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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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To: FreeLibertarian
"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

Something that should be REQUIRED reading in every school.

redrock

51 posted on 10/13/2002 7:40:51 AM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
As a youth I read Number of the Beast and Stranger in a Strange Land, both had quite an impact on my thinking. Heinlein was and will always be one of my favorite authors.

I thought Star Ship Troopers was penned by L. Ron Hubbard?

52 posted on 10/13/2002 7:42:21 AM PDT by semaj
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To: redrock
'The Green Hills of Earth'

Let the sweet fresh breezes heal me
As they rove around the girth
Of our lovely mother planet
Of the cool, green hills of Earth.

We rot in the moulds of Venus,
We retch at her tainted breath.
Foul are her flooded jungles,
Crawling with unclean death.

[ --- the harsh bright soil of Luna ---
--- Saturn's rainbow rings ---
--- the frozen night of Titan --- ]

We've tried each spinning space mote
And reckoned its true worth:
Take us back again to the homes of men
On the cool, green hills of Earth.

The arching sky is calling
Spacemen back to their trade.
ALL HANDS! STAND BY! FREE FALLING!
And the lights below us fade.

Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps a race of Earthmen,
Out, far, and onward yet ---

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on the friendly skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

-- Robert A. Heinlein

53 posted on 10/13/2002 7:54:47 AM PDT by Luis Gonzalez
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To: redrock; All
Robert A. Heinlein was one of several excellent SF writers who came along at the same time. Philip K. Dick, James Blish, Gordon R. Dickson, Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
54 posted on 10/13/2002 8:04:50 AM PDT by stylin_geek
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To: semaj
I thought Star Ship Troopers was penned by L. Ron Hubbard?

No; Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers. Perhaps you're thinking of Mission Earth, Battlefield Earth or Final Blackout. Heinlein was the far better writer, there's no doubt.

55 posted on 10/13/2002 8:12:54 AM PDT by Rocko
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To: redrock
Thanks for a Heinlein topic!

A few misconceptions here imho though; Stranger In A Strange Land, was a masterpiece of satire. If taken seriously (as many liberals do) it's no wonder some didn't like it.

"Democracy can withstand anything but democrats." - Jubal Harshaw, Stranger In A Strange Land, (Robert A. Heinlein)

Heinlein an atheist? . . . the careful reader will see a sophist.

"The only religious opinion that I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together." - Jubal Harshaw, Stranger In A Strange Land, (Robert A. Heinlein, emphisis mine)

Some other favorites of mine not already posted here:

"An insult is like a drink; it affects one only if accepted." - Her Wisdom Star, Glory Road, (Robert A. Heinlein)

"Major Ian Hay, back in the "War to End War," described the structure of military organizations: Regardless of the T.O., all military bureaucracies consist of a Surprise Party Department, a Practical Joke Department, and a Fairy Godmother Department." - Oscar "E.C." Gordon, Glory Road, (Robert A. Heinlein)

"A wise man could not be insulted, since truth could not insult and untruth was not worthy of notice." - Colonel [Pop] Baslim, Citizen Of The Galaxy, (Robert A. Heinlein)

"Success lies in achieving the top of the food chain." - Jubal Harshaw, Stranger In A Strange Land, (Robert A. Heinlein)

"Don't try to have the last word, you may get it." - Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love, (Robert A. Heinlein)

56 posted on 10/13/2002 9:24:47 AM PDT by Drumbo
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To: JURB
Gee, loon or not, I like El Neil.Hyperbole and all.

I make the kids read Heinlein. The boys have read "Starship Troopers", of course, as well as "Beyond this Horizon", and a few others.

My daughter is curious about Smith's books, I caught her trying to read "Pallas" the other day.

57 posted on 10/13/2002 9:26:53 AM PDT by no-s
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To: William Terrell
It should be posted at least once a year.
58 posted on 10/13/2002 10:27:21 AM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: Brytani
My son's favorite: STUPIDITY SHOULD BE PAINFUL
59 posted on 10/13/2002 10:42:32 AM PDT by AuntB
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To: redrock
"My seven year old daughter..."

