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Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones? 
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
DavidWrightSr wrote:

Now, I have a question for you. What are your referring to in 'get it past the librarians'?


DW--

All of the "juveniles" got sent out to professional librarians by Alice Dagliesh for review/comment. Robert, in my view, usually took their feedback wrong. He blamed AD for it. She perceived she was "doing her job", and not making moral judgements. Just trying to sell volume to the market. Eventually --I forget when-- they had a "come to jesus" about it. Robert seemed to gain some understanding of where she was coming from. . .but really never forgave her for not defending him to those librarians before his emotional equilibrium got deeply upset by it.

Perhaps the deepest, unexpected, understanding of RAH I've come to in reading a good chunk of his correspondence is he was very emotional about these things --and hated being so. He knew it. He hated it. He couldn't help it. In later years he tried to deflect it by not talking about it (not his only reason tho --he seems to have had the artist view that you insulted him by suggesting that it was impossible to get the point of the story without asking him about it).

With Starman Jones, in my view, he circumvented most of the librarian criticism (but I think not all --I'd have to go back and look at the editorial file; I have a memory of him telling AD he'd set it up quite carefully to avoid the criticism that one librarian levelled) by advance setup.

He:

1). Made it believable why Max would "run away from home" and be justified in doing so. That would be a pretty hard sell to the forces of "family values" at the time.

2). Got away with Max lying his way onto the ship as an astrogator even tho the story itself makes it clear he had absolutely no right, by the rules of his society, to do so. And in the company of the nearly Fagin-like (well, if you're a librarian of the age!) Bad Mentor in the person of Sam (rehabilitated only after he's dead).

3). And at the end, while disciplined and demoted (he'd been briefly a captain, after all), he still retained all the "ill gotten goods" that he really cared about.

As I said, for the time. . . deeply subversive.

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Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:36 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
Geo,

Good topic, your coments on Starman Jones are very good.

I don't see Grant Cowper as a villian. He is a guy who has the itch for political power and he
manipulates the others into voting for him as group leader. The reader has been manipulated
by RAH to see Rod as the "hero" of the book, but that doesn't mean Grant is evil.

If Grant had survived he would have returned to civilization he would have done his best
to use his experiance as Mayor to gain a place in the power structure of some colony or better yet in the govertment on Earth. After his experiance as mayor Grant probably would have done a good job where ever he ended up.


Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:11 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
How about the commander in the “Long Watch”

Most of the ones listed, like Simes are not so much evil as they have some personality disorder that makes them not fit to be a member of the society that they are in.

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:31 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
Ah, it's been awhile since I re-read The Long Watch, but that does sound like a possible.

Don't get too hung up on "villain" literally in the Snidely Whiplash mold. If you prefer "antagonist" that's fine too. I like the way "villain" sounds (and of course there was Robert's quote handy to get me started). I intended for that to be clear by putting the "buffoonish caricatures" sub-catagory in there, and then excluding it --sorry if it wasn't.

Obviously Grant Cowper from Tunnel, who I listed originally, is no Snidely Whiplash. Nor is Simes (tho he is a notch or two closer to it).

In fact, we can't even be sure that John Weemsby is a dyed in the wool bastich. There is the *suggestion* in Thorby's mind that perhaps Weemsby was actually responsible for his parents' death and his own enslavement --but it is left as part of the unfinished business of the book. And part of why I think Citizen has always cried out for at least a sequel, and maybe even trilogy --the "unfinished business" left over is quite considerable.

But anyway, it's at least possible that Weemsby is no more than a grown up version of Grant Cowper on the "villain scale".

Ahhh. . . The Glaroon from They actually isn't too bad either, is he? We're starting to get a decent sized list here. Not sure that he's actually human, but he could be.

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:53 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:

Perhaps the deepest, unexpected, understanding of RAH I've come to in reading a good chunk of his correspondence is he was very emotional about these things --and hated being so. He knew he was. He hated being that way. He couldn't help being that way. In later years he tried to deflect the issue by a variety of techniques to avoid talking about his works (not his only reason tho --he seems to have had the artist view that you insulted him by suggesting that it was impossible to get the point of the story without asking him about it).



I edited the above slightly to be more clear what I meant.

Re the above, I have a theory that part of the reason he was so pissed off at Panshin was that by Panshin dragging Sarge Smith's widow into it, Robert felt himself honor bound to engage, rather than something he could just ignore the horrid thing (I think it is fair to say this far qualifies as "conventional wisdom"). And he recognized from his own self-knowledge of his character that once he got deeply involved in it he just wouldn't be able to let it go. So it wasn't just "mad at Panshin for abusing Sarge Smith's widow". It was also "mad at Panshin for making it unavoidable for me to become obsessed by it".

Just a theory, but there is some supporting evidence for it.

