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I tend to divide Robert Heinlein's works into two periods:  the stuff I like, and everything after Stranger in a Strange Land.  I generally prefer the early Heinlein; his short stories and juveniles and some of his earlier novels like Double Star.  I didn't care for Stranger -- although many fannish friends of my generation regard it as The Book that Changed Their Lives -- and neither do I like most of the books he wrote after it.  Most, but not all.  Glory Road is a later Heinlein work that I enjoyed; it's his sole descent into the Sword & Sorcery Epic Fantasy genre, and it's fairly good.  

Another is the book we're going to start gnawing on this week:  a story of a Revolution on the Moon that parallels in many ways the American Revolution and provides a background for Heinlein to discuss politics, families and government.  He originally wanted to title it "The Brass Cannon", for reasons that will come up later, but it was published as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

The story is set on Luna in the late 21st Century.  For about a century, the Federated Nations of Earth have been using the Moon as one big penal colony, sending their hard case criminals, their troublemakers and malcontents off-planet.  It's a permanent exile, because after a month or so of living in lunar gravity, a person's physiology changes, making it difficult, if not impossible for them to return to Earth.  And so a large part of Luna's population consists of ex-convicts who have technically served their sentence and their descendents, living in large, underground domed cities.

Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis is a computer repairman in Luna City; or rather, THE computer repairman.  He's a typical Loonie:  independent, apolitical, and willing to bet on anything if the odds are at least one-in-ten.  He narrates the story, and speaks in a peculiar truncated dialect, liberally sprinkled with loanwords from Russian and Australian slang, which takes a bit of getting used to.  

Mannie works for the Lunar Authority as a private contractor -- he is NOT on the Warden's payroll, thank you -- fixing the massive mega-mainframe that runs every aspect of life in all the cities of Luna, from communications to power, water and air, to making the transportation tubes run, to calculating trajectories for the huge magnetic "slingshot" used to send shipments of the grain grown in underground Lunar farms to Earth.  The Authority calls in Mannie when little glitches turn up, because he's one of the few -- maybe the only -- trained computerman on Luna (the job requires training available only on Earth; Mannie had to take two dangerous trips there to get his education), and because he's familiar with the central computer's little quirks.  The biggest of which is that the computer has a sense of humor.

The computer is an Artificial Intelligence.  Mannie suspects that the computer gained sentience because people kept adding to it until it's capacity for neural connections surpassed that of a human brain; but we never find out for sure.  Mannie calls the computer Mycroft, or Mike for short, after the character in a story "written by Dr. Watson before he started IBM."  Mike is like a hyper-intelligent child.  He knows practically everything -- if he doesn't have it in his memory banks, he can look it up in a fraction of a second -- but practically nothing about human interaction.  He's extremely lonely.  Manny is the only human who talks to him; and the only one who knows he is alive.

Lately Mike has been experimenting with humor.  He has been collecting and analyzing jokes and trying to invent his own.  His latest attempt at humor has been to print off a paycheck to some janitor for ten million million dollars over the correct amount, and so the Authority calls Mannie to fix the problem.  This consists of going down to the computer core and chatting with Mike for an hour or so about the nature of humor, while removing and replacing a couple access plates to make it look like he actually did something.  Mike promises not to pull any more "jokes" without checking with Mannie first.  In exchange, Mannie promises to look over a printout of a hundred jokes out of the thousands he has recorded in his memory to help him evaluate which ones are funny; also to find another "not-stupid" to talk to, (Mike thinks most people are stupid because they only talk to him in computer programming language); and to check in on a meeting hall in Luna City.  Mike has audio pickups in many public places, but someone has switched off the one in Stylagi Hall.

When Mannie arrives there he realizes why.  A protest meeting is being held there, and the dissidents don't want the Warden listening in.  Mannie doesn't have much use for politics, but he promised he'd record the meeting for Mike.  It's a raucous gathering, full of speeches which pretty much come down to everyone is unhappy because Luna City is a Company Town; the Lunar Authority sets the fees and prices for everything and ensure that no one can get ahead.  The obvious solution is to get rid of Authority!  Mannie is skeptical:  Everybody does business with Authority for same reason everybody does business with  Law of Gravitiation.  Going to change that too?

Another speaker addresses the crowd, a statuesque knockout (unlike most of Heinlein's heroines, this one is a blonde) named Wyoming Knott.  She comes from Hong Kong Luna, a domed city administered by the Authority, but not directly connected to Luna City.  She urges the crowd to throw off their dependency upon Authority and develop a Lunar Free Market so that they can negotiate a fair price with Authority for their produce.

She is interrupted by another speaker; someone Mannie actually knows:  Professor Bernando de la Paz, a political dissident who had been transported to Luna many years ago and is respected in the community.  He had been Mannie's teacher when he was younger.  As far as Professor la Paz is concerned, the main problem is not that Authority is cheating the people of Luna, but that Luna is growing food and sending it to Earth and getting nothing in return.  This, Prof insists, is ecologically unsustainable.  Eventually Luna must run out of water -- already a rare commodity that must be mined out of the lunar crust -- and then the system will fall apart.

Just then, the Warden's Security Forces bust in to raid the meeting and all hell breaks loose.  The Loonies fight back.  One of the rebels, an old friend of Mannie's, tells Mannie to get Wyoh to safety... just before the goons blow the man's leg off.

So Mannie hustles Wyoh out of the hall, and they find refuge in Room L of the Raffles Hotel, after disguising Wyoh so that she won't be quite so noticeable.  (They use hair dye and makeup to make her look black; which in context seems logical, but always gives me bad Al Jolson flashbacks).  They indulge in a little sexual banter, to establish that Mannie isn't in a hurry to bed her, but that she wouldn't necessarily mind if he was.  

We learn a little bit more about Wyoh.  (For one, she hates the pun "Why Not?" which everybody makes on her name).  She's a "Free Woman", which from Mannie's reaction we gather is a sort of chip-on-the-shoulder feminist.  She used to be married to a pair of brothers in Hong Kong Luna, (because of the low percentage of women in Luna's population, the standard "One-Man/One-Woman" marriage is unknown and this is an important theme in the book); but when her first child turned out to be a "monster", the they agreed to a divorce.  None of them were willing to risk the chance that her future babies would also suffer birth defects.  (Yes, Wyoh is another of Heinlein's women who want babies; but in her case I think her reasons are well explained).  The doctors determined that her ovaries had been damaged by radiation exposure she suffered when she was originally transported to Luna as a child.  The ship she was on had been forced to remain out in a solar storm longer than necessary because of bureaucractic red tape.  "I was too young to know.  But I wasn't too young later to figure out that I had birthed a monster because the Authority doesn care what happens to us outcasts."

This is what drove Wyoh to pursue politics an become a revolutionary.  And I think it's important, because it points out a weak spot in Heinlein's Libertarian utopia.  The repressive Authority didn't care about her; but a purely Libertarian one wouldn't care either.  The only thing that would have protected her would have been rules by a meddlesome Regulatory State, limiting radiation exposure levels and providing better protection for transports.  But this point is ignored later on.

Mannie cautiously feels her out, and decides that she might very well be a "Not-Stupid."  He shares Mike's printout of jokes with her and together they rate the jokes as "funny", "not funny" and "funny once".  Manny notes that the jokes upon which they disagree tend to be about the "oldest funny subject".   He then tells her about Mike.

Her immediate reaction is a sober one:  "Mannie, does Mike hurt?"  Because Mike is the boss computer of the whole Authority, he would make a perfect target for sabotage.  A couple kilos of explosives in the right place would cripple the Authority.

Mannie is aghast.  It would also kill his friend.  A moment of consideration convinces him that it would be impractical too: destroying Mike would not just cripple the Lunar Authority, it would also blackout power all over Luna, shut down the heating and the air circulation system.  Wyoh would do much better to get Mike on her side.

"Mike doesn't feel loyalty to Warden.  As you pointed out: He's a machine.  But if I wanted to foul up phones without touching air or water or lights, I would talk to Mike.  If it struck him as funny, he might do it."

Mannie calls up Mike and introduces him over the phone to Wyoh.  Mike is delighted to meet a new friend and the two hit it off quite well.  In fact, comparing notes on their ratings of Mike's joke list, Wyoh realizes that Mike's sense of humor is closer to hers than it is to Mannie's.  "Mannie... Mike is a she!".  In chatting privately with Wyoh, Mike creates an alternate personna with a feminine voice which she calls "Michelle",  Since we see the story from Mannie's point of view, we don't get to see very much of Michelle, but this does establish Mike's ability to take on other identities.

Professor la Paz has been looking for Mannie and Wyoh, and with Mike's help, he is brought to their hideout in Room L.  Prof explains what happened after they left.  A few of the revolutionaries were killed by the Security forces, but not one of the goons survived.  The Warden has clamped down on the news agencies to suppress reports of the debacle.  This leads to a discussion of revolutionary theory.  

Nearly all of Heinlein's novels have an "Old Man" character who is a dispenser of wisdom and a mouthpiece for Heinlein's ideas.  In this story, it's Professor la Paz.  Prof is a self-described Rational Anarchist.  ""What's this?  Randite?" Wyoh asks.  "I can get along with a Randite.  A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have not existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals."  He and Wyoh argue further about his principles, with Mannie remaning neurtral.  "Every time I state a general principle, you wiggle out," Wyoh complains.

(It is important to note that Prof is also a Rational Vegetarian.  When he arrives at the hotel room, hungry after a day of hiding, and smells the ham steak that room service had delivered for breakfast, he asks if he could have some of that 'pink salmon.'  He argues quite eloquently, but when it comes right down to it, his philosophy really is a slippery one).

But on the important issues, they are in agreement.  Both desire an end to the Authority, and would die to achieve that end.

Mannie is still unconvinced.  He's willing to bet on a long-shot; he says that any Loonie would be willing to bet on ten-to-one odds; but he first wants to know the odds.  Prof protests that calculating the odds of a sucessful revolution would be impossible.  Wyoh gets an idea.  "Ask Mike," she says.

After some discussion which Prof finds confusing, Mannie and Wyoh agree to introduce him to Mike.  Once pleasantries are out of the way, they ask Mike to analyze Prof's projections about Luna's future.  In the short run, Mike says, Wyoh's plan of forcing the Authority to pay better prices would benefit Luna; but in the long run, resources would run out.  He projects that there would be food riots in seven years, and after that people would resort to cannibalism.  This sobers everybody.  Even Prof did not expect the Long Run to come so soon.  Then they ask him to project odds on a revolution.

It's not an easy problem.  Prof and Mike spend a good couple hours discussing all the possible factors, and once they are both satisfied, it takes thirteen minutes for Mike to do the number-crunching -- an eternity in computer time.  Finally Mike comes up with the answer.

