heinlein Underground Fandom.
Title illustration by Teddy Harvia
Photo by Bruce Pelz