Heinlein Readers Group Discussion Thursday 08/02/07 9:00 P.M. EST Horror In Heinlein

Heinlein Readers Group Discussion
Thursday 08/02/07 9:00 P.M. EST
Horror In Heinlein

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From: “David M. Silver”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 08:10:36 -0700
Subject: Horror by Heinlein

Late this month the reading group will have a meeting discussing the topic of “horror” writings by Heinlein. The lead-off post will come later; but since there’s a little time before some of us depart for Kansas City’s celebration of the 100th birthday perhaps we can start a discussion.

Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

“We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
that.”

“(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
For me, one particular cat.)”

No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for millenia.

Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in 1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in 1951?

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to see and compare what conditions had appertained the last time Heinlein had written horror stories? The last clear time had been when he had spent time ‘living on John Campbell’s couch’ in early 1942 to produce a paycheck to pay for Leslyn’s kidney stone operation, when he’d written “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” and before that, in early 1941, on a trip to New York City when he’d written “They,” and handed it directly to Campbell.

Dark visions in all three of these, sometimes called Heinlein’s “paranoid nightmares,” predominate.

Which of the three was worst?

They are not the exclusive horror tales in Heinlein; but perhaps discussion of them is a good place to start. What was Heinlein doing writing them, and why? [And why was the writer famous to some for writing “hard SF” working in this horror genre in the first place?]

What do you think?


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: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 18:51:46 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“David M. Silver”wrote in message

news:

 

>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>that.”

>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>For me, one particular cat.)”

>No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for
>millenia.

>Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in
>1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in
>1951?

 

>What do you think?

I’ve always seen _Puppet_Masters_ as Heinlein’s response to his growing fear of the spread of Soviet-style communism.

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: Will in New Haven
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 18:58:51 -0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Jul 1, 2:51 pm, “Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”David M. Silver” wrote in
messagenews:
>

>>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>>that.”

>>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>>For me, one particular cat.)”

>>No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for
>>millenia.

>>Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in
>>1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in
>>1951?

>

>>What do you think?

>I’ve always seen _Puppet_Masters_ as Heinlein’s response to his growing fear
>of the spread of Soviet-style communism.

I know that this is a common interpretation. However, I never understood why this was so clear to so many people when it is clearly wrong. I don’t think Heinlein equated the Soviets with interstellar parasites. I don’t think the methods to destroy the parasites in the book were at all what would be needed to deal with the Soviet threat. I am sure RAH hated and feared the Soviet system, as anyone with any sense might have, and it might have been in the back of his mind but, like most works of fiction that people like to analyze, this book has been over-analyzed and allegories have been seen where none, or very faint ones, exist. Moby Dick was about a whaling voyage.

Will in New Haven

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”
-Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”

>– Dave

>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 19:27:55 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“Will in New Haven” wrote in message
news:

>On Jul 1, 2:51 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>”David M. Silver” wrote in
>>messagenews:
>>

>>>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>>>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>>>that.”

>>>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>>>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>>>For me, one particular cat.)”

>>>No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for
>>>millenia.

>>>Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in
>>>1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in
>>>1951?

>>

>>>What do you think?

>>I’ve always seen _Puppet_Masters_ as Heinlein’s response to his growing
>>fear
>>of the spread of Soviet-style communism.

>I know that this is a common interpretation. However, I never
>understood why this was so clear to so many people when it is clearly
>wrong.

Bet you were fun in literature class.

>I don’t think Heinlein equated the Soviets with interstellar
>parasites. I don’t think the methods to destroy the parasites in the
>book were at all what would be needed to deal with the Soviet threat.

I agree it’s not a direct comparsion or a set of instructions. It’s a metaphore. It was never intended to be taken literally, but I think he was suggesting the all-out effort to rid us of the masters was what was needed with the Soviets. There seemed to be an opinion during the Cold War that communism was a sort of virus that could be spread, and the infected had to be isolated or eliminated no matter what the cost.

>I am sure RAH hated and feared the Soviet system, as anyone with any
>sense might have, and it might have been in the back of his mind but,
>like most works of fiction that people like to analyze, this book has
>been over-analyzed and allegories have been seen where none, or very
>faint ones, exist. Moby Dick was about a whaling voyage.

There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular decades after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you to agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the intentional fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against which a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: “David Wright Sr.”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 19:51:06 +0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“Dave Adalian” wrote in
news:%eThi.36413$:

>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular decades
>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you to
>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the intentional
>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against which
>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

David Wright Sr.

Nothing hides truth more effectively than unchallenged preconceptions.
James P. Hogan “The Mirror Maze”

From: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 19:54:23 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“David Wright Sr.” wrote in message
news:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular decades
>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you to
>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the intentional
>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against which
>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion
>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to the surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion of Soviet-style communism.

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: Will in New Haven
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 21:26:42 -0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, “Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”David Wright Sr.” wrote in
messagenews:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular decades
>>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you to
>>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the intentional
>>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against which
>>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

>>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion
>>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

>Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to the
>surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion of
>Soviet-style communism.

One might but the fear was out in the open and subconscious expression, while it might happen, was not necessary. The fear was also pretty widespread and, in my opinion, justifiable. On the other hand, Heinlein himself showed, in his travel memoirs, that the strength of the Soviet Union may have been exaggerated, by both their friends and their enemies.

The UFO scare seems like a separate issue and seemed like a separate issue back then. I am very old and I remember the period, albeit vaguely. The people who were interested in the UFO scare were not, for the most part, the people most interested in stopping the Soviets.

I doubt, for a large number of reasons, that RAH took the UFO scare seriously and I am certain that he took the Soviet threat seriously. However, the UFO scare was a good source for a story and RAH was still trying to pay the bills. I doubt that any allegory vis a vis the Soviets occured to him. Or, if it did, it would have been after the fact and worth a chuckle.

He could and did write for political and philisophical reasons but I don’t think this book is a good example of it.

Will in New Haven

The true philosopher always seeks the greatest good for the greatest
number. And that number is always one.

>– Dave

>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 21:39:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“Will in New Haven” wrote in message
news:

>On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>”David Wright Sr.” wrote in
>>messagenews:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>>>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>>>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular
>>>>decades
>>>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you
>>>>to
>>>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the
>>>>intentional
>>>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against
>>>>which
>>>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

>>>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion
>>>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

>>Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to the
>>surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion of
>>Soviet-style communism.

>One might but the fear was out in the open and subconscious
>expression, while it might happen, was not necessary. The fear was
>also pretty widespread and, in my opinion, justifiable. On the other
>hand, Heinlein himself showed, in his travel memoirs, that the
>strength of the Soviet Union may have been exaggerated, by both their
>friends and their enemies.

>The UFO scare seems like a separate issue and seemed like a separate
>issue back then. I am very old and I remember the period, albeit
>vaguely. The people who were interested in the UFO scare were not, for
>the most part, the people most interested in stopping the Soviets.

>I doubt, for a large number of reasons, that RAH took the UFO scare
>seriously and I am certain that he took the Soviet threat seriously.
>However, the UFO scare was a good source for a story and RAH was still
>trying to pay the bills. I doubt that any allegory vis a vis the
>Soviets occured to him. Or, if it did, it would have been after the
>fact and worth a chuckle.

>He could and did write for political and philisophical reasons but I
>don’t think this book is a good example of it.

>Will in New Haven

>–

>The true philosopher always seeks the greatest good for the greatest
>number. And that number is always one.

