On these I will do a really free-swinging job as the probability (by a formula I just now derived) that either I or this soi-disant civilization will be extinct by 2000 A.D. approaches 99.92+%. This makes it unlikely that I will again have to explain my mistakes.
But do not assume that I will be the one extinct. My great-great-great-grandfather Lawrence Heinlein died prematurely at the age of ninety-seven, through having carelessly left his cabin one winter morning without his gun-and found a buck deer on the ice of his pond. Lack of his gun did not stop my triple-great-grandfather; this skinful of meat must not be allowed to escape. He went out on the ice and bulldogged the buck, quite successfully.
But in throwing the deer my ancestor slipped on the ice, went down, and a point of the buck's rack stabbed between his ribs and pierced his heart.
No doubt it taught him a lesson-it certainly taught me one. So far I've beaten the odds three times: continued to live when the official prognosis called for something less active. So I intend to be careful-not chopped down in my prime the way my ancestor was. I shan't bulldog any buck deer, or cross against the lights, or reach barehanded into dark places favored by black widow spiders, or-most especially!-leave my quarters without being adequately armed.
Perhaps the warmest pleasure in life is the knowledge that one has no enemies. The easiest way to achieve this is by outliving them. No action is necessary; time wounds all heels.
In this peaceful crusade I have been surprisingly successful; most of those rascals are dead ... and three of the survivors are in very poor health. The curve seems to indicate that by late 1984 I won't have an enemy anywhere in the world.
Of course someone else may appoint himself my enemy (all my enemies are self-appointed) but I would not expect such an unlikely event to affect the curve much. There appears to be some unnamed ESP force at work here; the record shows that it is not healthy to hate me.
I don't have anything to do with this. The character can be more than a thousand miles away, with me doing my utter best to follow Sergeant Dogberry's advice; nevertheless it happens: He starts losing weight, suffering from insomnia and from nightmares, headaches, stomach trouble, and, after a bit, he starts hearing voices.
The terminal stages vary greatly. Anyhow, they are unpleasant and I should not be writing about such things as I am supposed to be writing a blurb that will persuade you to buy this book despite the fact that nearly a third of it is copy you may have seen before.
Aside from this foreword the items in this book are arranged in the order in which written, each with a comment as to how and why it was written (money, usually, but also-Well, money)-then a bridging comment telling what I was writing or doing between that item and the next.
The span is forty years. But these are not my memoirs of those four decades. The writing business is not such as to evoke amusing memoirs (yes, I do mean you and you and you and especially you). A writer spends his professional time in solitary confinement, refusing to accept telephone calls and declining to see visitors, surrounded by a dreary forest of reference books and somewhat-organized papers. The high point of his day is the breathless excitement of waiting for the postman. (The low point is usually immediately thereafter.)
How can one write entertaining memoirs about such an occupation? Answer: By writing about what this scrivener did when not writing, or by resorting to fiction, or both. Usually both.
I could write entertaining memoirs about things I did when not writing. I shan't do so because a) I hope those incidents have been forgotten, or b) I hope that any not forgotten are covered by the statute of limitations.
Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this. The fiction is plainly marked fiction; the nonfiction is as truthful as I can make it-and here and there, tucked into space that would otherwise be blank are anecdotes and trivia ranging from edifying to outrageous.
Each copy is guaranteed-or double your money back-to be printed on genuine paper of enough pages to hold the covers apart.
Excerpted from Expanded Universe by Robert A. Heinlein Excerpted by permission.
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