Spinrad-Autob.htm???????? bio

                                by Norman Spinrad
           Although it presents certain technical difficulties, maybe you 
      shouldn't write an autobiography until you are dead.  
           The story of a life, even if your own, published for the benefit 
      of readers, becomes, well, a story.  And true or not, a good story 
      requires, if not necessarily a traditional beginning, middle and end, 
      then at least certainly some sort of structure leading to a sense of 
      satisfying resolution at the end of the reading experience.
           But since I'm 53 years old as I write this, not exactly on the 
      brink of retirement, I can hardly be expected to bring this story to a 
      successful thematic closure in any of the usual manners.
           Then too, while "write what you know about" may be the hoariest 
      of literary maxims and autobiography seemingly the ideal exemplar 
      thereof, upon a moment's uncomfortable reflection, maybe not.
           Sure, you know the sequence of events better than you know 
      anything else, but it's no easy task to negotiate the treacherous 
      literary waters between the Scylla of the extended brag and the 
      Charybdis of a deadly dull recitation of the complete bibliography and 
      nothing more.  
           So what I've opted for here is a rather experimental form, itself 
      perhaps a bit of autobiographical characterization, since fairly early 
      on in my career I came to the realization that form should be chosen 
      by the requirements of content.  And this particular content certainly 
      seems to call for something rather schizoid--a montage of split points 
      of view, persons, that is, in more than the usual technical sense. 
           So this autobiography is divided into three clearly-labeled 
           "Continuity" is, as Sergeant Friday would have it, just the 
      facts, Ma'am, written in third person as if "Norman Spinrad" were 
      someone other than the author thereof.  
           "Flashbacks" are little novelistic bits and pieces designed to 
      illumine some of the events of "Continuity" with some more intimate 
      visions of what the character in question was thinking and feeling at 
      the time.
           "Frame" is what you are reading now--the author and the subject, 
      the novelist and the literary critic, speaking to you and maybe myself 
      as directly as I can manage under the circumstances, and trying to 
      extract some overall meaning from it all. 
           Norman Spinrad was born in New York City, on September 15, 1940, 
      the son of Morris and Ray Spinrad.  Except for a brief period in 
      Kingston, New York, he spent his entire childhood and adolescence 
      residing with his parents and his sister Helene in various locations 
      in the Bronx, where he attended Public School 87, Junior High Schools 
      113 and 22, and the Bronx High School of Science.
           In 1957, he entered the College of the City of New York, from 
      which he graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree as a pre-
      law major.
           I was a subway commuter as a college student, living in the 
      family apartment in the Bronx, hanging out in Greenwich Village on the 
      weekends.  My father, eldest son of a family of five, had never finished 
      high school, having left to earn family bread, and only after serving 
      as a medical corpsman in the Navy during World War II, did he realize 
      that medicine would have been his calling, and by then it was much too 
      late.  Like many such children of the Great Depression, he wanted 
      nothing more or less for his son than a secure professional career, 
      ideally the one he wished he had been able to have.
            So I was always under pressure, not just to perform 
      academically, but to follow a path towards the bankable sciences.  I 
      passed the stiff entrance test for the Bronx High School of Science, 
      graduated in 1957 at the age of 16, and, at the behest of my father, 
      seeing as how medicine obviously actively turned me off, entered City 
      College as an engineering major.
           This lasted about a term and a half, terminated by my 
      confrontation with the horrors of pre-electronic-calculator calculus.  
      Okay, said my dad, what about chemistry?  You don't need so much math 
      for that.  So I became a chemistry major long enough to convince me 
      that I had no genius for the subject and less interest in it as a 
      life's work.
           Okay, said my dad, with less enthusiasm, what about, uh, 
      psychology?   He seemed to view the vector from medicine to hard 
      engineering through stinky liquids into the murk of the social 
      sciences as a kind of intellectual slippery slope.  
           What did I want to do with my life at this point?  
           Hey, come on, I was about 19 years old!  
           Although it's common enough for one's parents and guidance 
      counselors to demand that one get serious and make a commitment,  it's 
      both cruel and naive to suppose that a 19 year old kid is 
      intellectually or emotionally equipped to decide what he's going to do 
      with the rest of his life.  
           What did I want at this point?
           I didn't really want to be in college at all.  I didn't want to 
      be living en famille in the Bronx until I graduated.  What I wanted 
      was la vie boheme in the Village.
           What is included here and what is left out:
           Unless you've lived an extraordinarily dull and uneventful life 
      under a bell jar with your typewriter, and I haven't, you will have 
      broken hearts, had your own broken, and engaged in any number of acts 
      sexual and otherwise, that were politically incorrect at the time or 
      in hindsight, illegal, or even the sort of thing your older and wiser 
      self may now find immoral.
           Then too, my life has intersected, in various degrees of 
      intimacy, the lives of many people of more than passing literary 
      interests--Philip K. Dick, Timothy Leary, Theodore Sturgeon, Harlan 
      Ellison, J.G. Ballard, William Burroughs, Frank Herbert, Michael 
      Moorcock, to name a random sample of a long, long list.  
           Some of these luminaries were or are real friends, others 
      acquaintances of one degree or another, I've written about many of 
      them extensively in various places already, and so you must take my 
      word for it that it's length limitations rather than ego that limits 
      mention of them in this compass to the effect they may have had on my 
      life or career.     
           I have been commissioned to write a short literary autobiography, 
      and as I interpret that commission, this is supposed to be the story 
      of Norman Spinrad the writer, not a juicy expose of my private life,  
      nor of the private lives of people who may have been involved with it.   
		However, are times when such matters do impinge on what gets 
      written, and I am trying to tell the true story to the best of my 
      ability, so when they do, I guess I'm going to have to try to bite the 
           The Village, circa 1959, pre-Beatles, the Beat Era.  Coffee 
      houses.  Craft shops.  Folk music.  I remember seeing a fat-faced kid 
      from Minnesota performing for free at a Monday amateur night at 
      Gerdes' Folk City.  Name of Bob Dylan.  A hot act was the Holy Modal 
      Rounders, a bluegrass group which later metamorphosed into the Fugs.  
      One of its members was Peter Stampfel, who is now a science fiction 
      editor at Daw Books.  Another was Ed Sanders, who was to cover the 
      Manson Family trial in Los Angeles for the Free Press while I was 
      writing for the same paper.
           But in 1959, I never knew Sanders, and Stampfel, who I did party 
      with upon occasion, would not remember the me of that era.  They were 
      culture heroes, and I was just another day-tripping college kid.
           Another culture hero of sorts in this space-time was Bruce 
      Britton, proprietor of the Britton Leather Shop.  Bruce was a famous 
      sandalmaker. Bruce Britton was a charismatic party animal, and the 
      Britton Leather Shop was a major party scene.  When work was done, 
      (and sometimes when it wasn't), it became an open house, and also a 
      place where you found out where the other parties were.
           The Britton Leather Shop became my central week-end hangout, and 
      Bruce became my friend, an older role-model of sorts, and later one of 
      the earliest patrons of my writing career.
           But I didn't aspire to a writing career at that point.  Truth be 
      told, and my father not, I didn't aspire to a career at all.  From his 
      point of view, what I aspired to was quite appalling, namely to spend 
      all my time the way I spent my weekends--as, well, a beatnik in 
      Greenwich Village.
           Beatniks, even teenage wannabee beatniks living with their 
      parents in the Bronx, did drugs.  Mostly pot, which was readily 
      available but I was introduced to consciousness-altering chemicals 
      with rather stronger stuff, namely peyote, and which I had experienced 
      before I so much as puffed on a joint. 
           Ah yes, we've all committed our youthful indiscretions, why even 
      President Clinton has copped to tasting the Devil's Weed, though since 
      he didn't inhale, he didn't enjoy it.  I, however, did inhale, and 
      therefore did get off.  Often.  And to my creative advantage.  Nor do 
      I regret it.   
           If there's one gaping void in the story of American literary 
      history in the second half of the 20th century as currently 
      promulgated, it's the influence of grass and psychedelic drugs, not 
      only on the lives of writers, but on the content of what's been 
      written, and on the form and style too.  It's hard to be critically or 
      biographically courageous when so much creative work was done under 
      the influences of jailable offenses. 
           In the Beat Era, however, the literary culture heroes of 
      bohemia--William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, & Co.--were 
      not only entirely up front about it, but openly advocated the chemical 
      enhancement of consciousness as a literary, spiritual, and cultural 
      virtue.  And wrote much stylistically mighty work under the influence 
      to prove it. 
           Even a mainstream literary lion like Norman Mailer wrote a famous 
      essay called "The White Negro" extolling the Hip world of sex, dope, 
      and transcendence over the "Square" workaday world of the Lonely 
	Crowd, though elsewhere he was to correctly opine that writing final 
      draft stoned was maybe not such a terrific idea.
           I raise this issue now because I would be lying shamelessly if I 
      denied that I was a devotee of this tradition or renounced herein my 
      belief that on the whole a bit of grass and a more significant trip 
      now and again is beneficial to the creative juices.  Nor could the 
      story of the sort of writer I became make much sense in the absence of 
      its consideration.
           For most writers of science fiction, at least prior to the New 
      Wave of the 1960s, emerged as writers from a formative adolescence 
      immersed in the  hermetic subculture of "science fiction fandom," 
      reading science fiction obsessive, attending science fiction 
      conventions, writing letters and articles in science fiction fanzines.  
      SF fans even have an acronym for it, FIAWOL--Fandom Is A Way Of Life. 
           Not my teenage planet, Monkey Boy.  I didn't even know that this 
      subculture existed until after I had published about a dozen stories 
      and a novel.  Yes, I read a lot of sf-- Sturgeon, Bester, Dick, 
      Bradbury, being early obsessions-- but I was just as deeply into 
      Mailer, Kerouac, William Burroughs, and their precursor, Henry Miller.
           And theirs was the subculture I wanted to grow up to live in 
      before I even had any serious thoughts about a writing career--the Hip 
      world of free love, pot, psychedelics, literary and personal 
      transcendence--all that which, with the addition and via the medium of 
      rock and roll, was to call into being the Counterculture half a decade 
           This was something I could hardly admit to my parents, the 
      guidance counselor, or even quite to myself at the time.  And at least 
      being a psych major was something I found far more congenial than my 
      previous provisional career choices.  
           However two unpleasant academic satoris were to convince me that 
      this was not to be my planet either.
