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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?
BillPatterson wrote:

I think you're right about librarians being omnipresent ghosts in the editorial process --


Found myself thinking today someone needs to filk "Dalgliesh and the Ghostly Librarians". :)

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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.


Uh huh. And are you sure we would have Stranger today if things had been very different with AD's marketing efforts? You know Lurton was begging him to not drop that juvenile series. You know Robert saw the financial risk of doing so.

Would he have dared to do so if that juvenile series was another 50% more financially successful for him? Could/would he have dared to finish Stranger and publish it in his own name if that series was still going on? He told Lurton that Stranger was to break him out of the children's author straightjacket --what if he had still been wearing the straightjacket at the time?

Yes, he continued to be offered juvenile opportunities after the publication of Stranger --but would he have been willing to count on that being the case in 1960? The letters seem to be a sort of defiant foreboding re Stranger's impact on his marketability. Does he hit a tipping point on risk/reward if the juvenile income pre-1959 is even higher and the series still ongoing?

Perhaps Alice Dalgliesh and her Ghostly Librarians are the unsung heroes of the creation of SiaSL. They pissed him off enough to finish SiaSL, with very few punches pulled on more than one hot-button topic that would have appalled librarians in charge of buying children's books; while not quite paying him as well as they should have to make him too chicken to do it.

FUTL certainly has relevance here, in re showing Robert's core beliefs and how having them manifest later in SiaSL was just part of the journey. But I'm talking risk/reward at a given moment in history here. Does SiaSL get the same level of historical respect if it (or something very like it) doesn't appear from RAH until, say, '69 instead of '61?

P.S. Oh, and it is also my belief that RAH maneuvered Scribner's into rejecting Starship Troopers, and it doesn't show up in the letters, because he didn't want Lurton to know it. I can't prove it, but I feel it. . . I only mention it because it is relevant to my argument above. So you'd have to add we might not have Starship Troopers either, even the Scribner's version, if Robert hadn't already made the decision (internalized and unshared) to cut himself out of the straightjacket. . . a decision which presumably finances factored into on the other side of the equation. Tho the gambit (if that's what it was) with ST was still relatively low-risk, so probably the answer is 'yes, we still have it'. It could and did appear as a very successful adult novel, and no reason to think it would threaten his "children's author" marketability even if it got him free of Scribner's as the particular house publishing them, and with the ability to give Lurton (and Ginny?) a helpless shrug of "See? What can you do with people like that?" He was more than good enough of a practical politics theoretician to conceive and carry off that kind of gambit.

PPS --I've edited this thing about 20 times now (I feel free to edit until someone replies). But I can quit editing any time I like. Yep. Yep. Yep. No more on this one. Pinky swear.

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Wed Mar 24, 2010 3:13 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:
<snip>And are you sure we would have Stranger today if things had been very different with AD's marketing efforts? You know Lurton was begging him to not drop that juvenile series. You know Robert saw the financial risk of doing so.

Would he have dared to do so if that juvenile series was another 50% more financially successful for him? Could/would he have dared to finish Stranger and publish it in his own name if that series was still going on? He told Lurton that Stranger was to break him out of the children's author straightjacket --what if he had still been wearing the straightjacket at the time?
<snip>
P.S. Oh, and it is also my belief that RAH maneuvered Scribner's into rejecting Starship Troopers,<snip>

I'm with you on both points --with some qualifications. I think he would have tried to migrate out of juveniles at some point because it's a limiting form, and historically he didn't like or accept limitations of that sort. If Dahlgliesh had expanded her marketing and reduced her editing toward old-maid librarians like Learned Hand, the emotions and sense of being tied down with threads like Gulliver would have been not so strong and not so immediate -- but they would have been there nonetheless. BUT no matter what we wouldnt have gotten Stranger, which I think of as one of the great works of satire, of general literature. The timing would have produced something entirely different -- possibly about 1969. (though there are other factors at work as well -- increasingly after Sputnik in 1957 he felt that he was spending/wasting his time on trivialities with the juveniles and that he really ought to be about more worthy projects. Let's split the difference and say the turning point would get moved to 1964. I have a hard time believing the Cuban Missile Crises wouldn't have had a major effect on him in this alternate timeline, too...