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Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:13 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:
All of the "juveniles" got sent out to professional librarians by Alice Dagliesh for review/comment. Robert, in my view, usually took their feedback wrong. He blamed AD for it. She perceived she was "doing her job", and not making moral judgements. Just trying to sell volume to the market. Eventually --I forget when-- they had a "come to jesus" about it. Robert seemed to gain some understanding of where she was coming from. . .but really never forgave her for not defending him to those librarians before his emotional equilibrium got deeply upset by it.

<snip>

As I said, for the time. . . deeply subversive.

I think you're conflating a couple of different things together, Geo. I believe Red Planet was the only book they called in a librarian consultant for a review/opinion during the editorial process -- precisely because of some very subversive things (some of which are nigh invisible now) -- the "implied miscegenation" of sleeping with Willis and what AD viewed as excessively enthusiastic gun-tottin' (but let's not forget that Rocket Ship Galileo had a German-descended and a Jewish boy in the same group - and this was written in February 1946!). The attack by a librarian was a review written by a librarian for Library Journal several years later for The Star Beast (he said one of the lesser -- in Heinlein's opinion -- subversive elements, emancipation of a minor, ruined the book for him so he slammed it in LJ. There was a longish three-way correspondence about this point during the editing; Dalgliesh had allowed it to stand, but ducked her part in the editorial negotiation when the criticism came in -- and that was what so offended Heinlein; she did not stand behind her own work-product, let alone standing behind one of her authors.)

I think the argument about his "disrespect of religion" by the critical remarks he made about the state religion of Jubbalpore (Citizen of the Galaxy) is pretty classic for that series.


Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:52 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
EdHEdH wrote:
How about the commander in the “Long Watch”

Most of the ones listed, like Simes are not so much evil as they have some personality disorder that makes them not fit to be a member of the society that they are in.

Simes may have started out that way, but destroying the astrogration books is fairly called "evil." Aquinas' definition that evil is "good pursued badly" fits. If you are so interested in power and position that you willfully condemn the dozens-- hundreds? -- of people, then that is the very definition of evil so far as I can tell.


Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:55 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
BillPatterson wrote:
EdHEdH wrote:
How about the commander in the “Long Watch”

Most of the ones listed, like Simes are not so much evil as they have some personality disorder that makes them not fit to be a member of the society that they are in.

Simes may have started out that way, but destroying the astrogration books is fairly called "evil." Aquinas' definition that evil is "good pursued badly" fits. If you are so interested in power and position that you willfully condemn the dozens-- hundreds? -- of people, then that is the very definition of evil so far as I can tell.


I will give you that as he seemed to just care about power and not the responsibility. I have to agree that it comes out the same either way.
I know in real life I don’t really care why someone does wrong; just as long as they are removed forever.

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Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:07 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
BillPatterson wrote:
. I believe Red Planet was the only book they called in a librarian consultant for a review/opinion during the editorial process. . . .


Hmm, I don't think that's right. I'll have a review of the Scribner's file when I get a chance. Tho I may have overstated the frequency as well, or may possibly have misunderstood the role of one third party referred to by AD from time to time over the back and forth of several books. I'll have to have a closer look at dates too --I won't rule out the possibility in some instances I was seeing post-publication back and forth rather than pre. I did know the SB minor divorce thing blew up post, so that wasn't what I had in mind.

What was the usual publication date for that series (i.e. when did it typically fall in the year?) October?

I still think the librarians were always a ghost in the editorial process one way or another --how could they not be? They were the principal market in a very real way as they controlled whether it got bought or not. AD understood them better than Robert did (even if still imperfectly), but I think Robert still understood them well enough to know he had elements in SMJ he had to handle delicately.

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Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:41 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:
What was the usual publication date for that series (i.e. when did it typically fall in the year?) October?

I still think the librarians were always a ghost in the editorial process one way or another --how could they not be? They were the principal market in a very real way as they controlled whether it got bought or not. AD understood them better than Robert did (even if still imperfectly), but I think Robert still understood them well enough to know he had elements in SMJ he had to handle delicately.

I think you're right about librarians being omnipresent ghosts in the editorial process -- but there's something you're leaving out in your discussion of Miss Dalgliesh. It was an article of faith for AD that libraries were so great a market segment for her juveniles that other sales venues essentially didn't matter, which may well be true for her other authors, but it was unquestionably NOT true for Heinlein -- and his bookstore and department store sales were completely unprecedented,so much so that they never shipped enough of the early juveniles to keep up with the demand. The books, in answer to your other question, were usually published in October to catch the Christmas rush.

So the actual situation was that libraries may have been the backbone of their sales -- but it was not the overwhelmingly important segment AD thought it was.

Heinlein had a lot of evidence that his audience was not, in fact, librarians, but kids; AD never figured this out. I would guess that if she had not been so convention-minded, she might have gotten with the non-juvenile marketing department in the early 1950's, and things would have been very different.


Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:22 pm
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