THIS being the postmortem issue on the August number, we were prepared to print both the accolades and the vituperation called forth by THE LOVERS. But in all the millions of letters received, only about three readers disliked or were otherwise disgruntled about the story. At the risk of seeming pedantic, we rise to say this augers well for the maturation of science fiction.

by Rory M. Faulkner

  Dear Mr. Mines: May I offer my heartiest congratulations on the August issue of STARTLING STORIES? I want to tell you how I appreciate your courage and your editorial acumen in giving us Farmer's wonderful story, THE LOVERS. In my useless opinion, this will become the top science-fiction story of the year.
  In spite of all the prattling of Gold and Boucher about their intentions to use only adult S-f, I doubt if either of these editors would have dared use this story. It breaks every known taboo in science fiction so far, and yet this is done in a way to give absolutely no offense-not even to an old gramma like me! Farmer never exceeded the bounds of good taste in his presentation of the facts of life, and in addition he told a moving story beautifully and sympathetically.
  I read it a second time, and in this second reading was struck by the sheer craftsmanship this young man displays. By mere allusions, and the use of terms that were self-explanatory to the thoughtful reader, be built up a clear picture of a hierarchy of future government; we were not bored by tedious exposition of the subject. The man will go far. ...

  We're real happy you not only responded to the story, but you caught the meaning and mood of the cover perhaps better than anyone else. Not so many interpreted the baby woggle-bugs happily playing down there as a sinister touch, but that's exactlv what it was meant to be. And let's hope your opinions aren't as useless as you put it. How can they be when they agree with us?
  For a military analysis we take you now to . . .

by John P. Conlon, WO/JG

  Dear Sir: I saw your statements anent "The Lovers" in your latest issue, and it seems to me that there, is much to what you said. I am not going to say much about the literary, biological, moral, or religious aspects of the story. I am certain you will hear from everyone but HST. And one thing I am sure of, If Edwin Sigler reads your mag these days, there will be a letter arriving at your office some day, no doubt engraved upon an asbestos shingle, due to the warmth of contents.
  The story had a very well worked out foreign background, extra terrestrial, or what ever else you say The "beetlejuice" part was amusing. If Farmer got his idea from the popular phrases for drinks, I hope he never takes up the title of "Old Panther Sweat." to tone it down a bit. ...

by Forrest J. Ackerman

  Dear Sam and Jerry: I suppose it may have been 10 years since I last wrote a letter to STARTLING STORIES, altho I have a mint collection from the first issue. Credit Philip Josť Farmer's 50,000 fascinating words for the once-in-a-decade communique. THE LOVERS was a truly startling story to discover in your pages, and augues well for STARTLING's approaching adulthood. Fourteen years ago your basic appeal was frankly blood and thunder; with sincere, outspoken science fiction like THE LOVERS the approach gratifyingly grows to heart and wonder, mind and emotions. I applaud this trend, and at the most recent meeting (the 774th) of our Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, fans and pros present echoed my sentiments. ...

by John R. Phillips

  Dear Sam: I open with a trumpet fanfare for Farmer's THE LOVERS, which was every bit as good as you blurbed it to be. This story caps a series of improvements in good old SS that have thrust it head and shoulders above the other pulps. ...

by Denny Zeitlin

  Dear Sam: I am absolutely flabbergasted! THE LOVERS was more than you said it would be! This was positively the greatest story I've seen in any of your mags for the past four years. Hats off to Farmer! ...

by Sid Sullivan

  Mines dear Sam: Can Farmer keep it up? If so, in him you have an author to outshine every other in this field, a Hemingway of science-fiction. hand him the unusual themes, the novel ideas that the other authors are afraid to touch. Who else has ever taken the controversial subject of intercourse and reproduction between two totally different species of beings and woven such a technically superb story around it? How few have given their bems such sincere emotional values as well as history and culture that is well described, yet remains subordinate to the theme itself. All too often the reasons for the men and bems being what they are and where they are are slapped in like misplaced footnotes. Not so in THE LOVERS. I hope to find that Mr. Farmer is an exceedingly prolific writer. THE LOVERS will not seem creaky and ancient in ten years for although terms and phrases may have changed by then, people and their emotions and motives won't. ...

