Below is what was written in 2008 after the Heinlein Centennial had ended. Sadly, the Heinlein Society at that time had officially taken no part. However members of the Heinlein Society, and those now in positions of leadership and volunteering at the Heinlein Society, were a part of the Centennial. Now, with a revitalized Society, we thoroughly intend to be there to take our turn in seeing to it the Heinlein Society is here and active in making Luna City 2107 a reality.
In simple terms, it’s now your turn.
One of the reasons that this final edition of all that is and was Heinlein Centennial did not appear before the end of 2008 is that the organizers held out hope that the organization, both legal entity and hardworking human components, would evolve into a new and influential entity promoting the many legacies of Robert Heinlein beyond that wonderful weekend in July 2007.
It didn’t happen that way.
Why? All the usual reasons. The organization was created to do a single job, a job that needed doing but which no one else would step up and do. So the four-five-six or so of us stepped up, brought together the resources, and made it happen. Once it was done, nearly all of those who had lent their shoulder to the effort had to return to other things; the major accomplishment accomplished, those remaining were too few (and, honestly, too damn tired) to push on to a continuation. And so, like all good things, this one too comes to an end.
But only an end of sorts. We’re done; we’re tired; we’re moving on to other things after having devoted two or three years to what was a magnificent and memorable event.
We are only too aware that this leaves a vacuum in the Heinlein world — a vacuum where a vibrant, active, focused organization should be, championing the man, his work and his fascinating legacies. We tried to stay on and fill that gap, but many factors worked against that wish. And we leave knowing that the field is now empty, the position vacant, the nexus for Heinlein aficionados dissipated.
It’s Your Turn
If you’re one of those who has appreciated having an organization Doing Things in the Heinlein world, it’s time for you to step up and Do a few Things yourself. Don’t sit there comfortably, assuming that “someone” is doing something — because they’re not. There is activity in the academic world and other places somewhat out of the mainstream, but as of this time there is no one doing anything with or about Robert Heinlein for a general audience or interested group.
If you don’t do it, it’s hard to say who will.
Thoughts on a Heinlein Future
We’ve stepped down, but not without some long thinking, discussion and arm-wrassling over the choice. We’ve thought a lot about what should be. Here’s some final thoughts for those of you interested enough, focused enough and tough enough to pick up the Heinlein torch and carry it into the future.
- We are saddened to have to leave the field without a successor, a group to carry on the championing of Heinlein and his legacies.
- We firmly believe that there’s a need and a purpose for a general-interest Heinlein organization, focused on carrying forward his many legacies.
- We believe that this organization needs to be focused outside the general spectrum of Heinlein fandom, on the wider range of people who would never call themselves a “fan” — that great spread of people who attended the Centennial. Academics, readers, fans, engineers, futurists, and more. Heinlein has been the province of “fandom” long enough; it’s time to take his works and ideas out to a wider audience.
- The major institutions related to the Heinlein estates aren’t suitable as the basis for a general organization. They have their purposes, but serving a wide membership (formal or not) isn’t one of them. They are generally supportive of positively-focused Heinlein groups, but will never serve as the group itself. Any new group should seek the support and approval of the Heinlein Trust for many reasons.
- Academic interest in Heinlein and his works is strong, but isolated. Those with more general interest in Heinlein aren’t served by the narrow strictures and focus of formal studies. Any new group should definitely welcome and support the academic component, but this field will never be the center or supporter of a general Heinlein organization.
- We know, you’re saying, “What about __________________?”
- We know who you mean. If you think that organization, no matter how impressive its credentials or “official” its standing, has ever done very much as a group or, in light of its current nearly-defunct status, ever will again, you haven’t been paying attention. You need to look closer, particularly before you send in your next round of dues… try to evaluate exactly what you, or even the community at large, is getting from that pelf. (When you look really closely, you’ll find that individual members did quite a bit… often for minimal credit and no reward… or less. Go ahead, ask them.)
- We’ll point out that they were the ones who stood first in line to celebrate Heinlein’s centennial properly… and they chose to do nothing. Even the feeble “Centennial” efforts they were goaded into by our action have never come to fruition. (Centennial’s over, guys, in case you hadn’t noticed…)
- Besides, they never once left the cradle of pure fandom… and Heinlein long ago outgrew that cradle.
- So… what about ’em?
- We know — we know — you can do better. Take our torch, the one whose flame burned bright in Kansas City, and hold it high for us. For everyone. For Robert Anson Heinlein. You don’t even have to start from scratch — if you’re serious, and committed, we have goodwill and assets to pass along.