Skip to comments.HEINLEIN Traveled On Many Levels
Posted on 10/31/2004 8:57:04 PM PST by Lancey Howard
Reviewed by Marc Schogol
Glory Road By Robert A. Heinlein
If it weren't for 'Stranger in a Strange Land', Robert A. Heinlein probably would have been known only by science fiction buffs.
But with its out-of-this-world motifs, including a mind-melding, mind-bending communal lifestyle where everything - everything! - was free and shared, 1961's 'Stranger in a Strange Land' made Heinlein a Sixties counterculture icon.
The irony, as anyone familiar with Heinlein and his other works would have known, was that the late science fiction master's political and philosophical bent was very libertarian/anti-egalitarian. Like Jack Kerouac, who was never comfortable with his reputation as the spiritual father of the hippies, Heinlein (1907-1988) was not, and never wanted to be, a guru to the Woodstock generation.
Originally published two years after 'Stranger', it ('Glory Road') has been considered a lightweight effort by many science fiction aficionados. But others loved it then and have found themselves enjoying periodic rereadings since.
(Excerpt) Read more at philly.com ...
I know there are some Heinlein fans around here, so when I read this review of 'Glory Road' (re-issue) in today's Inquirer I figured I'd post it for those who may be interested.
Dad, I'd like to get a spacesuit.
Well you know how to work. Get a job down the corner pumping gas and in three months you'll be able to buy your own.
By the way, 'Stranger' was the only Heinlein book (and I read them all) that I couldn't finish. Hated it.
"But with its out-of-this-world motifs, including a mind-melding, mind-bending communal lifestyle where everything - everything! - was free and shared,"
Not entirely correct - nothing was free. But michael valentine and his followers had figured out an easy way to make money and had a lot of it just lying around to use whenever they chose.
Also, the book was also quite anti-UN in nature. It was only a hippie type book for those who weren't paying attention to the main points.
Supposedly, "Stranger " was a competition or bet between L Ron Hubbard and Heinlein over who could start a religion. Or maybe it was just Heinlein's take on the 70s foolishness.
Did you read the original or the re-released unabridged version?
The editors originally made him cut out some of the more 'racy' parts in order to release the book.
Stranger was pretty weak, and the beginning of his turn to navel-gazing. I had to really push my way to the end. Talk talk talk. Like the preachiest of Ayn Rand.
Am on Double Star now, and Gods of Mars by ERB
And with that, he slams the sneering poet into a wall.
Sounds like a must-read!
They were all part of a whole. Read his first work.
Well I cut my sci-fi teeth on Heinlein in the late 50's and early 60's - "Tunnel in the Sky" was my first- then I trod the "Glory Road" with 'Scar Gordon searching for Horned Ghosts and the Cold Water Gang- I've been on the road ever since
One of the very best. Heinlein was a thinker. The ending is pretty cool, and you wonder why you didn't realize it. And you are right - - Heinlein's best stuff was the so-called "juvenile" sci-fi. I read all of Heinlein's books in the '60s and I occasionaly enjoy re-reading them today. 'Door into Summer', 'Puppet Masters', and my personal favorite, 'Tunnel in the Sky'. Great, great stuff.
Grew up as a kid reading lots of SF...started reading it seriously when I was in 3rd grade...started reading Heinlein when I was in 5th grade...(mostly his future history stories)...was shaped by people like him and Asimov and John Campbell back at Analog....
But I always sort of prefered Moon Is a Harsh Mistress to Stranger....
I completely agree with your assessment. I disliked Heinlein's later works (exception being "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" but I reread the juveniles every couple years. "Tunnel in the Sky" was my very first science fiction novel.
Want to make a kid like science and math? Hand him Heinlein...