"Manuel my friend, I am terribly sorry! ... I have tried and tried, checked and checked.  There is but one chance in seven of winning! "

NEXT WEEK:  Chapters 7-13; Forging a Revolution; the birth of Adam Selene; driving the Warden crazy, "Know any vips dirtside?" and Things Come to a Head.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (82+ / 0-)

    Once again, it took longer than intended to finish this episode.  I really am trying to condense my synopsis, but I also want to spell out the important points of plot, character and theme.  I've probably given short shift to the last, and hope we will expand more on them in the comments

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 06:56:44 PM PDT

    •  Been years since I read this. (25+ / 0-)

      Thanks for a break from the debt ceiling insanity.

      Wyoh was one of my early favorite female characters. I may have to pick this up and reread it.

      If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

      by AndyT on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:11:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  May need to repost later (12+ / 0-)

      The news has us all bummed out and it's rather late. Might be more commentary tomorrow. Many kossacks read love/hate Heinlein--this should be a popular thread. Might just be bad timing.

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:43:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not anymore ;) (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax, Ahianne, quarkstomper, ER Doc

        If the future's looking dark, we're the ones who have to shine... Though we live in trying times we're the ones who have to try

        by Purple Priestess on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 12:36:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not a bit! Love Heinlein And Very Happy... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax, quarkstomper

        ...to see him discussed. Loved TMiaHM when I re-read it 5 years ago maybe. Heinlein's style of unrolling a story in front of you is as good as Steinbeck in speaking plain English, beautifully.

        Two other authors I'd suggest hitting would be (my personal favorite) Jack Vance and Philip K. Dick. Ample grounds in both and all as different as possible.

        "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

        by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:16:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I had forgotten this book and all I remembered (16+ / 0-)

      of his works from high school and early college days were books like the awful one called Farnham's Freehold which I thought was racist, and Stranger. Like you, I didn't like it and I was completely turned off by the religious zeal it seemed to inspire in some of my more off-the-wall friends (they were the same ones who later were attracted to Scientology).  
      I also remember that the old guy character you mention, the one he uses to represent himself in his books (which I totally agree with), often ends up with the sexy young thing.  As a high school student I found that disgusting and as a post-60 year old, I still do!
      But I remember after reading your summary that I liked this book.  Maybe I'll reread it.  Thanks!
      And as another commenter said, this was a great relief from debt ceiling depression.

      If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

      by Tamar on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:34:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Farnham's Freehold (8+ / 0-)

        I didn't much care for Farnham's Freehold much myself; chiefly because I found all the characters to be unsympathetic.  As for the big deal about Blacks being the dominant race and the Whites being a despised minority, on one level it made logical sense; (Russia, Europe and America have been destroyed in the Atomic War and so now the former Third World nations are dominant); but the way he presented it... let's just say he could have done it better.

        "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

        by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:52:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  he made them cannibals. In other words, his (8+ / 0-)

          supposition was that if Blacks were in charge of the world, they'd be cannibals.  that's pretty damn racist.  (and what about them castrating all the white males -- I think Heinlein might have had an itty bitty hangup about Black men....).
          Yep, you're right -- he could have done better.

          If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

          by Tamar on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:04:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually (19+ / 0-)

            Heinlein was profoundly anti-racist; he was one of the first sf writers to feature black characters in a positive light, even as protagonists in his juveniles.

            That said, many people have problems with Farnham's. Again, remember the time it was written, at the height of the cold war. The modern civil rights movement was beginning in the 1950's. He was living in Colorado Springs and building his own bomb shelter while writing FH. He had also recently come off of a difficult divorce (his second wife, Leslyn was alcoholic and had mental health issues). So there's a lot of autobiography in the bones of the story.

            Heinlein noted at other times and places (both in Stranger and in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls) that cannibalism is found in all cultures. I read it as a metaphor in the spirit of Swift: the powerful feeding off of the weak. In that sense, it isn't racist, just realism. The racial inversion is one (perhaps clumsy) way to show that racial oppression of any sort is wrong. Thus the point of the story is that any government that does not treat all races as equal is equally corrupt, because the only way to live is a free, autonomous human being.

            The book may not work for you; it doesn't work for many people. But Heinlein was trying to make a very progressive point.

            "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

            by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:34:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting point of view. and maybe that (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              yaque, Prof Haley, sphealey

              was his intention, but I think his subconscious got the best of him.
              Also, the notion of a guy who sets up a place free of all interference from government has a bit of an Ayn Rand feel to it -- I didn't know much about her when I read it, but it just felt wrong to me.
              However, what you said about his wife and the divorce makes the whole business with the main character's awful wife make much more sense.
              Thanks for the info.

              If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

              by Tamar on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:47:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  He wasn't as much of a pioneer (6+ / 0-)

                As Andre Norton, who had a LOT of non-white (and non-male, and non-human) characters, especially leads, in her books, and did it earlier.  And continued to do it throughout her career.

                OTOH, Heinlein deserves credit for Johnny Rico.  I like to think that Farnham's Freehold was a blip, not a reflection of his actual beliefs.

                •  Perhaps his beliefs changed over time. Possibly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  quarkstomper

                  not in a simple straight line.  I agree with Tamar that whatever Heinlein's intentions, in Farnham's Freehold his underlying assumptions showed black people "naturally" producing a barbaric culture, even if they had a high level of technology.

                  An early fantasy, Magic, Inc., is set in a parallel US where magic works.  MC (main character) is having problems with witchcraft (negative magic) and calls in an expert, a witch-sniffer, to help him locate the source.  The expert is well-recommended, and over the phone MC is struck by his cultured Oxford accent.  When he arrives, and MC opens the door, he sees an imposing, dark-skinned African.  He's flustered, and tries not to show it, because he hates people who make a big deal of that kind of surprise. "There's no reason he shouldn't be black.  I just wasn't expecting it."

                  Later, as the witch-sniffer is working, MC feels he is seeing a glimpse of an ancient, powerful culture, different from Western culture, with an implacable standard of justice that he isn't sure he would want to face.  In this passage, Heinlein is reflecting both an anti-racist stance and a valuing of non-Western culture.

                  In Double Star, the main character works to establish good relations between humans and native Martians, and remarks that humans must never repeat the terrible errors made by Europeans in dealing with other cultures on Earth.  The parallel between racism and disrespect of alien species is clear.

                  In Stranger, Heinlein made a point of some of the waterbrothers being Jewish.  In Starship Trooper, as you mentioned, the main character is Juan Rico -- an unusual choice for a white writer in 1959.  Whatever was going on in Farnham's Freehold, in other books Heinlein was taking a stance for inclusion and respect.

                  His later writing -- I don't know.  I admit that books like Time Enough for Love and I Will Fear No Evil have blurred badly in my mind. But I remember them as essentially portraying humanity as all white, and I remember one passage in which the MC says basically that humanity is spreading throughout our part of the galaxy, and anybody else better get out of the way, because we're the toughest ones on the block.  

                  It was a wierdly strident "might makes right" kind of statement, and if felt like a direct repudiation of the elements of diversity and respect that I'd liked in his earlier books.

                  As I said, my memory may be incomplete.  I'm interested in whether others had similary or different reactions to his later books.  OT in terms of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I know, but still of interest.

                  •  His Beliefs Did Change (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ellid, EclecticCrafter

                    Early in his career he worked for Upton Sinclair's campaign as a socialist; but over time he became more conservative in his views.  I've read the opinion that he started to skew rightward after he married his third wife, Virginia.  Personally, I suspect that what happened was as his writing made him more affluent, he began to empathize more with the concerns of affluence.

                    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

                    by quarkstomper on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:18:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks for the background, especially re (0+ / 0-)

                      Upton Sinclair's campaign.  My, my, that's a surprise.

                      •  Didn't he try to hide his early political beliefs? (0+ / 0-)

                        Because they sure didn't make it into his essays, or the letters that were collected in Grumbles from the Grave or John W. Campbell, Jr.'s, correspondence.

                        Speaking of which...there's a letter in the Campbell correspondence where Heinlein is basically yelling at Campbell for supposedly being a bad influence on L. Ron Hubbard over WWII.  Heinlein's point was that he, as a Naval Academy graduate, knew enough about the military and about war that he was immune to whatever pacifist/isolationist beliefs Campbell had, but that Hubbard wasn't and was thus vulnerable to being demoralized and washing out of the service.  

                        Of course Heinlein never actually saw combat due to being cashiered for tuberculosis, although he tried very hard to have his commission reactivated after Pearl Harbor....

                        •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

                          The letters published in Grumbles were carefully selected and edited--and were a bare fraction of what was available. His earliest "essays" were speeches that he gave at early sf cons, and they are chock full of politics. Many of those have since been collected in Expanded Universe. He has, for example, a series of "world-saving" articles that he wrote just after WWII. And his "Who are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?" also generated a lot of controversy.

                          Lots of politics in the early stories: "If This Goes On"; "Coventry" (about as anti-Randian as you can get); "A Bathroom of Her Own"; "Three Brave Men"; "The Long Watch": his guide to politics Take Back Your Government!" (first published 1993, but written in 1946); then novels Space Cadet, Red Planet--all written before 1950.

                          Politics was always a major interest for Heinlein. He explored many different types of government in different works, but the interest in politics was always there.

                          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                          by Maggie Pax on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:24:16 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The Only Game (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Fiona West, Maggie Pax

                            Mannie, in Mistress, has a dim view of politics, viewing it as the provinence of yammerheads; but Wyoh sees it as a challenge and Prof openly enjoys it.

                            In Double Star, which is almost entirely about Politics in Space, the hero, repulsed by the dirty tricks of their opponents, complains that "Politics is a dirty game."  Another character corrects him; (quoting from memory here): "Politics is the only game for grown-ups.  All the rest are kid stuff."

                            Which links back to the underlying theme I find in a lot of Heinlein's work; that the Individual, no matter how ruggedly independent he may be, also has a Responsibility to the Community he lives in.

                            "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

                            by quarkstomper on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 12:24:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quarkstomper

                            And that is what make Heinlein NOT a Randian. He assumes ultimate personal responsibility, but is still committed to helping his greater community.

                            "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                            by Maggie Pax on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 04:19:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I meant his early interest in liberalism (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            quarkstomper

                            I knew about the above...and the Patrick Henry Brigade sounded a lot like some of the current tea party hysteria, I'm afraid.

                            I also don't recall much political content in Space Cadet. There was a culture clash between Matt and his family once he came back from basic training, but politics?  

                    •  Parties and politics changed (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      quarkstomper

                      Just think about how our own sense of what it means to be a democrat has changed in the last week. Or what it means to be a Republican. Eisenhower was a pretty good guy, at least in retrospect.

                      The main factor in his "change" was the atomic bomb. The thought of global thermonuclear war scared him. So he worked on gold for Goldwater. He also supported SDI for the same reason. He was very anti-communist. He also continually stressed the need for us to develop self-sustaining colonies off-planet.

