Heinlein Readers Discussion Group Thursday 01/11/2007 9:00 P.M. EST Rocket Ship Galileo

Heinlein Readers Discussion Group
Thursday 01/11/2007 9:00 P.M. EST
Rocket Ship Galileo

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From: “Tim Morgan”
Subject: Heinlein Reading Group meeting notice
Date: 4 Jan 2007 22:04:40 -0800

Rocket Ship Galileo has been called the weakest of Heinlein’s juveniles. To some extent, this is simply because it’s the oldest of them. The references to Nazis on the moon won’t mean much to today’s young readers, for instance.

One might also say that it won’t be believable to today’s readers that a group of boys and an adult built a rocket capable of taking them to the moon. This is partially justified in the book by the use of off-the-shelf technology (the ship itself was purchased and retrofitted, not built from scratch), and it’s still possible that there will someday be off-the-shelf space vehicles. But the use of nuclear propulsion isn’t credible to today’s readers because they know (a) it’s not that easy, and (b) these days, you can’t just go out and buy a pile of radioactive materials to put in your engine even if you have a design for one.

Is dating all that’s “wrong” with Rocket Ship Galileo? John Varley’s Red Thunder has much the same basic situation—a group of teenagers and a couple of adults, building a ship to get to, in this case, Mars, using an advanced propulsion system. Is that the only difference?

What else do you like, or dispise, about Rocket Ship Galileo?

Tim Morgan, for The Heinlein Society

From: “David M. Silver”
Subject: Re: Heinlein Reading Group meeting notice
Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2007 23:52:58 -0800 In article, “Tim Morgan” wrote:

> Rocket Ship Galileo has been called the weakest of Heinlein’s
> juveniles. To some extent, this is simply because it’s the oldest of
> them. The references to Nazis on the moon won’t mean much to today’s
> young readers, for instance.
>
> One might also say that it won’t be believable to today’s readers that
> a group of boys and an adult built a rocket capable of taking them to
> the moon. This is partially justified in the book by the use of
> off-the-shelf technology (the ship itself was purchased and
> retrofitted, not built from scratch), and it’s still possible that
> there will someday be off-the-shelf space vehicles. But the use of
> nuclear propulsion isn’t credible to today’s readers because they know
> (a) it’s not that easy, and (b) these days, you can’t just go out and
> buy a pile of radioactive materials to put in your engine even if you
> have a design for one.
>
> Is dating all that’s “wrong” with Rocket Ship Galileo? John Varley’s
> Red Thunder has much the same basic situation—a group of teenagers
> and a couple of adults, building a ship to get to, in this case, Mars,
> using an advanced propulsion system. Is that the only difference?
>
> What else do you like, or dispise, about Rocket Ship Galileo?
>
> Tim Morgan, for The Heinlein Society

I think one of the things often overlooked in Rocket Ship Galileo is the state of secondary education. The school the three boys describe seems very far superior to the one Kip in HSS-WT described. What happened between 1947 and 1957 to change Heinlein’s description of secondary education in this country?


David M. Silver
http://www.heinleinsociety.org
“The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!”
Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA ’29
Lt.(jg), USN, R’td

From: “Tim Morgan”
Subject: Re: Heinlein Reading Group meeting notice
Date: 12 Jan 2007 13:05:55 -0800

