Skip to main content
No. of Recommendations: 0
So as to stop the hijack of the previous thread, let's move the heinlein discussions over here.

The Past Through Tomorrow is what got me hooked on Heinlein. I've read almost everything he ever wrote. But it's been a long time since I read most of it.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The Past Through Tomorrow is what got me hooked on Heinlein. I've read almost everything he ever wrote. But it's been a long time since I read most of it.

The first book I remember reading of his was....crap. I can't remember the name. It was about some young kid growing up on a pseudo-islamist world, mentored by a spy pretending to be a beggar, then enrolling and turning out to be a long-lost bazillionaire heir. Anyone?

No, I take it back, the first thing of his I read was the original serialized version of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which my Dad bought way-back-when, still at my Grandma's house 3 decades later when we visited her over summer vacation. I remember being puzzled by the language oddities and asking my Dad if they were on purpose. I don't know how old I was.

Dad brought me up right, surrounded by SF/F. Dad handed me the first Xanth book when I was six and I was hooked. I had read everything Heinlein had written except the post NotB stuff by the time I was 12(and three or four novellas - the 'supermen' one, the jonathan hoag stuff). Mom and Dad wouldn't let me read Time Enough for Love, and so forth, because of the sex. Little did they know, what I was checking out of the library was far more explicit. I was highly disappointed when I finally got to read it.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The first book I remember reading of his was....crap. I can't remember the name. It was about some young kid growing up on a pseudo-islamist world, mentored by a spy pretending to be a beggar, then enrolling and turning out to be a long-lost bazillionaire heir. Anyone?

Citizen of the Galaxy. One of the "juveniles".

...So-called, because Heinlein had a contract whereby he produced a novel a year for - maybe Boy's Life? - thruout the 50s. So they were aimed to a younger audience. There's about 10 or 12 of them. I think they include:

Citizen of the Galaxy
The Star Beast
Farmer in the Sky
Red Planet
Tunnel in the Sky
Starman Jones
Space Cadet
Time for the Stars ? (about the telepathic twins? might not have the right name)
Have Spacesuit - Will Travel (one of his very finest, juvenile or otherwise)
Podkayne of Mars (maybe this was a juvey)
Between Planets ? (pretty mature stuff for a juvey)
The Rolling Stones ? maybe

One of the neat things about the juveys was their emphasis on personal responsibility. The young protagonists always in the end faced a tight spot which only they could resolve, and which required them shouldering enormous responsibility. In Citizen, Thorby is the heir to a huge fortune - and it turns out that some of that fortune is made in the slave trade, or supplying slavers, something like that. And the beginning of the novel had hinged on his redemption from slavery by his beggar mentor. Who turned out to be a secret agent working against slavery by monitoring shipments on that backwater world. So Thorby has great passion on the subject of slavery, and the difficult task of sorting thru business relationships and holding corporations et al to untangle the web of his inherited company's relationship with slavery.

...I'm not making the case that Citizen is a great novel, it's not. But it does share that "responsibility" theme, with the young protag put squarely on the hot seat at the end of the novel.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Boy if you didn't like "Citizen of the Galaxy," then you'd probably hate "The Day After Tomorrow" which has the PanAsians conquering the U.S.

I wonder if you'd like Glory Road?

Thuvia
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Boy if you didn't like "Citizen of the Galaxy," then you'd probably hate "The Day After Tomorrow" which has the PanAsians conquering the U.S.

I wonder if you'd like Glory Road?


"Tunnel In The Sky" And "Glory Road" were two of my favorites. One of the things I like about "Number of the Beast" was when they meet up with "Oscar".
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I find his juveniles so much better than his later stuff. I don't mean to sound like a prig, but his various obsessions with sex really affected his writing.

I agree with you about Have Spacesuit being one of his finest.

Thuvia
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Boy if you didn't like "Citizen of the Galaxy," then you'd probably hate "The Day After Tomorrow" which has the PanAsians conquering the U.S.

