Background Minds, Machines, and Evolution, released by Bantam in 1988, turned out
to be quite popular among readers, to the degree that I was still getting inquiries
from people wanting to get hold of a copy long after it had ceased to be current.
It appears to be one of those regrettable facts of publishing life that anthologies
and collections of shorter works don't stay in print, typically, for the kinds
of lifetimes of novels. (These days it's not even true of novels.) By 1996 or
so, the requests were beginning to pile up for another collection in the same
vein of mixed short fiction and essays on the topics I tend to get so opinionated
about, and also to bring the biographical thread up to date. Jim Baen thought
it was a good idea too, and Rockets, Redheads, and Revolution was the result.
Besides making a doublet with the previous title, the "Rockets"
refers to a piece based on a talk I gave to at a space convention held in Chicago
to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Apollo 11, in which I suggested the program
was a bigger political disaster than the Vietnam War; "Redheads" is
from a report of the hazards being a guest of science-fiction fandom; and "Revolution"
is from an essay for the first time revealing the real reason for the
demise of the Soviet empire. Also included is "Madam Butterfly" from
Ed Kramer and Brad Linaweaver's anthology Free Space, a story I kind
of like, telling how a Japanese office-cleaner's action in rescuing a flower
plant considered sacred in her home village, when she found it perishing in
a Tokyo parking lot, triggered a bizarre chain of events that resulted in the
saving of her son's life, far out in the Asteroid Belt. In addition, there's
a write-up on my having second thoughts about the correctness of Darwinian evolution,
having militantly argued the orthodox line in the earlier volume--earning me
applause from the Creationists. A reprint of the article I published in Omni
magazine on the so-called science of ozone depletion. And another on why
I'm skeptical about the orthodox theory of AIDS--which Jim Baen doesn't agree
with but was gracious enough to publish anyway. Wouldn't more such Voltairesque
spirits make the world a better place!
And since the previous Bantam title, Minds, Machines,
and Evolution, had been gone for a while, as a bonus it was decided to reissue
it along with the second collection as a companion volume.