That alternativity might have produced a series of "pleasing" books in addition to the straight juveniles, like Door Into Summer and Double Star, through the sixties . . . no Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, either.

As to manipulating Scribner's -- well, yeah. Every time I read that first chapter, I think -- I can tell what he's doing here, and it clearly has purpose in terms of his fiction. But it's absolutely impossible that would have been accepted for the duck-and-cover generation. It busts the juvenile format so completely that it's hard to take his protestations at face value.

... on the other hand Putnam's did snap up a Heinlein juvenile sight unseen, so --


Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:19 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:
<snip>And are you sure we would have Stranger today if things had been very different with AD's marketing efforts? You know Lurton was begging him to not drop that juvenile series. You know Robert saw the financial risk of doing so.

Would he have dared to do so if that juvenile series was another 50% more financially successful for him? Could/would he have dared to finish Stranger and publish it in his own name if that series was still going on? He told Lurton that Stranger was to break him out of the children's author straightjacket --what if he had still been wearing the straightjacket at the time?
<snip>
P.S. Oh, and it is also my belief that RAH maneuvered Scribner's into rejecting Starship Troopers,<snip>

I'm with you on both points --with some qualifications. I think he would have tried to migrate out of juveniles at some point because it's a limiting form, and historically he didn't like or accept limitations of that sort. If Dahlgliesh had expanded her marketing and reduced her editing toward old-maid librarians like Learned Hand, the emotions and sense of being tied down with threads like Gulliver would have been not so strong and not so immediate -- but they would have been there nonetheless. BUT no matter what we wouldnt have gotten Stranger, which I think of as one of the great works of satire, of general literature. The timing would have produced something entirely different -- possibly about 1969. (though there are other factors at work as well -- increasingly after Sputnik in 1957 he felt that he was spending/wasting his time on trivialities with the juveniles and that he really ought to be about more worthy projects. Let's split the difference and say the turning point would get moved to 1964. I have a hard time believing the Cuban Missile Crises wouldn't have had a major effect on him in this alternate timeline, too...

That alternativity might have produced a series of "pleasing" books in addition to the straight juveniles, like Door Into Summer and Double Star, through the sixties . . . no Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, either.

As to manipulating Scribner's -- well, yeah. Every time I read that first chapter, I think -- I can tell what he's doing here, and it clearly has purpose in terms of his fiction. But it's absolutely impossible that would have been accepted for the duck-and-cover generation. It busts the juvenile format so completely that it's hard to take his protestations at face value.

... on the other hand Putnam's did snap up a Heinlein juvenile sight unseen, so --


Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:20 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
BillPatterson wrote:

That alternativity might have produced a series of "pleasing" books in addition to the straight juveniles, like Door Into Summer and Double Star, through the sixties . . . no Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, either.


So now we've wiped out Stranger, and put ST* and Moon on the endangered list, if AD isn't such a stick-in-the-mud. The mind boggles at the thought of Heinlein without those three.

Are we sure Empress Star wasn't taking a hand behind the scenes, sticking just enough needles in him at the right moments to get him to move? Has anyone checked AD's will for a "second best bed" bequeathal??

*Upstream I tentatively took ST off the endangered list. On reflection, I don't know that was justified in the alternate history we're concocting. ST was perfect bait for the "gambit" --as he proved, he could take it either way at the end of the editorial process rather easily. But if he's happy, not in gambit mode, and thinking of his adult vs juvenile markets in a more cleanly bifurcated manner. . . does ST get written? Maybe not.

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Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:30 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
georule wrote:
<snip>
But if he's happy, not in gambit mode, and thinking of his adult vs juvenile markets in a more cleanly bifurcated manner. . . does ST get written? Maybe not.