                      But throughout his career, he wrote on the same themes: duty, honor, courage, politics, sex, religion, sex, family, and sex. Even his earliest short stories ("Let there Be Light") feature a scientist who is smart, sexy, and female. Certainly societal mores changed so that he could be more explicit, but the fundamental themes of his work remain the same.

                      He grew up very poor. He never forgot the value of hard work. Again, I urge people to read Patterson's exhaustive biography, now available in paperback.

                      Heinlein was born July 7, 1907. He died in 1988. Think about how much the world changed in those 80 years. He was on the cutting edge most of that time. If he seems flawed in our eyes, we have to remember that he helped give us many of the progressive ideas that we take for granted.

                      I think the fact that he still pisses people off after all this time means that his writing touches something deep in the human psyche. No writer can hope to do more.

                      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                      by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 07:02:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Interesting. A different class of writer, but the (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Maggie Pax, quarkstomper

                      same trajectory -- John Steinbeck.  His Grapes of Wrath is a big contrast to his work in later years.

                      If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

                      by Tamar on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:07:19 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  I didn't read Starship Trooper, but saw the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    quarkstomper

                    movie and it was so openly fascistic that at first I thought it was a satire (and it was pretty funny until I realized it wasn't meant to be).
                    Was the book like that also?

                    If, in our efforts to win, we become as dishonest as our opponents on the right, we don't deserve to triumph.

                    by Tamar on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:02:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      quarkstomper

                      The movie bore no relationship to the book. The movie was one of the suckiest adaptations I have ever been horrified to experience. The only good thing about the movie is that books sales went up.

                      The book is a serious exploration of why we need a military. That is itself a radical notion these days, but it is an honest exploration focusing on honor, duty, and leadership. It is idealized to a degree, in that Heinlein is describing an ideal fighting force. Remember, he had planned on spending his life career Navy, until TB got him, and he served with some outstanding officers. He firmly believed that the height of duty was to place your body between your "beloved home and the war's desolation."

                      In Starship Troopers (the novel), aliens attack Earth, so this is a fight for the survival of humanity. Notable points include women serving in the space navy (as officer pilots, specifically). Several chapters are nothing but philosophical argument.

                      This book is one of his most controversial, naturally. But the movie was a travesty of everything Heinlein was trying to say.

                      Read the book. It may piss you off, but it will make you think.

                      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                      by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:35:41 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  From What I Understand... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Maggie Pax

                      ...The maker of the movie started off with a superficial reading of the book and the conviction that it was fascist and then proceeded to play up the fascist elements he saw in it as much as possible.  

                      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

                      by quarkstomper on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:49:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Farnham's - Thumbs Down (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          Read FF long ago and it made my skin crawl.  Clumsy was indeed to show that racial injustice was independent of actual particular color of one's own skin.

          I just thought that blacks came out bad, very bad and worse than any Europeans (thinking pre-apartheid Afrikaners here) would have dared do, simply bestial in nature.

          My least favorite Heinlein although I've only read his early stuff, up to say, Stranger and tried but failed on one of the Lazarus Long novels, forget which one. Interminably dull from a guy who was, in my mind, the best story teller in SF.

          "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

          by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:23:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Think You're Doing Great! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, Angie in WA State

      Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

      by Limelite on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:36:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  TANSSAAFL (35+ / 0-)

    There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Major concept of the book.

    The truncated phrasing is, in part, because the original manuscript was too long. The publisher insisted on cuts. It actually adds quite a bit of flavor, once you get used to it.

    Note as well that a small, redhead girl helps Wyoh and Mannie escape from the meeting.  She'll be back, in this novel and in others. Actually, Heinlein fans already met her in an earlier juvenile. Her name is Hazel.

    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

    by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:11:14 PM PDT

  •  Alternate titles (26+ / 0-)

    Working titles also include "The Brass Cannon," "That Dinkum Thinkum," "One Way Trip," "The Brass Cannon: Being the Personal Memoir of Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis, Freeman, Concerning the Lunar Rebellion: A TRUE Story."

    Heinlein made some rough notes 24 February 1965, started writing on the 27th and finished the 605 page draft on 13 April 1965. He then started cutting to 125,000 words and 482 pages on 25 April 1965 and over about 2 weeks.

    Money quotes:
    "A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the act of self-responsible individuals. He believes that t is impossible to share blame, shift blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.  . . .

    ". . . . In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.' Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.

    ". . . . I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do" (Chapter 6).

    I wrote the first dissertation on Heinlein back in 1993. This is one of my favorite books, and I am so glad you choose it for tonight's discussion.

    And the content couldn't be more timely.

    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

    by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:25:14 PM PDT

    •  Rational Anarchy (14+ / 0-)

      In college, when I was studying graphic design, I did a project where I was supposed to design a calender.  I chose "Rational Anarchy" as my theme and had a quote from the book for each month.

      I would have gone further into Prof's discussion of rational anarchy, but the diary was running long and running late and I needed to wrap things up.  grin

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:41:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This book has weird politics (22+ / 0-)

      I love the story - it really is one of my favorite books - but the politics are just... odd.

      Prof's politics are clearly presented as being smart and mostly right throughout most of the book - in fact, they're largely unchallenged, except by yammerheads. A lot of his politics are very defensible, but he's dead against "compulsory taxation", despite TANSTAAFL, and he could "get along" with a Randite. When I found out what a Randite really was - years after reading the book - I was pretty shocked that Prof approved!

      The gender politics are screwed up too. Heinlein's women always seem to be valued as much for their looks as for their brains, and every time a female character shows the slightest bit of initiative or courage it's called out as if it's unusual for a woman to be brave that way. I suppose Heinlein was a product of his time, but from a modern perspective, it comes across as extremely sexist. Yes, male Loonies give women a lot of social power, due to 'scarcity', but they never seem to give them actual respect or see them as truly equal to men.

      Weirdly, the one bit of gender politics that I never had a problem with in the book was the marriage systems (plural). While women may still be treated as unequal in all other aspects of society, they're sure as hell equal in the Davis marriage. I'm not sure that a system like that could ever work in real life, but I do like the idea of questioning the presumptions of traditional social institutions. Monogamy isn't right for everyone; why shouldn't there be societal institutions that account for that and still try to build a kind of family stability for those people?

      The thing about changing the world... Once you do it, the world's all different. (Joss Whedon, BtVS Season 8 "The long way home")

      by sab39 on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:41:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Loonie Women (15+ / 0-)

        There's a dark side to the Loonie's deference to women that comes up, not in this book, strangely enough, but his juvenile, The Rolling Stones.  Grandma Hazel in that book fought in the Revolution (and appears as a minor character in Mistress); it's also established that she was herself a competent engineer, but had to find other work because the big companies on Luna had a thing about hiring women.  In other words, women are to be cherished and protected, but not to presume to take a man's job.

        In Harsh Mistress, there's a bit where women are recruited as ice miners because the men-folk have been drafted to fight.  Mannie is dubious about how competent they are.  He claims it's because a woman doesn't have sufficient upper body strength to man-hande an ice drill; but it's quite probable that it's some unacknowledged sexism.

        As for the politics, as the story progresses we'll see that Prof is perfectly happy to toss out his principles in the name of expediency.  In fact that's what the "rational" part of "rational anarchist" means, and why Wyoh complained that his arguments were slippery.

        "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

        by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:51:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't surrender to the women (6+ / 0-)

          What the women did to the yellow jackets (ie, red coats) was too gruesome for Mannie.

          Heinlein's women are tough, much more tough than the men.

          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

          by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 12:16:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It depends on the character (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            Hazel Stone, Sister Maggie, and Friday?  Yes.  Meade Stone, "Puddin'", and Podkayne?  Not really.  Heinlein's teenage girls are dreadful.

            •  Aren't all teenage girls somewhat dreadful?? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              quarkstomper, Stude Dude

              I certainly was.

              "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

              by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 09:59:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  What I meant was that *Heinlein's* teenage girls (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                quarkstomper

                Were stereotypes, not actual characters.  Meade Stone was a boy crazy flirt (from what little we saw - unlike her brothers she never had chapter or more than a couple of pages devoted to her, plus her parents seemed determined to marry her off despite her being maybe 17, tops), Podkayne is a Valley Girl who has one inexplicable act of bravery (or foolishness, take your pick, and yes, I DO know that the book is supposedly a critique of bad parenting...which, curiously enough, seems directed largely at the mother, not the father or the uncle who gets Podkayne and her sociopathic brother into trouble in the first place), and "Puddin'" is a pathetic fat girl.  

                I'm not saying that there's no such thing as a boy crazy teenage flirt, or a Valley Girl, or a girl who eats too much and hates herself and her diet.  I am saying that there's a lot more to teenage girls than the above (or the narrator of "The Menace from Earth," who's supposedly boy crazy AND a mathematical genius with the discipline to design a starship AND is what, fourteen and has found the love of her life already?) would indicate.  

                Heinlein's teenage boys, from the Stone twins to Thor Rudbek to Johnny Rico to Matt the cadet and his friends, are much better characterized, much more diverse, and much more believable than any of Heinlein's teenage girls.  That is my problem with Meade, Podkayne, et al.  It's not them.  It's the way they're written.  

                •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  quarkstomper

                  Meade was just space filler--the book was designed and marketed to boy scouts, after all. But if the girl characters don't work for you, they don't work. They do work for many girl and women readers. To each her own.

                  "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                  by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:52:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I haven't met many women who liked them, actually (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    quarkstomper

                    And I went to a women's college with enough SF/fantasy readers to found an SF club that's thriving thirty years later, so it's not as if I've lacked female SF readers to pal around with.  

                    It's a pity, because Heinlein at his best was terrific...but I found this to be a big flaw, and I've found it more and more bothersome as I've gotten older.

                •  If more than that, what? (0+ / 0-)
                  I am saying that there's a lot more to teenage girls than the above (or the narrator of "The Menace from Earth," who's supposedly boy crazy AND a mathematical genius with the discipline to design a starship AND is what, fourteen and has found the love of her life already?) would indicate.  

                  So what more would you want from teenage girls?

                  Does she have to be a politician too or something?

        •  Still progressive (0+ / 0-)
          In Harsh Mistress, there's a bit where women are recruited as ice miners because the men-folk have been drafted to fight.  Mannie is dubious about how competent they are.  He claims it's because a woman doesn't have sufficient upper body strength to man-hande an ice drill; but it's quite probable that it's some unacknowledged sexism.

          I think you are over-analyzing a fictional character.

          However, given the time, even if your analysis is correct, it was still pretty darned progressive.

          Are you going to complain about Jules Verne's sexism because he didn't have women commanding submarines and space ships?