>>– Dave

>>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

I think the real source of fear was then, and to a certain extent remains now, mankind’s newly acquired ability to turn his entire planet into glass and radioactive ash and the resulting uncertainty over whether we would do it.

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: Will in New Haven
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 16:26:25 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Jul 1, 5:39 pm, “Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”Will in New Haven” wrote in
messagenews:

>>On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>>”David Wright Sr.” wrote in
>>>messagenews:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>>>>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>>>>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>>>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular
>>>>>decades
>>>>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you
>>>>>to
>>>>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>>>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the
>>>>>intentional
>>>>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against
>>>>>which
>>>>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

>>>>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion
>>>>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

>>>Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to the
>>>surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion of
>>>Soviet-style communism.

>>One might but the fear was out in the open and subconscious
>>expression, while it might happen, was not necessary. The fear was
>>also pretty widespread and, in my opinion, justifiable. On the other
>>hand, Heinlein himself showed, in his travel memoirs, that the
>>strength of the Soviet Union may have been exaggerated, by both their
>>friends and their enemies.

>>The UFO scare seems like a separate issue and seemed like a separate
>>issue back then. I am very old and I remember the period, albeit
>>vaguely. The people who were interested in the UFO scare were not, for
>>the most part, the people most interested in stopping the Soviets.

>>I doubt, for a large number of reasons, that RAH took the UFO scare
>>seriously and I am certain that he took the Soviet threat seriously.
>>However, the UFO scare was a good source for a story and RAH was still
>>trying to pay the bills. I doubt that any allegory vis a vis the
>>Soviets occured to him. Or, if it did, it would have been after the
>>fact and worth a chuckle.

>>He could and did write for political and philisophical reasons but I
>>don’t think this book is a good example of it.

>>Will in New Haven

>>–

>>The true philosopher always seeks the greatest good for the greatest
>>number. And that number is always one.

>>>– Dave

>>>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

>I think the real source of fear was then, and to a certain extent remains
>now, mankind’s newly acquired ability to turn his entire planet into glass
>and radioactive ash and the resulting uncertainty over whether we would do
>it.

What the hell is a “real source of fear?” One that you share? I think the possibility of Soviet expansion was a real source of fear, much easier to dismiss now than then. I think the fear of nucleare annihilation was also real but, if anything, more exaggerated than the fear of the Soviets. Of course, the possibility of nuclear annihilation remains with us.

Will in New Haven

“Up to the dusty attic, out with the trusty gun,
The law book and the lawyer only go so far.
Sooner or later push going to come to shove.
Don’t think it won’t happen where you are.”
“No High Ground” Leslie Fish

>– Dave

>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: MajorOz
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 19:19:48 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein On Jul 1, 4:39 pm, “Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”Will in New Haven” wrote in
messagenews:

>>On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>>”David Wright Sr.” wrote in
>>>messagenews:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>>>>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>>>>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>>>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular
>>>>>decades
>>>>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you
>>>>>to
>>>>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>>>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the
>>>>>intentional
>>>>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against
>>>>>which
>>>>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

>>>>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien invasion
>>>>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

>>>Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to the
>>>surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion of
>>>Soviet-style communism.

>>One might but the fear was out in the open and subconscious
>>expression, while it might happen, was not necessary. The fear was
>>also pretty widespread and, in my opinion, justifiable. On the other
>>hand, Heinlein himself showed, in his travel memoirs, that the
>>strength of the Soviet Union may have been exaggerated, by both their
>>friends and their enemies.

>>The UFO scare seems like a separate issue and seemed like a separate
>>issue back then. I am very old and I remember the period, albeit
>>vaguely. The people who were interested in the UFO scare were not, for
>>the most part, the people most interested in stopping the Soviets.

>>I doubt, for a large number of reasons, that RAH took the UFO scare
>>seriously and I am certain that he took the Soviet threat seriously.
>>However, the UFO scare was a good source for a story and RAH was still
>>trying to pay the bills. I doubt that any allegory vis a vis the
>>Soviets occured to him. Or, if it did, it would have been after the
>>fact and worth a chuckle.

>>He could and did write for political and philisophical reasons but I
>>don’t think this book is a good example of it.

>>Will in New Haven

>>–

>>The true philosopher always seeks the greatest good for the greatest
>>number. And that number is always one.

>>>– Dave

>>>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

>I think the real source of fear was then, and to a certain extent remains
>now, mankind’s newly acquired ability to turn his entire planet into glass
>and radioactive ash and the resulting uncertainty over whether we would do
>it.

…psych / lit major ?

cheers

oz

From: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2007 03:35:47 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“MajorOz”wrote in message

news:

>On Jul 1, 4:39 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>”Will in New Haven” wrote in
>>messagenews:

>>>On Jul 1, 3:54 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>>>”David Wright Sr.” wrote in
>>>>messagenews:Xns9960A1409D025nokvamli@208.49.80.253…

>>>>>”Dave Adalian” wrote in
>>>>>news:%eThi.36413$:

>>>>>>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular
>>>>>>decades
>>>>>>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require
>>>>>>you
>>>>>>to
>>>>>>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go
>>>>>>looking for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the
>>>>>>intentional
>>>>>>fallacy. It also works better if you know the background against
>>>>>>which
>>>>>>a story was written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were
>>>>>>rampant.

>>>>>There was also a great fear against the possibility of alien
>>>>>invasion
>>>>>concurrent with the UFO flaps in that period.

>>>>Good point. One might also see the UFO scare as another bubbling to
>>>>the
>>>>surface of American and European subconscious fears of the expansion
>>>>of
>>>>Soviet-style communism.

>>>One might but the fear was out in the open and subconscious
>>>expression, while it might happen, was not necessary. The fear was
>>>also pretty widespread and, in my opinion, justifiable. On the other
>>>hand, Heinlein himself showed, in his travel memoirs, that the
>>>strength of the Soviet Union may have been exaggerated, by both their
>>>friends and their enemies.

>>>The UFO scare seems like a separate issue and seemed like a separate
>>>issue back then. I am very old and I remember the period, albeit
>>>vaguely. The people who were interested in the UFO scare were not, for
>>>the most part, the people most interested in stopping the Soviets.

>>>I doubt, for a large number of reasons, that RAH took the UFO scare
>>>seriously and I am certain that he took the Soviet threat seriously.
>>>However, the UFO scare was a good source for a story and RAH was still
>>>trying to pay the bills. I doubt that any allegory vis a vis the
>>>Soviets occured to him. Or, if it did, it would have been after the
>>>fact and worth a chuckle.

>>>He could and did write for political and philisophical reasons but I
>>>don’t think this book is a good example of it.

>>>Will in New Haven

>>>–

>>>The true philosopher always seeks the greatest good for the greatest
>>>number. And that number is always one.

>>>>– Dave

>>>>Read my latest astronomy
>>>>column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

>>I think the real source of fear was then, and to a certain extent remains
>>now, mankind’s newly acquired ability to turn his entire planet into
>>glass
>>and radioactive ash and the resulting uncertainty over whether we would
>>do
>>it.

>…psych / lit major ?

Nope. You?

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com

From: “David M. Silver”
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 21:27:30 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

In article ,
MajorOz, replying to “Dave Adalian” wrote:

>>I think the real source of fear was then, and to a certain extent remains
>>now, mankind’s newly acquired ability to turn his entire planet into glass
>>and radioactive ash and the resulting uncertainty over whether we would do
>>it.

>…psych / lit major ?

>cheers

>oz

Dave: Please let me try to explain what may be the thinking behind that reply. Essentially, Oz (who will speak for himself certainly) is pointing out what possibly may be a little weakness of yours here in history or knowledge of world affairs in 1951.