David M. Silver wrote:
> In article ,
> “Tim Morgan” wrote:
>
> > instead of the usual first to let us recover from the holidays first]
> >
> > Rocket Ship Galileo has been called the weakest of Heinlein’s
> > juveniles. To some extent, this is simply because it’s the oldest of
> > them. The references to Nazis on the moon won’t mean much to today’s
> > young readers, for instance.
> >
> > One might also say that it won’t be believable to today’s readers that
> > a group of boys and an adult built a rocket capable of taking them to
> > the moon. This is partially justified in the book by the use of
> > off-the-shelf technology (the ship itself was purchased and
> > retrofitted, not built from scratch), and it’s still possible that
> > there will someday be off-the-shelf space vehicles. But the use of
> > nuclear propulsion isn’t credible to today’s readers because they know
> > (a) it’s not that easy, and (b) these days, you can’t just go out and
> > buy a pile of radioactive materials to put in your engine even if you
> > have a design for one.
> >
> > Is dating all that’s “wrong” with Rocket Ship Galileo? John Varley’s
> > Red Thunder has much the same basic situation—a group of teenagers
> > and a couple of adults, building a ship to get to, in this case, Mars,
> > using an advanced propulsion system. Is that the only difference?
> >
> > What else do you like, or dispise, about Rocket Ship Galileo?
> >
> > Tim Morgan, for The Heinlein Society
>
> I think one of the things often overlooked in Rocket Ship Galileo is the
> state of secondary education. The school the three boys describe seems
> very far superior to the one Kip in HSS-WT described. What happened
> between 1947 and 1957 to change Heinlein’s description of secondary
> education in this country?
>
> —
> David M. Silver
> http://www.heinleinsociety.org
> “The Lieutenant expects your names to shine!”
> Robert Anson Heinlein, USNA ’29
> Lt.(jg), USN, R’td

This is a good point, as we discussed Thursday night. I’ll have some more to add on this topic in the meeting on tomorrow afternoon.

Tim

From: EngrBohn
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 14:12:16 -0500
Subject: Re: Heinlein Reading Group meeting notice

Good afternoon,

Tim Morgan wrote:
[…]
> Rocket Ship Galileo has been called the weakest of Heinlein’s
> juveniles. To some extent, this is simply because it’s the oldest of
> them. The references to Nazis on the moon won’t mean much to today’s
> young readers, for instance.
[…]
> What else do you like, or dispise, about Rocket Ship Galileo?

Personally, I liked the educational component to it, though there were one or two points in which the third-person narrator told the audience directly why something was happening instead of what the audience’s experience might lead them to expect. That would’ve worked better for me if it were a first-person narrator telling the audience or, better yet, a character explaining it to another.

Take care,

cb
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AGplusone: ah, it works

AGplusone: I think

aggirlj: hey David

AGplusone: hi, Jane

aggirlj: I think Tim may be afk

IrishBet: has entered the chat room.

aggirlj: Hi Pam, we are small

AGplusone: Hi, Pam

IrishBet: Hi, guys . . . I’m just home from work

aggirlj: busy day?

AGplusone: I’m just awake. Took a nap and it just went by for a couple hours.

IrishBet: Janie, I’m working for a buncha nitwits. 😉

aggirlj: Payroll time?

IrishBet: Done with that. We have a new Commish. I’ve survived them before — but this guys is a piece of work.

aggirlj: Ahhhh

AGplusone: Do you see this, Tim?

aggirlj: The only other person on line, that I can tell, is Geo and I don’t know if he saw the notice

morganuci: For those who haven’t heard, I lost network connectivity just as the chat was beginning. Another person was

IrishBet: My promotion stalled — but I can live with that. I’m still getting the money

aggirlj: Great!

morganuci: on, but I don’t see him now. I finally gave up on getting it back up, changed to another house, and finally I’m here.

IrishBet: I missed the notice. What’s the topic?

aggirlj: Rocket Ship Galileo

aggirlj: That I haven’t read recently

AGplusone: need to develop a habit of getting people to post on your notices … post yourself when need be until someone replies

morganuci: OK

AGplusone: Where’d David Wright go. did he send out notices?

morganuci: Yes, I got it through him.

IrishBet: I’m developing a new Heinlein fan. I just gave him Tunnel in The Sky to share with his son.

aggirlj: I didn’t get one, but then I haven’t ever

IrishBet: And Citizen of the Galaxy

AGplusone: send him a reminder to send them to us, Jane

aggirlj: Ok

IrishBet: And he’s reading TMiaHM

aggirlj: btw, Pam, have you seen Eragon

aggirlj: ?

AGplusone: poor kid, he’ll get a headache

IrishBet: I haven’t seen the movie, Jane.

IrishBet: LoL, Dave — DAD is reading TMiaHM

aggirlj: It’s pretty good. I devoured those two and am waiting for #3

IrishBet: He did okay for a 15-yr-old.

aggirlj: Well, you remember by your recommendation . . . I’ve passed them on to a friend who also likes FFic

AGplusone: About the school those three in RSG went to, I wanted to go to it when I read it between 6th and 7th grade. Expected too much out of junior high after that.

morganuci: Can you refresh our memories about how the school’s described, David?

