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"Robert Heinlein Remembered"
Lever Action Essays ^ | 1988 | L.Neil Smith

Posted on 10/12/2002 11:20:11 PM PDT by redrock

Robert Heinlein Remembered

by L. Neil Smith

"Take big bites. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."
Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Imagine a lonely kid, undersized and overbright, living on an American air base overseas. Comic books taught him to read years before he started school and he'd tackle anything that fell open under his eyes. Anything about science or space travel leaped off the page as if printed in boldfaced italic. A neighbor's medical texts had such delightfully disgusting diseases you could practice having, and radio magazines ... in those days radios had vacuum-filled glass cylinders, see, and -- radio? You know, TV for blind people?

One day, sent to the library as punishment (so much, he grinned to himself, for the intelligence of authority) he ran across two books he hadn't seen before, Red Planet and Tunnel in the Sky. As would be the case years later with a certain little old Russian lady's name, he didn't know how to pronounce "Heinlein".

But the latter novel, he discovered, was about kids not much older than he was, slung across the galaxy as a graduation exercise to survive or die on a planet not even described to them beforehand. The protagonist's big sister, a tough Marine, gives him her favorite fighting knife to carry as a spare, a gift both practical and sentimental. (In time the reader would learn that Heinlein didn't see much difference between the two.) In the other book, even younger kids, on colonial Mars, rebel because the new headmaster at their company school confiscates the weapons they've always believed it their natural right to carry.

To the Air Force kid, this was powerful stuff which bent his head severely. He's writing this because it never got unbent. As a matter of fact, it got worse. But first he looked for more books by this guy Heinlein. What they were about, he found, besides science and space, was individual competence and the suicidal insanity of weighting it with political chains. What's more, each taught him something about the universe, the culture he lived in, and often, whether he liked it or not, himself.

Without knowing it, Heinlein became the advisor, confidant, sometimes the only friend of his childhood, setting standards against which the boy eventually came to measure all his adult conduct and achievement.

Over the past thirty years, I don't supposed a single day has gone by that I haven't thought about Robert A. Heinlein. The lessons I learned from him were endless, as they were bound to be, coming from a man of his pragmatic wisdom and a body of literature exceeding three million published words.

It's hard to recapitulate the second chance he offered my generation, given the abject failure of public schooling, since most of what he taught I've long since taken as self-evident. It certainly wasn't when I learned it; it was often painful and confusing. But it was needed. 20th Century America's method of rearing its young fails to produce organisms fit for -- or worthy of -- survival.

If I cite different lessons at this moment than I might another time, if I discuss them in a different order than I received them, if I select different items than you might, that's one definition of art, isn't it? It's also a measure of the fact that, above all, Heinlein taught us to accept his wisdom without becoming followers. He taught us to become, and to remain, individuals.

The Green Hills of Earth formed my first coherent vision of the future, establishing the historical context for my own life, convincing me (as kids must be if they're to turn out civilized) that, just as millions of human beings preceded me in past ages, so millions more will follow in ages to come. At the same time, Methuselah's Children revealed to me that, yes, I do want to live forever, and that such a thing, given time and the stubborn application of reason, might just be possible.

Between Planets taught me that a kid never knows when the demands of adulthood will tap him on the shoulder. There are worse things that could happen. Starman Jones taught me that the adult world makes about as much sense as the average train wreck, and that it's the first duty of anyone who aspires to be a whole human being to start re-making the world the way he wants it. Toward that end, Time for the Stars showed me that the universe can be a bizarre, hostile place, but that my feelings about that are irrelevant to dealing with it.

Citizen of the Galaxy showed me that it was possible -- and important -- to stand outside my own culture and try to examine it like an anthropologist or a visiting alien. "If This Goes On ..." from Revolt in 2100 warned me that, in any culture, things are never what they appear on first glance. At the age of twelve, I was just as shocked as the viewpoint character to learn what was going on between the Prophet Incarnate's palace guards and his attendant Virgins.

