WHAT IS TIME?
Is Time the number of passing of moments it takes to imagine a different reality?
Is Time the amount of breaths it takes to fashion words with a quill, or to type with fingers on a typewriter—and to then see a page filled with sentences previously unwritten?
Is Time the untimeable space in which a writer meditates on past events and sees those things in a new light?
Is Time chronicled by the written word?
Is Time circular?
In his renowned story ‘12:01 PM’ (first published in 1973, when I was eight-years-old), Richard A. Lupoff challenged the world with a concept of Time that was hard to shake: Time portrayed as the inescapable loop, where only thoughts and deeds could offer the individual some kind of ultimate redemption. Time, however, was delaying me in the meantime; I would not read ‘12:01 PM’ until I met Dick Lupoff, became his friend and colleague, and was invited by him to illustrate The Book of Time (2011), a compilation of time-travel stories by H.G. Wells and Richard A. Lupoff, together with the latter’s ‘12:01 PM’ and that story’s sequels ‘12:02 PM’ and ‘12:03 PM’.
This was a cherished moment in my lifetime, and the continuum has extended—not simply through creative collaboration, but through the warmth of the friendship given to me by Dick and Pat Lupoff.
For a reader of science fiction and fantasy since my teens (living in an isolated country town in Australia in the 1970s)—and even then I was reading about Lupoff’s writings in the field—finding myself with Dick Lupoff in Berkeley, CA in 2010, browsing in a science fiction specialty bookshop (no less), tossing around ideas for future projects, and then being invited to collaborate with this (to me) famous writer, seemed beyond even my wildest dreams.
Others more worthy (“more worthy,” because they themselves are exemplary writers) have preceded me with their introductions to the writings of Richard A. Lupoff: Robert Silverberg (in Before . . . 12:01 . . . and After), Ed Gorman (in Writer, Vol.1), Fender Tucker (in The Book of Time), John Pelan (in Writer, Vol.2) and Christopher Conlon (in Dreamer’s Dozen), to name just a few. This introducer encourages the reader to seek out these prior introductions, because they admirably encapsulate Lupoff’s writing achievements. If you don’t already own these books—it may be that Writer, Vol.3 is your introduction to Lupoff—they are recommended as fine collections of his fiction and essays.
As I enter my sixth decade, Dick Lupoff steps farther into his ninth—but there is no dulling in his enthusiasm for exploring those things which capture his imagination, and which he is moved to bring to life for us through his words. You will find in this third volume in the Writer series a wealth of writings gathered from throughout the author’s career. There are the life-long passions (comics, Edgar Rice Burroughs, science fiction); but, in the end, the book reviews, the reminiscences of family and friends, the introductions to other writers’ works, the sporting memories, and the rest, all exist because passion has sparked them. Even in the modest commission of a book review, Dick Lupoff spoils the reader with riches far beyond the traditional format.
It can be an invidious exercise highlighting certain works from a collection, but let me whet your appetite with a few examples of the treasures in this volume.
Take the piece ‘The Key to Lafferty’, a new introduction to a forthcoming volume in a series (published by Centipede Press) reprinting the short fiction of R.A. Lafferty. Where he doesn’t have a lengthy experience of having known Lafferty in person, Dick Lupoff rewards the reader instead with a discursive exploration of his own early years of discovering science fiction through the numerous genre magazines (where he first encountered Lafferty’s stories), Lafferty’s religious perspective, the religion-themed works of other science fiction authors such as James Blish, Walter Miller and Jack Dann, the possible influence of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight Four on Lafferty—and more. By the end, one definitely feels introduced to R. A. Lafferty—and we are keen to read his stories.
Or, let’s jump to the review section of this collection. In ‘Two to Keep’, Dick Lupoff reviews two books whose purviews overlap: American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street by Paula Rabinowitz (2015) and When Books Went To War: The Stories that Helped us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning (2014). Dick Lupoff doesn’t jump cold into the lake here; an article by Louis Menand in The New Yorker had been prompted by Rabinowitz’s book—and Dick’s name and his own book The Great American Paperback had been referenced in both places. What follows is an objective review of American Pulp, informed by far more authority than we would usually expect. The second part of this article appraises the Manning book, whose subject matter overlaps with the content of the first book. By the end of ‘Two to Keep’ we feel as though we know how successful each book was in meeting its aims—but we’ve also been concisely, informatively, and generously briefed on the history of modern American paperback publishing, by a writer who knows the field.
And there are unexpected gems sprinkled throughout this already rich tapestry. For instance, during his tenure with the publishing house of Biblo & Tannen, Dick Lupoff met one of my favourite illustrators, the American artist Mahlon Blaine. Yet there is always more. Dick’s personal reminiscences of Howard Browne, Frank M. Robinson, and E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith are golden . . . and I could keep on teasing you. I promise to bow out shortly and let Mr. Lupoff take the podium. You won’t be disappointed, I assure you.
At the beginning of this introduction, I raised some questions about Time. I’m afraid I can’t offer a convincing answer to the first of those questions—but the answer to most of the queries following it would be, I venture, a resounding “Yes.” The last question (“Is Time circular?”) must, I suppose, remain one of those vaguely-couched, possibly-unanswerable, questions. However, I distinctly feel the cyclic or connected nature of Time in my experience with Dick Lupoff, the writer and the man. I first read his words on the printed page; now I count him as a friend, and in this volume have the honour of compiling a selection of his writings. So . . . having entered that ‘circle’ many years ago, I haven’t yet departed it (and, happily, can’t imagine ever doing so). But what of Time, and its influence on the writing of Richard A. Lupoff? The following extract is from a letter sent to me by Dick as we were working on this volume:
Human memory is a fallible whatchamacallit. I know mine is, anyway. The events described in this compendium of memoirs, essays and reviews took place anywhere between a sunny day in December, 1939 and this morning, January 28, 2016. In a few weeks I’ll be 81 years old, an age that I never expected to reach. Some of the stories I tell recur, and the versions are not always consistent. Did my mother give Jerry and me twenty cents or twenty-five cents on that morning in 1939? I don’t know. Did Howard Browne really meet Edgar Rice Burroughs in a saloon in LA, or did Burroughs send Browne a letter, or both? I don’t know.
I can only quote Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”
It take all kinds of individuals to make a world, and, within that world, it takes all kinds of writers to make a literary kaleidoscope. But even within that kaleidoscope there exists another—that of the written oeuvre of Richard A. Lupoff—and I am honoured to recommend herewith that you turn the page (even as you might turn the kaleidoscope or the hands of the clock) and be drawn into the past, the present, and the future.
Gavin L. O’Keefe
South Berwick, ME