           I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a section in 
      Motivational Psychology taught by Dr. Kenneth Clark, who, among other 
      things, had written part of the brief in Brown versus Board of 
      Education.  There were no tests.  You discussed texts that had been 
      assigned for consideration in class and you wrote three papers, and 
      Clark marked you on that. 
           At the beginning of the term you were handed a list of the books 
      and papers that would be discussed.  In addition to the expected 
      scientific treatises, there was a five-foot shelf of novels, plays, 
      and assorted literary works.  How could anyone be expected to read 
      through all that in a term?  They couldn't.  Clark believed that any 
      college upper classman who hadn't already read most of this stuff 
      didn't belong in a class on this level in the first place.
           I loved this class.  It was worth the price of admission.  Clark 
      was brilliant and witty and brought out the best in his students.  The 
      class was educational, but it was also a kind of high intellectual 
           All during the term Clark complained of the conventionality of 
      the papers students were turning in.  Can't you give me something 
           I admired Clark greatly and for my final paper I determined to 
      write something that would pay him back intellectually and knock him 
      out of his socks in the bargain.
           I had read my way through all Kerouac, Ginsberg, and through that 
      on into Herman Hesse, Alan Watts and D.T. Suzuki, a common 
      intellectual vector in my Village extracurricular circles, and so I 
	knew quite a bit about Buddhism.
           So I wrote a paper comparing Buddhism and Freudian theory as 
      systems of psychology.
           This is brilliant, fascinating, Dr. Clark told me after he had 
      read it.  I glowed.  
           "But I can only give you an A-."
           "Huh?  Why?"
           He shrugged.  Because I don't know enough about Buddhism to judge 
      whether you really know what you're talking about, he admitted.  
           And had not been willing make the intellectual effort to acquire 
      the necessary background.
           Another required course that I had to do a term paper for was 
      Abnormal Psychology.  I suggested to the professor that I do it on the 
      mental states induced by consumption of peyote.  He seemed quite 
           "But as far as I know, there's not much source material in the 
      literature," he added dubiously.  
           "Don't need it," I assured him.  "Not only do I have plenty of 
      primary experimental subjects to interview, I have first-hand 
      experience myself."
           Did he gape at me as if I was some kind of crazed dope fiend?
           That wasn't what made him refuse to consider the subject 
      appropriate for a term paper in his course.  If I could have rehashed 
      secondary sources and studded the paper with appropriate footnotes, no 
      problem. But original research in the form of direct reportage of the 
      mental states in question was not academically acceptable.
           In his senior year at CCNY, he took two courses in short story 
      writing and made his first submissions to magazines.  Having secured 
      entry to Fordham University law school, he spent the summer of 1961 
      traveling in Mexico with friends.
           By my senior year, all I really wanted was out--out of college, 
      out of my parents' apartment, out from under their pressures 
      influences, out of the Square world and into the Hip.  
           But I still had it in my head that I had to get a degree to 
      please my parents.  By this time, I had changed my major so many times 
      that the only way to graduate was to lump together what I had already 
      taken with a few more random courses, call it a "Pre-Law Major," and 
      bullshit it past the guidance counselors by being admitted to law 
           One course I took, in short story writing, was formative.  It was 
      taught by a writer named Irwin Stark who had sold fiction to magazines 
      and had not lost the habit of submitting.  Stark, like Clark, bitched 
      about the conventionality of what the students were writing, and I 
      took another shot at taking a teacher at his word.
           I wrote a story called Not With A Bang, in which a couple finds 
      true love screwing in a bathtub full of chocolate syrup during a 
      nuclear apocalypse, good enough to eventually sell to a low-grade 
      men's magazine about a decade later.
           The look that Stark gave me when he handed back that week's 
      assignment was choice.
           "I can't have you read a thing like that in class," he told me in 
      his office later.
           "Why don't you submit it to Playboy?"
	    "Yeah, it's a long shot, but they're the top market, and if you 
      to start at the top and work down, can take you the first offer you 
      get for a story and know it's the best you can do."
           And he told me how to submit stories to magazines, stick them in 
      an envelope with a self-addressed stamped return envelope and a cover 
      letter, and drop 'em in a mailbox. If you get a check, cash it before 
      it bounces.  If you get a rejection, submit it to the next best 
           I submitted Not With A Bang to Playboy.  They didn't buy it, so I 
      sent it elsewhere.  And elsewhere.  And wrote some more stories.  And 
      started submitting them.
           And that's how I became a writer.  Not yet a published writer, 
      that was about three years in the future, but by the time I graduated 
      from CCNY, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and how one went 
      about doing it.  You write 'em, you drop 'em in the mail, you wait.
           Best advice I ever had.  Best advice any would-be writer can ever 
      get.  It's ultimately all you need to know.  The Big Secret is that 
      there is no Big Secret.  It drives me crazy how many wannabee writers 
      just won't believe it.
           Upon returning to New York, he decided not to attend law school 
      but pursue a writing career instead.  He rented a cheap apartment in 
      the East Village, secured part-time employment in a friend's leather 
      shop, wrote a first novel which has never been published and about a 
      dozen short stories, finally making his first sale to Analog in 1962.  
      The story, THE LAST OF THE ROMANY, was published in 1963.
           Actually the thought of entering law school in the fall of 1961 
      was filling me with nauseous dread before I even graduated.  By this 
      time I knew I wanted to be a writer, but what I lacked was any notion 
      of how to support myself while doing it, plus the courage to make such 
      a beatnik move sure to outrage my parents.  The road trip to Mexico in 
      a rotten old car (never buy a car from a relative!) with two college 
      friends, Marty Mach and Bob Denberg, was part temporary escape from 
      this dilemma, part personal vision quest, part hopeful emulation of 
      Huck Finn and Kerouac.   
           When we finally managed to coax the wretched clunker back to New 
      York after an exhaustive education in automotive Spanish, the 
      Greenwich Village outdoor Arts and Craft Show was in full swing.  One 
      weekend afternoon, I took over the Britton Leather Shop's table as 
      relief for an hour and moved $200 worth of goods, about what they had 
      done all week.  
           Bingo! I had a part-time job.  Bruce Britton, and later, his 
      partner and successor at the leather shop, Ken Martin, supported my 
      writing ambition, and more or less let me make my own hours.  And my 
      own wage, since what they were paying me was a commission on sales.
           I found a foul little apartment in the East Village that I could 
      rent for $36 a month. meaning, what with food,  and utilities, I could 
      survive on about $120 a month, and in a good week I could make $40 at 
      the leathershop working 20 hours.
           I could survive, more or less, as a would-be writer.  
           My naivete was total.  I knew no other writers, I hadn't 
      published a thing, and my brilliant notion was that I would support 
      myself writing short stories while working on my first novel.  I wrote 
      an unpublishable novel, which, years later, I was to some extent to 
      cannibalize in the writing of BUG JACK BARRON.  I wrote stories and 
      sent them off to magazines, mostly science fiction magazines.
	When I finished the novel, I knew nothing better to do with it 
      than pay my $35 to have it "evaluated for the market" by the Scott 
      Meredith Literary Agency, who advertised this service in various 
      magazines. They rejected it, as they did 99% of such fee submissions, 
      as I was soon to learn in another incarnation, but the "agent" who 
      wrote the rejection letter over Scott Meredith's signature met me in 
      secret, praised my talent, and wised me up to the SMLA fee-reading 
      scam, strongly suggesting that I not waste my money on it again.
           Nor had I sold anything.  And the final turn of the screw was 
      that Analog had been sitting on "The Last of the Romany" for an 
      unconscionable six months.
           What I didn't know was that the reason for the delay was that 
      John W. Campbell, Jr., the legendary editor thereof, had discovered 
      the lion's share of the major science fiction writers of the last 
      quarter century or so by the tedious and time-consuming process of 
      reading his entire slushpile himself.  
           Needless to say, when his acceptance letter arrived in the mail 
      all was forgiven.
           He sold several more short stories during the next year or so, on 
      the strength of which he secured a professional agent, the Scott 
      Meredith Literary Agency.  
           I had been dead broke before I sold a novelette to Campbell for 
      the princely sum of $450, so broke that I had taken a job as a Welfare 
      Investigator in Bedford-Stuyvesant for a month to keep me going.  
           When I made my third magazine sale, I wrote a letter to Scott 
      Meredith, the only agent I knew, and was accepted as a client on a 
      professional basis.
           Meanwhile, an ulcer I had developed under the pressure of 
      adolescent angst and no doubt exacerbated by eating all that cheap hot 
      stuff in Mexico landed me in a hospital for an operation.  The 
      operation was successful, but the patient should have died.  They 
      screwed up bad and infected me with something called toxic hepatitis, 
      supposedly universally fatal.  I ran a fever of about 106o for days.  
      I lost about 25 pounds.  I survived.  Still running a fever and 
      looking like death warmed over but not by much, I took a cab directly 
      to the Draft Board and got myself re-classified 4-F so it wouldn't be 
      a total loss.   
           A prolonged ultra-high fever, aside from usually being fatal, 
      makes a 1000 mike acid trip seem like a warm glass of 3.2 beer.  I was 
      not only hallucinating, I had...Powers.
           Laboring under the hallucinatory delusion that I was being 
      tortured for secret rocket fuel information by spies, I had the 
      hysterical strength to snap the bandages tying me to my deathbed, yank 
      out the IVs, and hold off a squad of interns while I used another 
      Power on the bedside telephone.  
           It was the wee hours of the morning.  The hospital staff must've 
      thought I was raving into a dead phone, understandable considering 
      what they were hearing on my end.
           Somehow I had fixated on the name of what turned out to be a real 
      Air Force general.  I got an outside line.  I got a long distance 
      operator.  I made a collect long distance call to said general at the 
      Pentagon.  He had long since gone home to bed.  I did...a thing.  I 
      ordered the Pentagon switchboard to patch me through to his home 
      phone, validating it with a blather of letters and numbers that was my 
      Top Secret command override code.  They did it.  A bleary general's 
	voice came on the line.
           I start babbling about spies, rocket fuels, send a rescue squad 
           "Huh--?  What the--?"
           At which point, the interns jumped me from behind and hung up the 
      phone on the sucker.
           By the next morning, my fever had broken.  
           And the hospital had some tall explaining to do when the Pentagon 
      traced the call back. 
