The Remakable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

Shakespeare had it wrong this time

August 31, 2000

β€œThe evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft' interred with their bones.” β€” Julius Caesar has been online for several weeks, and even though I haven't gotten around to much promotion yet, many people from around the world have been finding the site and contacting me, to say how important CS's stories have been to them.

This has been a delight. And I understand better why my father didn't want his fans to know who he was. It would have taken up a lot of his time, and since he was to die at 53, I imagine that we're all glad he found as much time as he did for his stories.

But I'm also a bit taken aback to discover how much these recent weeks have been a healing for me. If you think about the stories for a minute, you can probably imagine that being a child in the presence of that mind could be too much at times. I was intensely steeped in the huge questions of cruelty and suffering from very early in my childhood. I spent years (well, actually, decades) struggling with my feelings of anger at my father for overwhelming me. I still bear in my body the residues of a child's body that tightened and pulled in from terror, and I still have phobias.

So my relationship with the stories is complex. I can be reading along when suddenly a phrase, particularly a description of some specific bit of cruelty, will hit me and I'm a kid again, crying "Stop it, Daddy! It's too much! I don't want to be here if the world is as horrible as you say!" Sometimes years have gone by when I have scarcely thought about Cordwainer Smith, other than to be grateful for the small (and occasionally large) royalty checks that turned up in the mail.

Life, some therapy, and my own kind of prayer have taken me a long way, or else I could not have done this website. The site was an idea that percolated while I considered whether I was willing to go back into a conscious ongoing relationship with Paul Linebarger. I decided to just put up a little site and see what happened.

The response to the site is greater than I expected. As words of appreciation have come to me (both for CS's writings and for the site itself) and as people have begun actually buying the CS books here, my view of Cordwainer/Paul is expanding. I still have my personal issues to deal with, but I'm seeing a picture that is so much bigger. If I and some other family members paid a price in some ways for being close to him, so be it. I'm immensely grateful that you, his readers, have received so much good from him, so much that has enriched your lives.

Most mornings, I get up early and walk my dogs a couple of miles. It's my time for contemplation. The other day, as Sunbeam and Shiva danced around with their usual morning zest and the sun hinted that it would soon rise over the magnificent Sander de Cristo mountains, I started to cry.

It had just hit me that in being his kid and having to deal with my father's view of the world, I had been given the opportunity to stretch β€” a whole lot. If I could truly accept life, it would be a very large yes. For years I have groped toward accepting the world as it is, not in the sense of condoning humanity's (especially politicians') numerous stupidities, but to live in the state of flow and harmony that I have glimpsed at times. It was with a sense of grateful irony that I continued my walk.

Rosana Hart


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NEW! His spy thriller  Atomsk, written as Carmichael Smith, is now on the Kindle!
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 2001: First Rediscovery Award Ceremony
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