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."
Robert A. Heinlein, "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long"

Farnham's Freehold asserted that nobody, no race, religion, or ethnic group, has a monopoly on incompetence or cruelty, and The Day After Tomorrow argued back that a conclusion is never foregone, that the struggle is never over as long as one good man or woman is still alive. It also gave me a second lesson (my first was in Double Star) in how to cut up and dispose of a body, a skill I haven't needed yet, but you can never tell.

Beyond This Horizon proved to my satisfaction that "an armed society is a polite society," long before I had a firsthand chance to see it demonstrated over and over again in real life.

Glory Road taught me, as a novelist and a human being, that life goes on after they all live happily ever after. I've never believed love is all you need, or that it'll always find a way, but The Door Into Summer (along with Double Star, my favorite of Heinlein's books) brought me closer to changing my mind about that than any other book I've read, and also taught me that the most brilliant innovation is useless unless it rests of a foundation of necessity and familiarity.

Space Cadet represented another sort of graduation exercise for someone who was slated to become an individualist- anarchist. I often think about writing an entire essay dedicated to comparing it in detail with Arthur C. Clarke's superficially similar Islands in the Sky, in order to demonstrate metaphysical differences in worldview between the productive class and the parasitic over- and underclasses. In case I never get around to it, read both books -- asking the question, "Who or what is responsible, in each instance, for whatever the protagonist achieves?"

In a sense, however, this is a futile exercise, not even scratching the surface of a lifetime's education. Other lessons I learned from Heinlein, I'll talk about another day. Let me dispose of the canard, as anyone could who actually reads his books (as opposed to whatever it is critics do), that he was a militarist, a racist, or a sexist.

Starship Troopers takes the most heat, which is peculiar, since the society it describes is founded by soldiers fed up with war, no conscription is permitted, the franchise won by military service (aggressively coeducational military service) doesn't apply until the service is over with, and the book's hero, like many Heinlein characters, is (unobtrusively) non-white.

Heinlein's alleged sexism amounts to this: he contemplated humanity as a product of billions of years of evolution by natural selection. Successful specimens were accomplished, heroic, individualistic killer-apes, the most dangerous and relentless predators on the planet and, it remains to be hoped, in the galaxy. Half these dangerous, relentless predators were women, whom his male characters valued and desired (incessantly, as what healthy male predator wouldn't?) as sexual partners.

But if that wasn't intolerable enough for the critics, these treacherous, politically unfashionable females like sex (usually with dangerous, relentless male predators) themselves! It appears he was married to such a woman. Because of what he taught me, so am I -- another unpayable debt I owe him. And what more fascinating subject could a man find to write about?

Heinlein's real crime, of course, was the same as Ayn Rand's, and to a certain type with which the Libertarian movement seems particularly burdened, unforgivable. In a universe with few obvious signposts, he set standards which reason and experience suggested to him. It wasn't enough that he lived by them, he assessed others in terms of how well they succeeded -- or failed -- to measure up, calling things by their true names, acting on their real nature, rather than anybody's wishes and fears. (It's most interesting to observe this in his fantasy novel Waldo and Magic, Incorporated.) This always angers and frightens those for whom an excuse is as good as a deed accomplished, for whom a well-chosen euphemism can affect the ethical quality of a deed.

"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go take a hike."
Robert A. Heinlein, "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long"

One crime, of course, leads to another, as surely as consuming mother's milk leads to heroin abuse. Heinlein's standard, like Rand's, was heroic. If I had a dime for every idiot who claims that real people aren't like that, that the heroes Rand and Heinlein wrote about don't exist, I wouldn't worry about publishers paying me on time. Not only do they exist, but Heinlein did a better job than Rand (who was occupied with other tasks) of teaching us to value the heroic in fiction, in real life, and -- few lessons are as important -- in enemies as well as friends.