  We've bought a novelet from Farmer called MOTHER, with an even more unusual theme than THE LOVERS. It's scheduled for TWS, December. This is the last, I think, of his biological stories except for a sequel to THE LOVERS now being planned and a new novel tentatively titled A BEAST OF THE FIELDS which we haven't seen yet, so can't tell you anything about it. But he seems profilic enough, which should make you happy.

by Robert E. Briney

  Dear Sam: Cometh an opinion: THE LOVERS is one of the three greatest science fiction iiovels published in magazines in the last ten years. I doubt if the theme of sex has ever received such a mature treatment before in the magazines. The story involves a number of themes that are by no means new, but the treatment and quality of the writing were phenomenal. I can imagine the hornets' nest the story will stir up, too ... All I can say is a hearty congratulations, and thank you for printing it.
  The picture which the novel gives of the future society of the Earth should draw no little comment, too. It has been a long time since I've seen such a biting, acid-etched portrait of a race's decline. The whole thing is so painstakingly and completely developed that it makes one uncomfortable to read it. ...

(Mrs.) Barbara Harris

  ...You have a justifiable brag due on THE LOVERS. No music is dearer to mine ears than sound of crashing literary barriers and the one labeled miscegenation made a splendid noise. Further, this story has all the elements of human conflict that go to make up my favorite brand of literature. Ah, Pathos! (Did I hear a cynic snarl "Bathos?") ...

by J. T. Oliver

  Dear Mr. Mines: THE LOVERS was a fine, realistic story. Especially liked the tragic ending. After all, it's hard enough to get along with girls of your own kind-how could you expect to be happy with a woman who was completely different in mentality and physical make-up? Even if she had confided in him, how do you think it would have worked out, with him growing old and impotent and she still young and full of life? A sad thing, of course, but it goes to show what will happen when the aliens come, and we start marrying them. Even with the best of intentions, it won't work out. I found Jeanette's kind quite repulsive when Farmer explained them fully. I cannot imagine myself marrying a creature like that. I'm not religious at all, so my objections to such a union are not based on church-code, but on, I suppose, instinct. It was a good story, though. The insects Who pretended to be people were good. I'd like to see another story by Farmer. ...

  Anyone who's ever tried to go on a picnic in July can be pardoned for having some slight bias against insects, but JT you'd have had to be equipped with X-ray eyes to spot anything insectal about Jeannette. She was a warmblooded creature and, to the eye, very mammalian. Nothing Caterpillar about her at all. Well, no accounting for tastes.

by Victor R. Juengel

  Dear Sir; The diverting, delightfully different description of dalliance dealing with a daring, dashing, dauntless, debonair dastard dawdling, dispensing drink and defloweriiig a dainty, delicate, dreamy damsel leaves one decidedly daft, deranged with delusions and a dementia driving one to drain the demijohn.
  Despicably devoted to drunkenness, the deliciously delectable dove of damask dermis diaphanously dressed in decorative, dangling decollete deserves better than to descend to a detestable, depraved dipsomaniac.
  The droll deviations of dead dogma deceitfully depicted by a decrepit, doddering, despotic dragon whose distressing diatribes are destined to bring despair and disillusionment to the dapper dandy deliberately designing despicably devilish debauchery with the dazzling, desirable dear must be deplored as desecrative and the depressing dismal dotard, often derelict in duty, deposed, decried, disparaged and drastically dealt disintegration, death and decomposition.
  The doleful debacle depicted by the dismally, disappointing denouement is demanded by the deadly duplicity of the devasting darling, for who desires dozens upon dozens of daughters? There is no dearth of distaff descendants.
  Doubtless you delivered many a dented denarius to the domicile of the deft delineator-a simple deduction. Dandelions to you for the drooly, ducky discovery for it is distinctly a definite departure demanding a dispatch to the deceased Darwin to deal with decalcifying dryads. It would be disastrous to leave us discontented, dissatisfied, desolate and despondent by a dampening discontinuance of such daydreams.
  Let others demur, disapprove and dislik, even despise the deportment and deeds of the duo, deeming the distracting demoiselle a decadent demimondaine lacking decorum and decency. I declare in defense the dawn of a new day is denoted. I defy debate to damper my dander and would be doomed to deep dismay if some diligent dabbler did not duplicate despite defects without undue delay.

