Robert W. Service

The Men That Don't Fit In 
Robert William Service 1874-1958)

There's a race of men that don't fit in, 
A race that can't stay still; 
So they break the hearts of kith and kin, 
And they roam the world at will.

They range the field and they rove the flood, 
And they climb the mountain's crest; 
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, 
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far; 
They are strong and brave and true ; 
But they always tire of the things that are, 
And they want the strange and new.

They say: "Could I find my proper groove, 
What a deep mark I would make!" 
So they chop and change, 
and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs 
With a brilliant, fitful pace, 
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones 
Who win the in the lifelong race.

And each forgets that his youth has fled, 
Forgets that his prime is past, 
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead, 
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed ; 
he has missed his chance; 
He has just done things by half. 
Life's been a jolly good joke on him, 
And now is the time to laugh.

Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost; 
He was never meant to win; 
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; 
He's a man who won't fit in.

Editorial License - The Men That Don't Fit In

Without meaning to, I seem to have come up with an anarchy heavy issue of SFRevu. Great Heinlein's Ghost! Like most political forms, I rather think it makes a better story than reality, but I'm still trying to sort out what works and what doesn't for myself. - Ernest Lilley

Science Fiction loves ideological debate as much as it loves gadgets, rocket-ships and bug-eyed monsters. Written by folks often outside the social mainstream, it's little wonder that loners, outsiders and just plain antisocial folks crop up over and over again.

Personally, I'm a sort of crossover myself. When I have to, I can pretend to be pretty mundane, which is handy when dealing with the outside world. Pretty soon though, my cover slips and co-workers are posting copies of the Enquirer ("10 Signs Your Co-Worker May Be A Space Alien") by my cubicle.

The most attractive political configuration for loners, especially when it's not actually around, is Libertarianism, or even hard core anarchy. Government? We don't need no stinking government! Do Gooders? Ayn Rand preserve us! We'll fight (or at least whimper) for the right to be free, or at least to be "me".

We know we don't fit in to "normal" society, and would much rather tread water out here than be pulled into a lifeboat so we can huddle and shiver.

Unfortunately, Libertarianism requires a leap of logic I've seen gracefully performed at many a Science Fiction Convention...everybody has to want it to work. And Science Fiction Conventions a are about the closest I've seen to having it actually work.

Like a supersaturated solution, unnaturally liquid long after the freezing point is reached, anarchistic societies  aren't sustainable. As soon as a seed presents itself, the whole thing crystallizes around it. And in both cases, it happens fast.

Taking responsibility for yourself is hard work, and most folks just aren't up to it. Or to put it in a better spin, lots of folks are smart enough to be energy conservative. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't expect it to happen.

None of which changes the desire that many of us have to be ourselves and not be censured for it. A desire which was no doubt exacerbated by the taglines of child rearing n the last century, "You can be anything you want to be!", and the ultimate parental dating advice..."Just be yourself."

So, ironically, we collect in groups of people more or less like ourselves either online, or at conventions, so we can be unique together. And there we practice politics on our own, with Con Committees and Program Panels...none of which anyone is really required to pay attention to. I think that's our solution to the whole mess, actually. Pretend to have a government, but make sure it doesn't keep an army. Note that this doesn't include Star Trek or Horror Conventions, which keep a standing army around at all times.

An important difference between the fannish practice and the proprietarian dream is the exclusion of weapons. Rather than believe that an armed society is a polite society, we seem to have adopted the notion that a polite society is a polite society, and an armed society is a blood bath and never the twain shall meet. As a writer, I'd prefer to think that while the word processor may or may not be mightier than weapons of mass destruction, it's more acceptable tucked under one's arm.

The poem of I took the name of this column from "The Men That Don't Fit In." is by Robert Service, who would surely have understood us all too well. What we need to remember is that not everyone is "one of the Legion Lost," and we can't just wish our fate on them.

So we might as well enjoy the ride.