          •  The Women Ice-Miners (0+ / 0-)

            I think that Heinlein was remembering Rosie the Riveter and how when the men were drafted into the military, women on the home front took their places in the factories to keep industry going.  I don't see that as necessarily being Progressive, just practical.  Although keeping women out of those fields out of tradition -- which is what happens to Hazel when she becomes an engineer, according to The Rolling Stones -- would definitely be Conservative.

            I think Mannie's attitude that a woman can't be as competent a miner as a man is somewhat condescending; but I think it's consistent with Mannie's character and also with Loonie society.  I don't think the less of Mannie for it; he just has attitudes that are shaped by his environment and by who he is.

            As for Jules Verne, I love Jules Verne.  He was the first Grown-Up author I ever read and he remains one of my favorites.  But the fact remains that he didn't just exclude women from positions of authority in his books; very often he excluded them all together.  This is not a complaint; it is an observation.  He rarely gave women significant roles in his stories and in many of his books they did not appear at all.  And this is partially for a similar reason to why Heinlein did the same:  Verne was writing chiefly for a young male audience.

            Please don't think I'm griping about either Verne or Heinlein.  I like both writers.  But they each had their own biases and points of view that shaped what they wrote about and how they wrote it.

            "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

            by quarkstomper on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:14:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Also one of my favorites... (7+ / 0-)

        ...I first read it when I was 11, and have reread it many times since.

        Regarding the politics, that's one reason why the book gets my respect.  If an author can write something where I don't agree with the underlying politics but still enjoy the book, they deserve some credit.  Larry Niven and Poul Anderson have also managed to do this -- John Ringo very definitely can't.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:39:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And yet (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper, Limelite, ER Doc, Maggie Pax

        Mimi ("Mum") appeared to me to be the strongest person in the entire novel, even though she only appeared in a couple of places.

        It's about time I changed my signature.

        by Khun David on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:54:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  probably my favorite (6+ / 0-)

      When I first read it I was fascinated by the obvious and deliberate parallels to the American Revolution. (From "Liberty Caps" to coincidental dates for certain events)

      Once upon a time I wanted to write an annotated version identifying all those links - never got around to it.

      www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

      by WI Deadhead on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  expanding one quote (10+ / 0-)

      "My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H Bombs exist - and they do - some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.' Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts."

      www.dailykos.com is America's Blog of Record

      by WI Deadhead on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:08:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent point (8+ / 0-)

        The problem we have is that the concept of government and corporations allow people to elude personal responsibility.by simply pointing to the "superior authority".

        - I had to launch the missile, those were my orders.

        - I had to ignore the safety regs, I had to meet my monthly quotas.

        In essence:

        "You can't blame me, I was just following orders!"

        Sadly, this excuse is accepted every day. Obama's acceptance of it to excuse torture and massive law breaking by Bush is what is destroying us as a nation, eroding our moral authority to that of the Nazis.

        And yes, I said the Nazis. The only difference between what we are doing and what they did is a matter of scale and accountability. We murder, but only on a small scale, and we are not held accountable for even that.

        I remember reading an article about a meeting of scientists on the future of nuclear weapons in the UK. Several scientists argued that they needed to keep them, not out of fear of Russia, but out of fear of the U.S.

        And they are quite right to be afraid.

      •  I can buy that, but it should also be (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Maggie Pax, WI Deadhead

        expanded to cover corporations.

        If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

        by Sychotic1 on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 07:20:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (9+ / 0-)

    Very interesting.  I enjoy your diaries very much!

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:54:59 PM PDT

  •  Nice one of my favorites. n/t (10+ / 0-)

    "I honor the place in you where Spirit lives I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then we are One." Namaste friends!

    by Adept2u on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:01:01 PM PDT

  •  I think I know the model for "Shorty Mkrum" (13+ / 0-)

    (the guy who got his leg blown off by the Authority goons). By this time Heinlein was occasionally slipping friends and acquaintances into bit parts under various aliases (and occasionally without them). This is sometimes called "Tuckerization" and is a popular prank among writers - SF writers in particular.

    Elliot Kay Shorter was already a Big Name Fan in the New York area at  the time Harsh Mistress was being written (he later moved to Rhode Island, where he still lives) - and if you ever met him, well, he was a pretty close match to the book description both physically and in mild manners.

    Heinlein probably knew who he was, if he didn't know him personally (and he may have).

    Incidentally, he's also known as "Master El of the Two Knives" and one of the co-founding members of the East Kingdom.

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:01:49 PM PDT

  •  I quit reading Heinlein... (14+ / 0-)

    ...after I read several of his books that ended with everybody having sex with everybody else.

    Did I stop too soon? Did he figure out some other way to wrap up a story?

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:06:11 PM PDT

    •  Try the Earlier Ones (22+ / 0-)

      Sounds like you had the misfortune to start with some of his later books, which were rather self-indulgent.

      The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, for all its celebration of non-traditional marriages, has little actual sex in it; and family relationships are more important in it that copulation.

      There is, of course, no sex in his "juveniles", written for the boy's market.  Of these my favorites are Space Cadet and The Rolling Stones.  Star Beast and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel are also quite good, as is Citizen of the Galaxy.

      Many of his early short stories are quite good.  A lot of them tie into his over arcing "Future History" series.

      I also recommend Double Star, a novel that combines The Prisoner of Zenda with interplanetary politics.  Which makes it sound rather stupid, but it's actually very good.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:18:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And Podkayne of Mars... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax, quarkstomper

        ...was on the bookshelf in my high school back in the 50's and the heroine is a young girl. I think Heinlein in many ways was not simply admiring women/females for their beauty and reproductive possibilities but out of a sense of wonder and true respect.

        Podkayne was one of my favorite early Heinlein reads even though it's juvy fiction.

        "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

        by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:33:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you ever met his wife Virginia (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          then you know that he has a deep, powerful respect for women of all ages. He repeatedly creates women characters who are smarter, more competent, and yes, sexier, than his male protagonists. Virginia spoke seven languages and was a biochemist before their marriage. It was, in part, due to her management skills that Heinlein became extremely wealthy solely from his writing. (Was he the first sf author to become a millionaire solely from writing sf?) She was tough, beautiful, and sharp as a tack. It was an honor to meet her.

          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

          by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:25:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like the perfect woman for RAH! nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

            by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:47:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  She was (0+ / 0-)

              They were devoted to each other. It is one of the great marriages in many ways.

              "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

              by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:59:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Spouses of SF Authors? (0+ / 0-)

                Would make an interesting book. PK Dick was apparently devoted but had a screwed up life in general and Jack Vance was extremely devoted to his wife, Norma, who helped a lot on editing and critique, I believe.

                "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

                by TerryDarc on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 01:52:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Joe and Gay Haldeman (0+ / 0-)

                  Joe Haldeman, author of The Forever War and his wife, Gay, used to be regulars at ICON, a science fiction convention in Iowa City I used to attend back when I lived in Darkest Iowa.  Gay used to run the annual "How to Enjoy Your First Science Fiction Convention" panel.  I never got to know Joe and Gay, but from what I've heard the two have a strong and loving partnership

                  "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

                  by quarkstomper on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 02:14:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  No started too late (14+ / 0-)

      As noted Stranger started pushing the boundaries by the time you got to Time Enough for Love and Friday things were way over the top.

      Starship Troopers and Harsh Mistress have their odd politico-sexual themes, but are much more than readable. But maybe they should be the starting points for a Heinlein read back or end points for a career study, either direction would made for a profitable read, but you could slice off his last six books with not much loss (though all have well written episodes, except maybe Job, which I gave up on, wrenching after a couple of decades of Heinlein being my favorite author)

      Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

      by Bruce Webb on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:22:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Try Job again (9+ / 0-)

        He is taking fundamentalist theology as "truth" in the beginning and sees it through to the Rapture--and beyond. In short, he show how ridiculous it really is.

        "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

        by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:39:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What, you know more than Social Security? NT (3+ / 0-)

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:54:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nan da? (n/t) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mythatsme

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:02:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bruce Webb is Soc Sec expert. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc, Angie in WA State

            Check out his diaries. They're great.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:13:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Back in 1992 I was maybe the world's (13+ / 0-)

              third best expert on ninth century Welsh dynastic history.

              Of course there were maybe four or five people writing on the topic at the time, but still---.  And before that:

              By the time I was a sophomore in college I had a truly massive collection of science fiction including most all of the Golden Age writers. This would have taken me up to around 1976 when IMHO things in the genre started dropping off the cliff. Though the term wasn't around then a lot of the sci-fi dropped the action for the emo. Or maybe I was just getting too involved in the medieval Celtic thing to keep up. Either way I left most of the sci-fi and Celtic stuff behind when I left Berkeley in 1993 and a few years later picked up the kind of odd hobby of Social Security policy.

              Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

              by Bruce Webb on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:46:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good to see you here (5+ / 0-)

                I drifted to Military sci fi, starting late '80's, after reading thru my Moms sci fi from the 50's and 60's, and going thru Clark, Brin, the large concept stuff during the 70's.

                6th Column is a fav of mine, from my Moms collection.

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 10:32:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Bruce, got to disagree with you about the value (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Maggie Pax

                of SF written after 1976.

                Greg Bear
                David Brin
                Connie Willis
                Charles Stross
                C J Cherryh

                To name just a few authors with significantly good writing, who came after (some of them long after) the mid-1970s.

                I started reading SF in grade school, circa 1972, with the Madeline 'l Engle tale, "A Wrinkle in Time", and read through the whole science fiction and fantasy section before the end of my school days at Lincoln Elementary.

                I found Issac Asimov, Robert A Heinlein, Frank L Baum (did you know there are dozens of Oz books?), Ray Bradbury, Brian Aldiss and a whole host of authors (many of them from the Golden Age of SF). I've found many more in the decades that came after. Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon, Naomi Novik, Robert Asprin, Ben Bova... the list runs into serious triple digits.

                I fell in love, for the first time in my life. It was magical. I'm convinced that falling in love with books at a young age affected my life more than anything else ever has. It opened my mind to ideas, strange and odd and new ideas...

                I'm so sorry that for you, the magic left the room sometime during the era of Jimmy Carter.

                :(

                I like paying taxes... with them, I buy Civilization

                by Angie in WA State on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 10:49:50 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Specialization is for insects (0+ / 0-)
                I am saying that there's a lot more to teenage girls than the above (or the narrator of "The Menace from Earth," who's supposedly boy crazy AND a mathematical genius with the discipline to design a starship AND is what, fourteen and has found the love of her life already?) would indicate.  
      •  Job was my favorite (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax

        until I dug into the juveniles.

        I began with "I Will Fear No Evil" when I was 10 (!!!), pored through the "naughty" and undisciplined Heinlein when I was a kid, and came to the juveniles last, loving them best.

        "Wrenching" is a good description, since I adored Heinlein, but ess and less, the more progressive I realized I was. Reading about Heinlein's real views (as op[posed to those of his characters) has helped me reconcile my convictions with why I enjoyed his oeuvre so much.

        Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

        by rhubarb on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:02:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Revolt in 2100 AD (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Angie in WA State, JDog42, Maggie Pax

        Try Revolt in 2100 AD (a collection of novellas published elsewhere).  Then think about Huckabee, Bachmann, and Perry and get very worried.

        sPh

    •  Yes. (9+ / 0-)

      This is actually one of his stronger endings.

      Besides, sex is great! Happy endings indeed!

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:27:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my favorite of his (8+ / 0-)

    Glory Road is up there. Citizen of the Galaxy. Menace from Earth. Can't stand the later meta period.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:07:36 PM PDT

  •  Beyond this Horizon (13+ / 0-)

    is perhaps under appreciated. As is The Door Through Tomorrow (which is maybe the ultimate Heinlein Pootie novel, Bob loved cats and red heads and both show up throughout the latter part of the canon).

    Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

    by Bruce Webb on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:32:05 PM PDT

    •  I've Read Parts of That One... (8+ / 0-)

      ...but I can't recall if I ever read the whole thing from beginning to end.  I can't remember any of the plot of Beyond This Horizon except for a couple fragments of the future society of the book.

      I do recall that Door Into Summer was fairly good, although it also is one of the more blatant examples of Heinlein's "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" complex.  I found it just a little bit squick-inducing.  Not enough to ruin the novel for me, but for me it added a disturbing dissonant note.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:00:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beyond this Horizon (9+ / 0-)

        had a future society that blended the libertarian maxim of "An armed society is a polite society" with a more or less compulsory planet white system of forced eugenics via selective genetics.

        The Hero turns out to be, quite without his knowledge,  the Star Line of this world wide breeding program, and one of this three suitable matches is a ahead of her time Feminist with a Chip on her Shoulder, and a Gun on her Hip, which is an allowable but decided frowned upon choice in this fundamentally wild west society where a man is supposed to defend the honor of HIS wimmin.

        Mix in a would be fascist based revolution (where the baddies  couple the same forced genetic based breeding with some old fashioned eliminationism, which is what them makes them bad as opposed to the good forced breeders) and you get you get some pretty good action. Plus a time traveler from the 1920s, and a genius set of subsequent children from said hero and tamed firecat feminist who combine elements of telepathy and reincarnation and it all kind of breaks down into a muddle. But the first half of the book has a pretty well realized, if kind of contradictory society. Plus lots of gunfights.

        Maybe in retrospect not actually a masterpiece, then again I owned copies of everything Heinlein wrote by 1968 during 1968 as an eleven year old. Meaning I hit the last of the good stuff in real time while still being able to read through the 1939-1964 canon published before my time.

        Believe me it was a wrench to finally encounter a Heinlein book that I couldn't even finish, Friday being maybe the last one I could stomach.

        Please visit, follow or join our Group: Social Security Defenders

        by Bruce Webb on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:33:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Remember the Part... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yaque, Matt Z, Angie in WA State

          ...about carrying a weapon being manditory.  And that one of the characters was a guy from the 1920s who was displaced in time, whom I actually found more interesting than the main protagonist.  The "White Star Line" bit sounds vaguely familiar.  I might re-read it one of these days.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:40:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Beyond This Horizon is very early (6+ / 0-)

        It is his second novel, the first one he published. It is very, uh, rough. He got better.

        Door into Summer uses time travel to help a precocious girl and an adult man meet later when they are the same age.

        Given that they are both consenting adults before they have sex, it's not too horrible. There is no sex in the novel at all.
        And there's a terrific pootie.

        Our modern aversion to older man/ younger girl (or the inverse) is just that--modern. Earlier societies were not as concerned with the concept of consent. Heinlein always has his characters consenting, however, with the exception of one graphic rape in Friday.

        "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

        by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:41:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Petronius the Arbiter! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maggie Pax, quarkstomper

          "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

          by Bob Duck on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 01:12:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Great post (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maggie Pax

          Additionally, I think Door into Summer was a more rational response to Lolita, which had come out about then.

          Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

          by rhubarb on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:05:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The heck with society (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, EclecticCrafter

          What about the girls involved?  What did they say?  Do we even know?  I'd be willing to bet that many, if not most, found the idea of marriage with someone many times their age just as disgusting as their modern counterparts do.

          •  Hey, I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            I'm just saying that in the Heinlein novels the women all were fully consenting adults before anything happened.

            "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

            by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:30:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not quite (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              quarkstomper

              Nancy Smith, daughter of Maureen, isn't even 20 when her own father is talking about having an affair with her.  Even if she'd consented (which never came up in the text), she was legally a minor since she was under 21.  And incest was (and is) illegal.  

              I have some real problems with Heinlein's portrayal of women and have for quite some time.  Yes, he wrote some strong female characters, but some of his women and girls were just awful IMHO.  

              No writer is perfect, no writer nails it every time, and not all characters work.  For me, Heinlein's primary character failures were his women, especially in later works.  

              YMMV.

              •  She was over 18, I think. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                quarkstomper

                And if she is already pregnant (with her fiancee's baby), then where is the harm? Heinlein just wanted us to think about these things, not necessarily endorse them.

                "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 10:01:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Please tell me you're not serious (0+ / 0-)

                  I know you wrote your dissertation on Heinlein and have a deep association with him and his family, but really?  Seriously?  You don't find anything questionable at the idea of a father, who's always been an authority figure, having sex with his teenage daughter?  Or that their previous dynamic would make it almost impossible for her to refuse even if she didn't want to have sex with him?  

                  I have no words.  None.  

                  •  Of course I find incest appalling! (0+ / 0-)

                    My point is that Heinlein wanted us to think about why we have all of the sexual taboos that we have. Some of the taboos (eg, sex before marriage between consenting adults) become meaningless with the advent of birth control. Most of these taboos were originally designed to prevent pregnancy, control the spread of STDs, control paternity (and inheritance), or to control women themselves. Once we have shaken off the intellectual shackles of fundamentalist theology, and with the advent of safe, effective, affordable birth control--that women can control, especially--these events should encourage us to rethink our taboos. Obviously the power differential between parent and child has not changed, and so that taboo is there for a good reason--to protect the child. If these scenes make readers uncomfortable, my point is that maybe they are supposed to.

                    To me, that's part of what make a book successful: when the author challenges my long-held assumptions and forces me out of my comfort zone. I can admire his writing without agreeing with everything in the book. Milton was a misogynist ass and I profoundly disagree with his theology; I still admire Paradise Lost and acknowledge its profound cultural influence. Heinlein said explicitly that a major purpose in Stranger was to line up all of the sacred cows of American society--and kick them in the ass. Knock them over. He was an iconoclast--a destroyer of icons. Some icons should be destroyed; some should be preserved. But we have to look at them all, closely and carefully, before we decide.

                    In no way do I expect you to agree with my interpretation. Life would be pretty boring if everyone agreed with me. I am simply suggesting that Heinlein--that any professional author--chooses words and plots and characters with great care and for good reason. Readers should try to understand what those motivations may have been. Whether or not any of these choices are successful always remains up to the individual reader to judge.

                    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                    by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:42:32 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  To me, it came across (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      quarkstomper

                      as unrealistic and frankly creepy.  Worse, he's so blithe about it, and so casual, and there's so much father/daughter incest in the Howard Family books, that for me at least any shock value is lost in wondering just why Heinlein chose to use that particular trope over and over and over again rather than something else that's equally taboo.

                      I'm sure you're right about challenging the reader, but the sheer repetition, and the sheer volume, of this particular trope in Heinlein's fiction bothers me greatly.  This is not likely to change.

                •  And oh, whether Nancy was over 18 or not (0+ / 0-)

                  Isn't the point.  18 is the legal majority NOW.  It most certainly was not in the early 20th century.  Nancy was legally a child.  

                  That was one of my biggest problems with To Sail Beyond the  Sunset:  I know Heinlein tried to justify it, but the sexual looseness and the promiscuity of the Howard Families as depicted in that book was so out of line with what actual Victorian and Edwardian families that I'm surprised anyone took it seriously.  Yes, logically it made sense for every Howard bride to be pregnant, but practically?  Sorry, but I don't buy it, especially for the first generation, all of whom would have been raised in a society where a girl who was alone with a boy for more than a few minutes risked irretrievable harm to her reputation, let alone had sex before marriage.

                  I know you love Heinlein's books, but for me, at least, he really blew it with this one and several of the other late ones.  And yes, I've read most of them.

                  Sorry.

                  •  Age of consent much lower in 19th and early 20th c (0+ / 0-)

                    Actual age of consent for marriage (for women) was 16, even 14 or (horrors) 12 in some places in America well into the 20th century. And the Victorians had some remarkable pornography and sexualized culture. So did the citizens of Pompeii. We did not invent sex in the 1960's.  Many, many Victorian couples even in the "best" families had 7 month old first-borns. Still, if the books don't work for you, they don't work. Your call.

                    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

                    by Maggie Pax on Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 11:49:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I am well aware of all of this (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      quarkstomper

                      None of it is especially relevant to a father in the Midwest who almost certainly had never heard of My Secret Life or any of the other Victorian pornographic "classics" casually expressing a desire to fuck his daughter.

                      Obviously for you this isn't a flaw in Heinlein.  For me it's a deal breaker, at least for the Howard Family books.  YMMV.

  •  More interesting character details (19+ / 0-)

    Many readers fail to note that the narrator in this book, Mannie, is mixed race and has lost an arm. This is not the first time Heinlein does this, but it is one of the more notable ones (another being Tunnel in the Sky). Indeed, in Luna, Wyoh is unusual because she is NOT mixed.

    Mannie lost an arm in an ice mining accident. He now has 6 arms, for working on different machines (one is a "social" arm).
    As a veteran himself, Heinlein knew full well the need for better prosthetics. Although we tend to think of the steely-jawed Heinlein hero, Heinlein was one of the few writers who made space and the future open to men and women of all races, creeds, nationalities, and physical ability.

    "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

    by Maggie Pax on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:35:14 PM PDT

    •  Good Points (10+ / 0-)

      Those are both good points that I didn't get around to mentioning.  We know from his name that Mannie is of mixed Irish and Hispanic ancestry, but we don't really know what other races are mixed into his genes.  Much later in the book he comments that on his first visit to Earth he was bemused by the reaction people had to his skin color; he was too dark for some and not dark enough for others.  And when he is arrested in Kentucky, it is largely because a redneck sheriff was outraged by the range of color in his family portrait.

      His artificial arm is a fairly important plot point.  His loss of it in a mining accident led him to study computers; and his versitile prosthetics allow him to do some things his natural arm couldn't.  But his extra arms are no bionic man  super-science.  They are weaker than his real arm -- being detachable, they cannot be anchored to his body the way his natural arm is -- and are described in a realistic fashion.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:48:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Tunnel in the Sky" is so subtle you can miss it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper, Limelite, ER Doc

      quite easily, and most people do. It's also got a rather flagrant racial caricature (Caroline, aka Topsy grown up) - Heinlein took much too long to shake that sort of thing out of his writing, and it snuck back and bit him in Farnham's Freehold.

