View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Dec 16, 2017 1:11 am



Reply to topic  [ 100 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 10  Next
Heinlein Biographical thread? 
Author Message
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:00 am
Posts: 61
Post Heinlein Biographical thread?
James,

I finally joined this forum after being a huge fan of ARC and of Bill Patterson's TMNS for several years. I don't know what the latest, latest, latest status of the bio is (hopefully Bill will respond here), but I wanted to suggest that you make a permanent discussion thread for discussing Heinlein's personal history and biographical data (a thread separated from discussions about his works). Sometimes it's hard for people who are not Heinlein scholars to separate fact from fiction, especially with conflicting anecdotes about the man, and vastly divergent belief systems held by his characters. It might also be a good place for discussions of interest that will no doubt arise once Bill's new biography is published.


Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:17 am
Profile
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Alex Hergensheimer wrote:
James,

I finally joined this forum after being a huge fan of ARC and of Bill Patterson's TMNS for several years. I don't know what the latest, latest, latest status of the bio is (hopefully Bill will respond here), but I wanted to suggest that you make a permanent discussion thread for discussing Heinlein's personal history and biographical data (a thread separated from discussions about his works). Sometimes it's hard for people who are not Heinlein scholars to separate fact from fiction, especially with conflicting anecdotes about the man, and vastly divergent belief systems held by his characters. It might also be a good place for discussions of interest that will no doubt arise once Bill's new biography is published.

One can certainly hope!

The editor (David Hartwell) has started talking about a spring 2010 release date for the first volume -- and then immediately threw in one more round of revisions, a process that has been going on for more than three and a half years. However, I'm about done with that and Hartwell promises it goes to Legal and then to copyediting thereafter -- and then we can start on the second volume, which I hope will go a lot faster.

The first volume goes up to October 1948.


Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:58 am
Profile
PITA Bred
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 2402
Location: The Quiet Earth
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Hi, and welcome, even though I know you're REALLY Alex Graham. :D

You're welcome to start such a thread, but you'll find a lot of biographical data scattered through the various topics. I know that's not very satisfying, but these forums aren't meant to be a complete databank; they're more to permit ongoing discussion and help center the online Heinlein community.

There are biographical resources out there and it might be more productive for some bright young sprog to summarize them in an initial post, and then we (led by Bill) can pick them apart and fill in the gaps.

I should note that it was always my intention to have a first-rate short bio on the Heinlein site and it's one aspect I never quite got right. There are some rumblings in the underground these days and I may actually take time to do a full revamp of the site - including that damned bio.

_________________
"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sat Jun 06, 2009 9:05 am
Profile
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
James Gifford wrote:
Hi, and welcome, even though I know you're REALLY Alex Graham. :D

You're welcome to start such a thread, but you'll find a lot of biographical data scattered through the various topics. I know that's not very satisfying, but these forums aren't meant to be a complete databank; they're more to permit ongoing discussion and help center the online Heinlein community.

There are biographical resources out there and it might be more productive for some bright young sprog to summarize them in an initial post, and then we (led by Bill) can pick them apart and fill in the gaps.

I should note that it was always my intention to have a first-rate short bio on the Heinlein site and it's one aspect I never quite got right. There are some rumblings in the underground these days and I may actually take time to do a full revamp of the site - including that damned bio.

Jim's online bio was what started this whole thing off in the first place; I got ambitious back in 1998 or so and decided to fill in the huge gap in the center of the bio on Nitrosyncretic.com, and the result was somewhat larger than I had intended -- the biographical sketch in the Heinlein Journal in 1999 that pulled together in one place everything that was known about Heinlein's life.

In the course of working up the sketch, Brad Linaweaver put Ginny and me together, and she helped out by vetting the sketch and providing some additional information. She was so pleased with it that on January 1, 2000, she called me up and asked me to write the full biography, providing me open access to all the sealed material and about 24 hours of taped interview. She tried to introdce me to family sources and such but the most imporant ones had already died and some others were not available to her.

The Heinlein Society has had a condensed version of the Biographical Sketch online for quite some time. What other biographical sources did yo have in mind, Jim?


Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:49 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:00 am
Posts: 61
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Well, I guess what I wish existed (maybe it does someplace) is this:

A list of the man's beliefs as we know them to be, properly cited. As a dedicated (but not fervent) fan, I must say that I don't just want Heinlein The Fiction Writer, I want Heinlein the role model. This may be a youthful and stupid thing to want, especially since Heinlein's works always suggest thinking for oneself rather than following blindly. And Heinlein always excoriated people for reading his personal views from his fiction. But regardless, I want to know:

What did the man believe and how did his beliefs change over time? A proper list, citing only legitimate sources like letters or speeches or interviews, and not inferring anything from his fiction, unless obviously written in his own voice.

How did he really feel about politics, and how did his ideas change over time? Did he make contradictory statements within the same time period?
Was he an atheist? I don't believe someone can write Job and be merely agnostic or deistic.
How did he feel about women and various forms of sexuality? Did these views ever really change, or was he just edited less as he became more successful? Some of his later books are a little out there with the explicit sexuality, but his non fiction is usually limited to tame asides, mentioning goggling pretty girls as they walk by, etc.
Did Virginia censor any "embarrassing" writings at any point? Did Heinlein destroy any personal papers?
Much is made of his illnesses during I Will Fear No Evil and other periods, but did his illnesses affect any of his non-fiction, either personal or published? Should things he wrote or said in these periods be taken with a grain of salt? When is a person not considered himself?