In 1951, we were a long, a substantially long, way from being able to turn the entire planet into glass and radioactive ash; and there wasn’t much uncertainty over whether we would do it. We didn’t expect to have to.

In the first place, no one had ICBMs. Sputnik (1957) was half a decade away; and the United States still thought, probably erroneously, but maybe not in 1951, it was far ahead of the Soviets in rocket development. But the U.S. wasn’t even close yet. It was still blowing up ex-German V-2s, those that didn’t fly right in tests.

The Air Force, our air force, was still flying B-36s–you know the one, with the six propellers pointing backwards, and four JATO take off and climbing assist jets–originally fifteen man crews. The B-47 (BUFF’s little predecessor) was a couple years off, not becoming operational until 1953 (and even then couldn’t carry H-Bombs because of its limited capacity for the size of load). The B-36 remained the first line heavy bomber until the late 1950s. We’d have been stretched to deliver enough A-bombs or, even, H-bombs, to render any substantial part glass or radioactive ash. And the crews [knew or inferred they] probably wouldn’t have survived delivery of any substantially sized bombs they delivered, because they were really too slow to get out of the extremely deadly and wide blast area of substantial payloads before detonation, based on tests conducted three years after 1951.

You might say we had “delivery” problems.

The Russians had similar problems, and didn’t even have megaton bombs until 1955.

Further, it was quite unlikely we’d ever see approval of use of such weapons, under conditions then existing. MacArthur proposed using A-bombs tactically against the Chinese to seal off and stop their winter 1950-51 offensive–you know the one: Oscar’s father eventually died from that little walk from Chosin to Hungnam Harbor. Truman turned him down. You remember Truman? You weren’t alive yet, by about fifteen years? Well, he was the one who authorized use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II. But he had a sense of proportionality–the winter offensive wasn’t World War in the Pacific, yet; and it didn’t look as if it would be, especially after the front stabilized down by July 1951, when the 8th Army, after Ridgeway took names and kicked butt, and relieved more than a few defeated officers, fought beginning in March 1961 its way back to the 38th parallel. MacArthur’s insistence in continuing with public statements calling for release of atomic weapons to his use contributed heavily to his being relieved by Truman for insubordination in April 1951 and retired. Truman didn’t trust MacArthur with atomic weapons.

Remember, we’re talking about 1951–a long way technologically speaking from 1958 or 1959.


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: “Nuclear_Waste”
Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2007 14:35:57 GMT
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“David M. Silver”
SNIP

>Remember, we’re talking about 1951–a long way
>technologically speaking
>from 1958 or 1959.

You know, David, this post was wonderful. It pointed out to me that I have increasingly been using a type of AFH shorthand which only the regulars understand. Now I am in a quandary, do I continue my lazy ways, or just revel in my obscurity?

NW

From: “David M. Silver”
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 17:53:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

In article ,
“Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”Will in New Haven” wrote in message
>news:
>>On Jul 1, 2:51 pm, “Dave Adalian” wrote:
>>>”David M. Silver” wrote in
>>>messagenews:
>>>
>>>>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>>>>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>>>>that.”

>>>>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>>>>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>>>>For me, one particular cat.)”

>>>>No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for
>>>>millenia.

>>>>Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in
>>>>1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in
>>>>1951?

>>>

>>>>What do you think?

>>>I’ve always seen _Puppet_Masters_ as Heinlein’s response to his growing
>>>fear
>>>of the spread of Soviet-style communism.

>>I know that this is a common interpretation. However, I never
>>understood why this was so clear to so many people when it is clearly
>>wrong.

>Bet you were fun in literature class.

Me too. I sometimes thought, those years, that folk made too much of metaphor and other figures of art in writing. I broke up a discussion about “Of Mice and Men” by arguing “a ‘tart’ is a ‘tart’ is a ‘tart'” once.

>>I don’t think Heinlein equated the Soviets with interstellar
>>parasites. I don’t think the methods to destroy the parasites in the
>>book were at all what would be needed to deal with the Soviet threat.

>I agree it’s not a direct comparsion or a set of instructions. It’s a
>metaphore. It was never intended to be taken literally, but I think he was
>suggesting the all-out effort to rid us of the masters was what was needed
>with the Soviets. There seemed to be an opinion during the Cold War that
>communism was a sort of virus that could be spread, and the infected had to
>be isolated or eliminated no matter what the cost.

I don’t know that was all Heinlein was after, Dave. As Will notes, the methods and the villain were different. Heinlein is sometimes said not to have written “villains” very well. It’s also said he was too conscious of and never forgetting the fact that a villain wasn’t a villain in his own mind; but look at the Masters here: how does he describe them?

” … you would be carrying three pounds of pulsing tapioca between your shoulder blades … hag-ridden by filthy parasites … ” and when they die: “A stink of decaying organic matter, like the stench from a gangrenous wound … “.

I don’t know about you; and I always liked tapioca when my mother made the pudding; but if I’d ever woken up to three pounds of the stuff–pulsing, glowing, and appropriately lighted to show its translucence, I’d have gone through the roof after reading this book. The cheap and lousy special effects of “The Brain Eaters,” the Roger Corman-Ed Nelson rip-off would have helped me get over my fear of tapioca, if I’d ever developed one. (Nelson created his parasites out of little wind-up toys covered with fur from an old coat and pipe cleaners for antennae.)

>>I am sure RAH hated and feared the Soviet system, as anyone with any
>>sense might have, and it might have been in the back of his mind but,
>>like most works of fiction that people like to analyze, this book has
>>been over-analyzed and allegories have been seen where none, or very
>>faint ones, exist. Moby Dick was about a whaling voyage.

>There’s always face value, which is why Heinlein remains popular decades
>after his demise. He told damn good stories that didn’t require you to
>agree with an ideology. But, it’s the sort of a game I enjoy to go looking
>for subtext and it’s a better game is you allow the intentional fallacy. It
>also works better if you know the background against which a story was
>written, and in 1951 fears of Soviet spread were rampant.

I don’t disagree with you that in 1951 there were fears of the spread of the Soviet system–we weren’t fighting the Korean War against Nazis; but we’d absorbed the best they could throw at us, even the Chi-Com entry in winter 1950-51, and by July 1951 it was stale-mated around the Punchbowl and Bloody and Heartbreak Ridges; and what were to be lengthy peace negotiations had begun at Kaesong and later Panmunjon.

It wasn’t that big a fear, despite what people today who didn’t live through it would tell you. Typically, I remember when Joe Stalin died watching Newsreels that ran film from Korea: troops marching by signs like the Burma Shave commercial signs: “Have you heard?” “Joe’s dead.” “Too bad.” “One less Red!”

That didn’t change much until after tests revealed in 1955 that the Reds had their first megaton device.

I mention this because there is a certain tension in _Puppet Masters_, despite the resolution of it in favor of harsh, certain measures. “Grave invasions of civil guarantees will be necessary for a time. The right of free movement must be abridged. The right to be secured from arbitrary search and seizure must give way to the right of safety for everyone. … all citizens must face some loss of civil rights and personal dignities until this plague is killed.”

There followed an attempt to impeach the President who uttered those words, foiled only when it was dramatically revealed that those urging it were hag-ridden themselves. [Cp. XII, pp. 128-132, DelRey first revised ed. January 1990].

