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What made me a serious Heinlein 
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Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
JackKelly wrote:
Oh, boy. Be careful what you ask for. I had intended to post this somewhere else on the site, but this may be the most appropriate spot. By the way, David, I've said it here before but I really enjoyed your short essay on the THS site on this general subject.

Thank you for posting this. Your memoriam especiall of the 1960's brought me back to the time, two or three years later, I was acting out a similar course.

I think that the paperback reissue in 1967 and 1968 of Stranger had an effect -- for exactly the reasons you point to -- on the Heinlein community. There might actually not be a Heinlein community today if it weren't for the social impact of that book, that once and for all established him outside the fan/sf-reader community.


Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:43 am
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
DavidWrightSr wrote:
• What was it especially about Heinlein’s works that made you into a serious reader?

For me, it was Mrs. Prickett, the school librarian at George Washington Elementary in Tulsa, OK, in 1957, who handed me Have Space Suit, Will Travel when I was 8 years old. She changed my life forever.

It was the first book I had read that had a protagonist I could really identify with, someone who was doing something I would have loved to do, and could imagine myself doing. That began a long history of sleepless nights, under the covers with my flashlight, unable to put down the next Heinlein juvenile.
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• What other ideas/viewpoints etc., do you particularly like and/or agree with in his works?

When I was 13 my Marksmanship merit badge counselor handed me a copy of Stranger In A Strange Land, saying he thought I was old enough to handle it. He was right. I loved being mentally released from the bonds of custom and conventional wisdom. Even though it was harder to identify with anyone in the story, it broadened my horizons and planted an interest in cultural anthropology that persists to this day.

In young(er) adulthood, the next wave of novels became my favorites, Time Enough For Love above all, because it rewarded my familiarity with the rest of the canon and let me luxuriate in a long, many-faceted tapestry of stories that was a delight to experience in every way. I have no personal experience with the pain incest can cause, and I had had crushes on a couple of female first cousins and the daughter of family friends who had felt like a sister all my life, so Heinlein's treatment of sexuality was in no way shocking to me. I easily absorbed it as a juicy reverence for a part of being human that was very important to me. I adored the Heinlein women, and wished I could find one of my own, but that never happened.
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• What other ideas/viewpoints etc., do you particularly dislike and/or disagree with in his works?

The world-as-myth idea was interesting the first time, but I didn't think it had enough rich depth to it to merit the amount of attention he lavished on it. One story involving novels as documentaries of other timelines? Fine. But it got old fairly quickly, and I wasn't enough of a fanboy to get even a small fraction of the references in the party in Number of the Beast. So my top 3 favorites remain TEFL, Friday, and Job, in that order.

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Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:03 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
BillPatterson wrote:
JackKelly wrote:
Oh, boy. Be careful what you ask for. I had intended to post this somewhere else on the site, but this may be the most appropriate spot. By the way, David, I've said it here before but I really enjoyed your short essay on the THS site on this general subject.

Thank you for posting this. Your memoriam especiall of the 1960's brought me back to the time, two or three years later, I was acting out a similar course.

I think that the paperback reissue in 1967 and 1968 of Stranger had an effect -- for exactly the reasons you point to -- on the Heinlein community. There might actually not be a Heinlein community today if it weren't for the social impact of that book, that once and for all established him outside the fan/sf-reader community.


Thanks, Bill. Now that I have SIASL on CD, I have "re-read" the book several more times during my daily commute. A 40-year obsession with that book, and I still enjoy it.

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Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:38 pm
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
Oddly enough, I didn't find RAH until I was 17 and a lifelong reader. I worked my way through the local library and school library's collection of SF alphabetically, then got to h, and decided to go back from Z on both of them. Didn't get to Heinlein until three years into reading at least a thousand other SF and fantasy titles...


Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:31 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
RobertJames wrote:
Oddly enough, I didn't find RAH until I was 17 and a lifelong reader. I worked my way through the local library and school library's collection of SF alphabetically, then got to h, and decided to go back from Z on both of them.


Does "anal-retentive" have a hyphen?

;)


Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:35 am
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
Hi, my name is Sergei Alderman. Welcome to me!

My introduction to Heinlein was much like that of Mr. Henderson. I owe so much to a children's librarian whose name I don't even remember who could somehow tell that I should read Rocketship Galileo. It was a ripping good yarn, and I would have searched out his other books based on that alone. But in one little chat about what the far side of the moon might look like, Heinlein also introduced some fascinating, mind-bending concepts in epistemology and ontology--while avoiding the intimidating Greek polysyllables.

While reading every Heinlein I could get my hands on, I frequently found my intellectual range being widened. Time for the Stars introduced me to subconscious motivations, challenging the notion that I always know why I do the things I do. In Citizen of the Galaxy, I learned about cultural relativism. Starship Troopers challenged the leftist orthodoxy of my Minnesota upbringing. By the time I reached college, Time Enough For Love challenged my sexual mores.

Heinlein changed my mind about a lot of issues, but I didn't and don't agree with everything he espoused (or seemed to espouse.) And I don't think that he meant for people to. He gutted every sacred cow he could, and was more interested in getting readers to think critically than in changing their minds about specific issues.

I credit him with teaching me to really think, and am forever in his debt.

Ideas regarding which I am particularly in accord with Heinlein: ontological skepticism, Social Credit, "thou art god", rejection of sexual jealousy, the importance of the separation of church and state, the right to bear arms....

Ideas that I particularly disagree with: One that comes to mind immediately--I find his uncritical acceptance of the Malthusian fallacy (in Farmer in the Sky, for example) disappointing.

I'm glad that this forum is here, thanks for, uh... existing. I expect to have fun posting here.

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Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:02 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
Sergeial, nice post. Welcome to the forum!

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Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:27 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
Hi Sergei, welcome to us! Thanks for introducing yourself.

What's your current posting? Are there any fans of Starship Troopers in your unit?


Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:49 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
Thanks!

Actually I'm currently a "future soldier," though only for a few more days. I'm shipping out for BCT at Fort Jackson on Oct. 1, so I'll be out of touch for a while. But I'll be back and let you all know how it went over in "Coventry."

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Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:05 pm
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Post Re: What made me a serious Heinlein
sergeial wrote:
Actually I'm currently a "future soldier," though only for a few more days. I'm shipping out for BCT at Fort Jackson on Oct. 1, so I'll be out of touch for a while. But I'll be back and let you all know how it went over in "Coventry."

But... "October the first is too late!" :D

Come back safe, no matter where the road takes you. My stepson did three tours in Iraq on some of the nastiest assignments (road security, anyone?) and came home still grinnin'.

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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.


Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:21 pm
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