I doubt both theses. The timing is wrong. L. Ron Hubbard had already started his Scientology movement when "Stranger" came out. And "Stranger" was published long before the 70's
There were one or two after 'Stranger' that were pretty good, but the success of 'Stranger' apparently made Heinlein think he had "progressed" into a writer for "adults". I'm glad he got a good twenty or so "juvenile" books under his belt first, because those are the books that made Heinlein great. 'Stranger' merely put him on the radar screen of the pompous, cultural-elite book reviewers.
Moon Is A Harsh Mistress will always be his best book with Starship Troopers being a close second. I did like Number of The Beast quite a bit also.
I read ALL of RAH's works as a teen, but had gotten away from them a bit in my 20's and 30's (largely because I had almost memorized them!). But I didn't realize how much I had internalized his early philosophy (the kind found in STARSHIP TROOPERS, CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY, and THE PUPPET MASTERS) until 9-11 rolled around. Then it all popped out in living color. I voted for Clinton twice (I know -- eek!) but Dubya's my man now. Speaking of which ... just a thought ... Dubya reminds me a bit of the main character in DOUBLE STAR. Not that he is impersonating anyone, I don't mean that -- but that he stepped into a role that he was somewhat unprepared for -- but now is fulfilling it beautifully. Couldn't ask for more.
'Stranger' was 1962. It won the Hugo Award.
I love to read Heinlein. My favorite quote is "An armed society is a polite society". My favorite books are "Time Enough for Love" and "To Sail Beyond the Sunset".
But he has this strange thing about having sex with his mother.
Exactly. Heinlein knew full well that a commune that was larger than an extended family in a single household would quickly fall apart from jealousies and absoluted HATED the idea of an extended, forced government socialistic programs.
By the way, as far as post-Stranger stuff, I thought 'Farnham's Freehold' (1964) was pretty decent. Cool idea - - a bomb shelter holding Farnham and family takes a direct hit from an atomic bomb and gets blown into the distant future....
'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' was certainly a good book, too.
I agree. I hate it when he grew up.
Have you folks read Heinlein's earlier (pre-'Stranger') books?
I never realized (until reading this thread) that SIASL was the turning point. I tried to read it, and couldn't get through it. Now I know why.
Some of RLH's best work was written under pseudonym.
I can't remember anything about Glory Road, except that it gave me a warm glow of pleasure as I read it. And something about "jumping the wire." It was the last RHH I bought at a bookstore and read. Don't get me wrong; I still read my old Heinlein's from time to time.
I think "Time Enough For Love" was his magnum opus. He sort of sums up all the different Heinlein threads in that book.
The progression from author of page-turners to self-indulgant navel-gazer is a common occurance, maybe. IMO, Tom Clancy did the same thing, and (to a lesser extent, maybe) so did Stephen King (even before his accident).
Hubbard published "Dianetics," the precursor handbook to Scientology, in 1950. Legend has it he had a bet with science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke that he could start a religion and get rich. Whether or not the bet really happened, Hubbard did both. Heinlein was writing at the same time but "Moon" wasn't published until 16 years later, in 1966.
I'm not sure. I am not keenly aware of when he wrote what. I read a lot of the teen books like The Starbeast and Starship Troopers and others.
I read Glory Road in the '60s from the school library so I doubt it was the unabridged version.
The Number of the Beast was too weird with them jumping into and out of various other author's books and books becoming realities.
I must admit that I loved nearly every one of Heinleins novels; even Stranger ... but, there, it's only because Jubal Harshaw is a fantastic character. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is among my favorite Heinlein books. Among his characters, my favorite would -- of course -- have to be Lazarus Long. Among his 1950s/60s classic novels, "Time for the Stars" and "Starman Jones" are among my favorites, with "Red Planet" and "Space Cadet" not too far behind. Nothing beats his idealism in those years ... or his vision.
I first read Heinlein as a teen back in the sixties. I've read everything he has written (many of them more than once) and just recently repurchased his entire collection and I am rereading them once more. It is amazing what I catch in my fifties that I would never have understood when I was 15, 25, or 35. The man was a master at multiple levels. You could teach a college level sociology course with just starship troopers as the text.