AGplusone: In terms of very advanced labs, classes, subjects, mainly in engineering and engineering related topics.

IrishBet: I hesitated about using RSG to suck in this young man. The themes are great, but the story is a bit dated for young readers today.

AGplusone: In relationship to the rocket club they’re in process of shutting down in the beginning of the book.

AGplusone: The whole nine-yards from the standpoint of teaching theory in the late 1940s. What was the name: Connant?

morganuci: The HS I went to didn’t have any engineering courses. We had available 2 years each of bio, chem, physics, and one year of calc.

morganuci: I started an astronomy club, naturally-).

AGplusone: One year more of Calc than we had.

AGplusone: Astronomy Club. Nice to have Pasadena nearby.

AGplusone: Up here in the basin or down among the Orange Countites?

IrishBet: has left the chat room.

morganuci: I was in Chattanooga, TN back then. There is a small observatory there where we nerds hung out.

AGplusone: Ever read the book behind Rocket Boys?

morganuci: I read the book, and also “Back to the Moon”. Really liked both.

AGplusone: when?

IrishBet: has entered the chat room.

IrishBet: Here I am. I don’t know what happened

AGplusone: wb, touch wrong button, did you, Pam?

morganuci: When did I read them? Rocket boys some time after the movie came out. BttM a couple of years ago.

aggirlj: You’re back

IrishBet: Must hve, Dave

AGplusone: Anyone here beside you and me read Red Thunder?

georule1861: has entered the chat room.

aggirlj: Hey, Geo!

AGplusone: Hi, Geo

morganuci: Hi Geo.

georule1861: Yo. Wassup?

aggirlj: We need your expertise, discussing RSG

georule1861: RSG?

morganuci: We’re up to the last chapter (or so) of Red Thunder. The 2nd half feels to me more like Have Space Suit

morganuci: Lots of talk about “If I were desiging suits, I would have such and such a feature”, etc.

AGplusone: The last chapter involves the rescue, doesn’t it? Need spacesuits for that.

morganuci: yes, we just got through the rescue, so there’s 1 or maybe 2 chapters to go to wrap things up.

AGplusone: How’s the uploading going on the archives, Geo?

georule1861: Well, the whole book is the 1st Juvie meets Have Space Suit.

morganuci: That’s exactly what I

morganuci: ‘ve been thinking

georule1861: It’s going well, David. I’ve been trying to talk them into letting you in to play.

AGplusone: heh

georule1861: We’ve had some “real” clients doing downloads.

AGplusone: see if an idiot can make it work … good idea.

georule1861: Academic types that Art has approved.

georule1861: Trying to add more context now.

AGplusone: That’s good. From where?

georule1861: Like Bill’s manuscripts, which we’ve acquired.

georule1861: And links to CSUS.

georule1861: Santa Cruz, rather.

georule1861: Old Sac thing there, CSUS.

AGplusone: Great. “CSUS”? UCSC

georule1861: Yeah, them!

georule1861:-)

AGplusone: ah

georule1861: CSUS is Cal State Uni Sacramento.

AGplusone: Ah-so

georule1861: Boggling over Bill’s 2000 footnotes in book 1.

georule1861: More or less.

AGplusone: CSLA is the form I’m familar with.

AGplusone: I have his volume 1 in CD but never seen volume 2.

georule1861: I didn’t go blind from the nekkid pictures of Ginny anyway.

georule1861: But we did ask Art –“Are you SURE?!”

georule1861: LOL

AGplusone: Heh, really, how scrawny was she by then?

georule1861: Well, peeking between fingers, I’d say a handsome woman.-)

AGplusone: [Don’t believe you a minutes, Geo.]

georule1861: Anyway, I just acquired Red Lightning. Haven’t started on it yet.

georule1861: Will I like it as well as the original?

AGplusone: It’s not as good as Thunder, but passable.

morganuci: Will Alex (13) like it? He loves Red Thunder, except for the sex scenes, which are innocent enough

AGplusone: Too much of a taste of fascist is the way we’re going.

AGplusone: He might like that. Make him think.

IrishBet: Should I be reading Red Thunder?