           Que pasa?  I've contemplated that question ever since, my best 
      take on being the story CARCINOMA ANGELES, a literary breakthrough for 
      me which I wrote about three years later, and which, long after that, 
      seems to have been picked up by a doctor in Texas as a treatment for 
           As on an acid trip, only more so, I think the fever warped me 
      into a metaphorical reality in which the disease ravaging my body was 
      transmogrified into a paranoid image-system overlayed on actual real-
      world events.  By giving that story the ending I wanted, by actually 
      waking up the general, I somehow was able to triumph over the 
      infection for which the whole thing was metaphor.
           Unless you've got a better explanation.
           The facts are that I survived a fatal disease, that this 
      experience, whatever it was, later was the impetus for the story that 
      was the real take-off point for the writer that I was to become, and I 
      don't think I was the same person afterward.  
           SMLA made no sales for him during the six months , and he was 
      economically constrained to seek full-time employment.
           He answered an ad in the New York Times offering an entry level 
      position as an editor.  When he took the test for the job at the 
      employment agency, he realized that the prospective employer was his 
      own literary agent, Scott Meredith.  Armed with this knowledge, he did 
      very well on the test and was tentatively offered the position by the 
      employment agency.


           As I client, I had never even met Scott Meredith.  When I showed 
      up in the office as a job applicant, he was non-plussed.  Many writers 
      who later became clients had worked for him, and many people who had 
      worked for him later became clients, but Scott had never hired one of 
      his own writers through the employment agency cattle-call and didn't 
      want to do it.
           "What do you mean, you won't hire me?" I demanded.  "The only 
      reason I need this damn job in the first place is that you haven't 
      sold a thing for me in six months!"
           Having never confronted this argument either, Scott relented.  
      Voila, the 24 year old kid whose own stuff wasn't selling had a job 
      anonymously representing a list of something like a hundred 
      established writers, some of them, like Philip K. Dick, Philip Jose, 
      Frank Herbert, John Brunner, and Jack Vance, among others, literary 
      idols of mine at the time, and people who were later to become my 
           The pro desk at SMLA was an excruciating experience.  Scott 
      Meredith was a genius at squeezing work out of his peons by force of 
      paranoid pressure, and after a full day's work writing letters under 
      his name to authors, sometimes typing them over and over again until 
	he was satisfied, you had to read manuscripts on your own time at 
      home.  It was like being back in school.  It was nearly impossible to 
	get anything of my own written.  And there I was, agenting stories and 
      novels anonymously for the very writers whose illustrious company I 
      longed to join myself!
           On the other hand, it was a crash-course in the realities of 
      publishing from the inside out, and the bottom up.  By the time I was 
      25 I had more publishing street smarts than venerable greats twice my 
      age, and before I was 30, found myself playing the strange role of 
      career advisor, father-figure even, to my own literary idols, like 
      Theodore Sturgeon and Philip K. Dick.
           While working at SMLA in various capacities in 1964-66, he 
      continued to write stories, some of which sold, and completed THE 
      SOLARIANS, his first published novel, which appeared in 1966.
           I have always been a lousy typist, and in the end, I simply 
      couldn't keep up with the workload on an SMLA pro desk.  Scott fired 
      me.   He then rehired me for a part-time job supervising the fee-
      reading operation, where piece-work editors wrote letters of criticism 
      on submissions from amateurs for a fee.
           Somewhat morally ambiguous maybe, but I had time and energy to 
      write my own stuff again.  Stories sold, including one to Playboy, 
      "Deathwatch."  I wrote a space opera, THE SOLARIANS, which SMLA sold 
      to Paperback Library for $1250.
           After I left the Meredith Agency for good, I never held another 
      job, and for better or worse, sometimes much worse, have survived on 
      my writing ever since.
           And though I seriously suspect that years later Scott Meredith 
      was responsible for the non-publication of THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN, 
      about which later, I doubt whether I would be saying that now, if it 
      wasn't for the education I got in his rough school of hard publishing 
           In 1966, he decided to move to San Francisco.  He gave up his 
      East Village apartment and his by-then part-time work at the Meredith 
      agency, bought a $300 Rambler, loaded his worldly goods in it, and set 
      out for California.
           Bruce Britton and his wife Marilyn had moved to San Francisco in 
      the train of their psychotherapy guru, a story that was to be an 
      inspiration for a part of THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN, a curtain coming 
      down on part of my life, but also friends in a state where I otherwise 
           And California, San Francisco in particular, for me, like so many 
      others, was the mythical Golden West towards which Young Men were 
      supposed to go, the land with no winter, North Beach, the Sunset end 
      of the Road, the object of a thousand and one vision quests, the 
      Future itself, somehow, the glorious leap into the Great Unknown. 
           Appropriately enough, Frank Herbert and about 300 mg of mescaline 
      sent me on my way.
           Walking west through the Village night on 4th Street, peaking on 
      mescaline after reading the final installment of the magazine 
      serialization of DUNE, a powerful meditation on space-time, 
      precognition, and destiny soon to launch a hundred thousand trips, I 
      had a flash-forward of my own.
           I would be a famous science fiction writer, I would publish many 
	stories and novels, and many of the people who were my literary idols, 
      inspirations, and role-models, and former clients, people I had never 
	 met, would come to accept me as their equal, as their ally, as their 
      allies, as their friend.
           And my life's mission, would be to take this commercial science 
      fiction genre and turn it into something else somehow, write works 
      that transcended its commercial parameters, works that could aspire to 
      the literary company of Burroughs and Mailer and Kerouac, that would 
      help to open a new Way....
           This is what you're here for.  This is why you passed through the 
      fever's fire and didn't die in that hospital bed. This is what you 
      must do.  You must go West to meet your future.
           The mescaline talking?  An overdose of 25-year-old ego?  A stoned 
      out ego-tripping wish-fulfillment fantasy?
           Call it what you will.
           Everything I saw in that timeless Einsteinian moment would come 
      to pass.
           On the way to San Francisco, he attended the Milford Science 
      Fiction Writers' Conference in Milford Pennsylvania, to which he had 
      been invited by the organizer, Damon Knight.
           Damon Knight had invited me on the basis of "The Equalizer," a 
      story I published in Analog.  The only other science fiction writers I 
      had met before had been Terry Carr and Barry Maltzberg, fellow SMLA 
      wage-slaves, and suddenly there I was in Damon's huge crumbling 
      Victorian manse for 10 days of workshopping and socializing with a 
      couple dozen of them, a few who I had actually agented anonymously, 
      though considering what had habitually come down, I wasn't about to 
      mention that.
           Damon's motto was "No Chiefs, no Indians."  This was a 
      professional workshop and everyone invited was by definition a 
      professional, hence an equal, whether they were Damon, Gordon Dickson, 
      James Blish, Judith Merril, or one of the selected new guys like me.
           What's more, I was indeed accepted as an equal colleague on a 
      certain level, and the sense of awed isolation I felt when I first 
      stepped into the house's big kitchen and met all these people who were 
      names on book jackets lasted maybe an hour and a half.
           You can say a lot of critical things about the community of 
      science fiction writers, and down through the years I certainly have, 
      but it really is a community that not only tends to protect and 
      nurture its own but actually welcomes newcomers into the fold.  Like 
      all gatherings of writers, the sf community engages in bragging, 
      backbiting, vicious gossip, and cruel games, but nowhere else in my 
      experience are established writers so genuinely openhearted to the new 
      kids on the block.
           He became fast friends with Harlan Ellison, who was at Milford, 
      and was strongly attracted to Dona Sadock, who was there with Ellison, 
      and with whom he was to live many years later.
           Harlan arrived in Milford in a flash of Hollywood street punk 
      ectoplasm with the tiny elfin Dona in tow.  It was just one of those 
      weird chemical things.  He hadn't been in Damon's kitchen for twenty 
      minutes before we were talking as if we were already old buddies 
      picking up a conversation that had been going on for years.
           Harlan at that time was about 30, dressing and bullshitting like 
      the Hollywood star writer.  Dona was this tiny little 20 year old 
	groupie, or so it seemed until she opened her mouth and out came this 
      preternaturally powerful voice redolent of 50 year old sophistication 
	and speaking for someone who seemed about a thousand years older than 
           Instant fascination.  Unrequited love that would go on for years.  
           The beginning of the two longest friendships of my life.
           Instead of driving directly to San Francisco after Milford, he 
      passed through Los Angeles and looked up Ellison, who put him up at 
      his house for a week or so, persuaded him to try Los Angeles instead, 
      and found him an affordable studio apartment.
            I hadn't intended to stay more than a few days in Los Angeles.  
      I took a random exit on the Hollywood Freeway and called Harlan, the 
      only person I knew in LA.  He invited me to crash in his little house 
      up in Beverly Glen.  Before I quite knew what was happening, he was 
      persuading me to give LA a try, and finding me an apartment.  All in a 
           It couldn't have been a week after that when he asked to borrow 
      $2000, about half my net worth, this from a guy who was knocking down 
      a thousand a week on contract to Paramount.  Just for ten days, he 
      assured me.  How could I say no to a guy who had been so generous to 
           Thus began a weird pecuniary relationship that went on for years.  
      Harlan would borrow large sums from me for a week or two, pay them 
      back, borrow the bread again a week later.  The same few grand got 
      recycled over and over.  No matter how much money he made, Harlan had 
      the creative need to ride the edge of insolvency.  No matter how much 
      he borrowed, he always paid it back.
           He stayed in Los Angeles for about six months, where he wrote, 
      among other stories, the now-much-reprinted "Carcinoma Angels", the 
      very first story purchased for Harlan Ellison's landmark anthology 
      DANGEROUS VISIONS.  A previous attempt at a story for DANGEROUS 
      VISIONS turned into an outline for the novel THE MEN IN THE JUNGLE.  
      Doubleday gave him a contract and a modest advance, and he moved to 
      San Francisco to write it.
           Why did I leave Los Angeles after six months?
           Why did I stay that long?
           The Summer of Love, the Counterculture, might be two years in the 
      future on a mass level, but the tension between the Hip and the Square 
      from which it was to emerge was a very real identity crisis for a 
      young writer from Bohemia.
           I had made one life-long friend in Los Angeles, I had made the 
      stylistic breakthrough of "Carcinoma Angels" there, and the attempt to 
      write THE MEN IN THE JUNGLE, my take on Vietnam and professional 
      revolutionaries, as a novelette for DANGEROUS VISIONS had led to my 
      first hardcover contract, so I can't say the atmosphere wasn't 
      creative, but there didn't seem to be any there there.  No street 
      life.  No scene like the Village.     