  The "d" on our typewriter just melted and dripped off on the floor. Which alone deters us from doing dirt to dabbler Juengel and his droll dodderings. We throw you to the fen.

by James Fenimore Cooper, Jr.

  ...My feelings regarding THE LOVERS were expressed better than I could do it in your blurb and editorial. Let's hope Farmer does not turn out to be a "one-shot" writer. The cause of SF could be immeasurably furthered by his efforts. ...

by Craig Sutton

  Dear Sam: Egad, man! After finishing that opus by Fritch, I couldn't restrain myself any longer. Not a moment! That takeoff on Captain Future is one of the best satires I've ever seen in SF. Really, Sam, you've got to get more on that line. You shouldn't have included it in the same ish with The Lovers-Major Venture and the Missiiig Satellite simply stole the whole show. I thought The Lovers was good, yeah...but Mr. Fritch takes the blue ribbon. ...

by Anthony De Luna

  Dear Mr. Mines: I had to get this letter written before my feelings about THE LOVERS left me if they ever would. It was truly a fine and moving story on a subject in science fiction which I knew would inevitably come to be printed.
  If Philip Josť Farmer is Philip Josť then there is no doubt in my mind that (he?) is the find of the year, but after finishing the story I couldn't help but feel that the author's style was all too familiar. If my hunch is correct, he is not a new writer, but an old writer with a new name. After careful consideration I have boiled down my assumption to one person. I will not mention the writer's name since I do not wish to get involved any deeper. In the event that I am wrong, well, THE LOVERS was a good story and Philip Josť Farmer will definitely go places.

  Haven't the foggiest idea whom you have in mind, though we suspect it may be a woman writer from your questioning the "he" up above. But in any case, Farmer is Farmer, not Brackett or St. Clair. He's young, he's a recent graduate of Bradley University (1950), he is married and has two children, he works in a steel mill in Peoria, his wife is a lab technician, a newspaper picture he sent me in connection with some local publicity on THE LOVERS makes him look like a cherubic Jackie Cooper (that dates me, huh ?). Also I can't see the resemblance in style you mention.

by Ronald Voigt

  Dear Chordate Arthropod (Dunno what it means but it sounds good.): Being a fan of SS ever since the days of Sargeant Saturn (may he rest in Xeno), I've finally built up nerve (or verve) to compose (hah!) this letter (finis.)
  Some of the fen might think "The Lovers" was "for the bugs", but I think it was "shib." It seems that not only must we worry about our best friend being a Martian, now we worry about her/him being the cousin of a potato bug.

by Emily Holveck

  Dear Editor: Ignoring your advice, I read the whole editorial on THE LOVERS before I read the story. Having been fooled many times before by big build-ups, I started reading the story fully prepared for disappointment. Now I can only use an outdated expression to tell you bow good it was-it was out of this world.
  The imagination shown was magnificent. How did he do it? just when I thought I knew what was coming, Farmer twisted it into something else. There was no forecasting what was going to happen at any time.
  I hope all your writers will soon be putting out such outstanding stories. As for Farmer, he has good color, suspense, understanding and food for thought in his story. I hope he continues. Give my regards to all your authors. They deserve all the thanks they get.