I think not -- or at least not in the same way. Chances are he might not have thought of addressing a meditation on why men fight to a juvenile audience; OTOH,he would still probably have thought they were the ones who needed it most. But he would have had to revise his approach to his adult novels significantly, to get out of the ingratiating mode he had been in during the mid-50's.

And remember what got started in 1958? Podkayne.


Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:27 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
Still, we have a timeline advantage that Robert didn't have --we know that the '70s are a lost decade (a thumbnail overstatement, but you know what I mean --I'm no more willing to give up TEFL than any Heinlein fan). It's actually scary to think of the results if he's a pampered Scribner's house cat for another five years, let alone ten.

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Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:49 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
Last time we did villains, I elected Mrs Keithly from Gulf.

She is not a nice person.


Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
Perhaps I don't have a full enough grasp of YA publishing in the 1960s, but I'd bet that a good case could be made that the market for Heinlein and other old-school juveniles would have fallen off considerably from their peak in the 1950s. At the time I discovered Heinlein, around 1967-8, I remember a distinct aura (from presentation, librarians, teachers, and peers) of his stuff seeming tired and old hat.

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Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:47 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
It seems to me that it could be a result of reality catching up with fiction. When I grew up, space travel and other sf type of things were only dreams which carried us up and out and Heinlein was the best at doing that, but some of those things became reality in the 50's and 60's and a lot of the dream has gone with the wind (pun intended)


Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:04 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
JamesGifford wrote:
Perhaps I don't have a full enough grasp of YA publishing in the 1960s, but I'd bet that a good case could be made that the market for Heinlein and other old-school juveniles would have fallen off considerably from their peak in the 1950s. At the time I discovered Heinlein, around 1967-8, I remember a distinct aura (from presentation, librarians, falling off somewhat would require access to info I don't have, but from what I saw of the books I was devouring across multiple genres (sports, mystery, teachers, and peers) of his stuff seeming tired and old hat.


I was reading more than the Heinlein juveniles, and more than the sf juveniles. Whether it was mystery, sports, or sf, that market seemed pretty vibrant into the early 1970s to me. Yeah, I know that also covers my hay-day of reading them, but I wasn't just reading the old ones --I was reading a lot of ones with new publishing dates, or at least well-past 1959.

For instance, thanks to ABE Books, I have a complete collection of Joe Archibald's juveniles here (mostly sports, but not all). It runs from 1947 to 1973, when Archibald was into his 70s (he served on a sub in WWI) --so I'm not even entirely sure the market retired him so much as age.

It seems to me the Hardy Boys were still coming out with new ones until around then, and "Franklin W. Dixon" was actually just a house name for whoever they assigned --not a real person (tho if you wrote him a fan letter, "he" would write you back).

Edit: Eh, HB isn't a good test case --they're still cranking those out, apparently. Or only recently stopped --I see some as recent as 2005.

But any rate, from what I saw I'd say the juvenile market was still very healthy into the late 1960s, was killed by flower power and the Woodstock generation making the "no romance" angle harder and harder to sell, and continued on momentum into the early/mid-1970s. At that point it fell to the ground a fraction of itself from combined effects of the Baby Boom having passed thru the python, and the age limit having largely shrunk from early 20's to early teens. That's a pretty heavy double-whammy. If I had to guess, maybe 50% of the audience progressively disappeared over the ten year time frame, 1965-1975, between those two causes?

One thing I very much do note from the Archibald's was that the audience age being targeted began to get progressively younger from the mid-1960s. Before then you could have a believable college age hero, or even just out of college, who seemed more or less oblivious to girls, but the age limit where that didn't cause eye-rolling was clearly getting progressively younger as the late 1960s progressed. Which, of course, reduces total market opportunity.

So from my perspective (other than the potentially disastrous results to his adult fiction), Heinlein could easily have maintained a great juvenile market into the mid-1960s at least, if that was his desire.

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Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:43 pm
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