Reality Skimming
8Oct/12Off

Isnad about origins of Theodore Sturgeon story

The quote below from Andy Love came up in conversation on the Talking RFF mailing list Oct 06, 2012. See Reading for the Future on facebook. A discussion ensured concluding with a definition of a fascinating word with Muslim origins.

Andy Love said

I'd long ago heard that back in the 1950s Theodore Sturgeon was experiencing writer's block and Heinlein sent him a list of story ideas and some money, but now the letter is available online: http://io9.com/5947945/what-if-you-could-get-robert-a-heinlein-to-send-you-story-ideas

One of the story ideas Heinlein provided was this:

"Once there was a man who could not stand it. First he lost the power to read and then the headlines did not bother him any longer. Then he lost the power to understand speech and then the radio could not bother him. He became quite happy and the wrinkles smoothed out of his face and he quit being tense and he painted and modelled in clay and danced and listened to music and enjoyed life.

Then a clever psychiatrist penetrated his fugue and made him sane again. Now he could read and listen to the radio and he became aware again of the Cold War and juvenile delinquency and rapes and rapacity and et cetera ad nauseam.

He still couldn't stand it. He killed quite a number of people before they got him."

... which became one of my favorite Sturgeon pieces ("And Now The News")


Alberto Monteiro posted suggesting there might be a letter from Heinlein to Hubbard ...

Robert James wrote:

There is no evidence in the Heinlein archives for that event. It may have happened, but no letters remain. Heinlein's biographer has told me the whole thing is apocryphal, but there is one person who claims it happened, and that he got the story from RAH -- Lloyd Eshbach. It's in his memoirs.

Which led to Alberto Monteiro teaching me a new word:

So, we do have what the muslims call an "isnad" for the story. Isnad is a sequence of X heard from Y, that heard from Z, until it comes from ... that heard from The Prophet. Reference: Duncan B. McDonald, Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory (1903), Part II, The Development of Jurisprudence, Chapter I http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/dmt/dmt08.htm
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