Consider this passage: Sam Cavanaugh [Elihu Nivens] talking: “I was not the only man in New Brooklyn stark naked to his shoes. One in particular I remember; he was leaning against a street roof stanchion and searching with cold eyes every passer-by. He was wearing nothing but slippers and a brassard lettered “VIG”–and he was carrying an Owens mob gun under his arm.”

I saw three more like him before I reached Kay Five; I was glad that
I was carrying my shorts.

That was just after Sam and Mary had passed through the check point where it had been revealed by them Mary had been attacked by a Master riding Pirate the cat, and the guard had remarked that his children were going to be upset because they’d have to get rid of it.

This is a society that decides to kill all its dogs and cats to survive; and even then the occasional hag ridden Kodiak bear is reported.

Next week I pass through airport security from LAX to KC. Makes you think, eh? Which way, Dave? Are we overreacting, or underreacting, to a lesser threat. Imagine being hag-ridden. Not merely enslaved by an -ism. Horror by Heinlein.


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: Quadibloc
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 00:18:28 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

Dave Adalian wrote:
>There seemed to be an opinion during the Cold War that
>communism was a sort of virus that could be spread, and the infected had to
>be isolated or eliminated no matter what the cost.

Actually, the reason the United States spent so much money after World War II to keep Greece and Turkey from going Communist, and then that it fought so hard to protect South Korea and South Vietnam wasn’t because of a view that Communism was like an infectious disease, falling dominoes notwithstanding.

Instead, it derived from a genuine reality of those times.

The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics both posessed massive nuclear arsenals. If the Soviet Union were to invade West Germany or France, or if the United States were to invade East Germany or Poland, it was reasonable to expect that those weapons might be used.

After the Soviet Union first tested its atom bomb in 1948, remember, in violation of the terms of the Yalta treaties, it subverted the democratic governments of the countries of Eastern Europe that it was responsible for helping to reconstruct after the liberation from the Nazis, leading to Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia suffering for many years under Communist totalitarianism.

So, the conclusion was clear: if a country were to adopt a Communist regime, under circumstances short of an outright invasion (which could be deterred by the threat of nuclear war) it would *stay* Communist. Forever. Because attempting to push the Communsits out by force would trigger a global nuclear war, which would destroy civilization, and plunge the few pathetic survivors into a long dark age of barbarism.

Because once a country was conquered by stealth, then, its people would stay ruled by Communist dictatorship as long as the Soviet Union had a nuclear capability – which, as far as anyone then knew, could be the indefinite future – it was important to prevent this permanent change in status *while we could still do so without starting the global holocaust of a nuclear war*.

John Savard

From: Chris Zakes
Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 08:11:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Sun, 01 Jul 2007 18:51:46 GMT, an orbital mind-control laser
caused “Dave Adalian”to write:

>”David M. Silver” wrote in message
>news:
>

>>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>>that.”

>>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>>For me, one particular cat.)”

>>No cats in this world. No dogs. Good-bye to humanity’s partners for
>>millenia.

>>Why would Heinlein do that in a novel, _Puppet Masters_, published in
>>1951? What was particularly different to provoke him to this outrage in
>>1951?

>

>>What do you think?

>I’ve always seen _Puppet_Masters_ as Heinlein’s response to his growing fear
>of the spread of Soviet-style communism.

“I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’…” J.R.R. Tolkien, in the Foreward to “The Lord of the Rings”, talking about the folks who see LOTR as a reflection of WWII.

On the other hand, Heinlein does comment at one point in “Puppet Masters” that Soviet Russia sems tailor-made for the slugs.

-Chris Zakes
Texas

“Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you.”

– Benjamin Franklin

From: Will in New Haven
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 18:53:14 -0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Jul 1, 11:10 am, “David M. Silver”wrote:

>Late this month the reading group will have a meeting discussing the
>topic of “horror” writings by Heinlein. The lead-off post will come
>later; but since there’s a little time before some of us depart for
>Kansas City’s celebration of the 100th birthday perhaps we can start a
>discussion.

>Imagine a more chilling world made out of our own than this one:

>”We got a cat and now we’ll have to get rid of it. My kids won’t like
>that.”

>”(It seem strange no longer to see dogs around. When we finally come to
>grips with them, there will be a few million dogs to avenge. And cats.
>For me, one particular cat.)”

When I read that I did not feel horror. I felt rage. Whatever it was that did for the dogs would have to deal with the narrator and I identified completely with revenge for our friends. I hadn’t met Feather but I already cared a great deal for cats. But I have to admit, it was the dogs that moved me.

“A few million dogs to avenge.” I could not imagine any enemy surviving such a revenge.

There is a sub-genre of horror, perhaps, when ones fears for ones own safety have been transcended by the need to solve a problem and then smash the problem to a pulp and then kick the problem’s ass real hard.

Will in New Haven

From: Quadibloc
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 00:43:01 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

Will in New Haven wrote:
>There is a sub-genre of horror, perhaps, when ones fears for ones own
>safety have been transcended by the need to solve a problem and then
>smash the problem to a pulp and then kick the problem’s ass real
>hard.

Hmm. I suppose the Chtorr books by David Gerrold might be put in this category.

But when I first read that paragraph, here is the horrific vision it brough to my mind:

“Sigourney Weaver in ALIEN: A Prophetic Metaphor for 9/11?”

Of course, in real life, one could say, there are already worse horrors. A Canadian author – I’m sorry to say, she resides in my home province of Alberta – known as a social critic, wrote a book in which she objected to Canada’s foreign policy during the War on Terror.

For those who may not be aware, although Canada declined to participate in the invasion of Iraq (which began on the eve of an election in Quebec where there was real chance that a separatist government would fall, as actually did happen: the conscription crises in Quebec during the two World Wars, and Quebec’s current liberal tendencies mean that a decision to join in the fight in Iraq could have been highly controversial there, and the then Liberal government happens to draw its core support from Quebec, which it therefore would rather not have secede) our troops are fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan (which had declined to extradite Osama bin Laden, and instead made a nonserious proposal to give him an “Islamic” trial).

I pass by her book, visible through the window (which also has a poster encouraging people to pre-order the next Harry Potter book, coming July 21) and bearing the title…

“Holding the Bully’s Coat”.

Well, it is true the Iraqi people today are living a nightmare. Only trouble is, it’s the terrorist enemies of America that are creating that nightmare through their attacks on the peaceful civilians of Iraq.

John Savard

From: “Dave Adalian”
Date: Wed, 4 Jul 2007 13:29:56 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

“Quadibloc”wrote in message

news:

>Well, it is true the Iraqi people today are living a nightmare. Only
>trouble is, it’s the terrorist enemies of America that are creating
>that nightmare through their attacks on the peaceful civilians of
>Iraq.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Though many are loath to admit it, this war is not a simple matter of going after terrorists. This conflict is simply the latest chapter in a war that is now entering its second century. No one’s hands are clean.

— Dave

Read my latest astronomy column!
http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: Will in New Haven
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 21:03:30 -0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

On Jul 4, 4:29 pm, “Dave Adalian”wrote:

>”Quadibloc”wrote in message

>news:

>>Well, it is true the Iraqi people today are living a nightmare. Only
>>trouble is, it’s the terrorist enemies of America that are creating
>>that nightmare through their attacks on the peaceful civilians of
>>Iraq.

>There’s plenty of blame to go around. Though many are loath to admit it,
>this war is not a simple matter of going after terrorists. This conflict is
>simply the latest chapter in a war that is now entering its second century.
>No one’s hands are clean.

