Heinlein on Sturgeon’s Godbody

Heinlein on Sturgeon’s Godbody

From Robert A. Heinlein’s Introduction
to Theodore Sturgeon’s Godbody (1986)


„The Last of the Wine.““

And the best.

Sometimes (not often) the last work of an artist, published after his death, is the capstone of his art, summing up what he had been telling the world all his life. In writing Godbody Theodore Sturgeon achieved his crowning statement.

Again and again for half a century he has given us one message. In *Godbody* he tells us still again, and even more emphatically, the same timeless message that runs through all his writings and through all his living acts – a message that was ancient before he was born but which he made his own, then spoke it and sang it and shouted it and sometimes scolded us with it:

„Love one another.“

Simple. Ancient. Difficult.

Seldom attained.

Mark Twain said that the difference between the right word and almost the right word was the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Sturgeon did not deal in lightning bugs.

Godbody – Forget about art and enjoy it.

Some readers will feel that it is XXX-rated pornography. They will have plenty to go on. Others will see it as a tender, gentle love story. They’ll be right.

Many will find it offensively coarse in language (people of my generation, especially). It does contain every one of the „seven words that must never be used on television,“ plus four or five more that can’t be used but never got on the verboten list.

Others will see that Ted has always used the exact word – always lightning , never lightning bug . Those four-letter shockers are essential.

Some will complain that *Godbody* is loaded with sex and violence.

Others may answer that „Hamlet (Romeo and Juliet , the Old Testament, Le Morte d’Arthur ) is nothing but sex and violence.“

Some will denounce *Godbody* as baldly sacrilegious. They’ll be right.

Some will see it as tenderly and beautifully reverent. And they will be right.

Others will say, „Yes it’s a great story. But why did he have to stick so much nudity into it?“

I’ll answer that one myself, since it is too late to ask Sturgeon. God must love skin since he makes so much of it. Covering it with cloth or leather or fur in the name of „decency“ is a vice thought up by dirty old men; don’t blame it on God.

Never mind what anyone says about this book. Read it, enjoy it, reread it, give it to someone you love. It is our last love letter from a man who loves all of us. Make the most of it today. Then keep it for a day when you are downhearted and need what it gives you.

And don’t be afraid to love.

[Robert A. Heinlein – September, 1985]

Go to Sturgeon’s editorial
Go to a conversation on desire
Go to a conversation on sexuality
Go to a conversation on condensation
Go to a menu of conversations
Go to a menu of Samuel R. Delany resources
Go to Jackson’s essay on Alternative Sexualities in Samuel R. Delany’s fiction
Find out more about Bulgaria.