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Another Obscure RAH Publication 
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Post Another Obscure RAH Publication
From The Saturday Evening Post of 4/12/1947:
Quote:
WITHOUT WINGS

On the KEEPING POSTED page of February 8th I am described as a former naval aviator. I wish it were true, but it is not. I have a high respect for the men who have won wings and no wish to muscle in on their glory.

I am afraid I have let you in for this error by describing myself as having spent some years in naval aviation—which is true, three years in aircraft carriers and four years in aircraft engineering. . . . It did not occur to me that it would be assumed that I was a naval aviator. Sorry!

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
Hollywood, Calif.

Mr. Heinlein Is the author of the recent science-fiction story, THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH, which drew wide comment.—ED.


Probably not worthy of an OPUS # in Gifford's list, but of interest just the same.


Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:39 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
Bill Mullins wrote:
From The Saturday Evening Post of 4/12/1947:
Quote:
WITHOUT WINGS
[...]
I am afraid I have let you in for this error by describing myself as having spent some years in naval aviation—which is true, three years in aircraft carriers and four years in aircraft engineering. . . . It did not occur to me that it would be assumed that I was a naval aviator. Sorry!.


How does spring 1942 to August 1945 translate into "four years in aircraft engineering?" I guess it's more than three.

Or did Heinlein have an extra year of aeronautical work at some other point in his life?

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Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:33 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
beamjockey wrote:
How does spring 1942 to August 1945 translate into "four years in aircraft engineering?"

I don't think Heinlein ever told an autobiographical bit without "polishing" it. Sometimes it's significant, as when he's trying to glide over a sticky truth, but most often it's just polishing off the edges, as with this.

Perhaps we all do, but no one ever notices or calls us out on it because it doesn't really matter that, say, I can document about 27+ years in what I do but often state it as 30. My biographer will no doubt either tsk-tsk me for this or let the tissue paper patch remain in place. :)

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Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:49 am
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
James Gifford wrote:
Perhaps we all do, but no one ever notices or calls us out on it because it doesn't really matter that, say, I can document about 27+ years in what I do but often state it as 30. My biographer will no doubt either tsk-tsk me for this or let the tissue paper patch remain in place. :)


:D I have over 32 years of experience in my field but I "round it off" as 25+. After so many years there's no point in rounding up.

That's an excellent find, Bill. I need to do an archeological dig and see if I have that edition.

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Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:33 am
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
Jack Kelly wrote:
James Gifford wrote:
Perhaps we all do, but no one ever notices or calls us out on it because it doesn't really matter that, say, I can document about 27+ years in what I do but often state it as 30. My biographer will no doubt either tsk-tsk me for this or let the tissue paper patch remain in place. :)


:D I have over 32 years of experience in my field but I "round it off" as 25+. After so many years there's no point in rounding up.

That's an excellent find, Bill. I need to do an archeological dig and see if I have that edition.


I turned sixty-four this month but I "round it off" as "over forty." :P


Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:11 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
beamjockey wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:
From The Saturday Evening Post of 4/12/1947:
Quote:
WITHOUT WINGS
[...]
I am afraid I have let you in for this error by describing myself as having spent some years in naval aviation—which is true, three years in aircraft carriers and four years in aircraft engineering. . . . It did not occur to me that it would be assumed that I was a naval aviator. Sorry!.


How does spring 1942 to August 1945 translate into "four years in aircraft engineering?" I guess it's more than three.

Or did Heinlein have an extra year of aeronautical work at some other point in his life?
You'll find quite a number of these obscure but interesting publications in the nonfiction volumes of the VE. There was a long and funny letter RAH wrote to the Post Editors that got published as an article in Keeping Posted. Oh, and I've got some samples of his utility writing for the Observer of the USS Lexington, too. Unfortunately I wasn't able to identify any of his writing for the Metro elections 1936 for EPIC News. They're all unsigned.


Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:49 am
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
The quote I posted to start this thread was a Letter to the Editor in response to the following:

Saturday Evening Post, 2/8/1947, Vol. 219 Issue 32, p10
Quote:
The author of THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH is a former naval aviator who divides his time between mechanical engineering and writing. "Speculative fiction is usually thought of as pure fantasy and classed with the comic books," Heinlein said, "but I try to follow the Jules Veme-H. G. Wells tradition of careful and conservative extrapolation of known scientific fact—that is, I believe my own pipe dreams. There never has been a space bum such as Rhysling—but there will be." Six years before the war, Heinlein wrote a farfetched story about a great new weapon—Uranium 235. That pipe dream turned out to be altogether too true, very quickly, so maybe he's right about space travel.

The inspiration for the blind hero of THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH is a Philadelphian. He is not the prototype, for Rhysling, in the story, is a no-good, drunken bum, and the Philadelphian is nothing like that. The young man is sightless. When the war came along, he went to an industrial school and insisted that they train him as a mechanic. "He had to invent a Braille micrometer to make the grade," said Heinlein, "but they taught him, and he spent the war in a Philadelphia aircraft factory, using power tools. Toward the end of the war he trained blinded veterans so well that they could use power tools in competition with sighted men. In many cases, their morale was gone. But a single day in the shop with my young friend was enough to change their attitude completely. It was amazing—and enough to tear your heart out. This story is dedicated to that gallant gentleman."


A couple of notes about it:

1. Again, an error of timing. "Six years before the war, Heinlein wrote a farfetched story about a great new weapon . . . " I can't think of anything he wrote from 1933-1935 that fits this description. If this is a misprint for "six years before the end of the war," then the chronology works.