Those who know Lazarus Long, Wyoming Knott, and Friday tend to like Han Solo, Marion Ravenwood, and Thomas Sullivan Magnum (an Oscar Gordon who, in a fictional universe less kind than Heinlein's, never found his Star). They have no trouble recognizing real heroes like Alvin York, H. Ross Perot (before he ran for President, when he was personally rescuing his employees from Iran), or Bernie Goetz, nor do they fail to appreciate, from a prudent ethical distance, heroic "villains" like Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. They know that what the Libertarian Party needs is a John Joseph Bonforte and what it always seems to get, in the end, is Nehemiah Scudder.

Some while back, in a local restaurant, my wife and I met an old couple from Carthage, Missouri, not far away mentally or geographically from Butler, where the papers say Heinlein was born. We happened to be the only four patrons in the room, and the old lady was up and examining photos of turn-of-the-century Fort Collins. Her sister, she explained, having looked us over and decided we were safe, had attended college here in Nineteen Ought-Something and wanted to know what had become of her alma mater.

I grew up in Fort Collins as much as my wandering Air Force life allowed, came back to college in 1964, and saw Old Main, subject of the restaurant's largest photo, erected in the 1870s as the first campus building, burn to the ground in that strange violent summer of 1968. I'd stood in the door of a bike shop across the street and felt the intolerable heat of it on my face. Telling the old lady about that started her off on the time her church burned down, what the firechief, the minister, and the insurance adjustor had said, the makeshifts they'd put up with before a new church was raised.

As old folks will, she rambled on about people I didn't know and didn't care about. I had my own preoccupations (I'd just heard that Heinlein had died) and had to exert every ounce of "mercy to the weak and patience with the stupid" his stories ever managed to exhort me to.

She didn't say anything unusually offensive (I admit that if I didn't feel bound by the Non-Aggression Principle, there wouldn't be a church left standing above its own ashes west of the Mississippi) and I even got an impression -- something vague about a nephew who'd just re-enlisted in the Navy, another coincidence -- that she'd pull off one of her arms and hand it to you if you were in need of it. But she reminded me of every tight-mouthed, self-righteous Baptist I'd known in northern Florida where I went to high school; people who assumed, despite a basic ignorance of everything since Copernicus, that where they lived, how they thought and felt, what they were, was exactly where and how and what all human beings ought to live and think and feel and be, in Big G's image, Q.E.D. Anybody who differed, who valued the Bill of Rights, say, was a damnyankee liberal, affectatious and perverse for the sheer pleasure of it.

I was dressed as I usually am, 14-inch boots, faded Levis, loud shirt with pearl snaps, wide belt with nickel-silver buckle embossed with longhorns and ponies. She made an assumption about my attitude toward life and events, that they didn't differ from those of a churchgoing Missouri sodbuster, which I usually enjoy demolishing. Wait until she found out I was an anarchist, an atheist, a connoisseur of pornography, a professional despoiler of American youth!

But for once something restrained me. I remained polite, didn't argue, listened through her whole dissertation, and suddenly understood how remarkably far Heinlein had propelled himself from this "American Gothic" mindset through a lifetime which, however long it had lasted, was far too short, for him and for me.

Centuries hence, when the difficult, dangerous age we're living through is written of, what historians will say about the "Crazy Years" will resemble what was first written about them by a science fiction novelist decades before they began. The Libertarian movement must go far to prove itself, but it may prove to be the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak era. The shadows of two powerful minds cast themselves over everything about that movement, whether we recognize it or not: the minds of Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein.

What's astonishing isn't that Rand and Heinlein differed with one another, but that, coming from such different directions, they agreed so often. Neither of these giants was very happy being called Libertarian, yet the monument Rand left us can't be effaced, no matter how many pests pay pigeon respects to it. She gave Libertarianism a philosophical discipline to serve as its brain and backbone. What Heinlein gave it, no less vital if we're to effect the changes we aspire to, was heart and guts.

Both gifts were needed. As we've had occasion to observe, brain and backbone by themselves produce humorless puppets, wrenching without effect at their own strings. Equally, heart and guts, undisciplined, result in the directionless flailing we're used to seeing among conservatives. Perhaps the idea of Libertarianism, the unique concept of the Non- Aggression Principle, should have been enough, but with origins in this particular culture at this particular time, it was doomed to succumb, sooner or later, to cancerous factionalism among its proponents or a paralysis of liberaloid self-doubt.

