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Farmer in the Sky 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:40 pm
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Post Farmer in the Sky
Early in the book, when the Lermers are going to Ganymede, there is a scene in which the Mayflower approaches the surface of the moon and skims over it at a low altitude. I would imagine that Heinlein only included the scene because he wanted to describe what an wonderful experience that would be, but he does mention that the spacecraft "tacks" as part of the maneuver.

Gravity-Assist/Slingshot maneuvers, as were used by the Voyager missions, were not known when Heinlein wrote the book. But the scene he describes is essentially what would occur. Prescient, he was.


Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:30 pm
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
And another thing. Peggy dies, essentially, of altitude sickness. This was several years before the Heinleins moved away from Colorado Springs because Virginia suffered from the same malady. Did she already have symptoms when FitS was written?


Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:08 pm
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
I suspect it's a massaged version, but somewhere in public commentary RAH suggests that they did not know the reason for VH's continued illness until it suddenly sprang on them, and they moved more or less immediately after searching for a region to live in.

Funny, the more times I reread that, the more it resonates. Oh, look, it's Halley's comet...

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Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
I've not seen anything in the correspondence that leads me to believe the AS story wasn't accurately relayed after the fact.

And contemporaneous support here and there over years in the correspondence that a mystery malady was making her miserable from time to time, and only when they were in Colorado Springs for extended periods.

So I think he later told it as he believed it to be. And I accept there was something environmental in CS that was causing Ginny a problem. Was it really "Altitude sickness" (compounded, no doubt, by her smoking)? To my mind, it was never proven conclusively because apparently it is a hard thing to prove conclusively, and she never put herself in a long-term high-altitude environment again to test it.

So, I'm willing to accept a "preponderance of the evidence" conclusion on this one, while recognizing some other environmental issue could have been at play.


Sun Jun 20, 2010 8:10 am
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
Perhaps, and I'll concede the point against any firm evidence in support. It does not seem improbable that the H's were aware of the cause but hoped it would go away, hoped for some cure, or otherwise did not want to disclose the matter to anyone until it was irresolvable and they had to make a major change because of it.

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Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:19 pm
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
It is of course deucedly hard to prove a negative conclusively. What he suspected, and what he was willing to say out loud (or in writing) to others does not have have to be the same thing. Any mature adult who has "lived a little" in even a moderately complex life has been there and understands that.

I can tell you as late as '61-'62 he was still corresponding with Lurton B. on the subject as an unsolved mystery of considerable annoyance and misery to both of them.

From what I can tell from "The Road to Bonny Doon" journal, the formal diagnosis was Oct' '65.

I've not really researched that disease, but I do find myself wondering how as Ginny moved into middle-age how chronic long-term smoking might have progressively exacerbated the symptoms.

I also sometimes wonder, for all the credit she (rightfully) gets for extending his career as "help mate", how things might have been different if the wife after Leslyn had not been a smoker, and had been bullying him from an early date to give it up himself. Certainly from what we know today, with his health history I think it is fair to say he should have been avoiding smoke, his or others.

I do know that there is a story from the early '80s, after his surgery, when he started to socialize more again, and was hanging out semi-regularly with the Locus crowd up the road in Oakland. One of those young girls (Charlie was famous for having a bevy around him --ask me sometime about a picture of Deb and Charlie and Deb's big grin) relates a near-tearful conversation with Robert where he made her promise to either give up smoking or never start (I forget which).


Last edited by georule on Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:53 pm
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Post Re: Farmer in the Sky
georule wrote:
It is of course deucedly hard to prove a negative conclusively. What he suspected, and what he was willing to say out loud (or in writing) to others does not have have to be the same thing. Any mature adult who has "lived a little" in even a moderately complex life has been there and understands that.

I can tell you as late as '61-'62 he was still corresponding with Lurton B. on the subject as an unsolved mystery of considerable annoyance and misery to both of them.

From what I can tell from "The Road to Bonny Doon" journal, the formal diagnosis was Oct' '65.

That sounds right. IIRC, it was the sudden realization that the maladies only got severe when she was in CS that clinched the "aha, that's it!" in 1965. Before that, they thought it was a series of parasite infections from travel and when they had taken the cures several times then nobody could make a diagnosis and this went on for years with Ginny having causeless systemic pain treated by daily injections of demerol. One day in 1965 Ginny ran across a reference to altitude sickness, and she had a personal light bulb go off. She took the possibility to a doctor who agreed it well could be (it's one of those things like lupus that shows up in different symptoms from person to person).

It was talking it over with RAH that the correlation between CS and the outbreaks was made.


Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:31 pm
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