by Ray Nelson

  Dear Sir: I ought to sue you and Philip Josť Farmer for alienation of affections. THE LOVERS caused a three hour argument between my wife and myself. I holding that Jeannette's "relatives" were a menace to the human race and ought to be wiped out, and she holding that the "relatives" were just as much people as we were and that my attitude was just "race prejudice."
  But I won't sue, because the very fact that a mere story can cause such controversy is a point in its favor. We did agree on one thing, that it was a pretty darn good story. The treatment of sex was wonderful. I was expecting a True Love tale of the Doomed Love of a Spaceman for a Beautiful Alien Girl and instead I get ... an insect that I rather suspect is nibbling away at the foundations of our Late Pseudo-Christian civilization. Bully for you. ...

by Perdita Anne Nelson

  Dear Sam; This, sir, is the first letter I've been moved to write to a promag in quite some time and it's all because of THE LOVERS. (And only because of THE LOVERS, I might add.) That was a fascinating and wholly unexpected story. Being always sceptical of rhapsodic editorials, I made no special haste to get around to reading the longest story in the issue since I usually do leave them for last. When I finally got to it, I was caught entirely off guard by actuallv having it be a darn good story. Congratulations on THE LOVERS. ...

by Philip N. Bridges

  Dear Sir: While it is still fresh in my mind I want to express my appreciation for that fine story, THE LOVERS, which you presented in the August issue of STARTLING.
  I was very glad to see a biological story, a rarity in itself, so ably presented. The writing was good, and the technicalities excellent. A former geneticist myself, I can say that there were no scientilc errors obvious to me, and that there was nothing impossible in the biological postulates of the story. For once we have a story whose plot depends on the science involved; not just a space opera. A fine story!

  Not too many good biological stories have been printed; the type is obviously more difficult to make glamorous than space opera, which is almost foolproof in the hands of a competent writer. It requires more imagination to work with biological themes. Approval from a pro is highest praise indeed.

by Carol McKinney

  Dear SM: I finally got a copy of SS after nearly a year without either SS or TWS, and things have really changed, it seems!
  The cover was wonderful, super, scintillating. Yes, it was the August 1952 issue, featuring THE LOVERS! The story was as good as you said it would be, a sf story with a new twist. Probably a lot of readers will cuss and discuss the un-ending, pro and con, but to me it made no Difference. Let's have another story soon by Farmer. (I do hope after all is said and done he isn't a pen-name?!) ...

by Wallace Parsons

  ...But when I read THE LOVERS I forgot all the others. You picked the best stf story will be written within the next ten years. In your editorial you said you hope it will be surpassed. But this story is so far ahead of modern stf that I'm sure it won't be. I fell in love with Jeannette myself, as deeply as Hal, and felt the same remorse at her death. You have a great new writer there; don't lose him. ...
  ...The letter column was good. The best letter was by Philip Farmer. Trust a good author to write a good letter. ...

by Joe Gibson

  Dear Sam: No comment on your recent editorials concerning good science fiction. I'm not too sure you have all the returns in yet. But The Lovers, this August SS, impressed me as having an "atmosphere" reminiscent of stf before the thud-and-blunder era. Which is something we should never have lost. ...

by Jim Harmon

  ...Which should bring us past your ballyhoo-did some Horace Gold rub off on you, Sam?-to the novel, THE LOVERS by Phillip Josť Farmer-for those who have just tuned in. (Gad, I feel witty, today.)
  The story is very good, however I can't see how you could get quite so enthusiastic about it. It certainly isn't as significant in the field of science fiction as were van Vogt's SLAN and WORLD OF A when they first appeared or as the recent DEMOLISHED MAN by Alfred Bester-or to compare it with stories of a more comparable length, as Heinlein's GULF or Bradbury's THE FIREMAN. It is remarkable that such a finished story should come from a young beginning writer (his first sale?) but it doesn't make it an all-time great in the field. It is a mature story-characterization, situations, and environment are all logically consistent with one another. The theme is not completely original, but the treatment was fresh. Farmer's explanatory dialogues fell a little flat in spots. It would have been better if he had followed the fiction writer's first rule-show rather than tell-a bit more diligently. I realize the value of underwriting but I think a bit of purple would have been more effective in spots. For instance, I did not feel a strong emotional reaction at Jannette's death. I think I would have if there had been a "I'm going but I'll love you-always"-"No, no, you can't leave me" scene. Corny, clichecal, perhaps, but highly effective. Farmer does possess the attributes that can make a great writer-he has talent, imagination, human awareness, and other less definable things-but he needs development in the sheer mechanics of writing. ...