AGplusone: Yes. One of the best quasi-Heinlein juveniles I’ve ever read.

AGplusone: Grown up juvies–they occasionally swear and have sex, just like real teens.

IrishBet: Excellent. I’ll click through the ebsite and order a copy.

morganuci: I agree. It really has a Heinlein feel to it. As Geo said, it’s RSG + Have Space Suit

AGplusone: Post High School

IrishBet: I’m trying to get into the habit of buying all my books through the website.

AGplusone: Much better job than Variable Star. If Varley actually helped R he shudda listened or accepted more help.

morganuci: Yeah, and maybe that makes it a little more realistic to today’s reader (getting back to my topic posting).

georule1861: If you can’t like as passable (by our standards) a Varley with a character named “Dak Broadbent” then. .. well, you’re hopeless. So, yes, Pam.

IrishBet: I’ll definitely check it out.

AGplusone: Funny how Spider killed Varley off in VS … Herb is Varley’s nickname.

georule1861: Oh, I’ve been killed in print by near and dear friends.

georule1861: It’s a hobby for some of them.

AGplusone: But you’re eminently killable, Geo. Ask anyone.

georule1861: Well, there is that.

aggirlj: Need to go eat. Enjoy your chat guys.

georule1861: Ta, JanE. Nice to see you, etc.

morganuci: Bye!

aggirlj: Cheerio

aggirlj: has left the chat room.

AGplusone: I think you’ll like the characters in Thunder a lot better, Pam. True Heinlein ones.

AGplusone: Actually let them live in my neighborhood …

AGplusone: even the girl who’s a little nutso about substance abuse.

IrishBet: VS was such a letdown. I’d like better characters.

AGplusone: Varley’s treatment is realistic without being burdensome on the soul.

georule1861: Varley didn’t have Dagliesh, for sure.

AGplusone: Yes.

IrishBet: Ahhhh . . . . but does ithave a magical, mystical stardrive?

AGplusone: I found them interesting characters as well.

georule1861: Oh, absolutely Pam.

georule1861: Invented by a crazed genius who’s not too bright.

AGplusone: Yes, of a sort, but it at least employs real handwavium.

georule1861: Sweet, but not too bright.

AGplusone: savant, Geo … savant

georule1861: Right.

georule1861: I love that he made the girlfriend the program manager tho. True Heinleinian stroke there.

AGplusone: They just don’t use the handwavium to get to the stars yet. The brown kryptonite hasn’t aged enough yet.

IrishBet: Okay, guys . . . . are these teasers or spoilers?

IrishBet: 😉

georule1861: These are teasers, of course.

morganuci: Absolutely!

georule1861: Aren’t you itching to read it yet?

AGplusone: Btw, I always thought it was green kryptomite … don’t remember brown, unless that was what Supe and Luther found in a cow pasture.

IrishBet: Actually, Geo . . . . I am. I’m just finishing Flynn’s latest, and I need a “next one” in the wings.

IrishBet: I get antsy if I don’t have something good waiting.

georule1861: Oh, hmm.

georule1861: I wonder if you could make a little bit of a case for savant guy (forgot the name) as VMS.

AGplusone: The girlfriend is the only one clever enough to be manager, I agree, Geo. Liked her. Varley can do a female character.

georule1861: Unworldly genius with powers no one else can fathom, who insists they are engineering.

georule1861: Not perfect fit of course.

AGplusone: He’s an interesting study. Reason he’s a savant Pam is he was seriously abused by a nutcase father, a religous fanatic who beat the hell out of him, literally.

AGplusone: … with a two by four.

IrishBet: Did he beat him in the head?

AGplusone: All over and that too.

georule1861: David, you’d be proud of me. No gin tonight.

georule1861: Laphroaig 15.

AGplusone: I haven’t started yet. I can’t remember his name either and my copy has wandered away from the shelf it’s usually on.

morganuci: Sorry, got distracted a minute. It’s Jubal

AGplusone: That’s right! How can I forget that.

georule1861: Ah, of course! Naughty geo!

georule1861: That’s probably what suggested VMS to me in part as well!

georule1861: Very bad geo!

morganuci: short for Jubilation. The other sibs have similar names (Celebration etc.)

