Thursday, July 15, 2010

JAMES P. HOGAN (1941-2010)

photo by Reno De Caro

James P. Hogan was a successful science fiction writer whose plots feature hard science extrapolated into the past or future. Like Robert Heinlein, Hogan could spin a good yarn. Tho big and burly as a wrestler, Jim was a softie at heart--a true romantic: many of his stories mine the perennial theme of a smart, warm and handsome couple bravely struggling against the power of the evil establishment, in the manner of Bogart and Bacall, Mulder and Scully, Nick and Nora Charles, Romeo and Juliet. Except in Hogan's tales, one or both of his protagonists is likely to have a PhD after her name. Hogan is most famous for his "Giants" series of novels which hypothesize an extraterrestrial origin for mankind.

Jim Hogan lived on a farm in Sligo, the birthplace of another famous Irishman, William Butler Yeats. When not working at his computer, Jim kept himself in shape, he said, by hauling rocks around his farm. He'd heard all the gloom and doom scenarios, but, cheerful and optimistic, Jim was placing his bet on mankind to prevail, as it had done so often in the past, against the Ice Age, against the Viking and Mongol hordes, against the Black Death. Against the gloomers, James P. Hogan laughingly cast his vote for human freedom and for limitless human possibility.

In addition to his science fiction, Hogan was a prolific writer of essays on controversial subjects where he would invariably defend the less popular side. On his website he published articles against global warming, in favor of intelligent design, arguments in favor of an Electrical Universe rather than one purely gravitational. Hell, Jim Hogan even questioned the Big Bang! His essays on controversial topics are always well-reasoned, and free from name-calling. Jim Hogan was tough and passionate in debate but he never resorted to insult. One can read the essays of this intelligent, pugnacious Irishman on his site's Bulletin Board, check out his science fiction works or browse his favorite controversial books in the Heretics Bookshelf.

Jim was a maverick, an independent thinker and a champion of the underdog. He was continually rushing to the ramparts to defend unpopular causes and unpopular people, writing letters to the German Embassy, for instance, protesting Germany's imprisonment of writer Ernst Zündel for expressing "forbidden ideas" in print. Jim's favorite slogan, which he claimed to be a famous Irish rallying cry, was: "Now is the time for the futile gesture!"

It was my good fortune to know and share time with James P. Hogan during the last three years of his life.

Jim Hogan was a bold and courageous man holding high principles such as few possess in these fearful and cowardly times. No more fitting eulogy for the Hogan spirit than Shakespeare's:

This was the noblest Roman of them all:
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world "This was a man!"

Ave atque vale, James P. Hogan. Farewell, my friend.


Anonymous said...

After Jim Hogan passed away, SF Site News posted an obituary which included comments by friends and fans of the writer.

The first of 26 comments posted was by a Mike C., who characterized Jim Hogan as a holocaust denier. Mike C. posted again later to drive the point home. Comments and innuendoes by other posters alleging the same followed.

Some who knew Jim personally attempted to defuse the smears by timidly writing they did not think he was a holocaust denier, or they personally never heard him say anything to that effect. Others avoided taking notice of the smears altogether.

This kind of defense has as much impact as a neighbor saying, after a suspect is accused of a homicide, "I knew him and I don't think he would be capable of killing anyone." Everyone has heard that a hundred times about a person later convicted of murder.

Steven Silver, editor of SF Site News, obviously had no problem with Jim Hogan being defamed as a holocaust denier in his obituary since, two days and 25 posts later, every comment of that sort was still posted on that website.

As a friend of Jim Hogan and one who knew his thinking on controversial subjects from personal discussions, I felt compelled to write a rebuttal to the underhanded attacks which SF Site News saw fit to allow to stand. After attempting to post my reply—copied below—I heard from a friend who, independently of me, had the same thought. He, too, was a personal friend of Jim's and told me that SF Site News had refused his post. When I attempted to post my comments, they received the same treatment.

Two days later, after receiving an e-mail inquiring if SF Site News was censoring its posts to the Jim Hogan obituary site, all comments were taken down with this notice: "Steven H Silver — July 19, 2010 @ 10:31 am This post has been closed to comments. Due to some who want to use this as a forum for political views, we have chosen to remove all comments previously posted."

Curiously, Mr. Silver did not consider "political views" which slandered Jim Hogan as a holocaust denier inappropriate. Only after the issue was illuminated in an attempt to expose the smear did Mr. Silver discover his aversion to political views on that page. Some people would call that hypocrisy.

Because of space limitations my "political views" which Mr. Silver considered not fit for print are in comment 2.


Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised that a great mind that challenges, by inclination and on principle, orthodox viewpoints would eventually run afoul of members of the Thought Police--individuals who feel compelled to defame even the memory of the dead with the "holocaust denier" smear. To be vilified by ignoble men is the fate an independent thinker must endure, both today and during the time of the Holy Inquisition.

