Alexei Panshin's The Abyss of Wonder



    Good to see PITFCS back; I applaud its dissolution & resurrection.  This is a chunky issue; it has its usual quota of flatulent nonsense (most of it in the first half of the alphabet, for some reason), but "Strolling on the Banks of the Mainstream" is a really solid piece of work, for which I am grateful.  So is George Price's contribution.  I'm glad to see someone defend Starship Troopers so capably.  The screams of fury this book aroused puzzled me for a long time, but I think I have figured out why it got under some people's skins.  To a dedicated pacifist, "War is horrible" is a basic premise and is interpreted literally.  It follows that no recognizably human being could be a professional soldier.  But professional soldiers exist.  Therefore they must be essentially depraved and brutalized people.  When professional soldiers are depicted in fiction as being normal human beings, the pacifist's whole position is threatened; and he screams.  So would you.

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Originally published in The Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies #138, December 1960.

Graphics by Kelly