Combined, however, the unique idea of Libertarianism, supplemented by suitable amounts of brain, heart, guts, and backbone, may just give us a ten-toe hold on the unstoppable wave of the future.

Serf's up!

"Beat the plowshares back into swords.
The other was a maiden aunt's dream."

Robert A. Heinlein, The Puppet Masters

This page has been included in the Robert Heinlein ring of the Free World index.

This essay first appeared in the Fall/Winter 1988 issue of NOMOS. It will appear in this updated form in L. Neil Smith's forthcoming collection of speeches and essays, Lever Action.

L. Neil Smith Author: The Probability Borach, The Crystal Empire, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Henry Martyn, Pallas and (forthcoming) Lever Action and Bretta Martyn. Mr. Smith's celebrated first novel, The Probability Broach, was be republished, in unexpurgated form, by TOR Books in October, 1996. Publisher: The Libertarian Enterprise Founder & International Coordinator: Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus Secretary & Legislative Director: Weld County Fish & Wildlife Association NRA Life Member

Permission to redistribute this article is herewith granted by the author -- provided that it is reproduced unedited, in its entirety, and appropriate credit given.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: bookreview; heinlein; novels; scifi
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I carried with me thru 2 tours in Vietnam a paperback copy of "Starship Troopers"

I still have it......

redrock

1 posted on 10/12/2002 11:20:11 PM PDT by redrock
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To: nunya bidness
Time to bring it back......

redrock

2 posted on 10/12/2002 11:20:58 PM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
Extraordinary writer.

"Those who refuse to support and defend a state have no claim to protection by that state. Killing an anarchist or a pacifist should not be defined as 'murder' in a legalistic sense. The offense against the state, if any, should be 'Using deadly weapon inside city limits,' or 'Creating a taffic hazard,' or 'Endangering bystanders,' or other misdemeanor." -- Lazarus Long

3 posted on 10/12/2002 11:24:54 PM PDT by Roscoe
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To: Sir Gawain; fporretto; MadameAxe; AuntB
Time to renew.....

redrock

4 posted on 10/12/2002 11:24:55 PM PDT by redrock
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To: Roscoe
"The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."

My favourite quote.....

redrock

5 posted on 10/12/2002 11:26:50 PM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
I am not sure, but wasn't it Rober Heinlein that said "an armed society is a polite society". If it wasn't him, then I need to give credit to the correct person because I have quoted that one many times.
6 posted on 10/12/2002 11:36:34 PM PDT by alligator
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To: alligator
That is one of Heinleins.....

redrock

7 posted on 10/12/2002 11:42:00 PM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
"An armed society is a polite society"

Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion- in the long run these are the only people who count...

brainpower is the scarcest commodity and the only one of real value.

A brute kills from pleasure, a fool kills from hate.

A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.
An Elephant; a Mouse built to government specifications

Just a few of my favorites.
8 posted on 10/12/2002 11:49:06 PM PDT by Brytani
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To: redrock
I am a fan of Heinlein's work for the most part, but his latter stuff...well...is execrable. Often, Stranger in a Strange Land is cited as his best work (as it caused quite a stir amongst the counter-culture); but, frankly, I found it rotten: boring, didactic, and morally suspect. Anything after that, aside from being bad fiction, is just plain creepy. Still, I think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to be the pinnacle of Heinlein's talents and one of the best science fiction books of all time.
9 posted on 10/12/2002 11:50:41 PM PDT by JURB
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To: redrock
Heinlein is the man.....no doubt.

Big ol'pardox bump

10 posted on 10/12/2002 11:52:08 PM PDT by Hazzardgate
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To: Brytani
ALL excellent quotes......

redrock

11 posted on 10/12/2002 11:52:47 PM PDT by redrock
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To: JURB
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"

One of my favourites.

redrock

12 posted on 10/12/2002 11:54:33 PM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
I read everything Heinlein ever wrote. Mostly, I got them out of the school library but a few I bought as a teenager when they came out, like The Past Through Tomorrow which I got through the Science Fiction Book Club.