As a historian who spent many hours with Jim Hogan discussing historical events, I would call Jim a "holocaust examiner", and an examiner of every other strong belief pushed by people, often with glaring agendas. In other words, Jim was no herd animal whose beliefs were based on ignorance or career advancement. Jim was a courageous truth seeker of the highest order, an avocation utterly foreign to the Mike Cs and other name-callers on this forum.

In a time when opportunists, amoral manipulators and deceivers are hailed as saviors through their mouthpieces in the mass media, Jim Hogan was a giant of integrity and nobility of mind. He was always far more interested in what the evidence supported than what was fashionable or profitable to believe. To would-be defamers of the dead, I will only say, define what you mean by "holocaust denier". As for revisionism in history, that has been the norm for thousands of years because as new information emerges, revision becomes compulsory! In other words, any past historical event you have read about has most likely been revised numerous times in history books after it first happened.

The WW 2 holocaust of Jews is the only exception. Here we are asked to believe that the final truth was known five minutes after Germany surrendered. Questioning, or even examining, parts of that story can get you imprisoned in many European countries as a "holocaust denier"--an emotional phrase as vague as the word "heretic" and used the same way, to destroy the lives of principled people. Mislabeling examiners as "deniers" (and jailing them), not the killing of millions, is what makes the Jewish holocaust unique.

As a canny man, Jim Hogan knew the risks, but searching for the truth in any field that piqued his curiosity was more important to him than pacifying the feelings of the new inquisitors who deem it blasphemy to have a thought on the subject contrary to their own. I will miss my conversations with Jim in which only the truth and the evidence to support it counted, and no taboos existed. I consider it one of the blessings of my life to have shared time with this giant of a man.


Anonymous said...

Here was an attempt at satire regarding the Jim Hogan smears which were posted for days by SF SITE NEWS. This too was not the correct political view for Mr. Silver, editor of SF SITE NEWS. Consequently the post was immediately deleted.

"Liam: "Well, let's raise a pint to Jim... he was a good sort."

Shane: "Ah, but what about that holocaust thing... he didn't show his best side on that."

Liam: "Oh, you know our Jimmy... always wondering about the big questions, the ascent of man, the nature of god and the universe... letting his curiosity get the best of him."

Shane: "Curiosity! What's to be curious about the holocaust? We've been told what happened there... case closed!"

Liam: "I can't believe that you of all people, Shane O'Malley, would condemn a man for having challenging spirit? Weren't you the lad who broke his mum's heart by renouncing the church she loved?"

Shane: "Now, don't be comparing apples to oranges, Liam. I had no choice in the matter. That creation story from catechism -- beyond all question and doubt according to the almighty nuns, well, it didn't stand up at all to my schoolin'... Charles Darwin and all."

Liam: "I might need more than a pint to get around the way you figure things, but for good old Jim I'll lift the one in my hand... wayward curiosity and all."

Dave F.

Toren said...

I would like to say that I was one of those who commented and I think my defense of him was not as limp and timid as you suggest everyone else's comment was, Reno. I certainly got enough crap over it.
P.S. Nick, yours remains the best eulogy for Jim I have yet read. Wonderful.

nick herbert said...

Life ain't fair, Toren. I was just getting to know Hogan, looking forward to more exciting exchanges with the man, then BANG! fate suddenly takes him away from us while at the same time sparing so many shitheads.

Anonymous said...


Since Steven Silver, editor of SF Site News, deleted all posts after I attempted to post my comment in defense of Jim Hogan, I don’t remember how forceful your defense of Hogan was. Why don’t you post your original comment that was deleted on Nick’s blog with the crap that you received? It may be that my post was only the straw that broke the camel's back of what Herr Silver, the thought police, could tolerate in politically incorrect thinking.

I received no crap for my post on Nick's blog and would have welcomed those on SF Site News who believed they could give me crap for my opinions about Jim Hogan. Jim, no doubt, would have loved the debate, but I suspect Steven Silver would not have liked the outcome. Controversies about an author by those who knew him usually make for great discussions, even as part of a eulogy, but obviously not on taboo subjects.


Anonymous said...

Fuck you Reno and Fuck that dead pathetic excuse for a human being that is Jim Hogan. I hope there is a hell for him to get raped by his nazi pals. Hell, even this obituary notes that Hogan was writing to Germany on behalf of a Holocaust denier that he found amazing.

Please don't misunderstand me when I say that I hope that all of you HOgan lovers join him very shortly.

nick herbert said...

Very nicely argued "Anonymous". Your post reveals precisely the level of your intelligence. For this reason, I will let it stand.

Reno said...

I recommend that those who ever read anything by Jim Hogan--on any subject--to compare the writing and the character conveyed by his writing with that of the "anonymous" poster.

I am glad that Nick let this pathological and virulent display of hatred, which some human excrement feel for their superiors, stand unedited. If this is the opposition to Jim’s thinking, I’m happy to be on Jim’s side. Of course, Jim always signed his name to what he wrote and believed, even at the expense of becoming unpopular with mental midgets who hide and write under "anonymous." The problem with the Internet is that it allows poltroons to act with aggression and disrespect toward people who would make them wet their pants if they had to face them in person.