           San Francisco, on the other hand, the chosen object of my odyssey 
      in the first place, was still mythical country, Kerouac's North Beach, 
      the Village West, the California capital of Hip.  Harlan's and Los 
      Angeles' distant disdain for the misty metropolis to the contrary, I 
      had to at least check it out myself, now didn't I?
            When I hit San Francisco, the first place I went was to Bruce 
	Britton's apartment, since I knew no one else in town.  Bruce being 
      Bruce, and as luck would have it, he and his wife were going to what 
	would be one of the historic parties of the decade that very night. 
           Yes, I spent my first night in San Francisco at Ken Kesey's very 
      first Acid Test blowout in the Seaman's hall, an event often 
      considered the birth of the Counterculture.  Thousands of stoned 
      people, loud music, acid in the punch, general frenzy, the whole tie-
      dyed ball of wax.  
           What a homecoming to the Hipster community!
           And yet....
           Fabulous North Beach proved to be an expensive bummer.  The Beat 
      Scene having turned it into a primo tourist attraction, the 
      authorities in their infinite wisdom figured all they had to do to 
      make it perfect was to get rid of the dirty beatniks who had made it 
      famous in the first place.  
           The result was a depressing mixture of high rent apartments, 
      plastic coffee houses and topless bars, and a Hip scene that had 
      followed the low rents elsewhere.
           Namely to the Haight.    
           In San Francisco, Spinrad lived on a street close by Buena Vista 
      park, bordering on the Haight-Ashbury.  There he wrote both THE MEN IN 
      THE JUNGLE and afterward AGENT OF CHAOS in the space of less than a 
           The bohemian communities of Greenwich Village and North Beach had 
      had economic bases in the arts, the crafts, the tourist industry, but   
      Haight-Ashbury in 1966, the year before the Summer of Love, had no 
      such legitimate economic base at all.  People like me, actually making 
      a living in an artistic endeavor, were rare, people with straight 
      nine-to-fivers even rarer.  
           The unfortunate result being that the economy of the hippie 
      community there (so named by Time in 1967) could only be based on the 
      drug trade.  At street level, indigent connections collected money for 
      nickel bags of grass or crystal meth or individual tabs of LSD to from 
      high school kids or day-trippers, and scored ounces or lids from the 
      lowest true dealers, their cut amounting to $10 or so or a nickel for 
      their own stash.  The low-level dealers bought from wholesalers in 
      maybe kilo quantities, and so on up the food-chain, which in those 
      days did not extend to Drugs Lords, narcoterrorists, or the Maf.
           Not my planet either, not what ON THE ROAD had advertised as the 
      hip scene in San Francisco at all, though there seemed to be no other.  
      In the process of cleaning up North Beach, the powers that be had 
      created Dope City in the Haight.
           Call it street smarts, or call it luck, I found myself a nice 
      little garden apartment on a hill just above this scene, where I could 
      write THE MEN IN THE JUNGLE and later AGENT OF CHAOS during the day, 
      and boogie in the Haight at night and weekends.  
           No doubt some of the nastiness in THE MEN IN THE JUNGLE owed as 
      much to the environment of the Haight as to the Viet Nam war which was 
      beginning at the time.  For sure, the three-sided conflict between 
      Establishment, Revolution, and Forces of Chaos in AGENT OF CHAOS owed 
      even more to my identity crisis at the time.
           I was a hipster, right, a Beat, a bohemian, these were my people, 
      weren't they?  Weren't they?  The Square world sucked, didn't it, 
      official reality was boring and oppressive for sure, and hey, it was 
      the Establishment itself that created the Haight by driving the Beats 
	out of North Beach.  Surely I didn't want to be part of that. 
           But I saw things in the Haight....
	I saw people smoking coffee grounds because they had nothing 
      better. I saw people smoking match-heads to get off on the sulfur 
      fumes.  I saw needle-freaks shooting up with hot water  just for "the 
      Surge."  A guy said to me, "I'd eat shit if I thought it'd get me 
      high," and he wasn't joking.
           And there were people who regarded me as a Square because I 
      wouldn't get involved in dealing.
           I spent a long time looking for a third way.  So did the country.  
      And maybe we're all searching for it still.
           A certain deterioration the cultural milieu in the Haight 
      persuaded Spinrad to return to Los Angeles,
           One day two girls from Texas I knew with pleaded with me to come 
      over to their apartment and rescue them from a couple of dealers for 
      whom their kid brother was a connection, and who were refusing to 
           I put on my White Knight suit and drove over.
           Given the level of paranoia in the Haight, ejecting them was 
      easier than it might seem.  All I had to do was glower at them 
      enigmatically until they started giving me paranoid looks.
           "Whattsa matter, you guys think I'm a narc or something?" I 
      snarled defensively.
           "Oh, no, man, nothing like--"
           "Yeah, I think you do!  Whatsa matter, I look like a cop to you?"  
           "Oh, no, man--"
           "You think I'm a fuckin' narc, don't you?"
           Sinister these schmucks were, but they were schmucks, and after 
      about a half an hour of this, they slithered out the door.  But not 
      before telling a story that they found highly amusing. 
           They were big-time acid dealers, or so they claimed.  Peace, 
      Love, Higher Consciousness in hundred tab lots.  
           "An' two out of every hundred hits are cyanide, some people are 
      in for a really heavy trip, haw! haw! haw!"
           I left the Haight for LA the next week.
            I spent about a month living in Harlan Ellison's large new house 
      with Harlan and one of my main literary heroes, Theodore Sturgeon.  
      Both Sturgeon and I were chasing unsuccessfully after Dona Sadock, who 
      had arrived in LA, and it got kind of weird.
           I was still trying to digest the results of what I had seen in 
      the Haight.  The Counterculture hadn't even been born yet, but I was 
      already thinking 20 years ahead to what would emerge out the other 
      side, Ted and Harlan were both working on tv scripts, and I was 
      thinking about what immortality would mean as an item of commerce too, 
      BUG JACK BARRON was somehow coming together in my mind....
           Spinrad drove to New York, where he secured a contract from 
      Doubleday to write BUG JACK BARRON, and then to Cleveland, where he 
      attended his first science fiction convention. 
           The elusive Dona had fled from Sturgeon and myself back to New 
      York, and I did another transcontinental run, in pursuit of her and a 
      book contract from Doubleday.  Didn't catch her, but I did cadge the 
      contract for BUG JACK BARRON, at a rather wet lunch with Larry 
      Ashmead, who had been my editor on THE MEN IN THE IN JUNGLE, then 
	about to be published. 
           Ashmead grandly assured me that there were no taboos, that I was 
	free to follow my literary star in writing this novel of immortality, 
      television, and American Presidential politics.
           Harlan was also in New York, on his way to be Guest of Honor at 
      the World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland.  "You gotta go to 
      the Worldcon," he told me.
           "Worldcon?  What's that?"
           "Two thousand fans of writers like us, half of them women.  Need 
      I say more?"
           I had failed to connect up with Dona once more, so he didn't.  
           I pictured a thousand literary groupies of the sort one might in 
      one's dreams encounter in a Village coffee house avid for intellectual 
      discourse and fornication with science fiction writers.
           Instead, I had my first encounter with the subculture of science 
      fiction fandom--dominantly male, adolescent, overweight, and 
      literarily jejeune to say the least.  An unsettling experience for 
      writers who come to science fiction from elsewhere for strictly 
      literary reasons.  J.G. Ballard didn't write for a year after his 
      first and last convention.  When I encountered Keith Laumer after his 
      first convention, he was in a state of gibbering shock.
           Not my planet either, but being the venue of much publishing 
      wheeling and dealing, as well as places to meet your friends and 
      colleagues, sf conventions, I was to find, are rather seductive to 
      science fiction writers, bad for the head, but hard to avoid.
           Upon returning to Los Angeles, Spinrad rented an apartment in 
      Laurel Canyon, where, in 1967-68, he wrote BUG JACK BARRON, as well as 
      short stories, journalism, and two scripts for Star Trek, one of which 
      was produced as "The Doomsday Machine."
           Los Angeles seemed a lot more like home the second time around, 
      or rather Laurel Canyon did, wild overgrown hills five minutes off the 
      Sunset Strip, inhabited by wild overgrown people, and I've never lived 
      anywhere else in LA ever since.
           Harlan introduced me to Jared Rutter, editor of Knight magazine, 
      and I wrote a piece about science fiction fandom for him which led to 
      a monthly column chronicling the times as we passed through them, 
      collected in 1970 in FRAGMENTS OF AMERICA.  
           This was to be published by something called Now Library Press, 
      another line of a large porn publisher, who at this time was doing the 
      Essex House line of literary porn novels under the aegis of Brian 
      Kirby.  The writers who wrote the novels--and there were some 
      formidable ones like Theodore Sturgeon, Philip Jose Farmer, David 
      Meltzer, Michael Perkins--got $1500.  I got $300 to read them and 
      write six page afterwards justifying their redeeming social 
           Thanks to another Harlan Ellison connection, I wrote a piece for 
      Cinema magazine, and thanks to a favorable mention of his pilot for 
      the show therein, I was invited to write a Star Trek by Gene 
      Roddenberry, and then a second. 
           Thanks to all of the above, I managed to survive economically for 
      the eight months or so it took me to write BUG JACK BARRON on the 
      first half of a $1500 advance from Doubleday.
           This was, in retrospect, the apogee of the countercultural 
      revolution, when everything seemed possible, when the world was being 
      made anew, when even Time could do a naively positive cover story on 
	the Summer of Love.  
           I was writing commentary on it all every month.  I had been 
	invited to write Star Trek.  My first hardcover had come out.  I was 
      riding as high as the times.
           So I took Ashmead at his word, sat down with my copy of 
      UNDERSTANDING MEDIA, a lid or two of grass, and the blithe assumption 
      that science fiction could also be made anew, that is, that all the 
      commercial, political, stylistic, and linguistic strictures no longer 
      applied, and I let the muse, the evolutionary imperative of the time 
      take me where it would.