Funny that one of the books first mentioned by this article's author was Tunnel In The Sky - - it was always my favorite Heinlein book. (And it's not real easy picking a favorite Heinlein book.)

13 posted on 10/12/2002 11:56:09 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: JURB
"I am a fan of Heinlein's work for the most part, but his latter stuff...well...is execrable. Often, Stranger in a Strange Land is cited as his best work (as it caused quite a stir amongst the counter-culture); but, frankly, I found it rotten: boring, didactic, and morally suspect. Anything after that, aside from being bad fiction, is just plain creepy. Still, I think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to be the pinnacle of Heinlein's talents and one of the best science fiction books of all time."

I agree with you on "Moon" and also somewhat on "Stranger." "Time Enough for Love" might be his best.

14 posted on 10/12/2002 11:57:34 PM PDT by Neanderthal
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To: redrock
I read "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" about forty-some (yikes) years ago. I enjoyed it, but never read anything more of his.
15 posted on 10/13/2002 12:06:11 AM PDT by JohnnyP
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To: JURB
Often, Stranger in a Strange Land is cited as his best work (as it caused quite a stir amongst the counter-culture); but, frankly, I found it rotten: boring, didactic, and morally suspect.
If you thought Stranger was "morally suspect" don't read Time Enough for Love or anything after it.....LOL.

Heinlein was simultaneously one of my main libertarian-conservative influences and my main agnostic influence. He espoused conservative principles without the priggishness, and libertarian principles without the naivety.

-Eric

16 posted on 10/13/2002 12:06:12 AM PDT by E Rocc
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To: redrock
One day, sent to the library as punishment (so much, he grinned to himself, for the intelligence of authority)
They used to do this to me in elementary school. Eventually the assistant principal wised up. >:(

-Eric

17 posted on 10/13/2002 12:07:41 AM PDT by E Rocc
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To: JURB
re: your post #9

I agree completely.
I barely made it through 'Stranger', but it was the book that transformed Heinlein, in the public eye, from a "young adult" author to a bona fide novelist who could make sci-fi palatable for adults by throwing a little sex in there.

As far as I'm concerned, books like Starship Troopers, Double Star, The Door Into Summer, Tunnel In The Sky, The Puppet Masters, Fifth Column, and a dozen or so more from that era were Heinlein's masterpieces. Most of his stuff after and including 'Stranger' didn't measure up, in my opinion.

18 posted on 10/13/2002 12:07:42 AM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: redrock
Heinlein is my spiritual father as well.
19 posted on 10/13/2002 12:10:41 AM PDT by Swordmaker
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To: redrock
As a side note, I have a cat named Pixel - we are just a little bit of Heinlein fans in this house. :-))
20 posted on 10/13/2002 12:13:08 AM PDT by Brytani
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To: alligator
Yes, of course it was him. That quote, has is noted in the article itself, is from "Beyond This Horizon", one of his earliest works.
21 posted on 10/13/2002 12:13:53 AM PDT by Ronin
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To: redrock

This I Believe by Robert A. Heinlein

"I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them. I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults. "Take Father Michael down our road a piece. I'm not of his creed, but I know that goodness and charity and lovingkindness shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father Mike. If I'm in trouble, I'll go to him."

"My next-door neighbor is a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat. No fee--no prospect of a fee--I believe in Doc.

"I believe in my townspeople. You can know on any door in our town saying, 'I'm hungry,' and you will be fed. Our town is no exception. I've found the same ready charity everywhere. But for the one who says, 'To heck with you - I got mine,' there are a hundred, a thousand who will say, "Sure, pal, sit down."

"I know that despite all warnings against hitchhikers I can step up to the highway, thumb for a ride and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, 'Climb in Mac - how far you going?'