2. Heinlein is usually given credit for popularizing the phrase "speculative fiction" as a synonym for "science fiction" in his 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction". The Archives show a date of July 1947 for the essay, so he above quote is early enough in 1947 that it antedates the essay.

3. This story could be added to Jane Davitt and Tim Morgan's list of "Heinlein's Dedications" (If only we knew the name of the blind machinist!)


And another bit of obscurity . . .

Saturday Evening Post; 5/3/1947, Vol. 219 Issue 44, p10
Quote:
TO THE MOON IN '52?
ROBERT HEINLEIN, whose stories about space rockets have interested a great many readers, has been getting a lot of mail, and the letters often ask when he thinks interplanetary travel will start. Heinlein has an engineer's reluctance to make prophecies that might sound wild-haired. So you may be surprised to hear that his considered opinion is: in five years. That's with unmanned rockets; with manned rockets, in ten years.

"We can achieve space flight very shortly," he said, "if anyone cares to foot the bill, for there are no basic scientific problems intervening. The problem is not primarily an engineering problem, but a political, financial, social and military one. What remains to be done is engineering development much, much simpler than the problem of the atom homb. Interplanetary fiight will be difficult and expensive as long as we must rely on chemical fuels, but it can be done. But once atomic power is applied to reaction engines—well, the sky is no limit then. However, that may be several years away.

"Last summer I asked the commanding officer of the White Sands Proving Ground when he expected space flight. He did not want to he put on the spot, but he did say, ' We can do anything we want to do if we want to do it badly enough.' Since then, both the Army and the Navy have started using recruiting posters showing spaceships traveling to the moon.

"When? That brings in nonengineering factors. Will the U. N. achieve control of atomic energy? Will there be a third World War? Are we in for another disastrous depression? Are any of the major corporations willing to bet on the profits of space exploration? Does any country want the moon as a military base badly enough to pay for it? I could list many more variables, but never mind. Here I'll gaze into the crystal globe. First unmanned rocket to the moon in fiveyears. First manned rocket in ten years. Permanent base there in fifteen years. After that, anything. Several decades of exploring the solar system, with everyone falling all over each other to do it first and stake out claims. . . . However, we may wake up some moming to find that the Lunar S.S.R.—eight scientists and technicians, six men, two women—has petitioned the Kremlin for admission of the moon to the U.S.S.R. And keep your eyes on the British—the British Interplanetary Society is determined to get there first.

"In predicting technical advance, there is an almost insuperable tendency to be too conservative. In almost every case, correct prophecy of the Jules Verne type has failed in the one respect of putting the predicted advance too far in the future. If my figures are wrong, they are almost certainly wrong in being too timid. . . ."

About half the mail stirred up by THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH, Heinlein's first space-flight story for the Post, came from technical men. "All of it shows that the United States is still made up of believers and hopers," said Heinlein.

There's also the possibility, Mr. Heinlein, that in less than ten years a great many people may be perfectly ready for such a trip. Out of this world may be just where a sensible man wishes to get.


If neither of these are what Bill is describing above, then I can't find the letter to the Post he mentions.


Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:44 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
Bill Mullins wrote:
A couple of notes about it:

1. Again, an error of timing. "Six years before the war, Heinlein wrote a farfetched story about a great new weapon . . . " I can't think of anything he wrote from 1933-1935 that fits this description. If this is a misprint for "six years before the end of the war," then the chronology works.

2. Heinlein is usually given credit for popularizing the phrase "speculative fiction" as a synonym for "science fiction" in his 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction". The Archives show a date of July 1947 for the essay, so he above quote is early enough in 1947 that it antedates the essay.

3. This story could be added to Jane Davitt and Tim Morgan's list of "Heinlein's Dedications" (If only we knew the name of the blind machinist!)
Tony Somebody. It's in the letters somewhere; I'm thinking postwar letters to a friend. I could find it again if I hunted hard.

(This note caused me to look up "speculative fiction" at the OED SF-words site. The earliest citation is way before Heinlein-- 1889. The guy who contributed it? Bill Mullins!)

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Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
beamjockey wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:
(If only we knew the name of the blind machinist!)
Tony Somebody. It's in the letters somewhere; I'm thinking postwar letters to a friend. I could find it again if I hunted hard.
It'd be interesting to know, if it's not too much trouble to find. Maybe he's still alive.
Quote:
(This note caused me to look up "speculative fiction" at the OED SF-words site. The earliest citation is way before Heinlein-- 1889. The guy who contributed it? Bill Mullins!)

Yah, it's a nonce usage. Jeff Prucher, the guy who maintains the webpage and compiled it into the Hugo-winning "Brave New Words" welcomes contributions, so any interdating of 1889-1947 for "speculative fiction" would be welcome.

Likewise, "science fiction" gained traction in 1927 in Amazing Stories, but had been used previously in 1851 (with the proper meaning). No known usages in print between the two dates. Again, if anyone knows of a print usage that fills the gap, you can post it to Prucher's website, or I'll help forward it to the Oxford English Dictionary.


Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:59 pm
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Post Re: Another Obscure RAH Publication
Bill Mullins wrote:
This story could be added to Jane Davitt and Tim Morgan's list of "Heinlein's Dedications" (If only we knew the name of the blind machinist!)

Tony. I can't remember where that's stated - perhaps on the jacket copy for the Nimoy recording of GHOE.

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Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:26 pm
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