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Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
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Author:  georule [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

I think we all know this wasn't one of his strengths --he doesn't seem to have been interested in it being one of his strengths. "No man is a villain in his own mind" is one quote from him. His villains tend to be either large, impersonal and off-screen; alienly ununderstandable (Puppet Masters); off-screen entirely (say The Prophet); or buffoonish caricatures that a writer of his skill must be assumed to have drawn them that way on purpose (Mrs. Keithley, for instance).

So in a moment of daydreaming today, I tried to think of some relatively well drawn and believable human villains in Heinlein. I came up with five, four in the juveniles.

Starman Jones: Assistant Astrogator Simes
Between Planets: The internal security guy at the beginning.
Tunnel in the Sky: Grant Cowper
The Door Into Summer: Miles Gentry (but most assuredly NOT Belle Darkin)
Citizen of the Galaxy: "Uncle" John Weemsby

Discuss.

Edit: Added Weemsby, who should have occurred to me first, actually. . .

Author:  DavidWrightSr [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

What about the Montgomerys, pere and fils in Time Enough For Love? And the one in Starman Jones?

Author:  georule [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

The Montgomerys aren't too bad. . . tho the broad southern redneck accent in space several generations on puts me off a bit (unlike the Loonies in TMIAHM which seem to mostly be generations 1-3).

Which one in Starman Jones (I already have one listed)? The step-father? Believable situation, but he's gone pretty quick --quicker than the IBI lieutenant in Between Planets, even. Tho truth be told, I have a lot of admiration for Starman Jones, understanding how he had to set that one up carefully in several places to "get it past the librarians". I won't claim it is the most subversive of Heinlein works, but it is up there. . .

Author:  georule [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

Dr. Lowell Calhoun in Seventh Column/Day After Tomorrow? (scientist who wants a world run by scientific principles --as long as they are his?)

Montgomery Phipps from near the end of Between Planets? (Colonel Blimp stand-in?)

Both perhaps qualify as stereotypes, but perhaps not as "buffoonish caricatures".

Author:  georule [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

If I wanted to tickle Bill into action, I might even suggest. . . . .Ben Caxton, from Stranger?

Author:  DavidWrightSr [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

georule wrote:
The Montgomerys aren't too bad. . . tho the broad southern redneck accent in space several generations on puts me off a bit (unlike the Loonies in TMIAHM which seem to mostly be generations 1-3).

Which one in Starman Jones (I already have one listed)? The step-father? Believable situation, but he's gone pretty quick --quicker than the IBI lieutenant in Between Planets, even. Tho truth be told, I have a lot of admiration for Starman Jones, understanding how he had to set that one up carefully in several places to "get it past the librarians". I won't claim it is the most subversive of Heinlein works, but it is up there. . .


Yes, I meant the other Montgomery, Biff.

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

Author:  BillPatterson [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

georule wrote:
If I wanted to tickle Bill into action, I might even suggest. . . . .Ben Caxton, from Stranger?

Hard to see Ben Caxton as a villain in any sense of the word. But how about "Bill" the socialist from Cat?

(I have a theory that all the villains of the World AsMyth series except possibly the Panki, are progressed versions of the Circle of Ouroboros further along their timeline, and the whole cycle is in part supposed to resemble the time circles of "By His Bootstraps"

Now there's a villian for you -- Diktor.

Author:  BillPatterson [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

DavidWrightSr wrote:
georule wrote:
The Montgomerys aren't too bad. . . tho the broad southern redneck accent in space several generations on puts me off a bit (unlike the Loonies in TMIAHM which seem to mostly be generations 1-3).

Which one in Starman Jones (I already have one listed)? The step-father? Believable situation, but he's gone pretty quick --quicker than the IBI lieutenant in Between Planets, even. Tho truth be told, I have a lot of admiration for Starman Jones, understanding how he had to set that one up carefully in several places to "get it past the librarians". I won't claim it is the most subversive of Heinlein works, but it is up there. . .


Yes, I meant the other Montgomery, Biff.

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

That Montgomery was drawn from life -- the contractor who threatened RAH's life so he had to carry a pistol on his hip to complete the foundation for the Colorado Springs house.

Author:  DavidWrightSr [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

BillPatterson wrote:
That Montgomery was drawn from life -- the contractor who threatened RAH's life so he had to carry a pistol on his hip to complete the foundation for the Colorado Springs house.


I think then that Biff would qualify as a villain, no matter how short a time Max was exposed to him. :twisted:

Author:  georule [ Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?

BillPatterson wrote:
georule wrote:
If I wanted to tickle Bill into action, I might even suggest. . . . .Ben Caxton, from Stranger?

Hard to see Ben Caxton as a villain in any sense of the word.


Can't really disagree with you on the merits. Sometimes I'm. . . pixiesh? in these things. I hope not outright trollish. Foil? Stand in for (what he thinks is) open-minded conventional morality seriously challenged? Will you accept that?

Quote:
But how about "Bill" the socialist from Cat?


I considered him. That was a little bit before I made the distinction between "stereotype" and "buffoonish caricature". He strikes me as a little bit too set-piece to accept as "believable", but he does get a lot of pages and development. So perhaps I don't fight too hard in denial.

Quote:
(I have a theory that all the villains of the World AsMyth series except possibly the Panki, are progressed versions of the Circle of Ouroboros further along their timeline, and the whole cycle is in part supposed to resemble the time circles of "By His Bootstraps"

Now there's a villian for you -- Diktor.


I swear I considered Diktor from his "By His Bootstraps". But . . . but. . .but. . . he's the hero too! Darn that Heinlein and his shades of gray.

More seriously, that's exactly the kind of "villain" Heinlein would enjoy most. And perhaps why I give a little more emotional love, if not intellectual admiration, to By His Bootstraps than All You Zombies.

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