"I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime yet for every criminal there are 10,000 honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but is a force stronger than crime. I believe in the patient gallentry of nurses and the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land.

"I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.

"I believe that almost all politicians are honest. . .there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true we would never have gotten past the 13 colonies.

"I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River. I believe in -- I am proud to belong to -- the United States. Despite shortcomings from lynchings to bad faith in high places, our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.

"And finally, I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown. In the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability, and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth. That we always make it just by the skin of our teeth, but that we will always make it. Survive. Endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching, oversize brain case and the
opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes will endure. Will endure longer than his home planet -- will spread out to the stars and beyond, carrying with him his honesty and his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage and his noble essential decency.

"This I believe with all my heart."

Robert A. Heinlein wrote this item in 1952. His wife, Virginia Heinlein, chose to read it when she accepted NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal on October 6, 1988, on the Grand Master's behalf (it was a posthumous award).

22 posted on 10/13/2002 12:14:25 AM PDT by Psycho Francis
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To: redrock
"Do not confuse 'duty' with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

Heinlein.

23 posted on 10/13/2002 12:16:56 AM PDT by nunya bidness
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To: redrock
Having said that, it's time to toss some rocks. Cobber.
24 posted on 10/13/2002 12:19:58 AM PDT by nunya bidness
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To: Lancey Howard
And it's not real easy picking a favorite Heinlein book.

Ditto that!

25 posted on 10/13/2002 12:21:30 AM PDT by Cold Heat
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To: redrock
Also, I find L. Neil Smith to be a bit of loon. Typical is this quote (from the piece posted above): "I admit that if I didn't feel bound by the Non-Aggression Principle, there wouldn't be a church left standing above its own ashes west of the Mississippi." Really? Is the libertarian non-agression principle the only thing holding you back from death and wanton destruction? I know he is being facetious, but hyperbole of this type is common to L. Neil. He comes off as a raving lunatic and, all bluster aside, he is not an asset to the side of liberty. Wasn't he the one that, along with the Arizona Libertarian Party, led a revolt against the LP and ran for president alongside/against Harry Browne. Not that this small 'l' libertarian votes LP anyway, but with blowhards like L. Neil Smith and other loonies (spitting druids, potheads uninterested in the cause of freedom, candidates that turn themselves blue due tp Y2K paranoia), no wonder why the LP cannot gain any traction.
26 posted on 10/13/2002 12:25:37 AM PDT by JURB
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To: Neanderthal; JURB
"Friday" is one of his later works, and despite being not that strong on plot, it's frightening how accurate his predictions of a balkanized, morally bankrupt, hyper-networked America were. I think the older he got, the worse a storyteller and better a seer he became.
27 posted on 10/13/2002 12:26:21 AM PDT by motexva
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To: JURB
Read Valis.
28 posted on 10/13/2002 12:26:31 AM PDT by nunya bidness
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To: humblegunner
Heinlein *PING !*

---

Flyer

29 posted on 10/13/2002 12:38:08 AM PDT by Flyer
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To: nunya bidness; All
Wow, you guys -- thanks. I have not yet read anything by Heinlein (though Ayn Rand inspired me at age 18 when I read her books, and she's remained tops with me) ... but I will be checking out Heinlein my next trip to the library. Even if he is an atheist!! (The older I get, the more I think atheism is naive ...). Heinlein does not recognize God's image in himself! Ayn Rand was another. Her philosophy seemed to me to be entirely in keeping with all in the new testament in an oddly fundamental way. Same with what I've read here of Heinlein.

Thanks again for this GREAT thread!

Finfreak
30 posted on 10/13/2002 12:52:32 AM PDT by Finny
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I was the publisher of the magazine NOMOS: STUDIES IN SPONTANEOUS ORDER when this piece was first printed in 1988. (That iconoclastic, brilliant Chicago libertarian -- small-L -- creation lasted ten years, but is no longer with us.) It's one of the best decisions I ever took part in making.

