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I Found One of Heinlein's Book Reviews Online 
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Post I Found One of Heinlein's Book Reviews Online
I've just become aware that the November 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction may be found on archive.org. (I'd been looking for "Minus Sign," the second Seetee story by Will Stewart/Jack Williamson, which begins on page 41.)

On page 105, I found a book review not listed in the table of contents. R. A. Heinlein reviews Willy Ley's book Shells and Shooting, with uncommon frankness:
Quote:
I am not the sort of reviewer who synopsizes the work being reviewed in such a fashion that the reader need not bother to read the book itself. It is my intention to tempt you into laying two dollars on the line in order that Willy may get his cut in royalties.
I hadn't seen this before. I believe Heinlein contributed other reviews to Astounding. If you find one online, please link to it here.

Another cool thing in this issue: the byline of legendary fan, letterhack, and historian Harry Warner, on a "Probability Zero" story, "The Sleep that Slaughtered." I'm not saying it's good, mind you.

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Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:10 am
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Post Re: I Found One of Heinlein's Book Reviews Online
Astounding, 5/42 -- review of The Days of Creation by Willy Ley. Also contains 2nd half of Beyond This Horizon.

Astounding, 7/44 -- review of Rockets: A Prelude to Space Travel by Willy Ley.


Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:01 pm
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Post Re: I Found One of Heinlein's Book Reviews Online
BillMullins wrote:
Astounding, 5/42 -- review of The Days of Creation by Willy Ley. Also contains 2nd half of Beyond This Horizon.

Astounding, 7/44 -- review of Rockets: A Prelude to Space Travel by Willy Ley.
As I hinted, I am not surprised Bill could track down further reviews. But having read the Rockets review, my mind is blown.

It seems like a missing link between Heinlein's pre-war enthusiasm for spaceflight and his 1945 memorandum urging the Navy to begin developing space rockets.

There's a substantial in there where he imagines what it would take to assemble a team, get funding, and start building rockets. And it's kind of obvious that he imagines himself as the man in charge of the project.

This goes on for three paragraphs before Heinlein remembers he's writing a review and returns to discussing Ley's book. It puts his Navy memo into perspective: He'd already been thinking about managing rocketry projects for at least a year.

Heinlein's tone in all three reviews is odd, reminiscent of the jocular host of a children's TV show.
Quote:
Every time I get one of Willy Ley’s books to review I mess around for thirty minutes trying to find synonyms for super-colossal. What I am trying to say, chum, is this: If you like science-fiction, if you really believe that there will be a next year after this one, if you think the spacesuit will eventually replace the zoot suit, this is for you, this is your dish, this is a book you have been waiting for.
Gee whiz, Mister Heinlein!

In the conclusion of the Rockets piece, Heinlein returns to his daydream, inviting the reader into it, foreshadowing space stories yet to come and even nodding to his ongoing interest in spacesuits:
Quote:
But the best thing about it is not that it is an enjoyable book; it is the conviction it gives that some of you who are now reading these words will, before you have time to become bald, walk the far side of the Moon, gazing on peaks never seen through a ’scope, your feet scuffing the soft pumice of Luna.

Somewhere near your elbow there will be another figure, dressed like yourself in a G.E. pressure suit with plexiglas helmet and oxygen tank.

I hope I’m in that suit.

— Robert A. Heinlein.

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Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:29 pm
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Post Re: I Found One of Heinlein's Book Reviews Online
beamjockey wrote:
There's a substantial in there
Passage. There's a substantial passage in there.

By the way, Willy Ley's book is just about as good as Heinlein says it is. I own at least three editions.

Ley revised it multiple times as the rapidly-changing aerospace industry re-invented itself, and the title changed:
Rockets and Space Travel: The Future of Flight Beyond the Stratosphere.
Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel: The up-to-Tomorrow Story of Rocket Development and Space Travel Prospects.
Rockets, Missiles, & Space Travel: Revised and Enlarged for the 1960's.
Rockets, Missiles, and Men in Space.

Death alone, I think, which claimed Ley in 1969, could keep him from continuing to revise his masterwork.

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Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:25 pm
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