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Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio 
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Heinlein Biographer

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:33 pm
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
RobertJames wrote:
An excellent place to list all this, Bill, as well as on your own web page. I suspect there shall be more nitpicking.

Let us remember that Niven had the earth rotating in the wrong direction in Ringworld, and that the Ringworld in its original incarnation would have shaken itself apart.

People make mistakes; readers catch them; this is what second editions are for :)

That, and more royalties....

Ah! Royalties!

This is accessible from my webpage, sorta, though perhaps not so obviously as it might be. The "Forum" link at the top of the page goes to the Nexus Forum.


Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:01 am
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
Ed Wysocki spotted an inconsistency in naming the computer Heinlein trained on in 1930:

"In Chapter 10, you have him going to Ford Instrument to learn about the Lexington's Mark III Rangekeeper. In the middle of the chapter you refer to the Mark IV Ballistic Computer. At the end of the chapter you are back with the Mark III. Then at the beginning of Chapter 11, when he returns to the Lex, it is now a Mark IV.

A rangekeeper is a ballistic computer."

Urk. I probably followd the sources more than I should have. He referred to it in different ways at different times. I think the "rangekeeper" designation came from the orders. I'll have to put this in the Nexus's Errors and Omissions thread for second edition.

Thanks
Bill


Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:56 am
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
I bought the book on Kindle, so I have to give surrounding context rather than page references.

"a notorious freethinker, Durant had scandalized New York by marrying his thirteen-year-old student, Ariel."

Ariel Durant was fifteen when they married. See the Durant Foundation's website,
http://www.willdurant.com/visit.htm

"the possibility of an 'internal antiseptic, even though penicillin was already on the market"

In 1932, when Heinlein was diagnosed with TB, penicillin certainly was not on the market; no reliable way of mass producing it had been invented. Penicillin wasn't widely available to civilians until after World War II. In any case, penicillin is pretty much useless against TB; the first antibiotic that actually fought TB, streptomycin, was introduced in 1946.


Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:09 pm
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
Jonquil wrote:
I bought the book on Kindle, so I have to give surrounding context rather than page references.

"a notorious freethinker, Durant had scandalized New York by marrying his thirteen-year-old student, Ariel."

Ariel Durant was fifteen when they married. See the Durant Foundation's website,
http://www.willdurant.com/visit.htm

"the possibility of an 'internal antiseptic, even though penicillin was already on the market"

In 1932, when Heinlein was diagnosed with TB, penicillin certainly was not on the market; no reliable way of mass producing it had been invented. Penicillin wasn't widely available to civilians until after World War II. In any case, penicillin is pretty much useless against TB; the first antibiotic that actually fought TB, streptomycin, was introduced in 1946.

Good on you. Let me know how the Kindle reading experience worked out -- was the index at all useful? Did the photo insert come out ok?

I got my information about Ariel's age from the dual autobiography they pblished in the 1980's (I think). It's a kind of essayistic back-and-forth, though, so whoever said it (recollection is dim) might have been talking about something else.

The contemporaneous research I did indicated Penicillin was offered for commercial sale as early as 1929. You are perfectly correct that it was not "widely available" until I think it was 1947 or 1948.

The point of the reference to penicillin was the "internal antiseptic" concept, as it inflluenced thinking about treatments, not to a specific for TB. I was trying to point to a cognitive watershed we are now on the other side of (without spending too much time on it, of course.)

Parenthetically, this passage had some family resonance for me, because my father contracted TB as a small child in eastern Missouri, at just about the same time Heinlein did.


Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:11 pm
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
p. 105 says Elwood Teague left the Naval Academy in the Spring of 1929.
p. 65 says he left in 1926. (From the Google Books version – haven't been able to check the printed text yet.)


Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:31 pm
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
BillPatterson wrote:
The contemporaneous research I did indicated Penicillin was offered for commercial sale as early as 1929. You are perfectly correct that it was not "widely available" until I think it was 1947 or 1948.