I wonder if you'd like Glory Road?


Sorry! That was an exclamation, not a descriptive adjective. I like everything. Seriously. I would say, based on my many-years-later recollection, that Citizen of the Galaxy was probably not his best work. I'd also say that of 'The Day After Tomorrow' and 'Glory Road'. But I enjoyed reading them.

Tnagent - I saw Steve Barnes speak at a panel on SF writing last weekend. He talked a lot about his experiences as a black SF writer. He recently published a an alternate history called 'Lion's Blood' in which the position of the races are reversed (here's the website: http://www.lionsblood.com/). Someone in the audience brought up Farnham's Freehold - Barnes said merely 'Don't get me started.'

-mapletree
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
<<And "Glory Road" were two of my favorites. One of the things I like about "Number of the Beast" was when they meet up with "Oscar".>>

IIRC, I remember being skeptical about the interplay between Jubal and her Wisdom.

In "Job" (or was it "The Cat...") you caught a glimpse of Manuel Garcia O'Kelly (from "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"). I was disappointed when that's all there was. Did Heinlein ever bring back Mike the computer?

Thuvia
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Someone in the audience brought up Farnham's Freehold - Barnes said merely 'Don't get me started.'

What I find very, very weird is the notion, widely accepted among sf fans, than Farnham's Freehold is a racist work. Steve Barnes has likely thought about this more than I have; but in the absence of any comments from him:

Isn't Heinlein using the classic "Jonathan Swift" like tools to satirize (in a particularly savage way) that trappings of racism? It works in two ways. One, when the victims of the treatment are white, you get a little bit of shock factor to 1960s-era audiences. Two, the dominant black society is doing exactly the same things to their subservient white population that whites had been doing for a couple hundred years to their enslaved black population. Separating families, dividing the enslaved group into "house" slaves and "labor" slaves, selective breeding, castration, etc etc etc. I don't see how the novel is racist: a virulent anti-racism polemic seems more the mark.


Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Did Heinlein ever bring back Mike the computer?

Only offstage. I think it was in "Sunset", we are told that they "shoved Mike into bed with Teena" by hooking his memory drives up to Athena's. That got him going.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
What I find very, very weird is the notion, widely accepted among sf fans, than Farnham's Freehold is a racist work....I don't see how the novel is racist: a virulent anti-racism polemic seems more the mark.

I have thought about this a bit in the days since.

I imagine that Heinlein intended it as an anti-racist polemic. However, I can also see that some people might think the novel is a display of his own unacknowledged prejudice. The white, slave characters are idealized; the dominant black society is not given very much respect. All we know about them, really, is that they keep slaves. The cultural trappings that we look to in our own country's history that counterbalance the crime of slavery (music, art, great philosophical thinking, the idealism of the American Revolution) are non-existant. When you break the book down, it's black people against white people, bad against good. Heinlein includes a black time-traveller who is protrayed sympathetically but ultimately decides to join the slave-holding society, tactily approving of slavery.

It can be considered racist in the same way a SF novel set in a society where women control everything and suppress men could end up scarily sexist, even if it was intended as a condemnation of sexism.

-mapletree
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
It can be considered racist in the same way a SF novel set in a society where women control everything and suppress men could end up scarily sexist, even if it was intended as a condemnation of sexism.

Edger Rice Burroughs did that routine in one of the myriad of Tarzan books, whereby Tarzan teaches the suppressed guys to stand up for themselves and after one slaps the woman trying to subdue him, she looks adoringly up at him from his feet. She wanted that sort of treatment apparently as "normal." Ick!

Jean Auel's fourth book "Plains of Passage" also has a similar society, but after Ayla and Jondalar set things straight, the people return to a semi-equal society that seems typical of Auel's idea of the Cro-Magnon world. (The Clan were definately sexist!)

