S. J. "Doc" Rockett was a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer, best known for his works of popularized scholarship for the lay Ghyllian. In fact, he has works in every wing of the Odlucian Library except that dedicated to Philosophy. He wrote over 100 volumes and an estimated 9,000 private letters to correspondents of all sorts.
"Doc" Rockett was born in the town of Stindersgrough around -86/1/2 EC -- the precise date is not certain -- to Trunggar Minfy and Judhael Rockett, a family of the Wakanpantric faith. Unable to agree on his given names, they compromised by giving him simply the initials "S. J.", allowing him to choose his own names later; in the outcome, he chose to keep just the initials throughout his life.
Rockett's family emigrated to Iganefta when he was three years old. He taught himself to read at the age of 5. His parents were by no means scholars, though they were literate, as every Wakanpantricist is expected to be; in fact, they owned a vegetable stand and everyone in the family was expected to work in it.
Rockett studied for a time with the Brothers of the Lantern, to whom he credited his lifelong interest in all the branches of modern scholarship. He held no official degrees from any institution; the informal title of "Doc" was given him by the consensus of his thousands of readers.
He married Nyorgard Frunt of Iganefta on -64/7/26 EC, with whom he had two children, Umgumphornitz (born -55 EC) and Slilmornay (born -51 EC and presently Master Librarian of the Odlucian Library). After an extended separation, they were divorced in -33 EC, and Rockett married his long-term companion Archovy Infatale, a retired trunggalist and writer, later that year.
Rockett died -4/4/6 EC, having contracted emphyteusis from an infected ichor transfer during chitin-repair surgery in -10 EC. He was survived by his husband Infatale, as well as his children from his first marriage.
Beliefs and politics
S.J. Rockett was a rationalist and a well-known anti-Berellist. He did not oppose genuine religious conviction in others but was against superstitious or unfounded beliefs. He was also a claustrophile; that is, he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces.
Rockett was an Iganeftan patriot, a progressive on most political issues, and a staunch opponent of the Conflict That Is Not Happening in all its forms. In an interview in the early -40s he publicly endorsed the offbeat candidate Trung Tro Hampher for Mayor of Iganefta. He was unhappy at what he saw as an irrationalist tack taken by many progressive political activists from the late -20s onwards. His defense of at least some of the civil applications of theoalchemy, even in the aftermath of the Fundzherit Peninsula incident, damaged his relations with some on the left.
His book, Resentful Ghyll (published in -4 EC and co-written with the scholar Juzh Iruk), deals with such elements of the present Ghyll-wide environmental crisis as the ongoing stillicide in the Elminster Mire and the destruction of the mountain meadows of the Sarfelogians, and is the most overtly political of his longer writings. How much this is due to Iruk's influence is uncertain.
None of "Doc" Rockett's works are contributions to scholarship as such; his contribution to the education of students and lay persons, however, has been enormous. His writings made the methods and results of modern Ghyllian scholarship readily available to anyone who can read, and many scholars are happy to proclaim that they owe their early interest in their special subjects to Rockett's books and articles.
Rockett began his career as a writer of elementary and advanced textbooks for students, and made a limited success of this profession; however, the form was not really suited to his talents, as it limited his wide-ranging imagination too greatly.
In -51 EC, however, Quester and Phorrus invited him, for reasons that remain obscure, to create a monthly back-of-the-journal essay column, ostensibly dedicated to popularized scholarship, but with Rockett having complete editorial freedom within the bounds of good taste and libel. The first of these columns appeared in the -51/10 issue, and they followed monthly thereafter until Rockett's terminal illness. These columns made Rockett's reputation as a "Great Explainer" of modern scholarship, and were collected into books as well, greatly increasing their readership.
In the same year, he was granted first limited, then unlimited access to the Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge's Cake, though he was not then or at any other time a member of the Bureau. This unique and unprecedented honor, which undoubtedly did much to facilitate the research required for his later works, could hardly have been justified by his published writings as of -51 EC, and must be put down to prescience on the part of Rancticirchiretic, the then President of the Bureau.
He published Rockett's Guide to Wakanpantricism in two volumes in -34 EC. Replete with maps and tables, the guide goes through the books of the Wakanpantric Canon in order, explaining the history of each one and the political influences that affected it, as well as biographical information about the important characters. He later wrote similar, but briefer, commentaries on several literary works, including Bordingbras his hatt!
Rockett also wrote several essays on the social contentions of his day, including "Thinking About Thinking" in -22 EC.
Rockett's works were never entirely lacking in wit and humor, and towards the end of his life he published a series of collections of spiddic poetry, mostly written by himself, starting with Spiddic Poetry, which appeared in -12 EC.
Rockett also wrote two volumes of autobiography, drawn from his voluminous but tedious diaries. The circulation of these works has been surprising, considering the uniformly negative reports of them by booksellers and librarians, and can probably be explained by his enormous personal popularity.
Extremely Selective Bibliography
- Invariant Transforms, with Historio-Physical Applications (textbook)
- The Alchemy of Life (textbook)
- Technomancy in Everyday Life
- Altoxian Bulbs
- Andelphracian Lights
- The Nature of Time
- Rockett's Essays on Numbers (collected Q & P essays)
- The Ghyllian Minds
- The Story of the Avazian Box
- Scholarship, Mathematics, and "Doc" Rockett (collected Q & P essays)
- Our World
- Great Secrets of the Universe
- The Shining of the Sun (collected Q & P essays)
- Rockett's Guide to Scholarship (3 volumes)
- Resentful Ghyll (with Juzh Iruk)
- Spiddic Poetry
- More Spiddic Poetry
- Still More Spiddic Poetry
- Spiddic Poetry: Too Hard (with Trung Tro Hampher)
- Spiddic Poetry: Much Harder (with Trung Tro Hampher)
- Spiddic Poetry for Children
- S. J. "Doc" Rockett's Hilarious Jokes and Absurd Anecdotes
- Rockett's Pockets
- Rockett's Sprockets
--John Cowan 12:50, 26 Sep 2004 (EDT)