AGplusone: There’s very interesting and well written treatment of people with substance abuse and emotional problems in Thunder. Made me want to read and enjoy Varley better.

AGplusone: Sensitive writer.

georule1861: He’s almost always dealt with emotional issues of some sort in depth in his works.

IrishBet: Okay, Y’all hooked me. I’m ordering it now.

georule1861: Tho way back when when I first read Titan, I wasn’t expecting him to grow into this.

georule1861: So very pleasantly surprised that way.

morganuci: I was going to ask, what else if anything should I read of Varley?

AGplusone: Yes, but in this one he kept it under control … sometimes when he writes you wonder what he’s dropped.

georule1861: Criminy, Titan was 1979.

georule1861: I read that at the time.

AGplusone: When was Steel Beach?

IrishBet: Okay, now I have to find something to bring my Amazon total over $25

AGplusone: It’s with my paperbacks in the other room.

georule1861: 1992

AGplusone: That recent. Surprised. What’s the one about the theatre? Rufo likes it.

georule1861: Not sure.

georule1861: http://isfdb.tamu.edu/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?John_Varley

AGplusone: The Golden Globe

georule1861: Ah, that makes sense.

AGplusone: Varley’s plotting is usually a little weird, Pam, although Red Thunder wasn’t.

georule1861: Good point.

georule1861: Red Thunder was pretty linear that way.

georule1861: By his standards.

IrishBet: I can live with weird. I read Brunner. Now, he’s weird.

georule1861: Ha.

AGplusone: But not boring. He did spend a good amount of time on character in it, proving he understands Heinlein’s juvies.

AGplusone: I liked the way Manny grew.

IrishBet: Should I go ahead and order both? Thunder and Lightning?

AGplusone: might as well, skipping generation sequel

georule1861: I’m curious what will happen in Lightning. I would not have predicted that Thunder made a good sequel-maker.

georule1861: Unlike that bastard RAH, who wrote books that begged for sequels and then didn’t right them.

AGplusone: It’s acceptible, just not as good I thought. Let politics intrude a little.

georule1861: The “always leave them wanting more” theory, I guess.

AGplusone: Yeah, him.

AGplusone: Steel Beach is a nice little satire …

georule1861: I enjoyed it, but you probably need a taste for post-apocalyptic.

AGplusone: except I couldn’t stand the “Heinleiners”

georule1861: Well, satire, as you said.

AGplusone: yeah, my first experience with Varley … read before I met many fen.

georule1861: Heinleiners misunderstood end up a bit Randian lampooned.

georule1861: Typically.

AGplusone: I’d probably find it very mild if I reread it today.

AGplusone: After what I’ve encountered these past six years …. Ginny used to be amazed I ever went to a second SF convention.

georule1861: Heh.

AGplusone: “Do you really like to go to SF conventions, David?” That’s a quote.

georule1861: The beautiful thing about a SF convention tho, is if you try you can find the convention you want, typically, and ignore the other 200 conventions going on around you.

AGplusone: Exactly, or do your own.

georule1861: Before the internet, that was nearly the only way “our people” had to find each other.

AGplusone:: Reminds me of the John D. MacDonald character, the friend of T. McGee, who used to take his neices off to Epcot.

AGplusone:: nieces

AGplusone:: and never leave the hotel room

AGplusone: “nieces”

georule1861: Ah ha.

AGplusone: McGee is always borrowing his pick up truck

AGplusone: My question in Steel Beach was: why couldn’t the Heinleiners be like that … then I met the real CAW types, and understood it would have been too rich.

AGplusone: In the sixties when they asked me to share water they were in their teens and twenties. Now it’s the same people, somewhat changed.

georule1861: Anyway, David, why don’t you “volunteer” to Art to help test the archives delivery? Then probably he’ll tell Deb to let you in, and you can enjoy.

AGplusone: I might mention it.

georule1861: It’s not all there yet, but why not? You’d enjoy having that stuff on your harddrive.

AGplusone: T’anks for the offer.

georule1861: And Art’s too busy to test it anyway. So win-win, y’know?

AGplusone: Art’s letter mentions your goal by 7/7/07

georule1861: yes.

georule1861: The pictures archive is going to be the bitch.

georule1861: To rationalize, that is.

