A Friend Indeed

“Where do you get your ideas?” So goes the clichéd interview question. Once, when Theodore Sturgeon ran dry, he got them from Robert Heinlein. (See Letters of Note.)

Sturgeon wrote and told his friend he was having a terrible time because he had “no ideas that would strike a story.” Heinlein answered by return airmail with over two dozen ideas. Here is one:   

Fundamentalist congregation, convinced that faith can move mountains, concentrates onMt.Rushmorein theBlack Hills—and the greatest neo-Egyptian sculpture ever carved disappears, mountain and all. Should the Public Works Administration sue the church? Or is that suing God? Or should they ask them to pray it back? Or should they systematize this into a new form of theo-engineering? If so, civil engineers will have to have divinity degrees as well in the future. What is faith without (public) works?

And suspecting Sturgeon was out of money as well as ideas, Heinlein clipped a $100 check to the letter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian and David Klaus for the story.]

7 thoughts on “A Friend Indeed

  1. Did Sturgeon use any of the ideas?

    And, the novel Heinlein says he was “stuck on” has to be Stranger.

  2. Sturgeon used two of the ideas – the one about a man overloaded by news is Sturgeon’s “And Now the News” (Heinlein also alludes to this idea in “Stranger in a Strange Land”) and the one about a “good” personality brought to the forefront by hypnotism is “The Other Man.” In the second story, the “good” personality is named “Anson” after Heinlein.

  3. I’ll click on the link. I’m being dense again.

    In the short story collections, “…And Now the News” was linked to Heinlein in the footnotes, though somewhere Sturgeon alludes his own obsessions with listening to the news and disn’t like being distracted. The importance of the news was to allow him distractions from more important things.

  4. Still, I forgot one thing about the 1962 Worldcon, where Sturgeon was GOH. His opening remarks and the paper he had a few people reading, making them break up into laughter, and then he burned it, promising that he would reveal the contents if he was ever again a GOH at a Worldcon. It did not come to pass. Anyone know what he had on the paper?

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