There are several ongoing wars involved; at least two. Once the authoritarian regime was dethroned, the local three-cornered war among the Sunni, Shiites and Kurds* was very likely to heat up. There are also Turkey, Iran and Syria with interests in this local war, so it is almost six-cornered. Toppling the regime made the heating-up of this war very likely. The way the area was handled immediately after toppling the regime made it certain.

What the U.S. brought into this was another war. The war between the U.S. (and some of the rest of the West) and Quaida and its ilk was not very active in Iraq. Now it is an extra war, mixed up with the first. So continued U.S. involvment brought two more corners and made it a five-cornered war. Our withdrawl would take one of the armys, and the biggest one, out of the picture. Quaida would also stop concentrating so much on this area but units in place would probably take sides in the local war.

The local war would continue. Misery would continue. Death would continue. Quaida would still be fighting us and we would still be fighting them. But not in Iraq.

*I know that the Kurds are also Muslims (except that some of them belong to sects that other Muslims suspect of not being Muslims) and most are Shiites and others Suni, but they don”t really side with the Shiites in the south.

Will in New Haven

Scorpio – The worst of the lot. You are shrewd in business and
cannot be trusted. You shall achieve the pinnacle of success
because of your total lack of ethics. You are a perfect son-of-a-
bitch. Most Scorpio’s are murdered. (Oct23-Nov22)

>– Dave

>Read my latest astronomy column!http://starry-starry-nights.blogspot.com/

From: Tim Morgan
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 00:05:59 -0000
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

HEINLEIN READERS GROUP MEETING SCHEDULED
WHEN: July 26, 2007, 9:00 PM EDT
WHERE: The usual AIM chatroom
TOPIC: Horror in Heinlein

No surprise, given the pre-discussion discussion (or is that pre-pre- discussion?), this month’s topic is Horror in Heinlein.

So far, the pre-discussion has focused on The Puppet Masters. Is it a horror story? Are ‘They’, ‘The Unpleasent Profession of Jonathan Hoag’, or ‘All You Zombies’ horror stories, or are these stories all just science fiction with a twist? What other stories, or portions of stories, would you classify as “horror” Heinlein? Why or why not?

Please try to post some pre-discussion on these and other stories that fit the topic.

Tim Morgan,
for The Heinlein Society

From: “David M. Silver”
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 12:24:59 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

In article ,
Tim Morganwrote:

>HEINLEIN READERS GROUP MEETING SCHEDULED
>WHEN: July 26, 2007, 9:00 PM EDT
>WHERE: The usual AIM chatroom
>TOPIC: Horror in Heinlein

>No surprise, given the pre-discussion discussion (or is that pre-pre-
>discussion?), this month’s topic is Horror in Heinlein.

>So far, the pre-discussion has focused on The Puppet Masters. Is it a
>horror story? Are ‘They’, ‘The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan
>Hoag’, or ‘All You Zombies’ horror stories, or are these stories all
>just science fiction with a twist? What other stories, or portions of
>stories, would you classify as “horror” Heinlein? Why or why not?

>Please try to post some pre-discussion on these and other stories that
>fit the topic.

>Tim Morgan,
>for The Heinlein Society

The short story “They” is considered by some, including editor David Hartwell, who included it in the anthology _Foundations of Fear: An Exploration of Horror_, to be Heinlein’s finest horror story.

What makes a horror story fine? For that matter, what makes it attractive at all?

Is “They” just a science-fiction story with a twist? Why? Or why not? Does it matter?

In “They” we first encounter the Glaroon (and not his brother who spells the name with an “m,” Rufo); and what does the knowledge that the Glaroon will return do to your understanding of this and other stories in which this entity appears? _Stranger in a Strange Land_ and _Job: A Comedy of Justice_ are two places where this fellow who also uses “G” for an initial appears. See, http://tinyurl.com/ynr77p

(Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head?) ;-D


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
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 08:46:38 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

The on-line discussion on “Horror in Heinlein” has been rescheduled for August 2nd, still at 9:00PM Eastern time. Please mark your calendars!

Tim

On Jul 17, 5:05 pm, Tim Morganwrote:

>HEINLEIN READERS GROUP MEETING SCHEDULED
>WHEN: July 26, 2007, 9:00 PM EDT
>WHERE: The usual AIM chatroom
>TOPIC: Horror in Heinlein

>No surprise, given the pre-discussion discussion (or is that pre-pre-
>discussion?), this month’s topic is Horror in Heinlein.

>So far, the pre-discussion has focused on The Puppet Masters. Is it a
>horror story? Are ‘They’, ‘The Unpleasent Profession of Jonathan
>Hoag’, or ‘All You Zombies’ horror stories, or are these stories all
>just science fiction with a twist? What other stories, or portions of
>stories, would you classify as “horror” Heinlein? Why or why not?

>Please try to post some pre-discussion on these and other stories that
>fit the topic.

>Tim Morgan,
>for The Heinlein Society

From: “David M. Silver”
Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 13:37:21 -0700
Subject: Re: Horror by Heinlein

In article ,
Tim Morganwrote:

>HEINLEIN READERS GROUP MEETING SCHEDULED
>WHEN: July 26, 2007, 9:00 PM EDT

Please note the later change in date to a meeting on the topic for tomorrow, Thursday, August 2d.

>WHERE: The usual AIM chatroom
>TOPIC: Horror in Heinlein

>No surprise, given the pre-discussion discussion (or is that pre-pre-
>discussion?), this month’s topic is Horror in Heinlein.

>So far, the pre-discussion has focused on The Puppet Masters. Is it a
>horror story?

“Horror fiction,” generally, wasn’t considered a separate genre until
the 1960s, some say, even though there are examples pretty clearly going
all the way back to myths and legends, even the tales of the Grimm
Brothers. Oscar remembers the illustrations in the Red Fairy Book as
among his childhood nightmares. Along with science fiction and fantasy,
horror was considered part of “speculative fiction.” Shelley’s novel
_Frankenstein_ (1818) is an example most cited as science fiction as
well as horror.

When I studied literature in the late 1960s, horror was given short shrift in college or university classes. The typical professor would indulgently refer to _The Castle of Otranto_ and _The Mysteries of Udolpho_ as examples, chuckle at the woodenheads who might read such things, perhaps even in that nascent age before political correctness truly took hold refer to them as “women’s literature,” (Ann Radcliffe wrote Udolpho) and move on to the rest of the novels and stories of the Romantic and, later, Victorian ages that he deemed worthwhile reading.

But, Washington Irving’s _The Legend of Sleepy Hollow_, many of the tales and even poetry of Edgar Allen Poe, and Henry James’ _Turn of the Screw_ are horror and have always been offered as English-language literature well worth studying. Most of us read Sleepy Hollow and much of Poe by junior high. I could recite all of the poem “Nevermore” in the fifth grade. Cannot any more, but give me a few hours and a proper incentive, and I will again. William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is considered a modern classic. My daughter was assigned it as reading in seventh or eighth grade; and my wife read it a generation earlier about the same grade level in the late fifties.

Heinlein created the first of his “paranoid nightmares” or so they’ve been termed by some in June 1940 during a visit to New York City and handed it directly to John Campbell, who published it as “They” in April 1941 in the magazine _Unknown_, just as he later published the next paranoid nightmare, “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” in the October 1942 issue of what was by then known as _Unknown Worlds_.