by Joseph Dunlap Willcox

  Dear Mr. Mines: SS has shown great improvement lately, but I think you overestimated THE LOVERS. Mr. Farmer has written an above average story but it has the plot of a Merritt tale and an ending much like DWELLER IN THE MIRAGE and it lacks the descriptive power which made the Merritt backgrounds so beautiful. Farmer's characters are not as lifelike as Merritt's and the latter never was strong in this respect. Farmer is not the author the Master of Fantasy was. ...

  We've got no quarrel over vour taste in lovers, but comparing Farmer and Merritt really threw us. The two couldn't be more unlike. Merritt is the original master of the purple prose, where Farmer's style is fast and sparing of adjectives, clipped, modern, economical. Merritt wrote fantasy which was practically indistinguishable from fairy tale, whereas THE LOVERS is anything but fantasy.

by Bruce Barnett

  ...That's the way it always is. I thought THE LOVERS was the best story I've read in a long time, but I won't ask for more like it. Too many editors have been influenced by the cry for "more like it." Then when it comes, it comes in such reams of copy that everyone gets good and sick of the whole idea. The original story then can be said to "creak" and can be relegated to the forgotten position of all antiquated stories. The classic example of this is the little-mourned demise of Captain Future. He was overworked so much that even the satire in MAJOR VENTURE was positively sickening.
  All anybody asks is a new idea once in a while, an idea that is, used once and then LET ALONE! And stop worrying about whether it's science fiction or not. If it isn't I don't think anyone will die of it. And if they do-well-tsk, tsk.

  This is a novel idea, one which would occur only to an incurable idealist. To how many scenes of childhood joys have you returned, only to find disillusionment? Well, it has happened to all of us. In cold fact, however, it sometimes happens that a theme is unfinished and will bear a sequel. It even happens sometimes that the sequel is better than the original. So brace yourself, Farmer is doing a sequel to THE LOVERS.

by Henry Moskowitz

  Mines Dear Sam,
  The Lovers-The first time I heard of this story was when I made one of my "weekly" trips to your office. We started talking about Captain Future (Who else?). We got around to where you told me about this MSS you got in on the sludge line and Bix read it. He said there was stuff to it and told you to read it. You did and bought it. Or I hope you did. Anyway, you said that I might not like it because of my apparent leaning toward space opera. I made no comment then, but I told you I'd let you know what I thought of it after I read it.
  Well, I've read it. And I think it is the best novel SS has printed so far this year, except for The Hellflower. I could say something like this: GoshWowGeeWhizOhBoyOhBoyOhBoy! (Thanks, Greg.) But I won't. (I already have.) In fact, the words suitable fail me. But this I will say: It would seem to me that Philip Josť Farmer will be 1952's "Walter M. Miller, Jr." Last year Miller was the top new author of the year. His star is shining brightly. And Farmer's first gleam of his star is brilliant. I hope to see TL, in hard-covers by year's end.
  A good thing for you that Farmer's story was so good. He had a letter in the TEV. I figured that his took up the space that my missive would have taken. The letter was good, too. So all is forgiven. ...

by William S. Hawkins

  ...I was amazed and somewhat thrilled at the breadth and depth of story that your editorial policy allows. By far-the best was THE LOVERS by Philip Farmer. The ending, somehow did not quite live up to the rest of the story. I cannot exactly describe the exact point where it did not; but it just was not quite as good as the remainder. ...