      Incidentally, for all his love of cats, he never introduced a race of intelligent cat-aliens - Andre Norton had him beat there too, with the Salariki.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:00:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Intelligent Cats? Puh-leez! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        I loved Andre Norton as a kid and her mixed race adventures. Absolutely great reads.

        But intelligent cats? Please. We've got cats and they are not intelligent other than in finding new ways to sleep more often and hit you up for food or a scratch on the chin. Pretty sure that wouldn't qualify for intelligent in the Heinlein universe.

        "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

        by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:42:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cat-ALIENS. Evolved from feline ancestors. DUH. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          It's at least a theoretical possibility, even though I haven't seen anyone but CJ Cherryh go into detail about the requisite ecology and sociology (and she used lions as her template).

          If it's
          Not your body
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          AND it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 04:50:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I much prefer Jack Vance's _The House Lords_... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            ...and anything with cat DNA has to be dumb as a brick. But, how would we know. Cats have independence down to a tee and testing there perverseness would be a real challenge.

            "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

            by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:49:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Heinlein's best. (17+ / 0-)

    One thing RAH didn't do well was plots.  His novels and short stories were almost always entertaining, but the man couldn't plot his way out of a paper bag.

    TMIAHM is probably the closest he ever came to an actual plot driven novel, and even then only in comparison to his other virtually-free-form works.

    I loved this book, I've read it several times, and consider it to be superior to his more famous works such as Stranger in a Strange Land or Time Enough For Love.  Both of those novels have their appeal but Moon really is Heinlein at the height of his powers, before the brain tumor started having an adverse effect on his concentration, before age made his a bit querulous.

    The libertarian stuff in the book is appealing to a young person and for a young person it's probably a good idea to get a good lecture on self dependence, standing on your own two feet, and There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

    One thing I appreciated was that the most libertarian person in the book, Professor de la Paz, freely admitted his "rational anarchy" was completely unworkable as a system of governance.  He didn't take himself overly seriously, he wasn't a Randite.   That is what saves him as a character, imho.

    He's more self deprecating than Jubal Harshaw, more amusing than Lazarus Long and makes no pretensions of infallibility or perfection.

    I admit to the fact that this novel made me 100% convinced (and I remain so to this day) that our marriage laws are flat out evil, a gross violation of the freedom from state sponsored religion in the First Amendment.  Sometimes overly romanticized, but nevertheless well portrayed, group marriages, line marriages, clan marriage, polygamy, polyandry, you name it, if it actually worked for people it was allowed.  About the only form of marriage that was unknown in Luna City was heterosexual lifetime monogamy.  

    As a 46 year old I understand how rose colored Heinlein drew many of these relationship theories, a fact he himself acknowledged and later made some penance for in his novel Friday, who's main character had to live through the dissolution and divorce of a group marriage.

    Great book and if I recommend one Heinlein to anyone, it's this one.  The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.  

    Yeah, imagine a skinny, beaky kid with an unfortunate last name, still trying to get approval and feel attractive and liked to cancel out all those other years growing up. - FarWestGirl

    by Rick Aucoin on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 01:57:06 AM PDT

  •  Not a novel (8+ / 0-)

    All You Zombies is a short story but it is one of my favorite Heinlein works. It's about time travel and all the characters, both male and female. are the same person. Presents the paradoxes of time travel very well.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Marx (no not that one, Groucho)

  •  Of course he's alive. RAH (sorta)acknowledged it. (12+ / 0-)

    One of the characters in the book is left in an unresolved state in the book.  At the end, we do not know whether he is alive or dead.  

    After approximately the 15th reading of the book, I finally wrote to Heinlein, when he was well advanced in years (hmm, maybe this was about 1976), and explained why the character simply had to be still alive, based on several clues scattered throughout the book.

    I got back the form letter that other fans must be familiar with - basically a 1-page typewritten sheet where boxes would be checked off to indicate which of the FAQ applied to you.  The box checked off for me was the one about how he does not engage in speculation about things that are not written in the book itself.

    And yet, next to that checkmark, was the handwritten notation "PS.  You may be right -RAH".

  •  He always left me cold (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, quarkstomper, Limelite

    When I were a lad, I went reading "classic" science fiction as I was told it was. That meant Stranger, which I thought was somewhat obvious and incomplete, and then some other Heinlein... it was one of the later ones, where an old guy becomes a woman... essentially a transgendered sexual fantasy.

    The erotic element was fun for my teenaged male self, but it seemed, even to me, really kind of reductive, as if women were their bodies in the book, that they weren't humans, just biological differences. I didn't read any more of his work.

    Since then, everything I've run into has suggested that he and I would not get along. I liked Clarke, but the military and western-in-space stuff was not possible in a post-Nixon age.

    We do not flourish, but we persist.

    by The Geogre on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 04:31:25 AM PDT

    •  *Shudder* (8+ / 0-)

      If your first exposure to Heinlein was Stranger and I Will Fear No Evil, I don't blame you for not liking him.  I lost interest in Stranger about three quarters of the way through it and never finished it.  Reading the blurb on the back of the latter was enough for me to set the book down and never pick it up again.  I think even Heinlein fans concede that Fear No Evil is his worst.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:41:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, no. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, quarkstomper, esquimaux

        The contenders are:

        I Will Fear No Evil
        The Number of the Beast
        To Sail Beyond the Sunset
        Farnham's Freehold
        Sixth Column (I'll give Heinlein a pass here because it was an early write-for-hire using John Campbell's plot. But he should have left it unreprinted.)

        Those are the ones that show up most often in lists of such nature.

      •  . . .Evil was my first (3+ / 0-)

        When I was 10. Put it down in sheer bewilderment and fear, then picked it up a few months later and adored it for a long time.

        I should read it again to see if I could stand it.

        I was quite a Heinlein fan, by the way, and co-authored one of the premiere RAH websites back in the 90s.

        Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

        by rhubarb on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:10:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I was not a big fan of Stranger in a Strange Land (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper, Matt Z, ER Doc, esquimaux

      or any of his  post work, but I Starship Troopers was amusing, TMIAHM was my teen favorite and I really liked The Past Through Tomorrow.

      If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

      by Sychotic1 on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 07:25:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post. You need a proofer. I volunteer. (6+ / 0-)

    And thanks. Been years. So I just went to Powell's and ordered it for my son.

  •  I think it is his best book. (7+ / 0-)

    I occasionally reread it.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:31:32 AM PDT

  •  Just finished "Moon" last month (7+ / 0-)

    It was pretty good. Not great, but worth a read.

     I gotta say though, "Stranger in a strange land" was terrible. I couldn't finish it because it was so bad. I really don't understand why so many people liked it.

    "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

    by gjohnsit on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:33:53 AM PDT

  •  As I grew up (8+ / 0-)

    ...the RAH books of my childhood faded a bit.  Valentine Michael Smith disappearing the gay men because there was something "wrong" with them, my own nascent feminist consciousness realizing that RAH's view of women was, um...yeah.  

    But The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had one libertarian lesson I still take as deadly seriously as I did when I was 12, sitting in the school library, enraptured.  Simply: groups have no conscience.  Only individuals have conscience, and only individuals mourn who they kill.  I do not know today if this is as true in the way RAH meant it as I thought then, but I know he was on to something.  Conscience is for the most part a solitary endeavor, and attempting to moot murder to group responsibility is nasty, and a lie.  In many ways I think this book makes one of the strongest arguments possible against the death penalty, indeed (though he surely did not intend it so) against war.

    The worst of RAH is Randian; the best, more like Thoreau with a laser pistol.

    The other thing that I recall best about this book is that the computer managed their revolutionary cells.  Now you'd have to run it through an onion router like tor, and even so it would be fraught.  Their entire revolution depends on the computer managing their organization, which is brilliant.  If you could actually make that work in the era of the packet sniffer, you'd have somethin'...

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 06:43:51 AM PDT

    •  Every now and then, ask for Mike (5+ / 0-)

      When someone answers, the time is right.

      Less "WAAAAH!", more progress.

      by IndyGlenn on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 07:06:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He doesn't disappear gay men because they are gay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper, jessical

      Mike the Martian doesn't grok sex at all, until he learns about it on earth. And if you read carefully, what freaked Ben out is that Mike and Jill were ready for a threesome--Beb couldn't handle it and went to Jubal, who straightened him out. Ben went back.

      Compare the first edition of Stranger with the "Original Uncut" version released after Heinlein's death. Heinlein broke so many sexual taboos in Stranger, but he could only go so far in 1961. In his later books, gay characters are treated quite positively. In fact, Lazarus Long himself acknowledges a homosexual relationship with Slipstick Libby. It's a subtle reference, but it's there.

      Heinlein liked sex. All sorts of consenting adult sex.

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:41:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hmmmm (0+ / 0-)

        I don't have that forgiving an eye.  Certainly no queer kid who reads it at the age I did will be particularly reassured by the "poor in-betweeners" who he vanishes as a matter of rightness in the universe.  Might as well fuckin' kill yourself, right?  He wasn't all the way along at that point, but he grokked their wrongness.

        In some ways the unforgivingly harsh view of gays makes the later sexual freedom "OK" to a straight audience.  I'll grant more than a little ambiguity in the subtext, but the ground has been cleared for the straight people beforehand.

        I love many many things about RAH.  My youth and young adulthood would have been much poorer without his books.  Neither his background nor politics predisposed him toward queer rights.  But I don't look to him for liberality on this.    I will always thing "stranger in a strange land" belongs in the pile of books I'd hand the younger me, with a smile.  But there would be Nicola Griffith and Elizabeth A. Lynn there too.  

        There's some critical grace to this.  I'm trans, I spend my life being grokked as wrong.  So maybe there are some limits to grokking generally, shy the Old Ones of Mars comin' round anytime soon.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 09:59:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grok it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jessical, quarkstomper

          I understand. I can see how that particular passage (and others) caused you and others pain.

          I would be interested in learning what you thought of I Will Fear No Evil, if you read it. It's generally considered one of his lesser novels. Written while Heinlein was ill, Virginia did a quick edit. It's about a dying, old, white man, Johann Sebastian Bach Smith, who is too rich to be allowed to die. In an attempt to circumvent his lawyers and estate managers, he has a brain transplant into the first available body with the right rare blood type--it turns out to be his young, beautiful, black secretary, a woman.

          Shortly upon awakening, he begins to "hear" his secretary talking to him, giving him tips on how to be a woman. Is this "new" person male or female? Gay, straight, or bi? What is the nature of the mind-body connection? Who are we really?

          Although the book is clumsy in many respects, a number of people in the gay/bi/trans community found the book a powerful acknowledgement of the complex nature of human sexuality. Written during the summer of '69, few sf writers had examined human sexuality in such a way.

          As I said, the book is not his best. But it does show that the later Heinlein was trying to understand the full variety of human sexuality, and to expand beyond his own provincial upbringing. That does not excuse his earlier failures, by any means.

          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

          by Maggie Pax on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 05:25:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah I read it (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper, Maggie Pax

            Years ago.  As a kid, to my eye it felt like something about him, in a way that was smaller than the books by him I'd loved.  So it didn't really speak to me, it was about whatever he was working out, and didn't have my full attention.

            He was a remarkable fellow.  A few years ago, I really enjoyed the book Spider Robinson wrote with Virginia's permission and a sheaf of original notes.  It was an elegant and very humanistic echo of the juveniles, and I thought it was a joy.

            When I was that age...really sucking down the RAH...let's see.  I was also reading Doris Lessing, who really couldn't stand gay men (and that was as far toward queer as she went)...Joanna Russ was supposed to speak to me but didn't (though it does now).  But Elizabeth A. Lynn and Sardonyx Net!    Now that was something a melodramatic teenager could roll with :}  Now of course you'd have Nicola Griffith and a host of other great stuff.  

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:04:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  One caveat (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        Libby was later cloned as a woman and came back to join Lazarus Long's Perpetual Sex Orgy and Genetic Lack of Diversity Experiment.  So was this really a homosexual relationship or a manly man with a pre-op transsexual?

  •  One of my life desires derives from Moon (11+ / 0-)

    I've always wanted to have a line marriage. I really love the idea of an ongoing relationship, where resources are pooled for long periods of time. In practice, the best I've come up with is a poly relationship, where there are four of us adults, raising one child. We are currently living under 3 roofs, but dropping to 2 soon, with the eventual plan to live together under one.

    •  Line Marriage = 100% inheritance TAX (4+ / 0-)

      Having had my own experiences with Polyfidelitious theory and Alternative Lifesytyle family living ...  I wish you well -- and hope you have more success than the Hippy Generation had with this stuff.   One hopes that wiccan communities may offer a more stable and supportive cultural setting than the left liberal young university faculty cliques of the '70s did.

      Having "been there" myself,  I suspect that the GLBTetc Community is right ... all the love and commitment between two people, in secret, without official recognition by the larger community, is NOT enough to hold  couples together over decades -- much less holding larger adult-peer groupings together.

      And, having considered deeply of this topic, I think Line Marriage to be one of the least practical and least humane of the Alternative Family experiments. It is probably even a little less good than patriarchal polygamy ... and nowhere near as good as Oneida Community-style "Group Marriage."  

      What Lord RAH had in common with many other Alternative Lifestylers  of his generation,  including Robert Rimmer, James Ramey, Michael Murphy, even George and Nina O'Neill, was a well developed sense of  how The Nuclear Family needed to be adapted  to meet adult needs for self actualization -- but with little attention given to  how children fit in and/or react to to  those adaptations.  

      To be fair: the early theorists of Kibbutz lifestyle and the anthropologists such as Lionel Tiger, who studied their communties lso tended to gloss over Child Issues and Women Issues. Their assumption was that children were both  tabla rasa recipients of Culture, AND miniature adults.

      What one should notice immediately concerning Line Marriage (even as idealized by Lord RAH) is that Property IS concentrated in "The Family" ... but the biological children of the Family members do NOT inherit -- and do not expect to inherit.  Nor do they have enough power within the family to assert claims on what would constitute "a suitable portion" to be settled on them when incest taboo and personal autonomy issues would tend to push the biological children out of the family.

      Stereotypically: The Fathers of such arrangements are less distressed by "losing" their offspring than are the Mothers.  Also, stereotypically, Sons are more likely to "opt out" than are "daughters" -- again a phenomenon more agreeable to Fathers than to Mothers.

      •  Thanks, Mike :-) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maggie Pax, quarkstomper

        (someone had to)

      •  Property in the Line Marriage (0+ / 0-)

        I hadn't thought about the property and inheritance ramifications of Heinlein's Line Marriage before.  That makes sense.

        I had noticed that considering the high male-to-female ratio in Luna, the Davis family has an awful lot of fems in it.  Heinlein does mention that the family did get some snarky comments from neighbors when they added Ludmilla, the youngest wife, to the family, breaking the traditional pattern, and that they made up for it later by adding a couple guys later on.  But they still have, at least by my reckoning, about an equal number of men and women.

        "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

        by quarkstomper on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 12:45:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, the Davises of Luna are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper

          agricultural aristocrats in the Lunatic scheme of things.  ( "Davis family", get it.)  

          And, in Heinlein's worlds, whatever rules apply in the societies he imagines,  are never actually binding on the characters the reader is being invited to admire.

          Look ... Lord RAH was who and what he was -- a man of his time who wrote books for boys of his time.  Knowing just a little bit more about a topic than most of his readers was,  (as he reveals in The Cat Who Walked Through Walls) a big part of his stock-in-trade as a professional writer.

          When RAH was perfecting his craft,  there were NO "fem fen" to speak of . Male fen, in general were high IQ dateless, clueless, and athletically challenged boys -- the sort who LOVE strong older male characters who can solve most problems by pulling a blaster from under their kilt.

          Heinlein, like his contemporaries  Rand, Hubbard and Crowley believed

          "Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the Law."

          It was a generation later that  post-Bucklander covens  added the "So you do no harm ..."

        •  Seed money (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, AdamSelene

          In Heinlein's line or Howard marriages (whatever the novel), children are cared for and supported until they are grown (generally about age 18), then they are given "seed" money and sent on their way.

          "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

          by Maggie Pax on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 05:30:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly: "sent on their way" being the expectation (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper, Ellid

            And in both Heinlein's fictions and Jim Ramey's supposedly factual account of a (French) Line Marriage ... the superannuated children essentially disappear from the Family's narrative when they do "opt out."  

            The context of this sub-thread had to do with someone having a "desire" for Line Marriage in the Real World ... and in fact, working towards a 4-adult 1 child family arrangement in his own life.

            So,  one just has to sift out whether they think that in the RealWorld, WITHOUT having the Omniscient Narrator AND a sentient supercomputer on their side ...  how well does "18-and-out" work -- for the Kids that is.

            Heinlein's post-juvenile novels are adolescent wet dreams ... much like Ian Fleming's.  Females just don't count for much in those fantasies, except as Mothers or eager collaborators in the recreational sex act.  

            Personally, I think young men can enjoy these fantasies without taking, or inflicting  too much harm.  "You can do ANYTHING in a cartoon !"

            But as a model/inspiration  for an Alternative Lifestyle?

            We have some  examples of how "eighteen and out" works in real life: the Foster Care systems of most States ... and the polygamous enclaves of the Southwest.  

            IMO:  Bob Heinlein was a stone cold sexist. And if not actually a "pig",  certainly a male chauvinist.  So many of the men of the "Greatest Generation" WERE.  And those were the men who wrote the foundations of the "Human Potential" movements of the 60s and 70s ... with precious little concern for women's or children's issues.    ( Not that the United Nations, then or now,  has really paid much more attention ... )

            My personal experience is that crypto-sexism pops up even among remarkably intelligent, educated and sophisticated people.  Often it is  no more overtly oppressive than assuming that since men and women are EQUAL,  it therefore follows that what men desire is what ought to make women happy.  But even so, it has been the second greatest disruptor of Complex Marriages,  right after income  inequalities among the partners.  

            Come to think of it, those two challenges are often so intimately interwoven that it's very difficult to completely figure out which is which, much less what to do about them -- not that diadic nuclear families are immune to either problem either.

  •  Still one of my favorites (4+ / 0-)

    ...and one I dust off and re-read every year or every other year or so.

    I read Stranger (on the advice of a random passer-by in a used book store - thank you, anonymous friend!)  when I was 13.  I never looked back.  While I can't say Heinlein embodies the "final" version of my political beliefs (he's way too Libertarian for my tastes and I cringe in places at the sexism) I can say his books did more than just about anything else to start the thought process that leads me present day.  

    TMIAHM is truly one of his best.

    "Spread happiness" -KO

    by gloriana on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 07:48:17 AM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (4+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:02:10 AM PDT

  •  the last sensible Heinlein novel (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite, Prof Haley, ER Doc, rpjs, TofG, esquimaux

    Up to this book, Heinlein really had a very nuanced views of  politics and people (save Starship Troopers, which was a harbinger of things to come).

    The best example is near the end of the book. Heinlein has someone (maybe the Prof) say that the Lunar society could have only existed in that peculiar context. Libertarians love to overlook that sentence.

    After this book, his thought experiments were slowly devoured by his ego. I think you can see it happen in Stranger. It starts out with a great concept: "what if there was a Dianetics that really works?" But the author morphs his idea into a fans-are-slans style superfantasy that persuaded hippies that free love was ok.

    •  forgot about Farnham's Freehold (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, quarkstomper, TofG

      Honestly, I just don't want to believe that he wrote it so I always forget about that book. Another harbinger along with Starship Troopers.

    •  The one biggest flaw of the book... (3+ / 0-)
      The best example is near the end of the book. Heinlein has someone (maybe the Prof) say that the Lunar society could have only existed in that peculiar context. Libertarians love to overlook that sentence.

      Some people like to toute the book as a handbook for a revolution, ignoring the fact that not only could such a society exist only in that context, but also that the revolution could only have succeeded with a sentient supercomputer that controlled everything. Without Mike's help, they'd all have been breathing vacuum halfway through the novel.

      -this space for rent-

      by EsnRedshirt on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:35:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The paradise doesn't last (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        In other books, Luna City has become too full of laws and yammerheads. Even at the end of TMIAHM, Mannie is ready to head out to another world.

        "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

        by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 09:47:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Supreme Irony Is... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maggie Pax

          Heinlein's Libertarian Utopia on the Moon can only exist under the tyrannical Authority.   Once the Loonies are free, they are also free to make their own laws; and despite Prof's best endevors, they form a government.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 11:41:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I read Heinlein because I enjoy a good yarn (3+ / 0-)

    and his books are page turners.

    But I do find him to be very, very sexist. And, as others have said, egotistical and a shameless self-promoter. There are other SciFi writers who are more visionary and challenge political ideas and social norms with more depth, imo.

    Here are some I've enjoyed, maybe not the most obvious choices. I don't draw bright lines between SciFi and Fantasy, or adult and YA fiction, as some readers do.

