Sometimes, when I've just finished reading a story, I'd like to have the author right there to put questions to while the details are fresh in mind. But even
if we had matter-duplication technology, I doubt if publishers could afford
supplying a copy of the author with every book, even if the clones were agreeable.
So one evening over dinner in San Francisco, Lou Aronica of Bantam came up with
a proposal for the next best thing: a collection of works mixing together fictional
pieces and nonfiction essays elaborating the author's views on the subjects
that the stories touched upon. I thought it was a good idea and agreed to draw
up a list of items to go into it, some new, some previously published. A few
readers got wind of the project too, and suggested adding a biographical thread
to the collection too, which we incorporated.
The result was Minds, Machines & Evolution published as a Bantam paperback
in June 1988, comprising 12 stories covering the gamut from time travel and
machine life to religious wisdom and political conspiracy, 5 nonfictional pieces
ranging from Evolution to Nuclear Power, 7 biographical anecdotes, and a one-act
play. Probably a revealing mixture of the kinds of things that go around inside
a science-fiction writer's head.
Responses were enthusiastic, and requests for the book continued coming in
long after the original Bantam edition went out of print. Eleven years later,
Jim Baen put together a similar collection entitled Rockets, Redheads & Revolution. At the same time, to satisfy some of those people
over the years who had never obtained a copy, we decided to put out a rerelease
of Minds, Machines & Evolution as a companion volume, released December
1999. The original is unchanged, but has afterwords added where appropriate.
If one can reread things written that long ago and have no further thoughts
to offer, it seems to me a sure sign of not very much having been learned in