One brilliant writer on a brilliant-squared writer, both creators of some of the most evocative liberty-loving characters ever put in print. Neil's Win Bear (The Probability Broach) will endure along with Bob's Manuel O'Kelly Davis (The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) for as long as mankind keeps the upright position.

31 posted on 10/13/2002 1:02:13 AM PDT by Greybird
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To: Finny
You might want to read Methuselah’s Children before Time Enough for Love....
32 posted on 10/13/2002 1:07:14 AM PDT by Psycho Francis
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To: redrock
Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort. -- Lazarus Long

I am one of the latter.

My parents exposed me to Robert Heinlein when I was just a child and he quickly became the guiding force of my belief system. I have a complete collection of his works on my bookshelves. The following excerpts from Robert Heinlein's Notebook of Lazarus Long and my included rants explain my philosophies.

Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent. -- Lazarus Long

History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it. -- Lazarus Long

There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it? -- Lazarus Long

One man's theology is another man's belly laugh. -- Lazarus Long

Televangelists: The Pro Wrestlers of religion. -- Lazarus Long

The most preposterous motion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up it that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest and least productive industry in all history. -- Lazarus Long

"God split himself into a myriad parts so that he might have friends". This may not be true, but it sounds good -- and is no sillier than any other theology. -- Lazarus Long

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent---it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills. -- Lazarus Long

We always let water over the bridge lie where Jesus flang it; you know that. -- Lazarus Long Freedom begins when you tell Mrs Grundy to go fly a kite.-- Lazarus Long

In other words mind your own business, if that doesn’t satisfy you, get a hobby.

What are the facts? Again and again and again --- what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell", avoid opinion, Care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" --- what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always in to an unknown future; facts are your only chance. Get the facts! -- Lazarus Long

A generation which ignores history has no past and no future. -- Lazarus Long

If you ain't makin' waves, you ain't kickin' hard enough! -- Lazarus Long

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house. -- Lazarus Long

"If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidate and no measures you want to vote for... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you rarely go wrong.

"If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires." -- Lazarus Long

You live and learn. Or you don't live long. -- Lazarus Long

Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing---with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for the second and third place. -- Lazarus Long

The plural of spouse is spice. -- Lazarus Long

A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld. -- Lazarus Long

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity -- Lazarus Long

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors, and miss. -- Lazarus Long

To stay young requires the unceasing ability to unlearn old falsehoods. -- Lazarus Long

Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort. -- Lazarus Long

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -- Lazarus Long

Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect. -- Lazarus Long

Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind, it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate, and quickly. -- Lazarus Long

An armed society is a polite society.

A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate. -- Lazarus Long

It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier. -- Lazarus Long

Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark. -- Lazarus Long

The meek shall inherit the earth, a 6 foot plot above them. -- Lazarus Long

33 posted on 10/13/2002 1:08:55 AM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: redrock
I loved Starship Troopers and felt that the movie did the novel a great disservice. Instead of treating the ideas of the novel seriously (whatever you think of them, good or ill), the movie simply mocked the ideas and turned itself into a mindless, meaningless space opera. It couldn't even get the space opera element right, as it ignored two of the coolest elements of the book: the tactical nukes and the powered armor.
34 posted on 10/13/2002 1:22:53 AM PDT by JURB
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To: JURB
Still, I think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to be the pinnacle of Heinlein's talents

I agree - some of his later work was written as by a woman from a woman's viewpoint.

35 posted on 10/13/2002 2:52:20 AM PDT by Mike Darancette
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To: JURB
The powered armor was awesome and there has been talk of a ST sequel, where the exoskeleton armor would be introduced.
36 posted on 10/13/2002 3:00:38 AM PDT by HitmanLV
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To: redrock
Specialization is for insects bump.
37 posted on 10/13/2002 3:17:46 AM PDT by spodefly
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To: redrock
All appreciations of Robert A. Heinlein, the creator of modern science fiction, linger over his themes and his imaginative gifts. Few mention that he was one of the twentieth century's finest writers, regardless of genre.