I don't know why I seem to be going backwards in my reading. I'm actually writing a kind of Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars-type adventure SF novel and having fun with it; this after years of stuff that people read but rejected because they didn't think there was a market for "literature"--when I thought I was writing light stuff.
One writer some folks haven't heard of who has developed quite a cult following is James H. Schmitz. I've got one of his books--he's kind of like Andre Norton for a more mature audience. I'm trying to immerse myself in this material--GOOD, solid SF adventure. But the modern stuff seems too agenda-driven. I prefer good thoughtful stuff, even if it's "just" an adventure.
Oh, I'm also starting the Foundation books, at last.
From the Apollo 15 Mission........
167:51:20 Allen: As the space poet Rhysling (the blind poet in Robert Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth) would say, we're ready for you to "come back again to the homes of men on the cool green hills of Earth."
[Scott - "That's from the Green Hills of Earth. That's one we talked about before the flight. Have you read that one?"]
[Jones - "Oh, yeah! That was a favorite when I was a kid. Had you read it?"]
[Scott - "Sure. (Quoting from memory) 'We pray for one last landing, on the globe that gave us birth. To rest our eyes on fleecy skies, and the cool green hills of Earth.'"]
[Scott - "In thinking about perception kind of stuff, if you think about where we are (at Hadley), the thing that's really different about the Earth is 'cool green hills' with the fleecy skies and the blue sky. So Heinlein's perception of a meaningful thing for the Blind Poet of the Spaceways is pretty good. That he could transport himself out."]
[Jones - "It was written sometime in the 40s, I think."]
[Scott - "And here we have black skies, and a gray surface. Dramatic difference. I always think it's amazing. Some of those science fiction guys can really project themselves out there that way."]
[Jones - "The good ones could."]
A while back I saw a .sig that went something like "Confused? Read more Heinlein". Good Advice.
I'm currently starting For Us The Living.
They're trying to make that into a movie. I hear they're trying to ease up on the politics.
I started reading SF as a kid in the '70's. I always liked the older stuff better than what was being published at the time. They just don't make 'em like Heinlien anymore-although I think Harry Turtledove comes close.
Correction: "Stranger in a Strange Land" was published in 1961. The date for "Moon" is correct -- I just got the titles switched in my head.
Cool post BUMP
And I must confess, "Friday" fueled more adolescent fantasies than I can remember.
'Stranger in a Strange Land' was a satire, and a very biting satire. The novel lampooned almost every facet of our society, pointing out that many institutions are not able to look at themselves from the outside and be objective about their principles. Objectivity is a complementary aspect to faith, in that it allows people to determine if their actions are really achieving the desired results.
One of my all time favs is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
I loved Time Enough for Love (the mom stuff aside), Glory Road, and Job. Job just got me - about the impermanance of material things and the eternal nature of love.
"Time Enough For Love" is my favorite, and far deeper than most people often get. The style of that book is literally (and to me, very obviously intentionally) on epic religious canon, and appears to have been patterned on Judaic mythology more specifically. In essence, he wrote a "Bible" built upon the axioms of his philosophy, and actually wrote it in the traditional style of such things. Great stuff.
Because of this, if there was ever a book that he wrote that could serve as the basis of a religion, TEFL would be it. Incidentally, my father is a theologian with a strong background in the Judaic religious mythology (read: "pre-Christian"), and I grew up hearing about the stories and characters. It is one of the primary reasons I recognized the close mappings.
Great precis of RAH's work.
"Pang?" inquired Buck.
No, the bet was between L. Ron Hubbard and A.E. Van Vogt.
Heinlein's Stranger was a satire on the excesses of society he saw developing. He was by no means attempting to start a religion.
I assume you mean this thread, and not my silly post, in which I can't get the Great Man's initials right.
Best to you,
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