Oh, redrock, how can that sweet child be that old ALREADY!

I've really enjoyed this thread, redrock, thanks for posting it. It's a delight in this narrow minded, bigoted world we live in. It's nice to be reminded that there are still real thinkers out there. As Mark Twain commented on the human race: They don't think, they think they think.

60 posted on 10/13/2002 10:59:01 AM PDT by AuntB
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To: AuntB
Stupidity is painful, unfortunately to those of us who think!! :-)))
61 posted on 10/13/2002 11:02:39 AM PDT by Brytani
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To: redrock
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.

In 1970, I stumbled across the one and only Heinlein book in my woefully-understocked Junior High School library: "Have Space Suit, Will Travel."

I was eleven at the time, but a bright seven-year-old could doubtless get a lot of fun out of it. (One of the two main characters is a 10-year-old girl, the other a 17-18 year old boy.)

Kip and Peewee are brought together through an unlikely set of circumstances, beginning an odyssey that takes them from the moon to Pluto to a planet in the Vega star system.

Like the 1950's TV show from which the title is adapted, good and bad characters are clearly defined (there's a monster for conflict and an empath for comfort.)

And there's not a hint of sex anywhere in the book.

That does not make it a "kiddie-book," however. You don't remember a kid's book as an adult and think: "So THAT's what he meant by rotation in a fourth spatial dimension!"

Part of "Space Suit's" charm is its ability to function on whatever level the reader can accept. It's great fun at any age, and surely a great Heinlein starter piece.

62 posted on 10/13/2002 11:39:06 AM PDT by ihatemyalarmclock
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To: redrock

Podkayne of Mars

ISBN: 0671876716

...has a young female main character...

63 posted on 10/13/2002 11:39:28 AM PDT by NativeNewYorker
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To: redrock
I was rereading Van Vogt's "Weapon Shops of Isher" the other day when it occurred that modern books are edited and published almost exclusively by liberals. Conservative values are nonexistent in modern literature

Conservative books when they're published, make the NY Times top ten list. Wouldn't conservative type fiction also top the list? I'm ready to buy. I'll buy the book, I'll watch the movie. Any publishers out there with the courage to hire a conservative editor to find fiction for over half the population (many liberals are hardly literate)

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. d 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.

64 posted on 10/13/2002 12:11:29 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: Rose in RoseBear; JenB; Sam Cree
Pinging some folks who might enjoy the read....
65 posted on 10/13/2002 12:16:22 PM PDT by Bear_in_RoseBear
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
Thanks, Bear
66 posted on 10/13/2002 12:20:19 PM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: redrock; nunya bidness; Lurker; OWK
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
67 posted on 10/13/2002 1:05:35 PM PDT by MadameAxe
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Comment #68 Removed by Moderator

To: Finny
"(The older I get, the more I think atheism is naive ...). Heinlein does not recognize God's image in himself."

When asked why he didn't have himself frozen for possible future ressurection in body, Heinlein replied "..it might interfere with re-birth." You obviously need to learn a LOT more about the man.

69 posted on 10/13/2002 2:23:10 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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To: stylin_geek
"Robert A. Heinlein was one of several excellent SF writers who came along at the same time. Philip K. Dick, James Blish, Gordon R. Dickson, Alfred Bester, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head."

Heinlein was head and shoulder above any of the ones you mention. One can re-read his fiction over and over, and find new facets of meaning every time. Asimov's stuff, by comparison, is fluff.

70 posted on 10/13/2002 2:28:28 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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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.

I too found Stranger in a Strange Land to be mediocre. My personal favorite, though, was Time Enough For Love. Great book.