But the preeminent pulp for horror stories was _Weird_ or _Weird Tales_; and the preeminent author of such was H. P. Lovecraft who from 1927 through 1935 tried to define an aspect of horror, in his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” See, http://gaslight.mtroyal.ab.ca/superhor.ht m

Supernatural horror is one aspect of the sort of horror Heinlein demonstrated a particular interest in writing, and he very likely included a tip of the hat, despite denials alleged in his correspondence, to Lovecraft when he wrote “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,” as the name of the title character is plainly a reference to the Jonathan Hoag, Esq., named in poetry by Lovecraft. The coincidence of naming is far too much.

Gifford’s bibliography, _RAH:ARC_ recites the fact that “Hoag,” along with “They” is one of Heinlein’s “world as facade” tales, a theme not picked up directly again until _Job: A Comedy of Justice_, in 1984, forty-three and forty-two years after They and Hoag were written.

That takes us back to Lovecraft’s essay. “THE OLDEST and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Lovecraft took pains to distinguish fear of the unknown literature from another kind of tale: “literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome,” such as I am told exist in the extreme shock or violence of splatterpunk or of the Grand Guignol theatre, and which give ‘horror’ the stigma of base entertainment devoid of literary merit.

Lovecraft considered the choicest horror story (he called them “weird work” in his essay) to be those that “excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.” Considerations of plot and character development stood aside for this “all-important” emotional level of a given sensation.

The short answer to whether _The Puppet Masters_ is a proper piece of ‘weird work’ in the Lovecraftian sense, is it should be judged by Lovecraft’s criteria.

I think it is–Sam’s hag-ridden sequences are enough; but what do you think? Anyone?

>Are ‘They’, ‘The Unpleasent Profession of Jonathan
>Hoag’, or ‘All You Zombies’ horror stories, or are these stories all
>just science fiction with a twist?

Again, in the case of “They” and “Hoag” I think they meet Lovecraft’s criteria. The paranoia of the POV character in “They” is proven true at the end by the Glarron himself–all is a facade; and the end of Ted and Cyn’s life, handcuffed together–much like Alec and Margrethe in Job–with all the mirrors painted over creates the same sense of truly weird work. What judgment would you grant to this questions? Anyone?

>What other stories, or portions of
>stories, would you classify as “horror” Heinlein? Why or why not?

Enough of my thoughts. What other candidates do you have?

>Please try to post some pre-discussion on these and other stories that
>fit the topic.

>Tim Morgan,
>for The Heinlein Society


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

Go To Posting
Here begins the Discussion

You have just entered room “heinleinreadersgroup.”

morganuci has entered the room.

DavidWrightSr: Hi Tim. Looks kinda bare

morganuci: Well, it’s one more than last week, so far 🙂

morganuci: Maybe a lot of people are on vacation. Or they’re just not interested in the topic?

DavidWrightSr: Could be. I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been all that much traffic on a.f.h. either. Maybe people are just taking it easy.

morganuci: There was initially quite a bit of discussion about Puppet Masters, but it died off (and it was earlier on), and subsequent teaser posts didn’t seem to get any nibbles.

morganuci: Well, if no one shows, I do have plenty of other things to do tonight!

DavidWrightSr: None of the regulars appear to be logged on. I’m putting together all of the a.f.h. posts on tonight’s topic so that I can create the full log for the website.

DavidWrightSr: The way it’s going. that will be the entire log O:-)

morganuci: OK. Last week, I waited 15 minutes, and no regulars or irregulars came on, so I gave up.

morganuci: I have some q’s prepared, so if it’s just scheduling, then we could recycle the topic again later. But if it’s that no one’s interested, we should just move on to a better topic.

morganuci: We could do a post-mortem during the next THS board meeting to see what other people think.

DavidWrightSr: I’m surprised that DSilver isn’t here as he reminded us of th meeting tonight.

morganuci: Yeah, I was expecting at least him last week also.

DavidWrightSr: Did you get to the Centennial?

toxdoc1947 has entered the room.

toxdoc1947: hello all

toxdoc1947: I had temporarily forgotten about this meeting

morganuci: Yes, Roxana and I went to KC. My kids both elected to miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (and to go to Arthur Bryant’s, which was just OK in my opinion, but I had to go).

morganuci: Hi Tox

toxdoc1947: David – thanks for reminding me

DavidWrightSr: Hi. Seems everyone else has also.

toxdoc1947: Hi Morganuci

DavidWrightSr: What did you think of it overall? I’ve heard both good and bad about it.

toxdoc1947:

Bookman99R: once-in-a-lifetime shot

DavidWrightSr: Well, if they get the rejuvenation stuff going soon, I might make it to the next one in 2107 😎

morganuci: Here’s hoping!

Bookman99R: works for me

morganuci: It’s scheduled for Luna City next time…

Bookman99R: now there’s real hoping

morganuci: If you book early, it’s cheaper 🙂

Bookman99R: lol

morganuci: Seriously, despite our best efforts, there may not be that many people around in 2107 who’re that interested in RAH. Most of us got hooked while he was still writing, and

morganuci: there was marketing behind the books. What do you think the chances are of a 2nd Centennial?

DavidWrightSr: That brings up a question. What do you think the average age was at the Centennial? Young? Old? What?

morganuci: Older, but I’d roughly guess it was about the same age as I’ve seen at WorldCon or LosCon. That may be because that’s the population that goes to Cons.

Bookman99R: good question

Bookman99R: seems to me that SF in general is aging

speakeasy913 has entered the room.

Bookman99R: the cost of cons in g3eneral has gotten prohibitive for my family, alas

morganuci: And yet, SF itself is a lot more mainstream than it was in the 40s-50s, when it was pretty fringe. 5 of the top 10 grossing movies of all time were SF related.

Bookman99R: the Centennial was squared & cubed

Bookman99R: might be something to that – “the future is now”

DavidWrightSr: I was interested in the Time Travel panel and the General Semantics one. Did any of you get to those?

toxdoc1947: tell us about them

Bookman99R: but also, expectations tend towards the more immediate future, do they not?

morganuci: No, unfortunately. One “complaint” I had was that there were too many good things scheduled at the same time.

morganuci: I’ll be right back.

DavidWrightSr: I was asking because I didn’t get there myself.:'(

morganuci has left the room.

toxdoc1947: always happens at meetings – I get suspicious thet editors are involved 😉

morganuci has entered the room.

morganuci: I’m back. I had to exit all software to allow an upgrade to proceed :-(.

DavidWrightSr: Speakeasy? Have you been here before? I don’t recall your name. Introduce yourself. I’m David Wright, morganuci is Tim Morgan, our moderator, and I forget the real names of the others.

DavidWrightSr: If you want your name added to the notification mailing list, give me your email address and I’ll add you in.

speakeasy913: Good evening, I am new here. Expanding my horizons.

Bookman99R: Rusty the Bookman here

speakeasy913: Good to meet you.

DavidWrightSr: Sorry Rusty. I had a senior moment. They happen quite often.O:-)

Bookman99R: as for the centennial, all I really got was some hall-schmoozing & the HSoc. suite party

Bookman99R: no sweat, David

morganuci: Well, we have enough people on now. Shall we move to the topic for the evening?

Bookman99R: sorry I missed you ar the HC

DavidWrightSr: Yeah, I’m very unhappy that I couldn’t make it there. Fire when ready Tim.

toxdoc1947: I’ll confess – I dragged M.Rei in because I thought she would be a fellow traveller

Bookman99R: so, Heinleins horrors?

toxdoc1947: a novice o be sure, but a kindred spirit

morganuci: First, I thought we should discuss the parameters. What makes a horror story “horrible”? Is it just a weird story?

