Sept. 16, 1975

  "Thanks for forwarding the petition to me to finish the Riverworld series. (Mailed by James P. Mays, Jr.) I am writing on the third volume, now titled THE MAGIC LABYRINTH. If I get done in the expected time and Putnam's goes to work on it immediately on receipt of Ms., then it will come out in hardcover late next year. However, I will let you know when it is done and the publisher has a schedule for it.

  'Re my interview in the last SFR, I expect some will object to my scenario of the future, especially that part concerning the death of the phyloplankton and the consequent decrease in atmospheric oxygen. They will base their objections on rodent indications that there may be a vast oxygen generator (the workings of which are not yet understood) in the upper reaches of the aerosphere. In other words, it is possible that even if all vegetation of land and sea died, there would still be enough oxygen for everybody. We'd starve, of course, so the end result would be the same.) This may be true; it's too early to say that it is a fact. But if it should be validated, and if we do have enough oxygen even if the seas become poisoned and the phytoplankton die, then sea life would die. And the results would be disastrous for land animal life.'

  ((So far, no one has objected-we, are all content to let our children and/or grandchildren asphyxiate. So it goes. After us the deluge.))

  'Also, I may have made a false impression when I said I was giving up writing s-f in about three years. I do intend to write mainly in mainstream and mystery, but I love s-f too much to give it up entirely. I will be writing occasional pieces of s-f, a short story or novel now and then, maybe one a year, maybe two. Of course, if the publishers should by then suddenly decide to make their advances and royalty percentages realistic, that is, in accord with the wages of a truck driver or plumber of 1960 (see., I don't ask for much) instead of ignoring resolutely the inflation since 1960 and insisting that s-f writers can get along on the same rates as then, then I will write much more s-f. Is there a fat chance for this?

  'Since my interview came out I received a letter from Franz Rottensteiner. He says that he is actually a secret admirer of mine, but as a Central European critic he has a public image to maintain, and it's mandatory that he bumrap all American writers.'

  ((That must make his intellectual life simpler.))