Heinlein had a sense for the practice of plot construction, characterization, and stylistic control that is almost never acknowledged. Present-day literati would be embarrassed by comparison to most competent genre writers, for genre writers still remember that their duty is to entertain, not to play with themselves in public. Heinlein was the greatest of them all.

No argument that he had his bad days, nor that these became more frequent after he passed his peak. But one cannot read a stunner like "They," a little gem like Double Star or a masterpiece like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress without being overwhelmed by Heinlein's storyteller's gifts.

I'm a writer myself. I've been a Heinlein fan for forty years as of next Tuesday. After such a long acquaintance, it would be reasonable to expect that I'd find little new in his works when I went back to them. Reasonable, but incorrect. They are a treasure trove that defies exhaustion. By their stylistic elegance alone, they can keep me mesmerized indefinitely.

Like the great Poul Anderson, also recently taken from us, Robert A. Heinlein will be missed by more, not fewer, appreciative, intelligent readers as he recedes into the past -- and for more and richer reasons.

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason: http://palaceofreason.com

38 posted on 10/13/2002 3:18:13 AM PDT by fporretto
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To: fporretto
Bump for latter

Regards

alfa6 ;>}
39 posted on 10/13/2002 3:46:40 AM PDT by alfa6
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To: redrock
Thanks for the Heinlein post.

While loving most of Heinleins stuff, it took me years to finally get through Number of the Beast -too much saccharine dialog & fairly hard to follow without understanding references to previous books. I would like to have his ship, "Gay Deceiver" complete with dimensional storage.

I just finished re-reading Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Don't ask how many times.

40 posted on 10/13/2002 3:57:29 AM PDT by listenhillary
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To: redrock
Ditto all Heinlein praise above.

I think next year is when I'll introduce him to my now 7-year-old son.

41 posted on 10/13/2002 5:53:48 AM PDT by NativeNewYorker
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To: redrock
Another big Heinlein bump.

When the doo-doo hits the fan, I want Lazarus Long watching my back.

And if I can't get him, it at least needs to be someone who admires his qualities as much as I do.

However, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is his finest work, even without Laz making an appearance.

42 posted on 10/13/2002 6:13:52 AM PDT by Knitebane
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To: redrock
Reading Heinlein was the perfect antidote to all of the other liberal drivel I read as a youth. I credit Heinlein for showing me that Dad really was correct all those years.
43 posted on 10/13/2002 6:14:17 AM PDT by Samwise
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To: redrock
Already posted here.

44 posted on 10/13/2002 6:18:27 AM PDT by William Terrell
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To: JURB
L.Neil is a grumpy....wise-cracking....bozo.

Just the kind of person we need to remind us of some of the things that have gone wrong in this nation....

redrock

"I am not a Libertarian...I just play one on T.V."

45 posted on 10/13/2002 7:00:25 AM PDT by redrock
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To: nunya bidness
Do you prefer smooth river rocks..(the kind you can skip on the water)...or (like me) sandstone chunks?? (kinda like red-rocks)

redrock

46 posted on 10/13/2002 7:02:25 AM PDT by redrock
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To: William Terrell
I know...( I started that one too)...but you can't add any replies to it.

.....and I believe that every now and then you need to bring out the fact that a whole lot of us were/are influenced by the writings of Robert Heinlein.

In this day...when so many people, even here at FR..a gathering place for conservatives of all colours, keep trying to point out our differences.....remembering Heinlein helps to point out what we have in common.

Besides....his books are FUN!!!

redrock

47 posted on 10/13/2002 7:11:20 AM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
Bookmarked this one from the last time it was posted.
Never had a Heinlein book I didn't wear out.
48 posted on 10/13/2002 7:18:42 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: All
Reading Stranger In A Strange Land right now...
49 posted on 10/13/2002 7:21:30 AM PDT by 666beast
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To: NativeNewYorker
My 7 year old daughter is starting to get interested in Heinlein's books........

..don't know which one I should start her off with tho.

So many to choose from.

redrock

50 posted on 10/13/2002 7:21:54 AM PDT by redrock
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