           Where it took me was into a highly political tale of love, sex, 
      immortality, suicide, drugs, idealism lost and ultimately regained, 
      informed by a sexual explicitness the science fiction genre had never 
      seen before, though, in 1990s retrospect, relentlessly heterosexual, 
      and almost naively free of anything that would today be called 
           The style that seemed to move through me in a great Kerouacian 
      gush was curiously similar in spirit to that of Norman Mailer's WHY 
      ARE WE IN VIET NAM?, Brian Aldiss's BAREFOOT IN THE HEAD, and even 
      Robert A. Heinlein's THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, all of which had to 
      have been written at roughly the same time, and none of which could 
      have influenced any of the others.  None of the four of us had written 
      anything like that sort of thing before, and none of us really ever 
      did again.
           It may sound arch in 1993 to suggest that the spirit of the times 
      must have been speaking through us.  But not in Psychedelic Sixty-
           Doubleday rejected the finished manuscript of BUG JACK BARRON.  
      Spinrad spent the next year or so trying to sell it to major hardcover 
      houses without success.  
           1968-1969, on the other hand, were, as I called them in the title 
      of one of my Knight pieces, "Year of Lightning, Year of Dread."
           Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, Russian 
      tanks crushed the Prague Spring, Richard Nixon emerged as President 
      after Lyndon Johnson was driven from office, and Doubleday bounced BUG 
           Not to suggest that these were events of similar magnitude, but 
      the nature of the clashing forces were the same in the microcosm as in 
      the macrocosm.  
           "Take out all the sex, drugs, and politics, and we'll publish the 
      book," Doubleday told me.
           "All that would be left would be a novelette," I pointed out.  
           Multiply this by ten million such incidents, small and large, and 
      you have the transformation of the cultural awakening of 1967 into the 
      cultural war of 1968-72.  Hip versus Square.  Counterculture versus 
      Power Structure.  Revolution versus Establishment. Sex, Drugs, and 
      Rock and Roll versus the Judeo-Christian Tradition.  Me versus You.  
      Us versus Them.
           BUG JACK BARRON bounced around New York from publisher to 
      publisher, rejection to rejection.  The mainstream publishers rejected 
      it because it was too much like science fiction.  And I resisted the 
      easy out of publishing it as a genre book.
           As in the macrocosm, so in the microcosm.

           During this period, he took the manuscript with him to Milford, 
      where he met Michael Moorcock, British fiction writer, literary 
	theoretician, and editor of the experimental magazine New Worlds. 
		In the microcosm of science fiction, the countercultural literary 
      trend against was called the "New Wave."
           So dubbed by critic Judith Merril to describe a recondite 
      stylistic revolution within the genre taking place primarily in 
      Britain under the theoretical aegis of Mike Moorcock.  But by 1968, 
      the term had come to include anything that its proponents considered 
      taboo-breaking or conservatives believed polluted the vital bodily 
      fluids of the science fiction genre, as exemplified by the stories in 
      Harlan Ellison's landmark DANGEROUS VISIONS anthology. 
           And of course by BUG JACK BARRON, "New Wave" by all three 
      definitions, and a novel that had become notorious before it even 
      found a publisher.
           It was already notorious in part because I had already gone 
      public on the subject in articles in science fiction fanzine, in 
      appearances at science fiction conventions, even on the radio.  I 
      definitely did not want BUG JACK BARRON published as just another 
      genre sf paperback, but things being what they were, I used my voice 
      wherever I could make it heard. 
           And took the manuscript with me to the Milford Conference.
           Moorcock was very enthusiastic about BUG JACK BARRON, and 
      serialized it in New Worlds in six monthly installments.   The 
      magazine had a grant from the British Arts Council, and when the W.H. 
      Smith bookstore chain refused to stock it because of their objections 
      to BUG JACK BARRON and the Arts Council successfully pressured them to 
      rescind the ban, questions were raised in Parliament, where Spinrad 
      was called a "degenerate."
           Meanwhile, Spinrad was finally persuaded to sell the American 
      book rights to BUG JACK BARRON to Avon Books as a science fiction 
      paperback original. 
           Mike Moorcock was not the only one at Milford who was 
      enthusiastic about the notorious BUG JACK BARRON when they got to read 
      a piece of it. The encouraging reception it got from writers on both 
      sides of the so-called New Wave controversy pulled me out of a 
      personal pit and dropped me in the middle of a paradox with which I 
      have wrestled ever since. 
           Ever since BUG JACK BARRON, it has always seemed to me that what 
      I was writing, like much else that got published as "sf," did not 
      belong in the sf marketing category, genre sf being commercially 
      targeted at an audience of literarily and politically unsophisticated 
      male adolescents, and what I wrote, judging from reader response, 
      appealing to a demographic slice that was older, more female, more 
      interested in literary and political matters than in the "action 
      adventure" formula dominant in the sf genre. 
           A more general audience, conditioned by decades of sf genre 
      packaging not to seek out such fiction within such covers, where in 
      fact, paradoxically, much of the best of it is fact to be found, 
      precisely because the writers thereof have been ghettoized therein by 
      the mainstream publishing apparatus, itself conditioned by the very 
      prejudices its own sf lines have done so much to promulgate.  
           Like other science fiction writers of my generation and our older 
      soul-mates of similar literary ambition--Ellison, Moorcock, Thomas M. 
      Disch, Barry Maltzberg, Robert Silverberg, Samuel R. Delaney, Philip 
      K. Dick,  Brian Aldiss, Leiber, Alfred Bester, Theodore Sturgeon, to 
      name a few--I have fought to break my work out of this literary ghetto.
           The paradox being that there has always been more comprehension 
      for this desire to break the bounds of the genre, more emotional and 
	intellectual support for literarily adventurous speculative fiction, 
      within the walls of the very ghetto from which it seeks to escape than 
      from without.
           This being the short form of the long analyses in my teaching 
      anthology MODERN SCIENCE FICTION and my critical overview of the 
      literature and its place in society SCIENCE FICTION IN THE REAL WORLD, 
      both published quite later.
           A year or so of trying to sell BUG JACK BARRON as a major 
      mainstream novel finally convinced me that I was banging my brains out 
      against a stone wall.  And indeed, as soon as I gave up and unhappily 
      agreed to let Scott Meredith try the sf publishers, the book was 
      involved in a kind of half-assed auction.  And after I reluctantly 
      sold the novel to Avon as a paperback original, I managed to secure a 
      simultaneous hardcover edition from Walker Books.   
           Still, I wanted out.  Or rather, in.  To larger literary realms.  
      And the only way to do it seemed to be to write a novel that was not 
      science fiction, and to do it without a contract.
           This, after having had a contracted novel rejected and bounce 
      around for a year without selling, was scary.  Though, upon 
      reflection, maybe not.  After all, the $3000 I had finally gotten for 
      BUG JACK BARRON via competitive bidding was still less than what I had 
      made in two weeks writing a Star Trek script.  And my Knight column 
      covered the rent.
           And I had a story to tell, or rather several of them that fit 
      together thematically.  I take a look backwards for a change, and 
      would write THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN, relating the karmic connections 
      between the roots the Counterculture in the old Village bohemia, drug 
      dealing, psychotherapy cults, and the fee-reading operation at a 
      literary agency not entirely unlike Scott Meredith's.
           About this time, he met Terry Champagne, with whom he was to live 
      for the next year or so.  
           After he finished THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN and persuaded Meredith 
      to agent it, he and Terry Champagne moved to London in 1969.  
           Yes, Theresa Louisa Champagne was her real name, and in 
      retrospect it was a relationship that was not so much doomed as 
      destined to be a limited run for a certain season.  
           Terry was still married to a friend of mine while she was chasing 
      chased after me, and I was too square to let her catch me until she 
      had resolved her situation.  Terry was not into monogamy except 
      perhaps of the short-term serial variety.  Terry was not looking for a 
      permanent relationship, and I was.  
           Or was I? 
           For by the time she moved into my Laurel Canyon apartment, I was 
      committed to moving out.  All the way to London.
           The American publication of BUG JACK BARRON was set, and I was in 
      the process of finishing THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN.  I had become 
      something of a minor countercultural hero in Swinging London in 
      absentia.  Who could resist?  Why should I?    
           Hooking up with Terry didn't change my plans.  Terry was an 
      archetypal child of the Sixties. a stone willing to roll what and 
      wherever.  An artist, a topless dancer, a jeweler, a dealer, and when, 
      through me, she got to take a shot at writing stories and doing 
	journalism, she succeeded at that too, albeit, on her usual terms.  
      "It's all the same shit," she used to say to me, to my consternation.
           If I had ever thought of myself as a hippie, living with Terry 
	Champagne disabused me of any such notion.  
		After finishing THE CHILDREN OF  HAMELIN, I somehow managed to
	 bullshit the Scott Meredith Literary Agency into marketing it despite,
	 uh, certain aspects, and off we     went, in March of 1969, via a flood
	 in LA, a blizzard in New York, and a five day barfing seasick crossing on
	 the SS United States, to London, to a Europe that neither of us had 
	ever seen.
           Neither Terry nor I had been outside of North America before, and 
      now here we were in London, and at first, it was all an adventure, the 
      scene around New Worlds, the fringes of the Countercultural 
      underground, Mid-Summer's Eve at Stonehenge, it was all new, even the 
      smell of everything was subtly different.
           But after we had sublet at apartment in Bayswater and started 
      actually living in London, it all settled into a sort of normal 
      routine, something like living in New York for me, but more alien for 
      a California girl like Terry.
           Which is to say that London in the end was more interesting to me 
      than to her.  She was writing about as much as I was, and good stuff 
      too, but she was never as serious about the literary scene as I was, 
      or for that matter, about much of anything else.
           Nor was I getting much done writing done  waiting for BUG JACK 
      BARRON to be published, waiting for THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN to sell as 
      it bounced from publisher to publisher, talking literary theory with 
      Mike Moorcock and colleagues, playing the minor underground literary 
           After J.G. Ballard and Mike Moorcock backed out, Christopher 
      Priest and I were invited as the token science fiction writers to the 
      Harrogate Festival of Literature and Science by the noted publisher 
      and literary figure, John Calder.  Off we went by train, Chris and his 
      wife, Terry and I, Chris nervous about mingling with all the awesome 
      literary luminaries.
           Calder, quiet frantic, met the train with his humongous Jaguar 
      saloon, the four of us and two Indian professors stuffed ourselves 
      into it, and Calder started to drive out of the parking lot--
           "Oh no, man!" I shouted.  "You're gonna--"
           Too late.  Calder had already driven the Jag halfway down a 
      flight of stone steps, where it hung quivering on its belly-pan.
