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Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project 
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NitroForum Oldster
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
Society of Indolent Gentlefolk - that's good. ;)

This subject has really stumped me - I'm embarrassed to say I have little new to contribute.

I hate to mention it (again), but nothing revives an author's reputation, or at least public awareness of same, like having several movies made based on the author's works - see PKD. However, that is well beyond the reach of the average fan to accomplish. How many copies of Starship Troopers were sold after that abomination of a movie was released in 1997? I don't know but judging by the dozens I saw on sale at Wal Mart back then, I'd say quite a lot.

What you guys accomplished in putting together the Centennial last year was nothing short of miraculous, yet I suspect that as successful as it was, the Centennial did little to bring new fans to blissful awareness.

The idea of leaving copies of Heinlein paperbacks in conspicuous places is a good one. I do that already at work, but since we're a NASA contractor, he's not exactly an unknown author here. And, Jim is right about libraries not being interested.

I would say that influencing educators (primary, secondary or college) to assign Heinlein readings would be effective. I don't know how you would go about doing that if the educator is not already familiar with Heinlein. And, public school teachers as far as I know have to teach from approved texts for the most part.

I'll keep thinking about it.

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Mon May 05, 2008 12:02 pm
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NitroForum Oldster

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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
Hmmm....I once took a course titled "History Through Science Fiction" when I was at University. None of the books covered were written by Heinlein. I had always supposed that this course was unique in the specific University's atmosphere but perhaps not.

If one could lobby professors to cover Heinlein in college or university (I don't think there's enough flexibility in the high school and grammar school curricula to allow for it) you would bring Heinlein to the attention of students who might simply be looking to fulfill a letters credit. I for instance, had read most of the required reading before I got to high school - there were only a few books/stories that I had not read - they were:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Beowulf by unknown

I found TKAM an especially inspiring book and loved Beowulf. I admit I disliked A Separate Peace intensely. The point being that I got exposure to a couple of pieces of literature I would not have otherwise read.

As an FYI...the books that were covered in the University course were:

The Chain of Chance by Stanislaw Lem
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner


Mon May 05, 2008 2:13 pm
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
JohnBlack wrote:
The Chain of Chance by Stanislaw Lem
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner

Duck! It's the New Wavers, out to save sf from itself! (They failed on SO many levels...)

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


Mon May 05, 2008 5:16 pm
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
Jack Kelly wrote:
I hate to mention it (again), but nothing revives an author's reputation, or at least public awareness of same, like having several movies made based on the author's works - see PKD.
[...]
What you guys accomplished in putting together the Centennial last year was nothing short of miraculous, yet I suspect that as successful as it was, the Centennial did little to bring new fans to blissful awareness.

Maybe this isn't the very best place for this, but your comment reminded me of a conversation my husband and I continued throughout the Centennial. With so many main characters who are not white male Americans, how is it that Heinlein's work has not attracted a solid fan base among people of color? (I hope that phrase is not offensive this week; it's hard to keep up.) I realize that movies made from his work tend to diminish the diversity he wrote into the text, and the text tended to be a bit ambiguous until you got clued in but, once you see it, it's everywhere. How is it that he did not have a huge following of hispanics for ST, of blacks for TMIAHM, and multi- or bi-racial individuals for Friday? How would one go about taking Heinlein to the people he made heros of?

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Tue May 06, 2008 5:15 am
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
James Gifford wrote:
JohnBlack wrote:
The Chain of Chance by Stanislaw Lem
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner

Duck! It's the New Wavers, out to save sf from itself! (They failed on SO many levels...)



I was not terribly thrilled with the selection myself - other than Vonnegut. Always like Vonnegut.
The same idea for a course pursued with a different reading list might be effective though. I wouldn't know how to go about it though.


Tue May 06, 2008 6:01 am
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
JohnBlack wrote:
I was not terribly thrilled with the selection myself - other than Vonnegut. Always like Vonnegut.


Back when Breakfast of Champions was published, I recall Newsweek entitled its review of the book "Vonnegut Turn Deserves Another." But then, they titled their review of Portnoy's Complaint, "The Gripes of Roth." Argh.

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Tue May 06, 2008 7:46 am
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
James Gifford wrote:
JohnBlack wrote:
The Chain of Chance by Stanislaw Lem
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner

Duck! It's the New Wavers, out to save sf from itself! (They failed on SO many levels...)


Hmmm...periodically I review my old posts and the responses. I've decided to admit I don't know what you mean by New Wavers. I know how to apply the concept to music but I don't know how to apply it to SF.

What were they trying to accomplish in terms of saving SF from itself?


Tue May 13, 2008 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
Read Aldiss' Trillion Year Spree. In capsule form, science fiction was a disastrous wreck in the hands of philistines (Gernsbach) and dinosaurs (van Vogt, Clarke, Heinlein) until the New Wavers (Aldiss, Brunner, early Harrison, Ellison, etc.) wrested control and turned it into, yea, verily, a literary paradise upon earth. (Mostly, AFAICT, by having their characters do a lot of drugs, do each other a lot and say "fuck" about once a page. You remember.)

Quote: "The worst thing that ever happened to sf was a man named Hugo Gernsbach."

Semi-quote: those we regard as the biggest of the big names are relegated to a chapter titled, "How to be a Dinosaur."

I find it sourly amusing that the Wavers are among the least-read and least-remembered era of writers these days.

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


Tue May 13, 2008 6:45 pm
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
James Gifford wrote:
Read Aldiss' Trillion Year Spree. In capsule form, science fiction was a disastrous wreck in the hands of philistines (Gernsbach) and dinosaurs (van Vogt, Clarke, Heinlein) until the New Wavers (Aldiss, Brunner, early Harrison, Ellison, etc.) wrested control and turned it into, yea, verily, a literary paradise upon earth. (Mostly, AFAICT, by having their characters do a lot of drugs, do each other a lot and say "fuck" about once a page. You remember.)

Quote: "The worst thing that ever happened to sf was a man named Hugo Gernsbach."

Semi-quote: those we regard as the biggest of the big names are relegated to a chapter titled, "How to be a Dinosaur."

I find it sourly amusing that the Wavers are among the least-read and least-remembered era of writers these days.


Do you include Vonnegut in the group as well?? Also, I admit to really liking the Stainless Steel Rat
series - is that early or later Harrison? And since you make the distinction between early and later
Harrison - is it that you feel he matured as a writer as he went along?

I disliked Brunner, I had my first taste of him with The Shockwave Rider and could not get through it.
Aldiss I found creepy. I know who Harlan Ellison is, but don't think I've read anything of his (a side trip
to Google indicates he wrote some of the original series Star Treks so perhaps I've seen some of his
work if not read it).

Also...(now don't shoot me - I'm just using Wikipedia as the jumping off point to ask the question
here). Wikipedia says that Zelazny is a "New Wave" science fiction / fantasy writer. Do you agree
with this assessment? And if so, are you disdainful of him?? I recall from before that you did not like
Lord of Light. You referred to it as an unreadable mess. At the time though I only registered that you
didn't like that specific book.

(Edit: I re-edited this post to correct a minor typographical error).


Last edited by JohnBlack on Tue May 13, 2008 7:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Tue May 13, 2008 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Doing, not just talking - a Real World Heinlein project
JohnBlack wrote:
I know who Harlan Ellison is, but don't think I've read anything of his (a side trip to Google indicates he wrote some of the original series Star Treks so perhaps I've seen some of his work if not read it).


If you get a chance you should read the Ellison short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. It's one of my favorite short stories by anyone. I think Ellison was an extremely talented writer who went "Hollywood."

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Tue May 13, 2008 7:51 pm
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