71 posted on 10/13/2002 2:41:35 PM PDT by tortoise
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To: redrock
I recommend "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel"

L

72 posted on 10/13/2002 2:53:17 PM PDT by Lurker
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To: Lurker
Bump for afternoon folks

Regards

alfa6 ;>}
73 posted on 10/13/2002 3:10:05 PM PDT by alfa6
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To: Wonder Warthog
Yeah, Isaac Asmiov's "Foundation" series, and his "Three laws of Robotics" were fluff all right. Along with James Blish and his "Cites in Flight."

I will not disagree that Robert Heinlein led the pack, however, at least I admit there are others who were part of an outstanding generation of SF writers. The likes of which we will probably never see again. Sounds to me like you are rather narrow minded in your experience and viewpoint, which makes it easy for me to dismiss you, just as you dismiss the other writers I mention.

74 posted on 10/13/2002 3:11:42 PM PDT by stylin_geek
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To: stylin_geek
"Yeah, Isaac Asmiov's "Foundation" series, and his "Three laws of Robotics" were fluff all right. Along with James Blish and his "Cites in Flight.""

Yup, read'em all. Have'em in my collection of at about 1000 SF and fantasy titles. Compared to Heinlein, Asimov is fluff. Blish is better than Asimov, but still not up to Heinlein. The best thing Asimov wrote was the short story "Nightfall". It comes "close" to matching Heinlein at his best, but for book-length writing, Asimov's writing is almost one-dimensional compared to Heinlein.

Been reading SF for about forty years, and been subscribing to Analog for at least thirty.

"Sounds to me like you are rather narrow minded in your experience and viewpoint, which makes it easy for me to dismiss you, just as you dismiss the other writers I mention."

See paragraph above.

75 posted on 10/13/2002 3:31:29 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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To: Wonder Warthog
I owned all of them at one time or another, at least, the SF, as I did not really go that much for Science Fantasy. I gave up on SF, because I considered the genre has degenerated to the point of being virtually unreadable. Also, about 20 years ago I discovered history, and prefer non-fiction to fiction these days.

A couple of newer SF writers I like are Keith Laumer and Joe Haldeman. Haldeman did write the antithesis to "Starship Troopers" when he wrote "The Forever War." As for Laumer, his "Bolo" series is great, along with his amusing tongue-in-cheek "James Retief."

Robert Heinlein is not the end all and be all of SF writing. He may have been at the forefront, but he had some magnificient company when it comes to writing SF.

76 posted on 10/13/2002 3:50:54 PM PDT by stylin_geek
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To: Wonder Warthog
re: your post #75

I agree with you about Asimov, although I think 'The Billiard Ball' and 'The Last Question' were his best short stories. I remember reading The Foundation Trilogy at the shore one summer as a teen - - it was another book I had ordered from the Science Fiction Book Club at the time, what, 1969 or so? I enjoyed it, but Heinlein it wasn't.

77 posted on 10/13/2002 3:54:16 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: redrock
I have a reading list for teens that begins with "Stranger In A Strange land" By Robert Heinlein and "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams.

Both of these works present alternate thinking on the questions that torment Humanity.

Like the author of this essay, I to am very indebted to Heinlein for life's guidelines. There are many on Free Republic who really need a big dose of his ideas.

I guess my favorite is Job. I learned there to deal without certainty and that I need a trade. That is, something I like to do and can do well, in addition to my chosen vocation. RH recommended dishwasher as an honest trade and one always in demand.

For those of you hideabound FReepers reading this thread..... sample something the man wrote. Then try not to read more from his long list of books.

He was a fantastic American author. I hope this thread goes to 10,000

78 posted on 10/13/2002 4:25:00 PM PDT by bert
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To: JURB
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.

Should be:
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.

