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Sunday 30 September 2001


Letter from Mercedes Lackey

It's 18 days ago, and I've finally stopped breaking into tears unexpectedly. No one I knew is dead or missing, and feels as if I did. John Donne rightly said, "Every man's death diminishes me, therefore send not to ask for whom the bell tolls." I feel every tolling bell like a blow to my heart.

What to do—money, of course, as much as we (Larry Dixon and I, not a royal 'we') can spare. Blood, well, sadly there is little need of that.

Leadership, though; like it or not, if you write a few books, people seem to think you might know a few things about life and death and ways of conducting both. So, we've been reminding people that our enemy isn't a people or a religion, that it's fanaticism. That it has a recognizable face and if they think about what's going on around them, they can learn to recognize it. That to call for a crusade makes us no better than those who call for jihad and we can't do that and still remain ourselves. Sometimes people even listen. It's disheartening, but even in a field where you would think that people would naturally be more likely to think, some don't. Some want to seriously nuke everything south of Kazakstan and east of Egypt. Most of them aren't old enough to have seen what a real nuke does, much less a real war.

Other things; doing our jobs. Even in the face of this, doing our job is important. You can't concentrate on grief, on horror, on fear for too long without your brain going into meltdown. Been posting bits of books-to-come online, just to give people something to take their minds off the here-and-now. And been concentrating on the current book in progress, hammering at it to make it good, better than good, to make it as warm and alive and life-affirming as I can. We're going to need books that uphold the ideals of open minds and hearts if we're going to survive what's coming with anything like intact souls. Maybe what we writers produce is only escapism, but I don't think so. Dorothy L. Sayers once said that mysteries were the 20th century equivalent of the Mystery Plays, and the only moral fiction, because in them evil is punished and good prevails. I think she'd say the same about sf and fantasy if she were around today. We aren't just producing the literature of ideas. These days, we're producing the literature of hope.

And oh, how very much we need hope.

Mercedes Lackey's latest novel is Take a Thief (DAW).

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