Etc. (No, I'm not asking anybody here to answer any of this stuff now!!!!) My point is, shouldn't there be a detailed and permanent "official" location for this stuff, contradictions and vagueness and all.

I've got Grumbles, Tramp, Expanded, the Schulman interview, and some other non-fiction writing, but as always the man seems to never let his guard down-- always confident and a little cynical, but always measured and in control. Like he's afraid to commit to a viewpoint publicly after like the 1950s (the Schulman interview is particularly revealing on this point). His speeches from sci-fi conventions seem to be the most detailed and frank, but obviously those were carefully written ahead of time, always measured, always in control. No wonder there is so much debate about his personal views in online forums. So many contradictions, and I'm not really sure Heinlein always told the truth completely when mentioning anecdotes. I love all the Heinlein FAQs, but most of them have different versions of: "Heinlein's religious views were his own personal views." Grrrrrr.

And finally: **WHY** did Heinlein seem to avoid revealing much about his personal views? What was he afraid of?
--

I bet you Heinlein experts were just rolling your eyes this whole post, "my god, Alex H. obviously hasn't read blah blah blah...." :)

P.S. I am thrilled the Heinlein Archive exists. I wish it was free. I haven't even tried to read any of it, since I don't know where to start.


Sat Jun 06, 2009 2:32 pm
Profile
Heinlein Nexus
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:10 am
Posts: 2233
Location: Pacific NorthWest
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Excellent questions. I look forward to reading some of the answers.

Personally, I've always felt RAH came closest to the mark in public with "This I Believe," but that's sheer wishful thinking...


Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:51 pm
Profile WWW
Centennial Attendee
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:46 am
Posts: 541
Location: Aurora, IL, USA, Terra
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
I started a thread about a year ago called Heinlein's Personal History, and it accrued a healthy number of postings, but it may not be quite what Alex is looking for.

To avoid being overwhelmed in confronting the Archive, I decided to look at the boxes of Heinlein's correspondence with John W. Campbell. Some of these letters are quoted in Grumbles but I had always wanted to read more. This proved to be a good strategy... there's lots of interesting discussion in there, sometimes several letters a week. (Though Campbell does ramble on about his hobbies, especially photography.)

There's a hole in this correspondence in early 1942, when the Heinleins moved in with the Campbells in New Jersey. RAH was trying to get back into the Navy to fight WWII, and the conversation was presumably conducted over the kitchen table.

If you're wondering what to read, you could do worse than cruising the Archive descriptions of the documents looking for something that catches your attention. Two or three bucks gets you hundreds of pages of letters.

_________________
Bill Higgins
bill.higgins@gt.org
http://beamjockey.livejournal.com


Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:30 pm
Profile WWW
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
Peter Scott wrote:
Excellent questions. I look forward to reading some of the answers.

Personally, I've always felt RAH came closest to the mark in public with "This I Believe," but that's sheer wishful thinking...

I'm not sure there *are* answers to some of these things. In Grumbles, in the Letter to a Fan at the end of the book, he talks about why he doesn't give answers -- he's setting up fictional situations that provoke questions. And a list of beliefs has exactly the opposite effect.

Now there are some things that certainly can be discussed -- the trajectory of his political positions, for instance, over the years. The biography takes those matters up in detail, but as side isses; what I've found is that any hard-edged category is wrong for interpreting what he's saying; he seems to me always to be speaking from a highly nuanced and thought out position. So, yes he surfaces politically as an American socialist and sex radical, and if you had to choose a political label, it would be one that hadn't really been used for nearly 20 years by that time: Freethinker. The closest match I've been able to find, plank for plank, is to the political platform of the Freethinkers circa 1905.

Rminate, ruminate, ruminate


Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:08 pm
Profile
Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 1024
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
beamjockey wrote:
I started a thread about a year ago called Heinlein's Personal History, and it accrued a healthy number of postings, but it may not be quite what Alex is looking for.

To avoid being overwhelmed in confronting the Archive, I decided to look at the boxes of Heinlein's correspondence with John W. Campbell. Some of these letters are quoted in Grumbles but I had always wanted to read more. This proved to be a good strategy... there's lots of interesting discussion in there, sometimes several letters a week. (Though Campbell does ramble on about his hobbies, especially photography.)

There's a hole in this correspondence in early 1942, when the Heinleins moved in with the Campbells in New Jersey. RAH was trying to get back into the Navy to fight WWII, and the conversation was presumably conducted over the kitchen table.

If you're wondering what to read, you could do worse than cruising the Archive descriptions of the documents looking for something that catches your attention. Two or three bucks gets you hundreds of pages of letters.

What people did with the hardcopy archive, was look at the manuscripts of stories they were interested in -- there are lots of interesting questions in there: how did Starship Troopers change, for instance, going from a juvenile for Scribner's to an adult-issue book for Putnam's. How did Methuselah's Children get assembled from smashing together two space operas? Etc.

Let me also point out that there are about 550,000 words of letters being published with the Virginia Edition -- plus every bit of nonfiction and juvenilia -- all the articles and book reviews and essays and filmscripts and so forth. So there is at least one other source. If you cannot get this for yourself (the VE people will work on financing it for you if that works for you), get one or more of your local libraries to subscribe.


Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:13 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:00 am
Posts: 61
Post Re: Heinlein Biographical thread?
thanks for all the great responses!


Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:12 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 100 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 10  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF