Re: [Epic] Heinlein

From: Brett Hollindale <agro_at_...>
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 1997 02:41:09 GMT

At 09:29 AM 17/1/97 -0600, you wrote:
>Okay, this isn't a sci-fi board, but I feel unloved that no one wants to
>play on private e-mail. I'll make my objections briefly and then shut up
>about it.
>Problems with Heinlein in general:
>1) He is incredibly didactic. He just happens to preach ideas that find
>resonance among many sci-fi fans. However, he beats you over the head with
>his ideology.
>2) All of his characters are one dimensional. They are very stereo-typical.
> Mentor/wisdom figure: Jubal Harshaw, Lazarus whoever, etc.
> Intelligent and gorgeous women: too many names to mention
> Gruff tech type: so forgettable I don't remember names
> Youthful prodigy: M.V. Smith, the guy in Starship troopers, etc.
>3) All of his plots are simplistic. Basically they are messianic,
>adolescent male, masturbatory power fantasies. Youthful prodigy (who fits a
>messianic archetype) meats mentor/wisdom figure, hangs out with beautiful,
>intelligent women and gruff tech types and goes on to rule the world/become
>company commander/explore the universe. There are, of course, exceptions,
>but a large portion of his books follow this pattern.
>4) His expressed ideologies are frequently contradictory with the REAL
>events in the story. For example, he professes equal treatment of women in
>all ways. However, in _Stranger..._ his women are treated as underlings to
>Jubal and M.V.S. in all ways. They are valued because they are beautiful
>and intelligent/competent, but the gruff techie type is valued bcause he is
>intelligent/competent even though he is one step shy of being a mis-shapen
>dwarf. In short, he does not need physical beauty, while the women do.
>Then there is that Arabic guy's sexist treatment of women which is condemned
>by the characters, but which is written about in a very sympathetic manner.
>In Heinlein's favor he does write amazingly clean prose. Consequently he is
>very quotable. He also has a remarkable turn of phrase. To sum up, he says
>nothing of value, but he says it incredibly well. (see end quote)
>I won't post specific problems with _Stranger..._ because I could write a
>book about the number of insanely bad aspects of the so-called novel.
>Frankly, I'm embarassed to have it on the same shelf as _Dune_.

But I'll bet you're not ashamed to have it on the same shelf as "God Emporer
of Dune" or any number of the crummy Dune sequels...

>My apologies for diverging from the discussion. I'm beggin' for some lively
>debate. Any takers? Anyone know a good sci-fi mailing list?

I don't subscribe to any SF mailing lists (and I don't think I can match
YOUR deathless prose) but I guess I must be one of those SF readers that
Heinlien strikes "a resonanace with" - at least some of the time. His later
books hardly ever inspire me, but his early work has (IMHO) earned him the
reputation and acclaim that he richly deserves.
(Are you telling me you didn't like Starship Troopers or Tunnel in the Sky
or Starman Jones or Friday or the one whose name escapes me about the family
that is sucked through time by a nuclear weapon?)

I CAN see the "formula story" you suggest in most of these stories, but as
you also point out, he says what he says very well...


PS. An awful lot of Mills and Boon "formula stories" are sold - maybe it is
just as well to appeal to the lowest common denominator! :-)

>"Here's to alcoholic brotherhood; more suited to the frail human soul than
>any other sort." - J. Harshaw (I might be off by a little, it's been years)
Received on Sat Jan 18 1997 - 02:41:09 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Tue Oct 22 2019 - 13:09:00 UTC