CNN : “In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells.
Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice’s behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.”
Colonel P.M.A Linebarger might have been a little bit off with predicting the timing of Underpeople creation.
(part of the cover design for “Best of Cordwainer Smith” by Darrell Sweet)
To quote professor Farnsworth: “You were all for preserving Hitler’s brain, but putting it inside a shark’s body – all of a sudden that’s going too far!!”
A while back I finished an absolutely amazing book about Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. It’s by Ben Rich and it’s called “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed“. I’ll write more about that book later.
Here’s an amusing little anecdote from Lt. Colonel William Burk Jr., an SR-71 Blackbird pilot.
“In the fall of ’82, I flew from Mildenhall on a mission o Lebanon in response to the Marine barrack bombing. President Reagan ordered photo coverage of ill the terrorist bases in the region. The French refused to allow us to overfly, so our mission was to refuel off the south coast of England.”
“We completed our pass over Beirut and turned toward Malta, when I got a warning low-oil-pressure light on my right engine. Even though the engine was running fine I slowed down and lowered our altitude and made a direct line for England. We decided to cross France without clearance instead of going the roundabout way. We made it almost across, when I looked out the left window and saw a French Mirage III sitting ten feet off my left wing. He came up on our frequency and asked us for our Diplomatic Clearance Number. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him to stand by. I asked my backseater, who said, “Don’t worry about it. I just gave it to him.” What he had given him was “the bird’ with his middle finger. I lit the afterbumers and left that Mirage standing still. Two minutes later, we were crossing the Channel. ”
Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger was a son of Judge Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger. Interesting facts about him included:
- Godson of Sun Yat Sen
- Blind in one eye due to childhood accident (wore a glass prosthesis)
- Traveled all over the world
- PhD in political science at an age of 23
- Rose to the rank of Colonel in Psychological Warfare Branch of US Armed Forces
- Was involved in PsyOp operations in WWII and most “small wars” (except Vietnam, which he passed up on principle)
- Was a devout Christian
Some of his non-fiction:
- “The Political Doctrines of Sun Yat-sen”
- “Government in Republican China”
- “The China of Chiang Kai-shek”
- “Psychological Warfare”
Here is an interesting excerpt from “Psychological Warfare”, which was, and still is an authoritative book in the field:
Enlargement of what the “ancient scholar” was doing with his hands:
But what I really love Paul Linebarger for is his science fiction stories, which he wrote under pseudonym Cordwainer Smith.
Cordwainer Smith’s science fiction is amazingly ambitious: he wrote a “history of the future” spanning years 2000 through 16000 (click here for a timeline). His prose is lucid, coherent, poetic, logical and very entertaining. The story that got me hooked was “Scanners Live in Vain”, which was one of those stories that makes you go “Oh, I’ve got to read everything this guy ever wrote”. My other favorite is “The Lady Who Sailed The Soul”, which is probably the most romantic sci-fi story that I know. Something really interesting and unusual abut these stories are religious overtones and Christian symbolism (which are really, really hard to notice on the first reading).
I highly recommend “The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith” to get started.
Cordwainer Smith sites (I used some of them to gather information for this post):
The Remarkable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith (site by PMA Linebarger’s daughter)
Cordwainer Smith Unofficial Biography Page
Christianity In the Science Fiction of “Cordwainer Smith”
The Universe of Cordwainer Smith
Cordwainer Smith Illustrated Bibliography, by Mike Bennett