    Listed in no particular order--just my memory retrieval:

    David Brin - Earth
    Octavia Butler - Kindred
    Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game
    Ray Bradbury - Farenheit 451
    Aldous Huxley - Ape and Essence
    Ursula Le Guin - Left Hand of Darkness
    Margaret Atwood - Handmaid's Tale
    Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
    Phillip K Dick - Camp Concentration
    Connie Willis - Doomsday Book
    C S Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet
    John Christopher - No Blade of Grass
    Sheri Tepper - Grass / The Fresco (can't choose)
    Larry Niven (& Jerry Pournelle) - The Mote in God's Eye
    Suzette Haden Elgin - Native Tongue
    Carl Sagan - Contact
    Louise Marley - The Terrorists of Irustan
    Frederik Pohl - Gateway

    Heck, I'll put a favorite title on too. In some cases very hard to choose.

    Unfortunately too many literary critics simply dismiss Science Fiction out of hand, lumping it in with western, horror or romance as "genre" fiction. I've concluded it's because they don't understand enough science to get the stories and are just trying to hide their discomfort.

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 10:08:19 AM PDT

    •  Orson Scot Card Is Right Wing Nut Job (0+ / 0-)

      Please cross Card off your list - the guy is a bigot and an idiot.  The link shows his bigotry, and to my personal knowledge he believes in Intellignt Design Creationism, not evolution.

      http://www.rightwingwatch.org/...

      "There is little separating those that see cells as tiny machines from those that see the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich". H. Humbert 2/6/08

      by JDog42 on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 01:16:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nut job or not, he's a GREAT writer. Calling (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, Maggie Pax

        someone too right wing to read, or even mention, in a diary about Heinlein is sort of funny.

        Not crossing anyone off any reading lists!

        Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

        by Catskill Julie on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 01:19:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agree. Ender's Game is a terrific read! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catskill Julie, quarkstomper

          Some of Card's stuff wanders off into religiosity but the Alvin Maker series and first couple Ender's are excellent reads. Other stuff not so much and some of it is total, unreadable dreck.

          "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

          by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 04:00:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I can handle some religiosity in a SciFi novel (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            Enjoyed the Guy Gavriel Kay books, C S Lewis, etc., 'cause it's all fiction to me :)

            Quite a few good scifi/fantasy novels have a religion at their core sometimes as an evil, sometimes just providing insights into an alien culture.

            Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

            by Catskill Julie on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 04:49:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sure. And even a teensy bit of religion is ok.... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              quarkstomper, Catskill Julie

              ...better w/o it but the kind of freaking nut-jobs we're surrounded with, we should probably be grateful that we're not inundated with the stuff.

              "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

              by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:51:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  He might have *been* a good writer (0+ / 0-)

          But I have no use for anything he's written for the last fifteen years.   As for his politics, gag barf blech ack ack ack ack to quote that great sage and philosopher Bill the Cat.

          One lovely bit of irony:  a couple of years ago he recommended a certain series of fantasy novels as ripping good yarns that would make terrific Christmas gifts.  He seemed unaware that several supporting characters were gay and the main character was transgendered.  Ooops.

    •  Camp Concentration - Thomas Disch (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catskill Julie, quarkstomper

      not Dick. Throw in Man in the High Castle which is not unlike TMisHM in sentiment with all the great time/mind bending Dickian universe.

      "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 03:57:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're right! Brain lapse! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        I don't think I've read the Man in the High Castle. Will do now. :)

        Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

        by Catskill Julie on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 04:43:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  TMiHC - 1963 Hugo (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, Catskill Julie

          The Man in the High Castle (1962) is a science fiction alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. It won a Hugo Award in 1963 and has since been translated into many languages.

          The story of The Man in the High Castle, about daily life under totalitarian Fascist imperialism, occurs in 1962, fourteen years after the end of a longer Second World War (1939–1948). The victorious Axis Powers — Imperial Japan, Italy and Nazi Germany — are conducting intrigues against each other in North America, specifically in the former U.S., which surrendered to them once they had conquered Eurasia and destroyed the populaces of Africa.

          Like all of PKD's writings: mind bending. What would have happened if Germany and Japan would have won WWII? Probably not what you'd think. Fine read!

          "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

          by TerryDarc on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:56:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You have excellent taste, which means I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catskill Julie

      agree with a number of your favorites. : )

      Octavia Butler - Kindred -- brilliant author, moving book about racial and personal tangles in our pasts, the weight of the past shaping us, forgiveness, all that

      Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game- exhausting reading! Excellent, though.  Also Ender's SHadow

      Ursula Le Guin - Left Hand of Darkness -- Ursula LeGuin is God.  CF Wizard of Earthsea, THe Other WInd, THe GIft, Always COming Home, brilliant short stories, etc.

      Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time -- beloved

      Larry Niven (& Jerry Pournelle) - The Mote in God's Eye -  Niven does great aliens.

      As for Phillip K Dick - Man in the High Castle -- do read it.  Not typical sf, of course, but a deeply satisfying novel.

      •  Heinlein read Niven and Pournelle first (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper, Catskill Julie

        They sent him a draft of their first novel. Heinlein not only read it, he sent them a detailed critique. It reads like a master class in how to write a novel. They actually took his advice, sent Heinlein the revision, which he also critiqued, and the rest is sf history. They remained friends throughout Heinlein's life.

        "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

        by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 08:40:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fascinating. Did they publish the critique? Or is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catskill Julie, quarkstomper

          it something you were able to look at when researching your -- thesis? dissertation?

          WHat book of Niven's and Pournelle's was it that they sent him?  

          THat was a very generous response from an established writer.  But I guess he saw some real potential there.

          •  {{blush}} (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quarkstomper

            Virginia Heinlein gave me a copy to read when I was staying with her for a week during my dissertation research. Wow. What a week! This was for their first novel together, The Mote in God's Eye.

            I don't think those letters have been published yet, but you may be able to read them at the Heinlein archives, an online archive of all of Heinlein's papers, letters, books, articles, scripts, screenplays, photos, notes--the works. (I know they are there, but since Niven and Pournelle are still alive, the letters may still be sealed for privacy).

            Did you hear about how it happened? While writing his masterful Heinlein biography, Bill Patterson learned that Heinlein's papers were about to go into long term, cold storage, and that they would be inaccessible for some time (the library was undergoing extensive renovations). As the authorized biographer, Patterson had rights to see everything. Working with a hand-picked special-ops team, Patterson managed to make a digital scan of every single photograph, letter, paper, and notecard. It was a caper worthy of Lazarus Long himself, who copied the complete Howard Family archives before fleeing from Secundus! That team then posted everything online. It is fitting that Heinlein is one of the first modern authors to have his archives available online to the general public (for a small fee).

            The fee goes to support the work of the archivists and the Heinlein Prize Trust. Fans may also want to join the  Heinlein Society or purchase The Virginia Edition. These definitive editions of Heinlein's complete works include photos, letters, and guest introductions by major sf authors and scholars. I'm saving up, and I've written my local library encouraging them to buy a set.

            "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

            by Maggie Pax on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 05:03:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You know, there is a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        Rand book I enjoyed, years ago. I can't recommend her generally (natch) and have no wish to generate a flame session here, but I thought Anthem was much better than the doorstop of hers I once tried to read. Not even sure which one it was.

        Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

        by Catskill Julie on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 08:05:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Anthem is Not A Doorstop (0+ / 0-)

          I will grant you that Anthem is not a doorstop.  That is about the only good thing I can say about it.

          I had to read it in high school and to this day it is the only Ayn Rand I've ever read.  I found Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky to be a much better treatment of the "Galileo vs. the Inquisistion" theme, and I actually had more sympathy for the hidebound traditionalist elders of the story than I did the inventor hero.

          But it very well be the most enjoyable book she ever wrote.  As I said, I have never been tempted to read anything else by her.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 12:52:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I read Anthem in high school and found it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quarkstomper, Catskill Julie

          moving and thrillng.  It's not very detailed in expressing Rand's ideology.  What comes across is a young person searching for meaning in his life, and for a sense of self.  He and his beloved break away from an oppressive, stiffling society, bravely set out on their own, and make a new life for themselves.  It's all about freedom and courage and youth and being in love and learning to say "I am."  A perfect novel for adolescence.  

          Some of Rand's hallmarks are there, such as viewing most human beings with contempt.  But that's not the focus.  And the writing was more lyrical than her usual style -- or at least that's how I remember it.  It would be interesting to go back and read it again, and see how it stood up.  But it certainly is quite different from her other novels.

  •  Generally on heinlein I agree with the diarist. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper

    Growing up in a previous milennium I liked his children's and young adult fiction, but the ones critics seem to prefer (adult) I think are the weakest. He seemed to want to go literary.

  •  Heinlein (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, EclecticCrafter

    I read this in college, and while Robert Heinlein is an enjoyable writer who creates vivid and engaging characters - Jubal Harshaw, in Stranger, is a particularly good one - read closely: Heinlein is, at best, a Randite, and at worst, a borderline fascist.   He's also a mysoginist.  Don't be fooled by his "respect" for women.  Look at Man's remark, late in the book, when all the pressure is on him and Wyoh brings him dinner, then leaves him alone.  She's a "good fem" who knows her place.

    Not saying don't read him, but be mindful of his perspective.

    •  I must respectfully disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper

      I think you are taking one scene--out of context--and unfairly extrapolating from it.

      As for your example, everyone needs to be alone now and then. Remember from ch. 6 where Heinlein makes clear that ethical behavior rests with the individual alone. Mannie needed time alone, and Wyoh gave him space. Big deal. Heinlein was so not a Randite (how many Randites do you know who volunteer for active duty military, to protect the greater citizenry?) and as for being fascist--read the new Heinlein biography. Read how hard Heinlein fought against fascism during WWII. Read about his contempt for Hitler. Read his letters.

      And note carefully that in Starship Troopers, active duty military cannot vote. One can only vote after retirement. And there are many was to earn the franchise--teaching, medical training, etc.

      If you don't like Heinlein, fine; that's your privilege. But don't throw words like fascist around until you have read more about him.

      Opinions expressed by any character--even the protagonist--do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author. That's true for Heinlein and any other writer out there.

      "Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased."--Spider Robinson

      by Maggie Pax on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 05:56:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry I missed this yesterday (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TerryDarc, quarkstomper

    MIAHM is a classic, one of my favorite Heinlein's.

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 02:36:12 PM PDT

  •  No idea why this was on kos but THANK YOU (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper

    Loved it.

    •  I'm Glad You're Enjoying It (0+ / 0-)

      As to why it's here, I'm not sure either.  Except that somebody staked out this group to discuss books in general and someone asked me to contribute a series about science fiction books.  So far I have tried to choose books that touch on political themes, to make it somewhat relevant to the overall Kos Mission Statement; but my main goal was to talk about books that I liked.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Tue Aug 02, 2011 at 07:14:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  finally got the book today. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, Maggie Pax

    I have a healthy collection of Heinlein's work but not this one...but then i have a very strange collection of books as it is. However, I did vote for this one so I had to go get the book!

    I didn't read the diary as I see I'm already six chapters behind. Guess what I will be doing tonight!

    Earth: Mostly harmless ~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (revised entry)

    by yawnimawke on Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 02:01:09 PM PDT

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