James Tiptree Letter to Carol Emshwiller

Thu 1 Aug 2002 - Filed under: Authors | Leave a Comment

A letter to Carol Emshwiller from James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon), with spelling and puctuation left intact. See a jpg of the original.
24 May 75

Dear Carol Emshwiller:

May a stranger make known how much your book, JOY IN OUR CAUSE has been enjoyed? Weak word, meant to include admired, goggled at, occasionally genuflected to, been rivetted in entrancement by, and, not least, suffered suicidal inferiority-convictions from.

But before I go on, please—do not, I beg of you, feel that this letter must be acknowledged, etc. etc.—I should hate to think that I had robbed your time. I’m also a writer of minor sorts and I know what a curse unsolicited communications can be. So just pop this in the round file and know that the pleasure of expressing pleasure completes the act. (It does, you know; strange thing this impulse to say, how good, how good.)

I’ve come across your stories before, of course, but in the awful manner of avid readers half the time I hadn’t connected the memory with the author’s name. Having them all together is precious. You would have been amused to watch me rationing them like treats at one a day.

I suppose that in a letter like this one should make some gesture towards evaluation, at least to the extent of demonstrating that your reader and fan is minimally conscious. Has anyway their buttons buttoned. But it’s hard. They are so much of a piece. If I were forced at gunpoint, I guess I could mutter something about a slight preference for those that build —the ANIMAL, of course, and perhaps most MR. MORRISON—Oh god. But then, Oh, I couldn’t do without THE ASSOCIATION. And the deliciously hideous Dr. Alexander Ostrander. And Mr. Perlou on the stairs…No, no, we will not choose.

Lord what a thankless thing it must be to produce such exquisiteness. How many aficionados of the unexpected are there? Multitudes, I hope. But I doubt. By the way, I think that is the culminating aspect of your work. The sheer damned total implacable unexpectedness. Causing reader who also writes to tear out the remaining hair.

Again by the way, I found your address in our old SFWA directory. It’s nice you see fit to belong to us. That really is nice.

With every good wish,

James (Tip) Tiptree Jr.

PS. That was meant, about not replying.

Published with the permission of the Estate of Alice B. Sheldon.

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