79 posted on 10/13/2002 4:47:31 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: JURB
Never liked SIASL, had to read it in school....one of the few of his I've read is one of my favorite novels: Job: A Comedy of Justice. I can't get into heavy-duty sci-fi, so the Lazarus Long series has scared me off, but I don't know what else to read of his. Any suggestions? Can The Moon is a Harsh Mistress stand alone or is it part of a series?
80 posted on 10/13/2002 4:49:02 PM PDT by stands2reason
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To: bert
bttt
81 posted on 10/13/2002 5:06:26 PM PDT by NativeNewYorker
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To: NativeNewYorker
Podkayne of Mars

Charles was one of my all time favorite characters.

a.cricket

82 posted on 10/13/2002 5:08:18 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: stylin_geek
"I gave up on SF, because I considered the genre has degenerated to the point of being virtually unreadable. Also, about 20 years ago I discovered history, and prefer non-fiction to fiction these days."

Most of the reading I do is also non-fiction, but mostly science-related. One of these days (after I retire), I plan to get into history more deeply.

There WAS a pretty bad slack period for a number of years, but some of the newer authors beginning to publish now show real promise.

"As for Laumer, his "Bolo" series is great, along with his amusing tongue-in-cheek "James Retief.""

If you like the Bolo stuff, you need to read John Ringo and David Weber's stuff (both as separate authors and as collaborators). Ringo has done the best treatment of powered armor since Heinlein's "Starship Troopers".

83 posted on 10/13/2002 6:05:17 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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To: redrock
bump
84 posted on 10/13/2002 6:09:22 PM PDT by VOA
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To: redrock
Novels

Sixth Column *** Book publication 1949
Methuselah's Children *** Rewritten and expanded for book publication 1958
Beyond This Horizon *** Book publication 1948
The Puppet Masters *** 1951 Uncut version published 1990
Double Star *** 1956 Hugo award 1956
The Door into Summer *** 1957
Starship Troopers *** 1959 Hugo award 1959
Stranger in a Strange Land *** 1961 Hugo award 1961 Uncut version published 1990
Glory Road *** 1963 Hugo nominee
Farnham's Freehold *** 1964 1964
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress *** 1966 Hugo award 1966
I Will Fear No Evil *** 1970
Time Enough for Love *** 1973
The Number of the Beast *** 1979 1979
Friday *** 1982
Job: A Comedy of Justice *** 1984
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls *** 1985
To Sail Beyond the Sunset *** 1987

Juvenile Novels

Rocket Ship Galileo *** 1947
Space Cadet *** 1948
Red Planet *** 1949
Farmer in the Sky *** 1950
Between Planets *** 1951
The Rolling Stones *** 1952 1952
Starman Jones *** 1953
The Star Beast *** 1954
Tunnel in the Sky *** 1955
Time for the Stars *** 1956
Citizen of the Galaxy *** 1957
Have Space Suit - Will Travel *** 1958
Hugo nominee
Podkayne of Mars *** 1963 Uncut version published 1990

Selected Nonfiction

"The Discovery of the Future" (Third World Science Fiction Convention Guest of Honor Speech)*** 1941 In Requiem
How to Be a Politician *** 1946 Published as Take Back Your Government!, 1992
"On the Writing of Speculative Fiction" *** 1947
"Where To?" *** 1950, updated versions 1966, 1973 aka "Pandora's Box"
"Ray Guns and Rocket Ships" *** 1952 In EU
Tramp Royale *** 1954 Published 1993
"The Third Millenium Opens" *** Amazing Stories, Apr 1956 In EU
"Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues" *** 1957
"The Future Revisited" (Sixteenth World Science Fiction Convention Guest of Honor Speech) *** 1961 In Requiem
"Channel Markers" (James V. Forrestal Graduation Lecture, Annapolis) *** 1973 Long but incomplete transcript published in Analog, Jan 1974 Shorter transcript published in EU as "The Pragmatics of Patriotism" "Larger than Life" 1979 In EU
"Spinoff" *** Omni, Mar 1980 In EU
"The Happy Days Ahead" *** 1980 In EU
Interstitial commentary in Expanded Universe *** 1980
Grumbles from the Grave *** 1989 Virginia Heinlein, editor

Lots of stuff here I'd like to track down.

http://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/rahpubs.html

85 posted on 10/13/2002 6:12:12 PM PDT by listenhillary
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To: listenhillary
He wrote so much good stuff. The greatest SF writer of all time - and one of the greatest writers, period.
86 posted on 10/13/2002 6:19:54 PM PDT by JenB
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To: Wonder Warthog
As a caveat, I did read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle as they did do some pretty good collaborative work in the 70's and 80's.

