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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
A tiny biographical blurb I found about him, written 20
years earlier, indicated that he was a resident of Douglastown,
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;
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
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.
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.
Allan W. Eckert