Wherever you read this, your source misled you. In his Nobel prize lecture for discovering penicillin, a prize shared with the two men who perfected the process of synthesis, James Fleming said:

Quote:
In 1929, I published the results which I have briefly given to you and suggested that it would be useful for the treatment of infections with sensitive microbes. I referred again to penicillin in one or two publications up to 1936 but few people paid any attention. It was only when some 10 years later after the introduction of sulphonamide had completely changed the medical mind in regard to chemotherapy of bacterial infections, and after Dubos had shown that a powerful antibacterial agent, gramicidin, was produced by certain bacteria that my co-participators in this Nobel Award, Dr. Chain and Sir Howard Florey, took up the investigation.


It is categorically impossible that penicillin was on sale in 1929, because (A) nobody besides a few bacteriologists had paid attention to the paper and (B) nobody knew how to produce it. The first commercially-available broad-spectrum antibiotic was Prontosil, an antibiotic published in 1932 and clinically tested between then and 1935.

This is not nitpicking. The sentence is complaining that "medical orthodoxy didn't recognize the possibility of an 'internal antibiotic'", when in fact no antibiotics were available, or would be for ten years. The existence of lab substances has very little to do with the likelihood of a human-administrable drug.

(I am indebted for the citations to a friend.)


Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:33 am
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Centennial Attendee
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
not sure if this is the right section for this but Bill did ask for the Kindle feedback = have not finished the book yet but it would be nice if there was a way to glance easily back and forth for the footnotes on the kindle version. I see the number but do not know how to get to the actual footnote (and if I do find it, then how do I to get back to where I left off on the narrative?)

Very nice so far Bill.


Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:41 pm
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
Audrey, I had to figure it out by trial and error. To follow a footnote, use the little square button to move the cursor until it turns to a hand. This point may actually be a character or two past the footnote number. Now click. You're in the footnote. Hit Back to return to where you were. If you prefer, when you're in the Footnote section, you can click any footnote number to return to the corresponding text.

Under some circumstances, using the square button to navigate right at the top of the page sends you to the beginning of the next chapter. Most annoying.


Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:47 pm
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Heinlein Biographer

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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
In her blogpost about the bio being unreliable as to details Jo Walton stated categorically that Heinlein could not have met Edna St. Vincent Millay in New York in 1930 because she was in upstate New York at the time writing the sonnets that would become "Fatal Interview." She cites a biography of EstVM, "Savage Beauty." That had been published at the time I wrote the passage in collection, but it wasn't on the shelves in the University Library.

Below is a research report on this point:

Jo, I got a library copy of _Savage Beauty_ (large print ed., so page number references probably won't match the edition you read). As I've said elsewhere, that book was not available to me when I wrote the passage that mentions EStVM, but I've been reading through it now, trying to find out what, if any, revision needed to be made to that passage in the bio. I've just gotten past that time frame and stopped with a question for you (I did skim through the remainder before stopping, but there doesn't seem to be anything relevant to my question).

First, just an observation: while it's true Edna and Eugen had been living at Steepletop for some years and not in New York, they had been off and on in New York for the last couple of years, 1928 and 1929, for, e.g., the production of her opera written by Deems Tayor. The relevant chapter points out [586] that they were in New York in March and presumably again in May 1929 on either end of a trip to France. It's true they had not been "core bohemians" for some years -- but not true that they were therefore unavailable entirely.

My question is, how did you decide that she was at Steepletop during the time RAH was in New York? I have been unable to find any mention or even reference to the relevant timeframe. The book only says that she worked on the sonnets that would become _Twice Required_ [working title of _Fatal Interview_] in the "fall and winter" without attributing the year[s].

Construing from the very vague dating Milford provides [the last definite date is 3/11/29 on p. 586 and the reference to _Fatal Interview_ takes place on 602, so there has been 16 pages covering apparently two years, without a single definite date], I took the year of "fall and winter" to be 1929-30 with the book to be published in March 1930, but the various Millay sites and bibliographies list year of publication of _Fatal Interview_ as 1931, which would mean "fall and winter" of 1930-31, whereas Heinlein was in Greenwich Village in May through June of 1930 -- about which there is no information at all in Milford. There is not a single letter, event or document definitely tagged to 1930 in Milford.

Consequently, I have no way of evaluating your objection.

I'm not entirely sure you will see this, so I'm copying this to my author site's "errors and omissions" thread on the Heinlein Nexus in case discussion eventuates.


Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:42 pm
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Post Re: Errors and Omissions, Volume 1 of the Bio
Jo Walton's post was unfortunate in many ways.


Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:31 pm
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