By John Hertz: Possibly because I’m recovering from Westercon LXXI, I’ll take a leaf from Lloyd Penney’s book and show you a letter I wrote to someone else.
– o O o –
Dear Mr. Quachri,
Thank you for Dr. Gregory Benford’s “Physics Tomorrow” in the March-April Analog.
It’s a tour de force.
Having it in your magazine is a particular achievement. Perhaps no one could have produced it as well as he. It may also be a distillate or essence of your spirit – I mean the spirit of Analog. Those last four words, I realize, could be thought an unfortunate metaphor. In their defense I had better not offer any notions of my own, but I might be allowed to quote Dr. Clarke, who said “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
Dr. Benford knows, as many of us your readers may, that Physics Today has been, since 1948 – a little younger than Analog – a magazine of the American Institute of Physics, indeed its flagship publication. His piece is in every other way I can see – manner and detail, illustrations, timely allusion to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics (pertaining to which I recommend Dr. Michael Smith’s 2017 memoir To Catch a Black Hole, focussing, if I may venture that, on his own part), worthiness to follow The Berlin Project (pertaining to which I recommend Norman Spinrad’s review in the May-June issue of your companion magazine Asimov’s) – so perfect as to be not only good science fiction, but good comedy. Jack Benny, had he worked in our field, could hardly have reached higher.
– o O o –
I wonder if I’ll ever learn whether my addressee recognizes this isn’t the first time I’ve brought in Mr. Benny.
Indeed, I wanted to write a piece that could work in Physics Today or Analog, both. It worked. It expresses my general theme of physics as the hardest science (most mathematical & hence predictive) and its impact on our future. Many physicists have been inspired by sf (Dyson, Hoyle, etc) like me, and know it as the best way to envision worlds we want to have. The Berlin Project does that for our past, too, yielding a better World War II than I grew up during.