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A Letter From Allan W. Eckert

April 6, 1998

Dear Mr. Rainey:

      When I first got onto the internet I inadvertently stumbled across your page and found it very interesting.

      I was rather amused/dismayed upon reading the lead-off commentary from the person in Israel, who states that I was contacted by the daughter of Hugh Auchincloss Brown (he being the real-life character after whom I modeled my fictional HAB character, Herbert Allen Boardman) and that she invited me to share the 200,000 documents her father left her when he died and that she invited me as well to write a science-fiction novel based on her father's work.  Actually, that comment has absolutely no basis in fact. I never met this lady nor ever received any kind of invitation from her to write such a book.  The elements of my getting interested in the subject matter and then getting into contact with Mr. Brown personally, meeting with him, discussing his theories at length and ultimately writing THE HAB THEORY are as follows:
     
        I undertook writing THE HAB THEORY with the thought paramount in mind of writing a "novel-as-vehicle" in an effort to bring some sort of awareness into focus in the populace to the awesome degree of an impending catastrophe insofar as humanity is concerned; secondarily it was written in an effort to point out the scientific self-defeatism that was in existence -- and growing -- through the pursuit of such intense specialization in various scientific fields that the scientists were developing a rather dangerous form of tunnel vision in which only the individual scientist's specific field of interest consumed him and he did not weigh it well enough in its relationship to other fields of scientific endeavor and, as a result, could not grasp the whole picture, as it were.  This was the basis for the "scientific clearing house" theme that evolved in the book.  Finally, entertainment, pure and simple, was another of the factors, because here was the making of a tale that could be exciting and, as well as elucidary, intensely intriguing.
     
        As you are almost surely aware, I am, on a personal level, thoroughly convinced of the validity of what I chose to call the "HAB" theory.  That theory is not of my own creation and it -- as well as my introduction to it -- came about in a rather roundabout way. You have undoubtedly noticed, in the front matter of THE HAB THEORY, that the book is dedicated to Don and Lori Meier, who many years previously developed Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom television series.  Don had become a close friend through the years and when he unexpectedly lost several of his writers at the beginning of the show's 9th season (1970-71), he was left in a bind, with a contract for a dozen episodes of the show to fill for NBC/Mutual of Omaha and no writers to do the job.  At that time I already had more than a dozen books published and he asked me to help him.  Reluctantly, since I don't care much for television writing, I agreed to help for that season, but he so much liked the swiftness and competency with which I turned out the scripts that he kept tossing more and more projects my way until I was writing all the scripts (and continued to do so for some 225 shows... but that's another story).
     
        It was toward the end of 1971 that Lori Meier passed on to me an article that had appeared in her most recent issue of the Columbia University Alumni Bulletin because she thought it might be of some small interest to me.  That article was a profile of one of the university's turn-of-the-century electrical engineering graduates, a man named Hugh Auchincloss Brown.  If you're as sharp as I gauge you are, you have already noticed that gentleman's initials.  The article told that while Mr. Brown was an electrical engineer (with many patents to his credit as well as other accomplishments) he was also, by avocation, a devoted amateur in the fields of geology, paleontology, archaeology and astronomy.  In his pursuit of knowledge in those fields, he gradually fitted together and finally postulated a theory about the earth having gone through a whole series of cataclysmic "roll-overs" within its orbit and rotation due to the successive build-up of the weight of ice in the polar regions.  He researched intensively into the matter and finally wrote a paper which he presented to the American Geophysical Society.  To his chagrin and frustration, he and his theory were given short shrift -- essentially with the thrust that "who the hell is he, a mere electrical engineer, to be trying to uproot the cherished and long-held theories that we, the professional geologists and geophysicists have propounded?" -- and that was when he took all his notes, research, postulations and the like and put them together into a small book that he entitled CATACLYSMS OF THE EARTH.  Unfortunately, however skilled he might have been in his vocation and avocation, he was not a skilled writer; his material was rather poorly written and presented in a disorganized manner and his manuscript was rejected by all the major book publishers, forcing him, at last, to turn to a less prominent publisher of the time, Twayne Publishers. The book was published in 1967, but sold only a relatively few copies.
     
        That was where I came into the picture.  Having become intrigued by the brief article about him that Lori Meier had given me, I managed to locate one of the few extant copies of his book in the library of Florida State University and read it closely since, like Brown, I, too, am a devoted amateur paleontologist, geologist, biologist, and archaeologist.  Despite the poor writing and disorganization, I became increasingly excited over the content and began doing research of my own.  I not only found nothing to refute Brown's postulations, I even found further data that only underlined the validity of what he said.  I interviewed many professional scientists in the fields mentioned and found, to both my delight and dismay, that while many agreed with some, if not all of Brown's postulations, all of them, without exception, said in essence, "...but don't quote me; I don't intend to have my career ruined!"
     