John Ringo and David Weber are duly noted.

87 posted on 10/13/2002 6:23:03 PM PDT by stylin_geek
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To: stands2reason
Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a stand alone novel for the most part. IIRC there a few refrences here and there to other characters in other Heinlein books but I would guess that they number less than 5.

Not knowing what you have read I would suggest Starship Troopers, Glory Road and Farnham's Freehold for starters. There are two anthologies that are out that are pretty interseting, look for Expanded Horizions and Requiem. They both contain a pretty good selection of RAH's short stories in SF as well as what I would call his politcal writings. There is even a Boy's Life serial and short story as well.

Regards

alfa6 ;>}
88 posted on 10/13/2002 7:19:25 PM PDT by alfa6
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To: redrock
bump
89 posted on 10/13/2002 8:18:29 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: listenhillary
bump
90 posted on 10/13/2002 8:42:23 PM PDT by GOPJ
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To: stylin_geek
"....Alfred Bester.."

Only wrote 2 books that I know of..but what great ones.

redrock

91 posted on 10/13/2002 9:36:12 PM PDT by redrock
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To: MadameAxe
"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him."

...something that we really need to TEACH to the idiots in government....and to some of the idiots who inhabit FR.

redrock

92 posted on 10/13/2002 9:44:43 PM PDT by redrock
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To: redrock
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
93 posted on 10/13/2002 9:55:50 PM PDT by FreeLibertarian
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To: AuntB
Thanks AuntB.....Heinlein is my favourite.

..and Lizzie turns 8 in January...and Katie just turned 5....and I'm beginning to feel really old all of a sudden...LOL!!!!

me

94 posted on 10/13/2002 10:01:59 PM PDT by redrock
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To: alligator
An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
Robert A. Heinlein

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/q100989.html
95 posted on 10/13/2002 10:10:18 PM PDT by Chemnitz
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To: stylin_geek
"Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle"

Lucifer's Hammer was an incredible ride.

redrock

96 posted on 10/13/2002 10:19:50 PM PDT by redrock
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To: ihatemyalarmclock
Have Spacesuit Will Travel sounds like a perfect fit.

She gets a copy tommorrow.

Thanks!!!

redrock

97 posted on 10/13/2002 10:24:40 PM PDT by redrock
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Thanks for that!!!!!

redrock

98 posted on 10/13/2002 10:55:54 PM PDT by redrock
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
Bear, I haven't been much of a Heinlein reader. I tried one 10 years or so ago, it was written in the first person, but as a female. Made me think Heinlein wanted to be a female and I was generally uncomfortable with it.

However, alot of folks seem to be strong admirers, maybe I'll try one on a trip out of town next week. Any that you personally find noteworthy (though there's certainly plenty advice given in this thread)?

Some of the "Lazarus Long" quotes are great.
99 posted on 10/14/2002 8:08:17 AM PDT by Sam Cree
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To: Sam Cree; listenhillary
Any that you personally find noteworthy

The two that I enjoyed most were Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I would recommend either of those, although Starship Troopers is a rather short novel... for a trip, you might want to take along The Moon is a Harsh Mistress instead.

listenhillary in post #85 listed a good bibliography of Heinlein's novels... I think you'd enjoy pretty much any of his novels up through Moon.... Also, I find that his so-called "juvenile" novels are good reads too, although short... that may be a result of the reading ability juveniles were expected to have in the 40s and 50s!

100 posted on 10/14/2002 12:01:52 PM PDT by Bear_in_RoseBear
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