Farewell, Yoji Kondo

Yoji presenting the Heinlein Medal at Balticon 47, with Michael Flynn.

Yoji Kondo, scientist, science fiction author, mentor and friend to me for the past 36 years, has died. Like my father, who died in May, Yoji’s last years were spent amidst diminishing brain function as dementia claimed one of the greatest intellects I’ve ever known.

Yoji introduced me (indirectly) to the works of Robert Heinlein. I say indirectly because, in the beginning, I was just a punk kid who wanted to date his daughter Beatrice, and he was a respected scientist, an Aikido master, if I’m not mistaken the one of the two or three highest ranked practitioners of Aikido in the United States, and a friend to people like Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, the grandmasters of a field I desperately wanted to pursue. I didn’t speak much in his presence. I was intimidated.

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Science Fiction is “Just” Kid Stuff! (plus recommended reading)

(This is mostly just a few opening remarks on a subject nicely addressed on at The Figure in Question blog this week.)

Science Fiction and Fantasy, including the Super Hero genre, are for young people. No, I’m not saying that to be denigrating. I’m saying it because they are. They’re for people who keep their minds open, their hearts pure, their souls ever thirsting for something better, something that improves the human condition. They seek peace, justice, adventure, prosperity, triumph. You have to be young (at least at heart) to believe in those things. Old people, middle-aged people, adults (ick!)… their minds have set, atrophied, become rigid. Continue reading