In an opposite vein, anyone ever read that John Norman "Gor" series? What a waste of paper that was. Women were either in power and not interested in sex, or love slaves who knew that was what they really wanted (and the women in power wanted to be love slaves too, but would never admit such a thing.) Sounds like John Norman's wet dreams made it into print. There must have been some 14 books in the series. I probably shouldn't be surprised that it was popular enough to warrent sequels, but I still am.

Moonglade
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Moonglade, have you read Burroughs's Barsoom series? It started me on my merry rounds in S.F.

Thuvia
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Oh yes, hubbby owned the first and second books combined into one hardback, and I bought the rest in paperback while in college. Since they are slender, they were cheap! At least this series isn't overboard on the sexism, since John Carter's daughter kicks a$$ just like her daddy. Gotta love it!

Moonglade
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
The white, slave characters are idealized...

Farnham's wife is white. Would you say she's idealized? How about the son? I think Farnham comes to the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger conclusion they're not worth saving. (I think: it's been several years since I've read it)

... the dominant black society is not given very much respect. All we know about them, really, is that they keep slaves. The cultural trappings that we look to in our own country's history that counterbalance the crime of slavery (music, art, great philosophical thinking, the idealism of the American Revolution) are non-existant.

Not quite. We know they have made tremendous scientific and technological advances: and we know from Heinlein's other work what respect he reserves for that. Just exactly how much of their music, art and great philosophical thinking would a slave get exposed to? Isn't Farnham pretty much the viewpoint character?

Anyway, one might argue that knowing they keep slaves is all one needs to know. Heinlein had strong words to say on slavery in some of his other novels, notably Citizen of the Galaxy and Time Enough For Love: that the right of the slave to revolt to protect the sanctity of his family and his freedom, is unassailable.

Heinlein includes a black time-traveller who is portrayed sympathetically but ultimately decides to join the slave-holding society, tactily approving of slavery.

Sure, the servant guy, or whatever his original role was. Joe? That could be an indictment of Joe - all those blacks are alike! No loyalty! - or it could be a rueful acknowledgement that Joe has a better deal here, in this far-future society. And of course, he does have a better deal. Why would he go back?

When you break the book down, it's black people against white people, bad against good.

It is, but it doesn't break down as cleanly as that. The white people weren't all good: Farnham's wife also joined the society. There was weakness and corruption on both sides. And sad but true: with the way our own society treats him, even stalwart Joe (the not-bad black character) is better off in that future society.
[More recently, Spike Lee's character throws a trash can thru the window in the climactic scene of Do the Right Thing, an act that is structurally in that plot to Joe's act in this plot. Where is it laid down that the "good" black man's loyalties must lie with the "good" white man?]

No, I think none of the structural arguments about the book hold any water. Not that I'm saying it's a great work: it's not. But it is not "racist" in any simple way. (Beyond a certain 1950s-era language.) There's no coherent racist message in there, aside from the assertion that a black-dominated slave-owning society is capable of every bit as much evil as was perpetrated by the historical white-dominated slave-owning society.

However, the book is a very unpleasant read. Very confrontational, very "dirty" in some sense. The systematic evil of the (fictional) black-dominated slave-owning society is hard to take, and the blatant breakdown along racial lines is brutal. Historically accurate, when you look at our own slave-owning history: but brutal. It outrages.

But one assumes this is exactly the effect Heinlein was going for. He had a fifty-year writing career in which with nearly every word he asserts that it's a man's brain and actions that make him who he is, not any accident of birth (passing over the extremely lamentable Fifth Column). That has to count for something in the interpretation of this work.

I don't know. For myself, it always seemed to me that people project onto this work. Certainly, it's a difficult subject. It's very, very difficult to portray racist thought and action without giving people the impression that the portrayer is racist. I think that's the mistake consistently made by people about this work; they experience the outrage inspired by the events/portrayals, and direct those emotions somewhere.

