by Philip Farmer
    Dear Sam: G. Smith's THE HELLFLOWER, was as you claim, good space opera. Fast-paced, well written, and with characterizations better than some of his previous works.
    The Murialist was interesting but illogical. A race capable of the immense scientific technology depicted therein would not have as much trouble as St. Clair claims in getting rid of pests. If we laid eggs, would we allow mice and rats to wipe us out? I think not.
    Also, as far as I know, only animals of very low nervous organization change sex. No present day reptiles do; there is no reason to think Cretaceous or Jurassic did. Tzzzu Tssssin's species would be given no notable advantage by changing their sex. And they'd have to backtrack along evolution's path to have that sort of structure. Moreover, why the third eye? How many reptiles had it? What advantage was it? Evolution wields a sort of Occam's razor on such basic organs as eyes, noses, ears, etc. Evolution lets herself go with many superfluous structures such as crests, very long tailfeathers, colors, etc. But not with third eyes and four ears or two brains.
    Also, the hero of the story thought that the Szabor Szor might have auxiliary brains in their hips. And longer tails. Again, why? The primitively developed dinosaurs had a sort of brain that controlled their rear extremities in their hips: a knot of nerves necessary because the feeble headbrain seemingly wasn't powerful enough to manipulate the legs and tail. But Tzzzu was highly developed and nowhere that I remember was it stated that he was any larger that. man, which is about the size you would expect of a symbol using creature. Another brain in the hips would result in a sort of schizophrenia.
    That, by the way, is a story idea. Would you be interested in one based on that?
    Furthermore, the hypothesis that egg-eatiiig mammals might have wiped out the dinosaurs is passé and regarded with no respect by authorities. Not that the authorities haven't been wrong many times, but reason is on their side. Why haven't egg-eating mammals wiped out the crocodile, etc.?
    THE GNOME'S GNEISS was very gnice. As long as you keep the mag predominantly stf, I don't mind a fantasy like this or JOURNEY TO BARKUT. I enjoyed the "unstoned" Alviss and the dead pan and conscientious Kevan. More funny ones like this will be appreciated. One niggling point. Loki is, I believe, not a blond, but a redhead. That's the way I remember my Norse mythology. That seems, by the way, to have been the hair color of a lot of heroes,and villains: Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Byron, Judas, King David, and even Christ.
    I was talking to Alviss' cousin the other day, and he told me he could clear up your perplexity as to how the Irish fairies got mixed up with the Norse gods. His explanation didn't sound very reasonable or coherent to me (we'd been draughting Old Overcoat and using Cemetery Club for a mix) so I suggested he drop by your office and tell you. It also seems he's always wanted to write, and he has a few manuscripts he'd like you to look at. No fantasy, though. All autobiographical. SECRET CONFESSIONS OF AN UNDERGROUND CHARACTER and stuff like that.
    TAKE A SEAT reminded me of vvogt's PEN PAL, I think it was titled. Why the Greek-dialect comedian way of writing? His story is told in English, and no matter what the structure of his language, should be told in good English. Or if it isn't, let's have the reason why. As to, Zacks' FROM OUTER SPACE, why should the porcine people be so horrified because we eat pigs? Would we be horrified if we came to their planet and saw them eating monkeys or apes? If those oinkoids had a terrific cultural taboo against meateating or if pigs were sacred, I could understand it. Were they?
    All in all the May issue was a good one, very enjoyable, though I thought the April issue surpassed it.
        - 621 Barker, Peoria, Ill.

    Thanks for warning me about Alviss' Cousin. Am locking the office and leaving immediately for Mexico to hunt catamounts and tortillas. A story involving a schizophrenic brain in the hips? Don't some human females - well anyway, I ain't commiting myself until I see it.