LETTER FROM PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER
March 2, 1978
'Philip K. Dick's letter (SFR page 61) flabbergasted me. This
was the first that I knew that he'd written a letter to Pamela Sargent
and to the SFWA Forum that he'd broken "radically with Phil Farmer as
to the admission of Lem into SFWA on a normal, dues-paying basis". Or
that it had been published in the Forum. Or that he'd disclaimed "the
reactionary position which Phil Farmer had taken". (Italics are
'I'd resigned from the SFWA a long time ago and so
been getting the Forum or Bulletin. Originally, I'd stated in my
letter of resignation that I was dropping out for a year for personal
reasons. But so far I haven't seen any reason why I should rejoin. So
my absence will be more than a year.
'Before I sent in the letter which caused all the uproar
(SFWA Forum, April, 1976), I'd talked to Phil Dick on the phone. I
offered, if my memory serves me right, to send a copy so he could
authorize my statements or remove certain phrases. He refused and then
gave me permission to write what I pleased. Or words to that effect.
'He had my home address and phone number. Why, when he read
the letter in the Forum, didn't he call or write me? But I've heard
not a mumbling word from him about the matter. Certainly, if I'd been
him, I would have communicated.
'The pejorative "reactionary" puzzles me. Neither Dick nor I
considered the matter to be political or ideological. At least, I
didn't. Dick's complaint was mainly that Lem was ripping him off,
though he had some others. (See his "Open Letter to Philip José Farmer
in the Forum, Oct., 1975, in which he thanked me for mentioning his
beef against Lem and for zapping Lem for his arrogant sneering putdown
of all American s-f writers except for a few whom he damned with faint
'"Reactionary" is an item of duckspeak used by members of the
ultraleft. It's meaningless, automatic, a conditioned verbal reflex,
'When I wrote to Andy Offutt that Dick and I were resigning
because of Lem, I had no idea that Lem would be kicked out because of
the letter. I didn't intend or even think that that would happen.
Neither did Dick, according to a letter of his in the Forum.
'I still believe that Lem should never have been invited to
be an honorary member. Nor that he should have "accepted with thanks"
an honor from an organization whom he considered to be a bunch of
relentless jerks. But, once he'd been made a member, he shouldn't have
been kicked out. Even if his membership was invalid because of a
technicality. I said, "Fuck it!" and withdrew. I felt a little guilty,
And I was upset by those who insisted that the right of free speech was
involved when this had nothing to do with the matter. They were the
ones who were intruding an ideological issue into the affair. So I
extruded and kept on going.
'The whole business was unfortunate and badly done, and I
include myself in the criticism. If I'd known what was going to happen,
that is, that Lem would be hurled head long from SFWA heaven with
furious combustion and a lot of bullshit, I would not have written that
letter. I'd have quietly dropped out. If Lem had joined again as a
dues-paying member, I would have resigned. He has a right to say what
he pleases, where he pleases. Anybody does. But I have a right not to
belong to a society of which he is a member.
'I have a high admiration for Dick as a writer and as a human
being. I'd hate to think he regarded me as a warmongering capitalist,
an exploiter of the working class and a running dog.'
((Appropos of duckspeak: I'd rather be a warmonger, a
capitalist, and a running dog exploiter of the working class than a
peacemongering socialist chained dog being exploited by the working
((Some people prefer heat to light; preconceptions and dogma
are so nice to come home to after a hard day in the real world.))