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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Crazy Years: Reflections of a Science Fiction Original

Reviewed: March 21, 2006
Publisher: Benbella Books
294 pages, $20.95

The late Robert A. Heinlein is Spider Robinsonís hero. In 1939 Heinlein began work on a massive future history of the world from the point of view of how he thought things might go from his vantage point in the 1940s through the 1980s. There was a period early in the timeline that he left deliberately vague, except to suggest that his nation was overtaken by a right wing evangelical† forces and made to behave against its true nature.

He called the time period the Crazy Years, and wrote mostly about what came later on. That time period is now.

From 2001-2004 Spider Robinson wrote a column for the Globe and Mail and based it on the assumption that Heinlein had got it right. Being a science fiction writer and social observer, Robinsonís column featured a mixture of social trends and technology.

A former smoker, he wrote about how the the new puritanism of the antismoking movement was almost enough to make him light up again.

A former US resident, he wrote with some passion about the country of his birth and why he preferred to live in this one.

An early convert to the Macintosh computer, he wrote about its superiority to the competition and lamented the fact that it didnít get even better, introducing his readers to Jef Raskin, the fellow who actually developed the Mac for Apple Computers and went on to develop an even better user interface that doesnít get used much of anywhere yet.

He wrote about 9-11, terrorists, the erosion of freedom, the decline of the US space program, intellectual property, the importance of clear language and free speech, television interviewers (good and bad), and all sorts of other things.

It was a good column. I read one a day in the traditional place where such short items can be read, usually just before I went to bed. The Globe and Mailís budget cuts are our loss.

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