Bookman99R: it evokes a sense of horror

toxdoc1947: something beyond the pale

Bookman99R: goes beyond the physical aspects of fear, and something terrifying to the mind, rather than the adrenals

morganuci: A lot of horror stories involve the supernatural, but that’s not necessarily the case. You can have a slasher who’s a normal human (except that he goes around killing people :-), for instance.

Randyjj55 has entered the room.

Randyjj55: Thanks David.

toxdoc1947: yeah but in TNOTB, the horror is “out of this world”

toxdoc1947: and to some extent, in ST

DavidWrightSr: Well, personally, I don’t care for the ‘slasher’ stuff. I want something different. Although I can’t quite say what. You’re welcome Randy.

morganuci: True. The earlier stories have been described as “paranoid nightmares with a sci-fi twist” (well, I just described them that way, anyway). In some cases,

DavidWrightSr: Now, that’s interesting. What is horrible about those two?

toxdoc1947: lol – quick – put a trademark on it

morganuci: the horror element is a space monster of some kind (bugs, slugs, etc.). But Hoag, for instance, has more of a supernatural twist to it, though it’s not witches and goblins.

Bookman99R: the unknown, the not-understood

toxdoc1947: exactly

Bookman99R: especially alien motivations

toxdoc1947: but the understood has a change of yeilding its secrets

Bookman99R: it’s one of the dribvers of “Hannibal the Cannibaql”

morganuci: In the slug stories, I think the horror element comes from thinking “gee, how would it feel if an alien were to get ME?”

toxdoc1947: *chance

Bookman99R: exdactly – menatal fear

Bookman99R: the slugs were not really physically harmful, in a direct way

Randyjj55: I think the real horror is the lack of control and being aware of it, even at a low level

toxdoc1947: the “black hats in TNOTB ventually got defined (sort of)

toxdoc1947: *eventually

morganuci: Whereas for me at least, I find it less likely that I’d end up in the situation in Hoag, so I found it less scary.

Bookman99R: true, but ‘horror’ ususally are brought into the light

Randyjj55: Isn’t that what many of us are afraid of – not being able tocontrol our situation – whether at work, in personal relationships,etc. The slugs of life.

Bookman99R: or the threat is ended

DavidWrightSr: I think that one of the things which ‘scared’ Heinlein was the loss of individuality, whether it was like with the Little People, or the slugs or or even communism.

morganuci: In the on-line discussion of Puppet Masters, “Will in New Haven” claimed it’s not a metaphor for communism, b/c the methods used to destroy the parasites weren’t

Bookman99R: personal freedom

morganuci: what we’d need to use against the Soviets. It’s just a story about space invaders, he argues. Anyone else agree/disagree?

toxdoc1947: yes, but “freedom” was always tempered eg tastaafl

Bookman99R: I dunno if it’s a perfect analog. He may have had points to make, though

Bookman99R: and I believe that he did

morganuci: I myself find it difficult to believe that he wrote an allegory about the hot threat of that decade (spread of Communism) w/o realizing it.

DavidWrightSr: Can you clarify that a bit? I’m not quite sure I get the point of it.

toxdoc1947: I trhink

DavidWrightSr: cogito ergo sum?

morganuci: In my reading, it seems to be an allegory to communism. Either it isn’t, or if it is, then it was either a conscious attempt, or it was done subconsciously.

morganuci: I’m in the “conscious attempt” camp, so I’m wondering what everyone else thinks?

toxdoc1947: sorry – I think he was “worst-casing” the communist threat but trying to give some insight to the weaknesses

Randyjj55: Given Heinlein’s propensity to write stories with many layers andmeaning, it’s possible that communism was one of the things he wasaddressing, since the implementation of communism in the old SovietUnion was based

DavidWrightSr: You took the words out of my mouth.

Randyjj55: on fear, terror and reducing human beings to interchangeable parts. – Nobody expects the Russian Inquisition!!!

toxdoc1947: yeah – that’s getting into the turner diaries

Randyjj55: Speaking of TANSTAAFL, did anyone else see the two Heinleinrelated cartoons in the web comic “User Friendly” in the month of July?

DavidWrightSr: Yes.

morganuci: No, what were they?

Randyjj55: I thought they were both great. Here’s a link for thoseinterested: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070718&mode=classic

Randyjj55: After looking at that cartoon, use the link above the cartoon to see the next one.

morganuci: I loved the first one especially!

toxdoc1947: lol “what did I say??”

morganuci: In The Puppet Masters, people relinquish nearly all their civil liberties in fighting the threat. This must have seemed an extreme sacrefice for Heinlein (up there with killing all the cats and dogs).

Bookman99R: oddly, it echos Neitzche(sp?)

Randyjj55: Because so many of Heinlein’s stories revolved around theindividual becoming self-actualized and aware, if you want to discussthe loss of control as horror,

Bookman99R: ‘in fighting dragons, one becomes a dragon’

Bookman99R: (to paraphrase)

morganuci: During WWII, he’d seen people give up a lot to aid the war effort (though at times I think it was just to make the people at home feel they were contributing). So I assume this was one model he took.

Randyjj55: we probably need to put some threshold on it. For instance, ifthis goes on is a loss of liberty as great as that in Puppet Masters. Which is the greater horror – the loss of freedoms or the fact that thepeople let it happen?

Bookman99R: “self-inflicted” doesn’t seem to qualify, to me

morganuci: In the story, it was pretty clear to the people that they needed to do it in order to beat the enemy, just as the goals/purposes of WWII were clear at that time.

Randyjj55: One man’s horror is another man’s slide into acceptance?

toxdoc1947: in the puppet masters, he is sort of demonstrating the advantages of a benign dictatorship (all the “freedons” of the congress just get in the way)

morganuci: It’s been pointed out that civil liberties were not suspended during the war of 1812, even with enemy occupation of Washington, yet today we’re asked to give up all kinds of freedoms to fight the war on terror.

Bookman99R: OTOH, a lot of liberties were suspended during the Civil War

toxdoc1947: yeah, but there’s a limit

morganuci: I guess that was the beginning!

Randyjj55: Toxdoc, could you clarify? Benign dictatorship by who?

toxdoc1947: “those who relinquish freedons for security deserve neither”

toxdoc1947: *freedoms

Randyjj55: And don’t forget the jailing of American citizens of Japanese ancestory during WWII, for a potentially indefinite period.

Bookman99R: the surveillance of the “victory girls”, same period

toxdoc1947: I think a lot of sci-fi authors sort of advocate a benign dictatorship on the prenise that democracy devolves to the lowest common denominator

toxdoc1947: *premise

Bookman99R: hmmm… Dunno

morganuci: Do they still, or was that more of a 40s/50s thing?

Randyjj55: I guess the question is how do you define benign, and whathappens when there is a certain elasticity to the definition. Damnthose “n’s”!

toxdoc1947: e.g. “the plebes voting circus and cakes”

Randyjj55: So who is strong enough to wield power, and not let the powerwield him? Didn’t Heinlein also point out that most of these “benigndictators” had good intentions at first?

morganuci: brb…

toxdoc1947: yep – and looking at GR, it happened to work but olliking at TCGO, it doesn’t

toxdoc1947: *looking

Bookman99R: But Star was professionally ‘King Stork’

toxdoc1947: (friends don’t let friends drink and type – sorry)

Bookman99R: (ooops, King Log)

toxdoc1947: Yep – imperial as could be

Bookman99R: King Stork was one of her predecessors, and screwed everything up

toxdoc1947: *empirical

Bookman99R: hmmm… WRT the Puppet Masters – wasn’t “mind wipe” a device used by RAH?

