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Tunnel in the Sky 
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
I as much as said I'm bringing other debates, including past ones, into this discussion. All of my side comments are about the context and purpose of this discussion (...as I see it). I have no - nada, zero, zip, nyetaw, nuthin' - interest in the legacy style of Heinlein 'study,' to use the broadest term for discussion, discourse, investigation, debate and analysis. The tenor and limitations of this style were established before many of us were born. I've spent almost thirty years at it and IMVVVHO it's wrung dry. ­No más! No más!

If I'm alone in wanting to push on to more focused 'study,' with a deliberate attempt to leave out the assumed selectivity and automatic apologia... I'll shaddap. I am not interested in commandeering any discussion here - tell you what, I will stay out of any such discussion not in Advanced Heinlein. I'll assume if the debate is put there it's fair game to steer to my mindset. Out here, it's for folks who are less tired of the old school and haven't spent forever and a day on the topics.

That said, your closing paragraph goes right back to square one: Let's admire Heinlein some more for his proven good points and just not talk about his limitations. By all means, but I'll now excuse myself.


Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:21 am
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
Exactly how is it you want to focus the analysis? All I've seen so far is broad strokes that he was pathetic at characterization. Where do you want to go from here? I'm all for more depth but if your idea of depth is thinking up new synonyms for "hack" that's not what I have in mind.


Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:10 am
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
Before we digressed into the meaning of 'discuss' I made several very specific statements and challenges. (I was going to list them, but discovered that either the software has changed or I am remembering other forums that numbered the posts sequentially for reference. Bah.)

I'm not out to call Heinlein a hack and your dividing the potential discussion into another either/or doesn't help.

Why is it so hard to grasp that I think even a great writer - perhaps one of the greatest of American writers - who has many strengths and broke new ground repeatedly and dragged new ideas into the fray for 40+ years... also had flaws and shortcomings in his abilities? Twain wrote some stuff so wretched even his most rabid aficionados don't bother with it. Any prolific writer has crap on his publications list. Only extremely sparing writers like Hemingway might have no bad works that were published in their lifetime.

Having praised Heinlein for the same things lo these many eons, I am more interested in examining his weaknesses and failures... because they can tell us more about him, his milieu and his successful works than yet more glosses on the Hugo winners. Especially things that he is praised for where I think the praise needs to be modulated. His handling of women characters is multifaced, and while he is to be admired for shoving them down Campbell and reader's throats in that era, it remains to be established that he did so well, or skillfully, or believably in a larger context. Ditto for his racial efforts, which are similarly applaudable as efforts but (IMHO) clumsy and inept in execution.


Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:40 am
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
I would be all for more critical discussion but am not sure whether "advanced Heinlein" is the proper venue. Perhaps another category should be set up.

One profitable area of inquiry might concern parallels between Heinlein and other non-genre writers of his generation. For example, John O'Hara (1905-1970) started to write characters with more overt sexuality, generally taking place offstage (just like Heinlein), during the 1960s. Were authors of that generation, around age 60 at the time, followers or leaders in giving their characters sex lives? And why do some of their efforts in that area make us (well, some of us) wince today?

(O'Hara had several novels that were best sellers in the 1950s and '60s but are almost unknown today, except for those adapted into movies, such as Butterfield 8; I've tried three or four but have never been able to get into them. Many of his stories and novellas, on the other hand, will endure - or so I hope.)


Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:20 pm
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
JamesGifford wrote:
Why is it so hard to grasp that I think even a great writer - perhaps one of the greatest of American writers - who has many strengths and broke new ground repeatedly and dragged new ideas into the fray for 40+ years... also had flaws and shortcomings in his abilities?


It's not hard. Everyone here pretty much agrees with you. I'm just wondering when you're going to say anything else.

Quote:
Having praised Heinlein for the same things lo these many eons, I am more interested in examining his weaknesses and failures... because they can tell us more about him, his milieu and his successful works than yet more glosses on the Hugo winners.


Please, have at it.


Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:22 pm
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
PeterScott wrote:
Everyone here pretty much agrees with you.

No, most Heinlein admirers will vaguely admit he wasn't perfect and then change the subject. That's not 'agreement.' (Nor am I looking for 'agreement' here; just understanding.)

Quote:
Please, have at it.

I have, in multiple instances that get deflected into 'meaning of is' discussions like this one. Reread some of the threads before they got deflected.

Never mind. I'll stick with the Advanced Heinlein division and only say Nice Things out here. Mustn't fart in church.


Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:34 am
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
JamesGifford wrote:
PeterScott wrote:
Everyone here pretty much agrees with you.

No, most Heinlein admirers will vaguely admit he wasn't perfect and then change the subject. That's not 'agreement.' (Nor am I looking for 'agreement' here; just understanding.)

Quote:
Please, have at it.

I have, in multiple instances that get deflected into 'meaning of is' discussions like this one. Reread some of the threads before they got deflected.

Never mind. I'll stick with the Advanced Heinlein division and only say Nice Things out here. Mustn't fart in church.


I've reread this entire thread and I can't see either where there was disagreement as to Heinlein's failures of characterization or where you provided any specifics longer than half a Twitter post.

If you're referring to other threads, please bear in mind that I have a tragically shortened attention span, or at least pretend that I do for long enough to point me towards those threads so I don't spend ages in fruitless grepping. I've already been frustrated by the simian selectivity of this forum's search function. I don't recall any threads matching your description in the last month or so.


Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:04 pm
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Post Re: Tunnel in the Sky
I haven't gotten much past starters on the topic, but I have made those starts. Typically, it goes about three replies before it's lost in deflection back to 'yes but' admiration of Heinlein's strengths.

Happy to start a fresh thread over in the Advanced column, but any hope that it achieves escape velocity and doesn't quickly end up dismissing the issue in favor of such elsewhere praise is faint.

My corresponding problem is that my time to tend to such threads is erratic - and often drops to zero right about the timer they get deep and involved. I try to come back and pick up the thread but it's often too late, both for my own line of thought and the participation.


Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:01 am
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