AGplusone: And that’s a nice edition of Glory Road, which, Tim, if you wanted to make about a month off, might be a chat topic.

morganuci: Good suggestion. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read GR, so it’d be worth re-reading it to refresh my memory.

AGplusone: No one could claim their copy is in boxes somewhere.

IrishBet: LoL, Dave . . . . How’re you doing on the mailing?

morganuci: Good point! Mine certainly is in storage right now.

AGplusone: I’m just a stuffin’ away like a little beaver.

AGplusone: Making little beavers.

georule1861: Glory Road, somedays, is well up the list for me of favorites.

IrishBet: Mine are all comin back out! Got new bookcases. -))

georule1861: He’s clearly having a blast.

georule1861: Yet getting his pot of message in on several fronts.

IrishBet: Sooner you than me. I had the Newsletters down to a science — but I’m glad not to have the books the deal with.

georule1861: And showing off various historical references both lit’ry and otherwise.

AGplusone: I always liked Oscar … just wanted to know what his real nickname, the unprintable one was.

georule1861: Well, *I* reupped after getting that email, so I better get my darn book.

AGplusone: Yep.

georule1861: Tho the Society did very well by us on Amazon commissions for christmas shopping too, I would think.

AGplusone: Dunno. Never pay attention.

IrishBet: I go thru the website for everything now.

georule1861: I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re 1/2 of your Amazon commissions. LOL

georule1861: Deb loves it to death.

georule1861: If you see a big ticket item on that list, it’s probably us.

AGplusone: Did we ever solve the problem with the subsequent purchases after one leaves the link on our site?

georule1861: Got a lovely Schmidt Cassegrain telescope that way.

georule1861: Gosh, I hope so. It should make a cookie that lasts for a day or two.

AGplusone: Write me something telling me how that works, please, Geo.

georule1861: ‘k

morganuci: What SCT did you buy?

georule1861: Celestron NexStar 8k

georule1861: 8i

georule1861: Economical (relatively), yet powerful.

morganuci: Cool. Do you do any photography, or only visual use?

georule1861: Only visual so far.

morganuci: I was really into astrophotography, but after a while I’d done all I was capable of, and I was waiting for digital

morganuci: to become more affordable (being a “computer person”). It’s getting there, but now I don’t have the time!

georule1861: If we could extend the day another 4 hrs, I’d be grateful, yes.

morganuci: Or add an 8th day (another weekend day of course!)

georule1861: Well, the real problem is that we’ve got it bassackwards.

georule1861: Should be a two day work week and a 5 day “Weekend”.

georule1861: That’d help a lot!

morganuci: lol!

georule1861: And pretty much solve any unemployment issues!

morganuci: Like the 35 hour work week in France

georule1861: Maybe I’ll write a book and call it “For Us. ..” No, wait.

georule1861: I don’t even get paid days off anymore, alas.

georule1861: I can take them, but I make too much money by not taking them.

AGplusone: Did SFWA ever give us any sort of linkage to our site, Geo?

morganuci: Yikes! That’s practical slave labor!!

georule1861: I think they did, David. Let me check.

AGplusone: I’m deciding whether to renew membership by 20th.

georule1861: Well, I charged them an extra 50%, and hourly, to make up for it, Tim. So I can’t complain.

morganuci: OK then, that’s fair enough.

georule1861: Now, David, I suspect you know that Robert would want us to be members of those #$#@!

AGplusone: Yes, naturally.

BOOT

You are now in chat room “heinleinreadersgroup.”

AGplusone: see you’re still here

morganuci:Just came back in—I was out too and didn’t realize it. I was just writing that it seemed we were ready to wrap up anyway.

AGplusone: timing worked

AGplusone: get anything for a log?

morganuci: But I lost the chance to save a log of what was said.

AGplusone: I saved it. Tell Dave if he wants it I can send it to him.

morganuci: Good! I was intending to, then got kicked out.

AGplusone: take care … I’m going to eat now.

morganuci: Will tell David. I’ll also post a reminder about Saturday’s chat, though last time it was very thinly attended.

morganuci: Good night!

AGplusone: Good night.

morganuci:has left the chat room.
End of Discussion

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