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Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
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Author:  BillPatterson [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:02 am ]
Post subject:  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, teachers, and peers) of his stuff seeming tired and old hat.

Seems to me the juveniles market did take a dip from the sixties to the eighties, but it seems to be thriving now.

Author:  JamesGifford [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

DavidWrightSr wrote:
It seems to me that it could be a result of reality catching up with fiction.

As I recall it (and as I saw it from a slightly later perspective) it wasn't just sf/space travel but the notion of "juvenile books" that was taking a hit. From about then through the mid-1970s, we had that horrid period where books for kids had to be "relevant" and address "real issues" and contain one carefully-defined character of each race, gender and culture, all interacting in the Oz of total equality and respect. All older stuff was horribly dated, out of touch, irrelevant... downright bad for young minds.

I have long meant to find the artist who illustrated most of that stuff (covers and interiors). You know, the sort of balloony cartoony people in bright colors, halfway between Sesame Street and Cabbage Patch dolls. (fx Rorschach voice) I have plans for that person.

Author:  RobertJames [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

Get in line, Jim...

Author:  JamesGifford [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

YOU get in line. I'm after this... "artist"...

Image

Found this, by the way, on www.Oddee.com, which I advise everyone to avoid like the plague unless you have hours to browse through lists of strange, weird and funny things. This came from a list of "inappropriate children's books."

Author:  georule [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

BillPatterson wrote:
Seems to me the juveniles market did take a dip from the sixties to the eighties, but it seems to be thriving now.


The Baby Boom was of course a relative phenomenon. Absolute population growth means that birth rate in recent years is actually approaching what the baby boom produced in absolute yearly numbers at its peak.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Birth ... tretch.PNG

Put a 10 year lag on that chart, and that would suggest a somewhat later falling off the juvenile market (more towards late '70s) than I discussed upstream, but as I also mentioned, I perceived a second factor --a progressive contraction of the age range of readers being targeted.

Author:  georule [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

TinaBlack wrote:
Last time we did villains, I elected Mrs Keithly from Gulf.

She is not a nice person.


Oh, I don't disagree! In some fashion I'm quite fond of her. I created a "Which Heinlein Character are You?" quiz on Facebook, and she and The Galactic Overlord were the baddies avatars.

But if we're talking "believable". . . well. . .Mrs. Keithly is Fail, and I think she was intended to be.

I'm about to commit Heresy here, but I'm not entirely sure I entirely disagree with Panshin re "Gulf". Tho he expresses it in terms of "loss of control", and I wouldn't. If it makes you feel better to think about "blind pigs". . . re the randomness of Panshin being somewhere near the truth on a given issue. . .well, I'd apprecate it.

I get one of two feelings from Gulf. That he ran out of words/time (both an issue for a "special" magazine appearance, and thus unfair to express as "loss on control" except to the degree you mean it as external factors, and AP did not so mean it). . . .or having accomplished his goal on "What's a Superman?" RAH ran out of interest on the ending. I think he was enuf of an Artist that #1 seems more likely to me, but #2 might have been a contributing factor with #1 primary.

Author:  audrey [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

Birth rate in US is DOWN 2% ....

(not MY fault I did my share...)

Author:  BillPatterson [ Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

audrey wrote:
Birth rate in US is DOWN 2% ....

(not MY fault I did my share...)

I think the twins may have put you over the top . . .

Author:  BillPatterson [ Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

georule wrote:
I'm about to commit Heresy here, but I'm not entirely sure I entirely disagree with Panshin re "Gulf". Tho he expresses it in terms of "loss of control", and I wouldn't. If it makes you feel better to think about "blind pigs". . . re the randomness of Panshin being somewhere near the truth on a given issue. . .well, I'd apprecate it.

I get one of two feelings from Gulf. That he ran out of words/time (both an issue for a "special" magazine appearance, and thus unfair to express as "loss on control" except to the degree you mean it as external factors, and AP did not so mean it). . . .or having accomplished his goal on "What's a Superman?" RAH ran out of interest on the ending. I think he was enuf of an Artist that #1 seems more likely to me, but #2 might have been a contributing factor with #1 primary.

Don't quite understand what you mean. It seems very deliberate and controlled to me -- an acceleration to breathlessness as they get to the Moon, the time-crunch, and then the self-sacrifice that marks Joe and Gail as superlatively human (which is how Heinlein portrays his supermen). In short, I think it is the way it was supposed to be.

This was written before Ian Fleming's stuff (among many others) set our expectation for the pacing and structure of the genre: there essentially wasn't any genre at the time he wrote this. He would have been in dialogue with Leslie Charteris more than anyone else, and the Simon Templar stories aren't quite the same. Now, the genre did exist at the time he wrote The Man Who Wasn't There (though the Cubby Broccoli Bonds were just starting to come out).

Author:  georule [ Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

BillPatterson wrote:

Don't quite understand what you mean. It seems very deliberate and controlled to me -- an acceleration to breathlessness as they get to the Moon, the time-crunch, and then the self-sacrifice that marks Joe and Gail as superlatively human (which is how Heinlein portrays his supermen). In short, I think it is the way it was supposed to be.

This was written before Ian Fleming's stuff (among many others) set our expectation for the pacing and structure of the genre: there essentially wasn't any genre at the time he wrote this. He would have been in dialogue with Leslie Charteris more than anyone else, and the Simon Templar stories aren't quite the same. Now, the genre did exist at the time he wrote The Man Who Wasn't There (though the Cubby Broccoli Bonds were just starting to come out).


Well, I'm not disagreeing with Joe and Gail's sacrifice as appropriate and necessary.

I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I recall Panshin's critique as being that the ending is rushed, and the loss of control evident. I don't agree that that "loss of control is evident", but I do agree that the ending feels "rushed" to me, in the sense that the rest of the story is quite leisurely and detailed, and the final mission on the moon is quite quickly over. Too quickly for my taste.

That's why I speculate that Robert, writing for a "special edition" of Astounding who's number of stories and titles had already been determined in advance by the "report from the future" from the fan letter that inspired that particular issue of Astounding, might have been writing for a pretty strict world limit that might have handcuffed him a little. And faced with a choice between not displaying to his satisfaction the real point of "Gulf" --that being what it means to be a "superman"-- and rushing the ending a touch, he chose the latter.

I could be wrong, but I've always had that feeling.

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