Meanwhile, in the place and time Exemptions is set, the Civil Rights Movement was still controversial and endangered, and Women’s Lib, as it was then called, was still in a larval stage and not quite out yet. In terms of real life the hippie kids had beliefs and expectations similar to those of their parents in most ways.
And yet something was happening -- though we still don’t know what it was. Electric media were certainly involved.
The original title of the book, when I started it in 1972, was Fission. My drafts were labeled under that title throughout the 70s and into the 80s, when the manuscript was renamed Astral Bodies. The book has been as long as 350 pages and as short as 50; and the time I spent on it was just the luxury of selfishness and pleasure, and nothing to do with improvements or betterment.
Not a descriptive title, Astral Bodies had to be replaced. All three section titles, "Head Raid," "Werebabies of the Reich," and "Thermonuclear Xanadu," were considered as main titles. The family brain trust came up with the title Exemptions instead. This is partly a reference to the draft-exempted status of students, though the student draft deferment was soon to end.
Earlier versions of Exemptions were either more experimental or more overtly novelistic. Somewhere back in the lost drafts would be the first manuscript I ever submitted, and ten years later other versions were still being mailed away in manila envelopes, as the practice then was. In retrospect I was undeservedly fortunate to have these earlier versions politely ignored. They probably weren't really worse but I would have been deprived of the decades-long game of playing with this material. I hope readers will have fun with it too.