But what does this hypothetical reader say in their mind, when they go to direct those emotions? Do they say, "Black men and women are not like this, need not be like this! No black-dominated society would ever do such things!" Ok: but the rejoinder is, "Why not? White-dominated societies have done exactly those things, documented in historical detail." And suddenly the novel is not an assertion of racial superiority, but a distasteful assertion of racial equality - both races are just as bad. The only acceptable solution is to abandon both societies, and establish a "freehold".

I wish Steven Barnes had amplified his thoughts on this book, as a black man and a professional sf writer working sort of within the "legacy" of the field that Heinlein helped define. If he had, it may show me some holes in my thinking (as a white man and amateur reader and fan, and sometime Heinlein apologist ;-). But right now (and for years) it seems to me that calling Farnham's Freehold a "racist" work is a combination of projection and denial - an inability to recognize classical literary devices (satire, in its technical sense) when encountered in this strange setting, an sf novel, and when the subject matter is so difficult and arouses such strong feelings.

Just my 3 cents!

Regards,

Jim
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
In an opposite vein, anyone ever read that John Norman "Gor" series?

I read the first page of one of the books, but couldn't get past the first few pages. On the other hand, MST3K's rip on "Outlaw of Gor" was the funniest thing I've ever seen, better even than "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians."

Uhura :o)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
On the other hand, MST3K's rip on "Outlaw of Gor" was the funniest thing I've ever seen, better even than "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians."

Are you saying someone put that schlok on celuloid!!??!! I am in disbelief. I also have to find it!!!

Moonglade
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Moonglade, have you read Burroughs's Barsoom series? It started me on my merry rounds in S.F.

Thuvia


No, really? ;-)

-mapletree
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I wish Steven Barnes had amplified his thoughts on this book, as a black man and a professional sf writer working sort of within the "legacy" of the field that Heinlein helped define. If he had, it may show me some holes in my thinking (as a white man and amateur reader and fan, and sometime Heinlein apologist ;-). But right now (and for years) it seems to me that calling Farnham's Freehold a "racist" work is a combination of projection and denial - an inability to recognize classical literary devices (satire, in its technical sense) when encountered in this strange setting, an sf novel, and when the subject matter is so difficult and arouses such strong feelings.

Thanks for the excellent analysis, Jim. I also wish he had amplified his thoughts!

-mapletree
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I made my nephew read the first three books in the series before buying him a game cube. The more people who know about the Twin Towers of Helium the better.

Thuvia
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Check this out:

http://us.imdb.com/Title?0098048

Directed by John "Bud" Carlos and starring Jack Palance (who obviously needed some cash) as Xenos. This is the straight movie, sans MST3K commentary, so if you get it, keep these lines in mind and fill them in as appropriate:

* Some guys just can't wear a bustier

* Jack Palance: Now I'm going to rip my agent a new one

* Hey, look at that! It looks just like a giant...
You can't say that!
Let's just say I'm envious. Anybody got any giant batteries?

* This is what happens when you cross breed women with whippets.

* These guys [litter bearers] should be happy. Nell Carter is queen in the next kingdom.

Uhura :o)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I just read my first 2 Heinlein books, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and The Door Into Summer.

6
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I just read my first 2 Heinlein books, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and The Door Into Summer.

The more this discussion progresses, the more I realize I have not read much Heinlein since high school. For example, I know I read both of the above books, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were about. I'd probably remember if I had a brief description of the premise, but I'm not asking for that.

I have 'recently' reread (in the last 5 years) The Puppet Masters and Starship Troopers before going to see the movie versions. Both movie versions were rather dopey, at least SST had some cool visual effects. Other than these two books, I probably have not read any Heinlein in about 20 years. With so many books to read, it is tough to go back and reread old favorites. Maybe I should take the time to do this... Maybe in a bout 20 years.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I just read my first 2 Heinlein books, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and The Door Into Summer.

You started right, two of the best. "Moon" is probably his best book. And I really like "Door". If you read more of his stuff, you may not encounter anything better.

What did you think of them?

