View Full Version : The Return of William Proxmire
February 6th, 2004, 09:05 PM
A short story from my favorite SF author, Larry Niven. Basically, William Proxmire, in an effort to slash the space program for good, uses a time machine to go back in time and cure Robert Heinlein of his pneumonia while he's still in the Navy (figuring, without him writing sci-fi, most NASA people would never get interested in space).
However, when he returns to the present, he discovers that Heinlein (now an admiral) is the commander of the US Space Forces, has established a base on the Moon, and is on his way to Mars.
What I found pleasant about this was that (according to Niven) he sent this to Heinlein, who read it a week before he died.
February 7th, 2004, 06:22 AM
I gave up on Niven a long time back. I suppose the rot set in when he started collaborating with Jerry Pournelle- and THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE was published in 1974. Among the things I dislike is his ludicrous self importance. Is it in FOOTFALL that science fiction writers save the world? THE RETURN OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE is another example. I'm afraid I hold with Tom Disch rather than John Campbell here. SF readers of the 40s and 50s didn't tend to be the future NASA types, more likely lonely, overweight, teenagers.
February 7th, 2004, 02:50 PM
You didn't like "Mote"? Why not? I thought it was one of his better works, even though it was set in another person's universe.
February 8th, 2004, 09:24 AM
It's almost thirty years since I read it and I'm afraid with books that I didn't like from that far back all I tend to remember is my verdict. The tone, I think, which I blame Pournelle for. The future space navy which just happens to be rather like the 19th century British one, the Levantine type villain.
February 9th, 2004, 05:05 AM
He made the Levantine villain of the first book into a sympathetic hero in the sequel. It is alternate history now. There is no Codominium.
February 9th, 2004, 05:55 AM
I read THE MOAT AROUND MURCHESON'S EYE and yet again can't remember very much about it. Yes, Horace is portrayed more favourably then. But I'm afraid that Pournelle series is no more alternate history than 1984 or THE WORLD SET FREE. What I disliked about Pournelle's writings (and some of the stuff he co-authored with Niven) was its smug self certainty. Heinlein was bad enough when he got into his "man who knows" mode, but some of his successors,like Pournelle (or Stirling in a way) far outstrip him. Their hero's opponents have all to be either crooks or imbeciles. Look at the shopowner in the first of the Nantucket Trilogy. For the purposes of the plot she's got to be virtually half witted. By contrast, look at Ostrog, Mustafa Mond, and O'Brien. Each of these is rather brighter than the hero.
May 15th, 2006, 06:48 PM
Is it in FOOTFALL that science fiction writers save the world? THE RETURN OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE is another example. I'm afraid I hold with Tom Disch rather than John Campbell here. SF readers of the 40s and 50s didn't tend to be the future NASA types, more likely lonely, overweight, teenagers.
Yeah, that was FOOTFALL. I thought the premise of the novel, and having SF writers, help, was neat, but I wasn't all that impressed with how the premise, or the SF writers' scene, was done.
And the SF writers get only one scene, I think. I wonder how it would look onscreen, especially Niven's description of the initial invasion--something like, "elephants wearing giant pink sneakers."
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