           Calder, freaking, had no idea what to do next.  
           Somehow, this grand entrance into the literary high life ended 
      any trepidation I might have felt about being a 28 year old sf punk 
      amidst my intellectual betters.
           "You stay behind the wheel and gun the engine when I tell to you 
      to," I told him, "and the rest of us get out and lift the rear end."
           And that's how we did it, bouncing the car down the steps in 
      stages.  It managed to get us to the hotel before all the oil leaked 
      out, but the repair bill was enormous.
           So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.  So it went. 
           The theme of the conference was the interface between science and 
      technology and literature, but they had one microphone to be passed 
      among twenty panelists, like an exaggeration of a typical science 
      fiction conventions.  My experience therewith served me well, and I 
      sort of began to ooze front and center.
           Then, Erich Fried, a German Marxist writer, and his attendant 
	groupies decided to organize a revolution. This was 1969, I was the 
      author of the notorious BUG JACK BARRON, and thought my heart was 
      surely in the right revolutionary place, so I attended his evening 
	strategy session in the auditorium as invited.
           Fried's thesis was that the relationship between the speakers up 
      on the platform, and the audience down here in rows of seats facing 
      them, was hierarchical, therefore fascist.  He would demand that the 
      seats be rearranged in a circle with the audience surrounding the 
      speakers on the same equal level.  Much more democratic.  
           But when I looked down, I observed that the chair I was sitting 
      on, like every other seat in the auditorium, was quite thoroughly 
      nailed to the floor. It would take a team of carpenters days to move 
      them all.
           When I pointed this out to Fried, he scowled at me with bemused 
      contempt.  "Hardly the point!" he sniffed.
           The next day, Fried stood up in the audience and made his demand 
      backed up by many shouts of "Right On!" from his supporters.  There 
      then ensued half an hour of tedious argument about seating 
      arrangements to the discomfort of the paying customers, and the total 
      befuddlement of Nigel Calder, the chairman, who had completely lost 
           After a half hour of listening to this totally pointless 
      argument, I had finally had enough.  I snatched the one free 
      microphone, and gave Fried what he wanted.
           I observed none too gently that, the seats being nailed to the 
      floor, the argument was moot, the audience was bored with it, and it 
      was time to get on with the program.
           "You, sir," Fried shouted righteously on cue, "are a fascist 
      swine and a bastard!"  And stormed out of the audience at the head of 
      his troops, as he had obviously planned to do all along.
           It was the major media event of the conference.  It made all the 
      papers.  That's how I got called a fascist swine and a bastard in 
      every major newspaper in Britain.  
           Well, not precisely.  Because John Calder had spelled my name 
      wrong in the press kit, the fascist bastard was "Norman Spinard."
            BUG JACK BARRON had been published, THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN 
      hadn't sold, I was still writing my monthly column for Knight, but had 
      no other significant source of income, Terry was getting homesick for 
      California, the sublet on the London apartment was up, so, somewhat 
      reluctantly on my part, perhaps, after a month staggering about the 
      continent after the car we had borrowed from Mike Moorcock expired in 
      Germany, we returned to Richard Nixon's America in the fall of 1969 
      and rented a house in Laurel Canyon.
           Coda to Harrogate:
           We took the train back to London in the company of, among others, 
      William Burroughs.  We had to change at York.  Burroughs went to a 
      newsstand after reading matter for the trip and returned with a 
      handful of sleazy British tabloids.
           "Look at this stuff!" he chortled. "Juicy!"
           They were all full of this lurid Hollywood murder story. Pregnant 
      actress Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski, famous hair stylist to 
      the stars Jay Sebring, and several others had been gorily murdered by 
      a tribe of drug-crazed hippies in thrall to some weirdo named Charles 
      Manson. I never paid attention crap like that, and marveled at how 
      someone like Burroughs could.
           Little did I know how close I was to get to the Manson Family.  
           Too close for comfort.  And soon.

           There Spinrad, in 1970-71, wrote THE IRON DREAM, his satire of 
      science fiction, Nazism, and Adolf Hitler, which had emerged as a 
      concept from a conversation in London with Moorcock, during the 
      writing of which his relationship with Terry Champagne ended.  
           During this period, he was also writing political journalism, 
      film criticism, and the occasional book review for the Los Angeles 
      Free Press, America's best-selling weekly underground newspaper.   
           A crazy time.  
           My relationship with Terry was breaking up.  I was writing a 
      novel that amounted to channeling the consciousness of Hitler in order 
      to exorcise the demon of Nazism.  And I had become a main man of the 
      Underground Press on the side.
           Arthur Kunkin, founder of the Free Press, had hired Brian Kirby 
      as managing editor, and I was one of the writers he brought in.  The 
      money was next to nothing, but as a film critic I was on all the 
      freebie review lists, as a political columnist, I developed a certain 
      following, and I loved the instant feedback of weekly journalism, a 
      welcome relief from getting inside the head of Hitler while my 
      relationship was falling apart.
           But what I, and everyone else at the paper, could have done 
      without was the Mansonoids.
           Kirby had brought in poet and former Fug Ed Sanders from New York 
      to cover the murder trial of Charlie Manson.  As soon as he hit the 
      tarmac at LAX, Ed was writing stuff about how the Establishment was 
      railroading this innocent hippie tribe in order to crush the 
           Charlie and his Family loved the coverage.  They loved the paper.  
      They loved Ed.  There were more of them on the loose than anybody not 
      at the Freep realized.  And as the trial progressed, every stoned-out 
      nut in California seemed to want to join the Manson Family too...
           The Mansonoids trusted Ed.  They trusted him so much that they 
      told him about all these other neat snuffs they had done that only 
      their good buddies at the Free Press now knew about, hee, hee, hee....
           So early on we all knew that Manson & Co. were indeed the crazed 
      killers the wicked Establishment claimed they were, but Kirby had to 
      keep on their good side, such as it was, the  Freep had to hew to the 
      Mansonsoid line, print Charlie's poems and manifestos, or the 
      murderous creeps hanging around the paper might not like us any 
           Years later, I met Ed Sanders in New York.
           He told me that even there, even then, he still slept with the 
      lights on.
           One good thing did come of it, though: one of the best front page 
      headlines ever.
           Remember when Richard Nixon butted into the trial?  "MANSON 
      GUILTY, NIXON DECLARES," screamed the headlines in the Establishment 
           The next issue of the Free Press carried a piece by Charlie 
      himself about the then-unfolding Watergate scandal.
           "NIXON GUILTY, MANSON DECLARES," said Brian Kirby's headline.
           How right they both were!
	    THE CHILDREN OF HAMELIN still hadn't found a book publisher, and  
      Brian Kirby, editor of the Free Press, began an unprecedented weekly 
      serialization of the novel in the paper. 

           Ernsberger was later fired by Minton, and when the paperback of 
      PASSING THROUGH THE FLAME was published, the dedication to Ernsberger, 
      which had appeared in the hardcover, was removed.  During this period, 
      MCA bought Putnam, and eased out Walter Minton, and Spinrad changed 
      agents again, signing on with the Jane Rotrosen Agency.
           By the time the paperback came out, Dona and I had moved back to 
      New York, and I saw the first copy in the Putnam office.  In the 
      absence of Minton, I raved on about how I was going to talk to certain 
      people in Hollywood who would see to it that he would be gone ere the 
      year was out.
           It was admittedly a cheap thrill.  Putnam had already been bought 
      by MCA, and from the experience of my friends Betty and Ian 
      Ballantine, I knew all too well what happened to owners who sold their 
      companies to such conglomerates believing they could cash the fat 
      check and still retain effective control. 
           Then too, Minton was not exactly a hero to his troops.  He once 
      fired a couple dozen people at the office Christmas party, to give you 
      an idea. I was at a big publishing party when it came down.  A whole bunch 
      of people from the Putnam office arrived, drunk as skunks, and lugging 
      champagne, which they proceeded to pour for me.
           MCA just axed Walter Minton, they told me.  How did you do it?   
	I just smiled enigmatically over the rim of my glass and toasted 
      his demise.
           In another attempt to secure major mainstream hardcover 
      publication, Spinrad wrote THE MIND GAME without a contract.  Though 
      the completed book seemed on the verge of being accepted by major 
      hardcover houses several times, something always seemed to happen 
      between the editorial and legal end.  
           Was Scientology or the fear thereof responsible?  They had 
      certainly complained when their street-solicitor minions appeared in 
      my comic short story in Playboy, "Holy War on 34th Street," and had 
      tried unsuccessfully to get Anchor Books to edit my comments on 
      Hubbard out of MODERN SCIENCE FICTION.
           And while THE MIND GAME was bouncing around, we did have this 
      rather peculiar burglary.  The apartment was ransacked, but nothing 
      was taken.  Not the stereo, not the tv, not Dona's mink coat which was 
      hanging in plain view, not even cash.  
           A search for a manuscript?
           A not-so-friendly warning?
           The cops said it was probably crazed dopers.
           I could hardly tell them that the burglars hadn't taken my grass 
           Whatever the cause, THE MIND GAME wasn't selling, so I decided it 
      was time to write another science fiction novel, and wrote an outline 
      for A WORLD BETWEEN, my meditation on sex roles, feminism, media, and 
      electronic democracy.  
           My friend David Hartwell wanted to buy it, and I had been 
      instrumental in securing him his position, but unfortunately that 
      position was sf editor at Putnam-Berkley.  I had recommended him to 
      Ernsberger, but at this time, George was already gone and Walter 
      Minton was still in power.   
           So Jane Rotrosen auctioned the outline, and the winner was Jove 
      Books, the hot new paperback line just started by Harcourt Brace 
      Jovanovich.  And they made a deal to do new editions of THE IRON DREAM 
      and BUG JACK BARRON.  And bought THE MIND GAME too.
           For the first time in my career, I had some significant capital.
            Jove published THE IRON DREAM, but before any of Spinrad's other 
      books there could be published, corporate upheavals at Harcourt Brace 
      Jovanovich intervened.  The Jove science fiction program expired, and 
      Jove itself was sold to Putnam-Berkley, under which corporate aegis it 
      finally published THE MIND GAME in 1980.