(Musta liked at least one of em, since you read a second.)

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
What did you think of them?

(Musta liked at least one of em, since you read a second.)


I've been recovering from knee surgery so I ordered a nice big box from Amazon :). I liked The Door Into Summer in terms of the idea, and the beginning, and Pete the cat being cool. But I kept thinking that if he already went back in time then when he went back in time he would run into himself back in time. See? It didn't seem to fit together, and the end was pat. But not a bad 2 hour read.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was pretty good. Some of the military stuff glossed me over, and I kept hoping that Mike the computer would pull something funny at the end (maybe he did), but overall I found it engrossing - I always give major points for originality and so reading Heinlein's works is overdue for me. I liked the way he got really into the social structure, even the little things about how people act and how quickly, like just 2 or 3 generations, customs and language can change. That made it very real for me. And the computer really is a wonderful character. I was bummed when I saw in this thread that Mike doesn't get his own sequel!

6
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
I always give major points for originality and so reading Heinlein's works is overdue for me.

Maybe this isn't what you meant, but I've talked to a few people who read Heinlein and said it was derivative. "Oh, the whole 'body snatchers' thing, or 'warmed-over Lost in Space'. Makes me want to scream. It's not derivative - he's what everybody was copying from!!

-mapletree

ps - The Rolling Stones and The Puppet Masters
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Maybe this isn't what you meant, but I've talked to a few people who read Heinlein and said it was derivative. "Oh, the whole 'body snatchers' thing, or 'warmed-over Lost in Space'. Makes me want to scream. It's not derivative - he's what everybody was copying from!!

Yep, that's exactly what I meant. As I'm starting to watch Kurosawa films too I'm getting whole new view of media!

6
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
The Star Beast is a fun read.

No one's mentioned "Stranger in a Strange Land" yet. I recently read the original version that Heinlein wrote. I think the cuts he was forced to make tightened the book. I really like the character of Jubal. The book is at its best when it's Jubal's point of view.

Thuvia
Who was going to use "grok" somewhere, but decided it would be too precious.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Hey all, was pointed here by some friends on another board. My best friend Kelley got me into Heinlein many, many years ago. While I have not read all of his stuff I have to say that my favorite is Time Enough for Love followed by Starship Troopers and Glory Road.

Mark
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Dad handed me the first Xanth book when I was six and I was hooked.

I knew there was a reason I loved you. :)

Mark
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
One of the things I like about "Number of the Beast" was when they meet up with "Oscar".

While I liked Number of the Beast, I found it one of his harder books to read. I did love it when they went to Oz though.

Mark
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I knew there was a reason I loved you. :)

The feeling is mutual!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
No one has mentioned Starship Troopers, which to my mind is his best early work. It is certainly his most didactic work, and sets forth very clearly what would appear to be his personal philosophy.

One of the first Sci Fi books I read was The Green Hills of Earth, which is a compilation of a number of the "future history" stories. I then actively sought his work and quickly found Starship Troopers. Have to confess that it made a lot of sense to me, and I wound up adopting aspects of the philosophy set forth there for my own.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I thought the Starship Troopers movie was a travesty. Why was I not surprised? It really annoyed me that they called certain aspects of it fascist. That word is just flung around too readily. I always thought it interesting that you could only be a citizen and vote only after completing military service.

I loved the stories We Also Walk Dogs and The Long Watch in The Green Hills of Earth. I've never been able to get through Logic of Empire though.


Thuvia

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I thought the Starship Troopers movie was a travesty

I absolutely agree. However, The Puppet Masters movie was pretty faithful to the original story.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
However, The Puppet Masters movie was pretty faithful to the original story.

A shame it was so bad :-(

-mapletree
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I thought the Starship Troopers movie was a travesty

I absolutely agree. However, The Puppet Masters movie was pretty faithful to the original story.


Are you high? The Puppet Masters was a piece of garbage that had almost nothing to do with the book.
Print the post Back To Top