Bookman99R: seems a similar theme – loss of person

toxdoc1947: yeah, but something to be resisted almost at all costs (although I may be bleeding over into some other Sci-fi writers with this)

Bookman99R: didn’t the guy in “for us, the living” get a personality makeover?

Bookman99R: although that might have been a different slant on it

morganuci: I can’t think of a story where a mind wipe exactly happens. Can anyone else?

Randyjj55: Another case of horror is the deliberately evil person. Manyevil people think they are doing “the right thing”. However, somepeople are truly evil and proud of it. I’m thinking of the story LostLegacy, and the bad guys there.

DavidWrightSr: That abit in FUTL was a direct extract of Heinlein’s familiarity with General Semantics.

Bookman99R: the so-called ‘ubermensch’?

morganuci: I agree, Randy. How about the evil woman in Gulf?

Bookman99R: “someone’s gotta be in charge, so it’s gonna be me!”

Bookman99R: plus If I don’t get to play the position I choose, nobody gets to play!”

Randyjj55: Yes, that is another one. In order to fight evil / horror, youhave to confront it and fight it, even if it is a lost cause. Otherwise the cost is one’s soul, or at least a piece of it.

Bookman99R: quick, someone – define “solipsism”

Randyjj55: Evil wins if good men (and women) do nothing.

Bookman99R: true

morganuci: That’s another angle on giving up liberties. In TPM, it WAS part of the strategy to beat the enemy. But we sometimes say it’s worth putting up with the problems in order to have the liberties. A fuzzy line.

Randyjj55: Solipsism: The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.

Bookman99R: thanks

Bookman99R: so, can it be said that an aspect of evil, a failure of solipsism? Lack of empathy?

Randyjj55: Or equivalently, the self is the only reality. Our world is what we made.

Bookman99R: (credit to Motherthing, she suggested it)

toxdoc1947: lol

Bookman99R: she points out that to many evil people, other people aren’t really real

morganuci: Good point!

Bookman99R: thus solipsism, taken to unreasoable extreme…

Randyjj55: The problem with solipsism is that we can’t always articulate whowe are or what we want. Unless that is just what we believe so we havean excuse…. Who of us hasn’t been suprised by our own actions onoccasion?

Bookman99R: ‘on occasion’? 😉

toxdoc1947: lol

Randyjj55: Honest! I woke up and saw her there and couldn’t remember how Igot there. Can we separate the conscious from the unconscious insolipsism?

Bookman99R: now _that_ is an interesting question

Randyjj55: What happens when the sleeper awakes and doesn’t like what they see around them…

Bookman99R: brings us back to “They”

morganuci: That’s what I was thinking!

Bookman99R: does the personality exist beyond the environment?

Bookman99R: “They” aregues that it _might_

toxdoc1947: everybody – this has been GREAT – but I’ve sort of exhausted my reserve (another story but interesting) – gppd night all

toxdoc1947: *good

Bookman99R: g’night, Doc

morganuci: Good night!

speakeasy913: Good night

Randyjj55: See you later doc

toxdoc1947: and I’ll nag a few people (such as the rest of the Alabamacrowd) next time

Bookman99R: heh

toxdoc1947: good night everybody

DavidWrightSr: Nite

toxdoc1947 has left the room.

morganuci: OK, shall we keep going or call it a night?

Bookman99R: I’m still in, but won’t kick

speakeasy913: For myself, it’s time to say good night…thank you for allowing me to participate

Randyjj55: So we have They, where someone is trying to figure out what isgoing on, Jonathan Hoag, trying to discover who he really is – an “artcritic” and

Bookman99R: nice meeting SE

speakeasy913: You all, as well

morganuci: Same here!

Randyjj55: all the critics in the number of the beast who are passingjudgements on others’ creations – other people’s solipsistic creations

speakeasy913 has left the room.

morganuci: Yes, the bridge comment I was going to make was that most or all of the remaining horror-category stories were solipsistic.

morganuci: Does that make the horror stories? Or does it take more to be horrible? ARE they horror stories?

Randyjj55: Which brings us to the point that the greatest horror is alwaysthe one in our own head, whether manifested externally or internally.

Bookman99R: “They”, and PM are

Bookman99R: Hoag might be

Bookman99R: I tried to address that earlier

Bookman99R: ‘fear is physical, horror is intelllectual’

Bookman99R: objections?

Randyjj55: Sorry, I was late arriving, but that is an interesting division.

morganuci: I’d agree. To me, “They” kind of has the feel of the original Twilight Zone. Person in an unusual situation, story moves off in an unexpected direction.

Bookman99R: labels it, at least

Randyjj55: Fear is something you feel – horror is something you have to understand or appreciate

Randyjj55: That is, to me, cancer would be horrible, but Alzheimer’s would be something to fear

Bookman99R: point to that – what happens when your me-ness begins to dissolve

Randyjj55: And you know it is dissolving, at least part of the time…

Bookman99R: PM: Instant Alzheimer’s, just add Aliens?

morganuci: 🙂

Randyjj55: Does your reality contract and shrink, as the now becomes erased and you rewind to the beginning and then fade to black…

Bookman99R: except that you can remember

Bookman99R: my ‘reality contract’ has too much fine print

Bookman99R: 😉

morganuci: OK, how about All You Zombies? Weird story, but is it a horror story?

Bookman99R: the ‘horror’ aspect of Hoag, is that there were two groups of beings, one inimical to us, and the other, rather indifferent to us

Bookman99R: either one capable of erasing us, without us being able to respond

DavidWrightSr: AYZ is certainly ‘solipsistic’.

Bookman99R: try this one: “Goldfish Bowl”

Randyjj55: A time traveling horror story…. Hmmmm

Bookman99R: AYZ doesn’t qualify as horror, unless it’s the possibility that we are all, in the end, alone

Randyjj55: That would be the horror in that story.

morganuci: Yeah, I’d vote for Goldfish Bowl over Zombies as a horror story.

DavidWrightSr: Take aspirin and ‘You all went away’.

Bookman99R: interesting – the ultimate horror, but as an aspect of reality

morganuci: So all solipsistic stories aren’t horror stories.

Bookman99R: one of the commonalities of horror, is the problem in understanding the antagonist

Bookman99R: AYZ has no antagonist

morganuci: Great point! I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

Bookman99R: not of a necessity, Tim

Bookman99R: GB, there is _no_ ppossibiity of understanding the antagonists

Bookman99R: Hoag? the Sons, maybe

Bookman99R: Hoag’s people? unlikely

morganuci: They remind me of the Mu people in Lost Legacy, but one level higher (so to speak)

Bookman99R: yeah

Randyjj55 has left the room.

Bookman99R: LL doesn’t qualify as horror, because the audience gets to fight back, in the end

Bookman99R: starting to look like it’s just you & me, Tim

morganuci: In a standard horror movie, the teenagers fight back. Many of them die, but the protagonist(s) live to be in the sequel.

morganuci: Anyway, I’m ready to stop for the night. It’s been a good discussion, once it got going!

Bookman99R: yeah, but they don’t get to fight back until the very end, mostly

Bookman99R: good point, though

Bookman99R: did me best

DavidWrightSr: I’m still here, but I’m ready to call it a night too. Good discussion.

Bookman99R: OK, another time, gentlemen

Bookman99R: g’night

morganuci: OK, thanks to everyone for participating. We’ll do it again in a month or so. Good night!

morganuci has left the room.

Bookman99R has left the room.

DavidWrightSr: Night all. I’ve got the log and will have it sent to Geo for posting by Saturday.

End of Discussion

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