How Nikola Tesla Saved Play By Mail


by Charles Mosteller


“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
– Thomas Edison

He didn’t. Or, at least, he hasn’t. Not yet, anyway. But, he will.

Nikola Tesla was an inventor, a mechanical engineer, and an electrical engineer. He was also something more. Much more. Nikola Tesla was also a visionary.

In the War of Currents, Nikola Tesla squared off against famed inventor Thomas Edison. Direct current or alternating current? Which would prevail?

Both alternating current and direct current survived and are still with us, of course, but AC prevailed over DC in that particular stage of the conflict. As human civilization continues to move forward into the future, and as nano-technology becomes more prevalent, we may find that the battle between Edison’s and Tesla’s competing visions is far from over.

What does any of this have to do with play by mail, you might ask? Everything, my dear Watson. Everything!

To save play by mail, we could use a few more Thomas Edisons. To bring about a resurgence of interest in PBM, we could use more of the likes of Nikola Tesla.

We need both perspiration and inspiration. We need vision. We need activity. We need action! In the later stages of his life, Nikola Tesla was regarded by some as a mad scientist. Well, to be honest with you, play by mail could stand to do with a few more mad scientists. That’s right – we need both visionaries and mad scientists. Both the bold and the meek should apply, because play by mail is hiring.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if PBM was hiring, again? It used to be an industry on an upswing, continually adding more and more jobs to the delight of the PBM gaming communities that sprang up in the aftermath of play by mail’s genesis moment.

Nikola Tesla had a vision of free power, of free electricity for the masses. Of course, he also envisioned death rays. Suffice it to say that Nikola Tesla was not one trick pony. He was not a one idea man.

There are those that are still with us, that still walk in our midst, who have long dreamed of creating and running their own play by mail game. Are you one of those people? Are you one of those visionaries? Are you the Nikola Tesla of PBM?

There are also those who could walk in our midst – and may well yet walk in our midst, and who hold the key to some great play by mail games of the future. Where are these Nikola Teslas of the PBM universe? You are needed now. Please identify yourselves – and hurry up and bless us with PBM games the likes of which mankind has never before laid eyes upon.

Are there challenges and obstacles ahead of us, before we are led hand-in-hand into the Promised Land of play by mail? Sure. But, are these challenges any greater than the challenges that men such as the likes of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla faced over the course of their respective lives? I don’t think so.

Maybe you are inclined to think that play by mail is a dying profession, and that pigs will fly before PBM digs itself out of its own grave. And maybe you are right. But, it wasn’t all that very long ago that a man named Rick Loomis made a buffalo fly. And if we can have a Flying Buffalo, then what says that we can’t have pigs that fly, too?

You know what else? That buffalo of Rick Loomis’ has been flying non-stop for forty years, now. That’s four decades! If something as big and as aerodynamically unstable as a buffalo can be made to fly for forty years, with no end in sight, then there’s no telling how long a pig will fly, if we can only figure out how to launch the damned thing.

Ever heard of Planet of the Apes? Do you know how apes can come to rule a planet? I’ll tell you how. It’s all due to someone, somewhere having something called imagination.

The last time that I checked, imagination ain’t dead, buddy! Now, either get the Hell out of the way, or help me to catch a few pigs to launch out of the nearest play by mail cannon that you can find.

At worst, we fail. Bacon, anyone??

NOTE: Originally posted in 2010 on the old PlayByMail.Net forums.

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