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"Return to Greatness" by Ken McConnell

"Return to Greatness" by Ken McConnell



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Published by Ken McConnell
An old SF writer returns to his glory days.
An old SF writer returns to his glory days.

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Published by: Ken McConnell on Mar 04, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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http://myview.w0pht.org"Return to Greatness"by Ken McConnell"Could you please bring me that statue there on the book shelf, my dear?"The nurse looked to where the old man was pointing and saw the silver rocketsitting on a wooden base. She reached up for it and took it in her hands. It was heavier than it looked, with a real oak base. There was an inscription on it that read, "AlvinHenderson Winner, Annual Science Fiction Achievement Award". She could not readthe date as it was obscured by rust spots.She handed it to the white haired man sitting in the easy chair. He took it in hisarms as if it were a baby."Nice statue Alvin, what did you win it for?""Huh? Say again dear?"She repeated herself a little louder but she suspected the man's hearing was just fine."My dear woman, I was one of the founding writers of speculative fiction. This ismy Hugo award."
Return to Greatness / Ken McConnell 2She eyed him suspiciously. Having no idea what a Hugo award was she quicklysuspected he was pulling her leg. Her suspicions were not without merit, Alvin waswell known to all the caregivers on this floor for being quite the story teller. You had tobe careful not to indulge him or you would get trapped listening to a lengthy story. Allthe nurses considered him a flirt and they eventually learned how to skirt around himwhen they needed to get their rounds done."Okay Alvin, whatever you say. I have to go finish my rounds honey, I'll be backto check on you in a little while."Alvin smiled at her with his toothless grin and refocused his attention on the oldtrophy. He didn't care that she did not recognize him. Nobody really cared about himanymore. He had been retired from writing for going on twenty years now. He stoppedin order to take care of his beloved wife who had developed Alzheimer's late in her life.His own health had been quite good for many years, but after Doris passed, heseemed to have little interest in helping himself with any of life's basic needs. Whenhis family moved him into the nursing home so that he could be cared for properly, hedidn't resist much. It was better than living alone.Alvin always made friends easily and he quickly adjusted to life in the nursinghome. As long as he could trick someone into listening to his old stories about rocketships and robots, he was quite content to rehash his entire career to any willing victim.Sometimes, when there was no body around to talk to, he would sit in his easy chair and remember the good old days. When his career first started taking off like one of those finned rocket ships he always wrote about. He was working as a copy editor for 
Return to Greatness / Ken McConnell 3a weekly newspaper in his home town, but he spent most of his free time reading thepulp rags and pecking away at his old Smith Corona portable typewriter. He hadstarted writing stories while he was still in school.He was fascinated with technology and what the future held. He read Popular Science every month and each issue set his imagination afire with ideas for stories. Hedutifully sent out each new story he wrote to the major science fiction magazines andthen sat back and collected his rejections slips as if they were baseball playing cards.His parents thought he was a little crazy and they encouraged him to stop wasting histime. But he didn't listen. He holed himself up in the attic with his typewriter and wroteinto the wee hours of the night about daring space men and bug eyed monsters.Finally, just as he was ready to head off to college, he sold his first short story.He was positively beside himself with excitement and his efforts to write were doubledin the coming months. He never did go to Iowa State that fall. He took a job at thetown paper and dedicated himself to writing.Eventually he sold another story, this time to Astounding magazine. Before long,he was a regular in the pulp's pages and gaining quite the audience of like mindednerds. He got a 4H deferment from the Army and spent most of the Second World War writing victory stories for the paper about the local boys fighting in Europe and thePacific theaters. All the while he was still placing his space stories and getting quite thereputation as a decent writer of space opera. He even developed a pen pal relationshipwith EE "Doc" Smith and Robert Heinlein. Not too shabby for the kid from an Iowa farm.Alvin ran his knobby fingers over the cold metal statue and recalled when he first

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