           Spinrad, meanwhile, had moved A WORLD BETWEEN to Simon & 
      Schuster/Pocketbooks, where David Hartwell had started a new line of 
      books, Timescape.  Hartwell published A WORLD BETWEEN as a paperback 
      original, but published Spinrad's next two novels, SONGS FROM THE 
      STARS and THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE in hardcover.
           SONGS FROM THE STARS was a post-apocalypse alien-contact story, 
      among other things, and I wanted the "narration" of the alien data-
      packets to be, well, songs, poetry, that is.  Could I pull this off?  
      Fortunately, David Hartwell was an experiences poetry editor whom I 
      could count upon to tell me whether I was making a fool of myself.
           David thought the verse worked, with some tinkering, but felt 
      that the 40 pages or so of description around it should be in metric 
		"Metric prose?  What's that?"
           David proceeded to teach me, as we went over 40 pages of 
      manuscript, syllable by syllable, phoneme by phoneme. 
           Somehow, this learning experience, combined with a scene that had 
      been kicking around in my head for years without leading anywhere, 
      synergized into THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE, a (non)-love-story of the far 
      future written in a kind of "world-speak" called Lingo, my first piece 
      of book-length fiction in experimental prose since  BUG JACK BARRON, 
      although in a style light-years apart.
           I had written three novels since the publication of PASSING 
      THROUGH THE FLAME in 1975, but owing to all these publishing 
      upheavals, none of them were published until 1979-1980, when all three 
      of them were published in a space of 18 months.  First it looked as if 
      I had had a four year writing block, then as if I had written three 
      major novels in less than two years!
           In 1976, soon after the writing of A WORLD BETWEEN, Spinrad's 
      relationship with Dona Sadock ended, though the two remained good 
      friends.  In 1980-1982, Spinrad was twice elected President of the 
      Science Fiction Writers of America.  During this period he also began 
      a quarterly column of criticism for ISAAC ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION 
      MAGAZINE, which, at this writing, still continues.  In 1982, Universal 
      Pictures, which had previously had the book under option, bought the 
      film rights to BUG JACK BARRON for $75,000, the film to be written by 
      Harlan Ellison and directed by Costa-Gavras. 
           Universal was trying to get me to sell them another cheap option, 
      I knew that I could force them to pay me the pick-up money only 
      because Costa-Gavras wanted Harlan to write it.  It was a high-stakes 
      game of chicken.  
           Finally, I got my long awaited $75,000 phone call.  I had about 
      two hours to enjoy it.  Then I got another phone call telling me that 
      Phil Dick had had a massive stroke and had lapsed into a terminal 
           Universal still owns the film rights to BUG JACK BARRON.  To this 
      date, they have pissed away maybe $2 million on the project, and the 
      film has not been made.
           During this period, he began visiting France, the first time as 
      guest of honor at the Metz Science Fiction Festival.  On this trip, in 
      Paris, he recorded two tracks on Richard Pinhas' album East-West as a 
      cyborged vocalist.  
           "Me sing on a record album, Richard?  Are you nuts?  I can't even 
      carry a tune with a fork lift!"
           Not to worry, he told me, just write some words to this music, 
      chant them into the microphone, and I, the vocoder, and the computer 
      will do the rest.
           So we go into the studio, and I put on the earphones, and start 
      just chanting these simple lyrics, we do some takes like this, and 
           And then Richard tries something.  He lets me hear my own voice 
      being processed through the vocoder circuitry in real-time and 
      something happens....  I'm supplying analog input to the electronic augmentation 
      circuitry, I'm in a positive feedback loop with the vocoder, I'm 
      collaborating with it, with whatever Richard is doing, manipulating it 
      as it's augmenting me, and out the other end something is singing....
      me, maybe, but not quite not-me either, and then....
		And then, unbeknownst to me, Richard cuts the vocoder out of the 
      circuit like Daddy surreptitiously removing the training wheels from a 
      kid's bicycle.
           And plays the result back to me.
           "That's you," he tells me, "au naturel."  And so it was.  And so 
      it is.  For better or worse, you can hear it on the album, re-released 
      on CD in 1992.
           I wrote a piece on the experience for a magazine.  And started 
      playing with the first little electronic keyboards.  And got to 
           Electronic circuitry can replace human drummers, even do whole 
      rhythm tracks untouched by human hands.... 
           And if electronic circuitry can make a singer out of me, it can 
      make a rock star out of anyone....
           And if out of anyone, why not out of no one, why not virtual rock 
      stars who aren't there to not show up for concerts, or get busted for 
      drugs, or command all that money...?
           If the music industry could do this, they sure would, now 
      wouldn't they?
           And that was to be the genesis of LITTLE HEROES.
           But LITTLE HEROES was one book in the future.  I had never done a 
      sequel to anything before, or since, but I wanted to do a sequel to 
      THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE.  Sort of.
           THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE, narrated in his own "sprach of Lingo," 
      that is, his private melange of human languages, by the Captain in 
      question, takes place entirely on a single space ship, and is written 
      in a rather hermetic Germanic sprach.
           I didn't want to keep the characters, or the setting, or even the 
      style.  I wanted to write a wider-screen, more up-beat, joyous 
      bildungsroman from a female point of view, and in a more Latinate, 
      baroque, wise-cracking sprach of Lingo.....
           After the hardcover publication of THE VOID CAPTAIN'S TALE by 
      Timescape in 1983, David Hartwell had made a deal for a new 
      thematically-and stylistically related novel, CHILD OF FORTUNE, and 
      Spinrad once more returned to Los Angeles and rented yet another house 
      in Laurel Canyon in which to write it.
           The breakup with Dona left me emotionally devastated, New York 
      was filled with memories, bad karma, high rents, I was getting 
      homesick for California, and CHILD OF FORTUNE, with its long sequence 
      in an alien forest of flowers seemed like a California book....
           But I had friends in New York, I had plenty of money from various 
      books and the movie deal.  So I decided to give New York one more try.  
      I'd make a fresh start, I'd move into a nice new apartment.  After 
      all, I could now afford twice the rent I was presently playing for my 
      crappy little three room railroad flat on Perry Street.
           I looked, and looked, and was finally about to give up when I saw 
      an ad for an apartment that seemed perfect.  Double my current rent, 
      but I was prepared to pay it.
           "Large beautiful four room apt. on tree-lined Village street, 
      eat-in kitchen, sunny garden view...."
            Only wasn't there something familiar about the phone number...?
           Indeed there was, as it turned out when I called it.
           It was the number of my current landlord.
           The wonderful apartment I could move into for twice the rent I 
      was paying was a clone of my own in the same building two floors down.

           Before contracts for CHILD OF FORTUNE could be drawn up, the 
      Timescape line got caught up in a power-struggle between Richard 
      Snyder, head of Simon & Schuster, and Ron Busch, head of its Pocket 
      Books subsidiary.  Snyder canceled the Timescape line and caused Busch 
      to fire Hartwell, simultaneously making a deal with Scott Meredith for 
      his literary agency to package a new line of science fiction for the 
           David Hartwell used to throw Friday afternoon parties in his 
      office.  Dick Snyder's office had a private dining room and attached 
      kitchen.  One Friday, after Snyder had left, Dave snuck up to his 
      office to cop some ice from the machine in his private kitchen.
           He returned with a bucket of ice cubes and a dazed expression.
           Snyder's ice machine had embossed the cubes with his monogram.
           Which will give you some idea of the egos involved.  But it was 
      corporate hardball too.  Busch, not Snyder, had hired Hartwell to 
      start the Timescape line, and now Timescape was doing Pocket Books 
      hardcovers, which Snyder chose to see as infringement by Busch on his 
      turf.  So canceling Busch's sf line, and making a deal with his good 
      buddy and my ex-agent Scott Meredith to package a replacement was a 
      ploy in a larger power struggle.
           Making Busch take the public heat for a move that was directed 
      against himself was pure Dick Snyder.    
           The Science Fiction Writers of America, under President Marta 
      Randall, strenuously objected to this obvious conflict of interest.  
      Randall had been Spinrad's Vice President and his choice to succeed 
      him, a task she had accepted only on condition that Spinrad make 
      himself available if called upon by her in an emergency.  During the 
      period when this crisis broke, Marta Randall found herself teaching a 
      writers' workshop on an isolated island with only a payphone as her 
      contact to the outside world.
           So I found myself representing the SFWA in a loud national four-
      cornered media battle against, my former agent and employer, and two 
      competing powers within the publisher of my own last three novels!
           They never had a chance.  
           For an agency to package a line of books featuring work by its 
      own writers was a blatant conflict of interest that stank like a 
      codfish in the media moonlight.  And to make my job even easier, when 
      Busch canceled Timescape and fired Hartwell, he had told the press 
      that he had done it because the literary quality of Hartwell's product 
      was too high.  Meredith would do a much better job of providing 
      cynical schlock.
           Guess whose side Publisher's Weekly was on?  Guess how it looked 
      in the New York Times and the Washington Post?  Guess how happy Gulf & 
      Western, who owned Simon & Schuster, was with Snyder and Busch as they 
      devoured their own feet in public print?  
           For about ten days, I found myself dribbling Busch, Snyder, and 
      Meredith in the press like a basketball, not that you had to be a 
      media Magic Johnson to do it.
         hen they finally capitulated, Busch actually complained to the 
      New York Times that the SFWA had thrown its weight around unfairly, 
      that we had bullied poor Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, and Gulf & 
      Western, that I was guilty of practicing "Gunboat Diplomacy.
    	     The winners, paradoxically enough, were the SFWA and Dick Snyder.  
      For the first time in American publishing history, a writers' 
      organization used the public press to overturn a high-level corporate 
      decision at a major publisher.  On the other hand, while Snyder was 
      unable to consummate his deal with Scott Meredith, he won the power-
      struggle with Busch, eventually forcing him out of the company.  
           Timescape, however, was still canceled, Hartwell was still fired, 
      and Spinrad was understandably less than confident in his future at 
      Simon & Schuster/Pocketbooks.
           He moved CHILD OF FORTUNE to Bantam, who published it in 1985.    
           In 1984-86, while writing LITTLE HEROES under contract to Bantam, 
      Spinrad taught the novel at the Clarion West Science Fiction Writer's 
      Workshop in Seattle, where, in 1985, he met Nancy Lee Wood, who writes 
      under the name N. Lee Wood, and was there as a student.  In 1986, she 
      moved into his house in Laurel Canyon.