        By this time it was mid-1973 and, decidedly convinced of the theory's strength and validity, I had decided to put all this material together into a book -- a more popular book than Brown had written and one that would reach a much greater audience; ergo, a novel.  When I proposed this to my then publisher, Little, Brown & Co. in Boston, they at first balked strongly and it was only after persisting in my arguments and finally coming near threatening to leave Little, Brown and go to another publisher that they agreed to contract for the book, but they certainly were not happy about it.
     
        Since Hugh Auchincloss Brown had graduated from Columbia at the turn of the century and he was born in 1879, 94 years earlier, I assumed he was now dead but, nevertheless, I thought it might be a good idea to check, if I could, with members of his family for what little information I might be able to glean from them about him and his theory.  A tiny biographical blurb I found about him, written 20 years earlier, indicated that he was a resident of Douglastown, Long Island, New York, so I called information for that area and asked if they had a listing for a Hugh Auchincloss Brown... and they did!  I immediately called that number and a very hale and hearty masculine voice answered, making me immediately assume that this was his son.  Actually, to my delight, it turned out to be Brown himself; at age 94, he was still ticking along just fine -- very sharp mentally and clear in his speech.  I explained my interest in his theory and what I was planning to do and he became highly enthusiastic at the idea.  The upshot was that I flew from Florida, where I was then living, to New York and spent three days with Brown, interviewing him intensively and tape recording our conversations.  He was tall, angular, thin and had a full shock of silvery-white hair -- a quite distinguished looking gentleman, but obviously becoming very frail.  (As an amusing aside, when I left him at last and took a cab to Manhattan to meet my agent and spend a weekend with him in his Connecticut home, I inadvertently left my tape recorder and recorded tapes in the taxi and did not even realize the loss until in Connecticut.  We frantically called the cab company and, to my incredible relief, found that the driver had turned in the recorder and tapes and we could pick them up at their lost-and-found department on Monday... which we did.)  Upon returning to Florida, I immediately plunged into preparation of the book.  As you've deduced by now, I retained Hugh Auchincloss Brown's initials and called his theory the "HAB" theory and then named my counterpart character in the novel Herbert Allen Boardman.  Even as I wrote, over the next two years, I continued the research, finding considerably more material to augment and confirm Brown's theory.  The love interest in the story (which many readers -- primarily women -- love, and many others -- primarily men -- dislike) was patterned closely to a marital problem I was in the process of undergoing at that time... and thus the story developed.
     
        When I finished the novel and entitled it THE HAB THEORY, it was ultimately scheduled for publication in 1976.  Unfortunately, Hugh Auchincloss Brown died six months before its publication.  As mentioned earlier, my publisher, Little, Brown, had never been enthusiastic about the book and so, when it was published, they did very little PR with it and more or less simply let it die on the vine, so to speak.  To the contrary, the paperback edition made quite a splash and was quite popular for awhile, but the greatest response and enthusiasm came from the United Kingdom, where it became a best seller.  I went over there and underwent numerous interviews and autographing parties throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
     
        Back in the United States, both paperback and hardbound editions of the book soon went out of print and all the rights reverted to me -- that was in about 1984.  Since then I have tried and tried... and tried!... to get another publisher interested in republishing the book, probably with some more up-to-date revisions but, though I have proposed this to half a hundred publishers (including my current principal publisher, Bantam) I cannot generate interest in them for the project, despite the fact that I still -- 22 years after publication -- receive a great deal of mail from readers about the book, almost every such letter somewhere along the way begging me to get it republished.  It is most distressingly axiomatic in the publishing world that once a book has been published and allowed to go out of print, it is next to impossible to get any other publisher interested in republishing.  I am still continuing in my efforts to get a publisher interested, but thus far fruitlessly.

        Now, after a period of nearly a quarter-century has passed since the book was first published, do I still believe in the validity of the "HAB" theory?  Most assuredly I do.  Am I concerned about another capsizing of the earth coming along and wiping out most of humanity?  Well, I think at one time I was, to some degree, but I am not any longer.  In my 68th year, I am no longer much interested in undertaking projects that involve devoted crusading. 

        Am I interested in still striving to "warn" people of impending disaster?  Actually, no, not at all.  When I see all around me, wherever I go in North America or elsewhere, the devastating and irreversible destruction that the human animal is wreaking upon this planet on so massive a scale, I cannot help but feel that I would welcome such a cataclysm, to give this tired and abused old earth a new opportunity to heal itself and begin again.  One of the cherished desires I retain in these advancing years is, first, that I may live long enough to be on hand when the "big event" occurs -- as occur it must, sooner or later -- and second, that I am aware of its imminent occurrence so that I may fully appreciate and glory in experiencing those last marvelously spectacular moments.

        I apologize for the length of this letter, but your letter and your website which is evidence of  your obvious and long-lasting interest in the subject, seemed to me to demand a full response.

        I look forward to hearing from you.
        
         Sincerely yours,
        
         Allan W. Eckert
        
      P.S.
      Thank you for your good wishes in regard to the just-optioned movie rights to the book.  I, too, hope that Grossbart/Barnett Productions will do a good job.  At least they have some very impressive credits to this point..
     
         Incidentally, should you care to visit my website, it is:
        <http://www.allaneck.com>