           Science fiction writing workshops had proliferated, and I had 
      often expressed my dubious opinion thereof, much preferring Damon 
      Knight's old "No Chiefs, No Indians" formula to the hierarchical 
      structure of teachers and students, established writers and wannabees.
           "Don't knock it till you try it," I was told, particularly by 
      Harlan Ellison.  So finally, when I was invited to teach a week at the 
      six week Clarion West Conference, on conditions that I teach the 
      novel, which no one else had tried to do, the idea being to teach 
      novelistic structure by having the students turn an idea into an 
           Somewhat to my own surprise, it worked well enough to persuade me 
      to do it three years in a row, which had never been my intention.
           Lee, a resident of Portland at the time, was one of my students 
      in the middle year, and showed up in Los Angeles a few months later. 
      We met at various events and venues in between Portland and Los 
      Angeles, during the next year, I went to visit her in Portland, and 
      she finally moved into my house in Los Angeles. 
           Terry Champagne had written and published while living with me, 
      but this was the first time I had lived with someone who had been a 
      writer before I had met her, and who was as serious about it as I was.  
           And  we've actually been able to work consistently while living 
      together.  I've written two long major novels, 100,000 or so words of 
      short fiction, and much else as of 1993.  And Lee has written two and 
      three half novels and quite a bit of short fiction during the same 
           If you don't think this is rare, you don't know that many writing 
      couples.  Which is exactly the point--a writer has a hard enough time 
      living with anyone and working at the same time.  For two of them to 
      do it sharing the same space-time, believe me, ain't smooth and easy!
           In 1987, Spinrad and Wood traveled together to Europe for the 
      first time, to England, and then to Paris.  The conjunction of their 
      mutual love for the city, and the political changes occurring in 
      Europe, caused Spinrad to conceive RUSSIAN SPRING in New York on the 
      way back to Los Angeles, and secure a contract to write it from 
           By this time, I had been to Paris by myself several times, most 
      of my books had been published there, I was popular in France, I had a 
      circle of friends in Paris, I had always fantasized living there at 
	some time, but never gotten up the nerve to do it alone.
           What I had done, years earlier, while still living in New York, 
      was write the beginning of something I called "La Vie Continue" in 
      which my future self was living as a political refugee in Paris, in 
      which the Soviet Union had undergone a "Russian Spring" analogous to 
      the "Prague Spring" of 1968....  About 12 pages into it, I realized I 
      had the beginning of a much longer work than I had bargained for, and 
      it aside.  
           Now, years later, in Los Angeles, I owed Bantam a long novella 
      for OTHER AMERICAS, a collection they were going to publish, which 
      seemed just the right length for "La Vie Continue," so I sat down and 
      wrote the first draft in LA.
           That's right, I wrote "La Vie Continue" before I moved to Paris.  
      Call it prescience.  Call it a flashforward.  Call it a self-
      fulfilling prophecy.
           One anglophone writer living alone in a francophone culture had 
      always been a scary creative prospect to me, but Lee fell in love with 
      Paris on this first visit, and together I felt we could live in France 
      successfully for a protracted period, even though she spoke no French 
      at the time, and my French was what I had learned on my previous 
           Then too, I was between drafts on "La Vie Continue," scouting 
      locations for the rewrite, going around Paris contemplating the life 
      of this American exile who was myself living in the very same city, 
      while at the same time, thanks to Gorbachev, the future I had 
      envisioned for Europe years earlier in New York was beginning to 
      unfold here in real-time.....
           The setting of RUSSIAN SPRING, the characters, the context, all 
      began to come together, and so too the adventure of writing it.  This 
      would be a novel dealing with the future of Europe, the Soviet Union, 
      and the United States, would be primarily set in Paris, and so we had 
      an excellent excuse to live there for a year or so while I wrote it.
           In the summer of 1988, Spinrad and Wood moved to Paris, and soon 
      thereafter Spinrad was elected President of World SF at a meeting in 
      Budapest, an international organization of which N. Lee Wood was later 
      to be elected General Secretary.
           Shortly thereafter, Spinrad began writing RUSSIAN SPRING, and 
      after finishing the first draft, he and N. Lee Wood traveled to Moscow 
      in the winter of 1989 as guests of the Soviet Writer's Union to do 
      further research for the book, which was not finally finished until 
      about three months before the August 1991 coup attempt, and which was 
      published in the United States the month afterwards.  
           At the World SF meeting in Budapest in 1988, we had met Vitaly 
      Babenko, then a depressed Russian writer having a hard time getting 
      anything published.  When we visited Moscow in 1989, he felt he had to 
      sneak into the Peking hotel where we were staying courtesy of the 
      Writer's Union, and I felt I had to be circumspect about seeing him.
           By 1992, he was the President of TexT, the second biggest private 
      publisher in Russia, and he had brought us there for the publication 
      of the Russian edition of RUSSIAN SPRING.  Mad, mad Moscow! 
           He paid me my advance in the form of a huge bag of rubles.  Spend 
	it all before it disappears! we were told by one and all.
           It wasn't easy, but we did.  Like everyone else in Moscow, we 
      became obsessive shoppers.  It was a crash course in the psychology of 
      inflation, believe me. 
		And how right they were.  When I was handed the money, the ruble 
      was 135 to the dollar.  Less than a year later it was to be about 1000 
      to the dollar.  
           Moscow is a tough, crazy town, but one of the most exciting 
      places I've ever been at this mad moment in history, and as we stood 
      atop the Lenin Hills with some Russian friends the day of our 
      departure, one of them gave me a strange look.
           "You like it here, don't you?" she said in some bemusement.  "You 
      could live here...."
           Maybe she was right.  Maybe I could.
           Spinrad and Wood decided not to return to the United States as 
      residents, though they returned for visits, and were married on one of 
      them in Florida in 1990.
           Norman Spinrad's latest novel, PICTURES AT 11, though set in Los 
      Angeles, was written in Paris where he still resides, and deals 
      partially with the strains of German reunification.  Completed in the 
      middle of 1993 under contract to Bantam, it has at this writing not 
      yet been scheduled for publication.
           This close to the real-time of me sitting in my Paris apartment 
      writing this attempt at the closure of a story that is not yet 
      finished, they all finally merge.
           The story of how two American writers came to Paris for a year or 
      so and ended up staying is certainly material for a whole novel, 
      several of which have probably already been written.  
           The historical context in which it took place is a novel I have 
      already written, namely RUSSIAN SPRING, conceived on a one month-visit 
      to Paris, developed in New York, treatment written in Los Angeles, 
      first draft written in Paris before Wall came down, before our first 
      trip to Moscow at the time of the death of Sakharov, and finally 
      published in Russia itself in 1992, in a society not that much unlike 
      what is described in the book, but which didn't exist before it was 
           So why is Norman Spinrad still living in Paris?
           The answer is not to be found in "La Vie Continue."  The Norman 
      Spinrad in that novella is ten years older than the present writer, 
      and the present writer does not consider himself an American exile, 
      political or otherwise.
           I'm not living in Paris because I don't can't bear to live in the 
      United States.
           I'm living in Paris because I want to live in Europe.
           We've been here five years now.  We've braved the Russian winter.  
      We've walked through the Berlin Wall in the very process of its 
      demolition.  We've both been officers in an international writer's 
      organization.  We've made friends in France, Russia, the (former) two 
      Germanies, (former) Yugoslavia, (former) Czechoslovakia, Italy, 
      Holland, points between.  We've been part of their lives and they've 
      been part of ours, and at a time of rapid-fire evolution that is 
      transforming this supposedly tired old Continent into the cutting edge 
      of the 21st Century.
           And I'm doing another cut on one of Richard's albums via the very 
      instrumentalities I predicted in LITTLE HEROES.
           Why would an American writer of speculative fiction choose to 
      live in Europe?
           Why not?
           Or, as I usually say when asked this question, hey, to an 
      American science fiction writer, Europe isn't merely another planet, 
	it's a whole other solar system!  
           Planet France, Planet Germany, Planet Russia, Planet Italy, and 
      other major bodies, plus untold scores of ethnic asteroids!  And each 
      of them a world entire!
           I'm 53 now, improbable as it seems to me.  I've lived by my words 
      for 30 years.  I've witnessed three decades of history in many places, 
      and been part of some of it.  I've been rich and poor.  I've been 
      flush and broke.  I've fought the good fights, and I've won and lost.  
      I've achieved a certain amount of literary recognition, but not, of 
      course, what I consider my just share.  I've had my ups and downs.  I 
      have my good moments and my bad.
           And when I'm really feeling down, I remember a 25-year-old kid 
      stoned on mescaline, walking across 4th Street to the Village, high on 
      DUNE, and dreaming those crazy prescient dreams....
           He was going to be a famous science fiction writer, he would 
      publish many stories and novels, and the many of the people who were 
      his literary idols, inspirations, and role-models would accept him as 
      their equal, would become his allies, his friends.
           And his life's mission would be to take this commercial science 
      fiction genre and turn it into something else somehow, write works 
      that transcended its commercial parameters works that could aspire to 
      the literary company of Burroughs and Mailer and Kerouac, that would 
      open a new Way....
           This is what you're here for.  
           And so I was.  And so I am.
           When I look into the mirror and am appalled to see this middle-
      aged guy looking back, when my latest novel fails to make the best-
      seller lists, when the bills start coming in faster than the checks,  
      and I bemoan all that I haven't done, all the just desserts that 
      haven't been piled up on my plate, all I long to be and haven't 
           Then that 25-year-old kid grins back at me and gives my 53 year 
      old self a swift kick in the psychic ass.  At my age now, maybe I know 
      much too much to feel the same, but he's certainly got cause to feel 
      entirely satisfied with the story so far.  
           Everything he saw in that timeless Einsteinian moment has come to 
           Everything he wanted to be, I have become.
           I look out my window onto my Paris garden.  And when I finish 
      this, I will walk out into the summer streets of Paris, a minor 
      princeling of the City of Light. 
           Beyond the wild dreams of that 25-year-old kid!
           I've become what he wanted to grow up to be and so much more.  
           I should be satisfied, right?
           I've spent my whole life looking forward not back.  Sure, this 
      53-year-old has got what that 25 year old wanted. 
           But I'm not him, and it's not enough, and I'm old and wise enough 
      now to know that it never will be.
           If I live to be a hundred with a Nobel on the mantelpiece, I'll 
      probably say the same thing.  
           I'll probably even believe it.
           This story doesn't end here.  
           It begins tomorrow.