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Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones? 
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
I don't know about "rushed". I always had the feeling that Gulf took a whiplash 90 degree turn with the whole Moon thing coming out of left field, but I never felt it was wrong. The story doesn't follow conventional plot thickening pace at that point, it's true, and in retrospect maybe Gulf would conventionally have been a longer story, but the whiplash has some appeal to it, it wakes the reader up. Certainly there was opportunity enough there for a novella, developing the relationship, a few straightforward missions together, him developing his powers and evolving his morality, it could all be done, but Heinlein was not one to waste words following convention.


Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:08 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
I believe the best-drawn villains I have seen in ANY fiction of any kind would be the ones on the "Wire" tv program.

Did Heinlein have anything even remotely close to that complexity of character for any of his villains? (Or his heroes?)


Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:14 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
I love "The Wire". I hum "The Body of an American" semi-regularly. Are you planning to watch "Treme" when it starts Sunday?

Hmm, complexity. Is Lazarus Long a hero or villian? The Great Lorenzo is on the complex side. Minor character, but that IBI security officer at the beginning of Between Planets seems, believably (to me, anyway) able to switch from Gestapo-mode to genial politeness from moment to moment. Sam from Starman Jones --is he a rogue or hero? Yes, he is; I could easily see him on "The Wire".

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Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:04 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
I thought the Chairman of the "Investigative Committee" of the Lunar Authority in Agra was a well-drawn, believable villain type. He may have been more of a pompous ass rather than a villain, but he certainly had villainous qualities, including being perfectly willing to see Prof die and Manny betray his homeland.

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Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:27 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human ones?
JackKelly wrote:
I thought the Chairman of the "Investigative Committee" of the Lunar Authority in Agra was a well-drawn, believable villain type. He may have been more of a pompous ass rather than a villain, but he certainly had villainous qualities, including being perfectly willing to see Prof die and Manny betray his homeland.


Ah, good choice. I didn't see him as a villian. I saw him as a politician doing his best in a difficult situation.

I grant in advance that many persons of goodwill will come to different conclusion on that point as to whether I've made a distinction worthy of a difference. . . I think Robert would recognize that distinction, and cite "How To Be a Politiican" (aka "Take Back Your Government!") as authority. See the discussion of what constitutes a "business politician".

Me, I've always had a geat deal more love for Stuart LaJoie (who for my money is clearly a Marquis de Lafayette, gentleman adventurer, stand-in). One of these days I'll make myself a business card that hommages his. . .

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Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:11 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human one
You'd also have to include Col. Towers in "The Long Watch." :)

georule wrote:
I think we all know this wasn't one of his strengths --he doesn't seem to have been interested in it being one of his strengths. "No man is a villain in his own mind" is one quote from him. His villains tend to be either large, impersonal and off-screen; alienly ununderstandable (Puppet Masters); off-screen entirely (say The Prophet); or buffoonish caricatures that a writer of his skill must be assumed to have drawn them that way on purpose (Mrs. Keithley, for instance).

So in a moment of daydreaming today, I tried to think of some relatively well drawn and believable human villains in Heinlein. I came up with five, four in the juveniles.

Starman Jones: Assistant Astrogator Simes
Between Planets: The internal security guy at the beginning.
Tunnel in the Sky: Grant Cowper
The Door Into Summer: Miles Gentry (but most assuredly NOT Belle Darkin)
Citizen of the Galaxy: "Uncle" John Weemsby

Discuss.

Edit: Added Weemsby, who should have occurred to me first, actually. . .


Sun May 29, 2011 10:44 am
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human one
TexasScot1952 wrote:
Geo,

Good topic, your coments on Starman Jones are very good.

I don't see Grant Cowper as a villian. He is a guy who has the itch for political power and he
manipulates the others into voting for him as group leader. The reader has been manipulated
by RAH to see Rod as the "hero" of the book, but that doesn't mean Grant is evil.

If Grant had survived he would have returned to civilization he would have done his best
to use his experiance as Mayor to gain a place in the power structure of some colony or better yet in the govertment on Earth. After his experiance as mayor Grant probably would have done a good job where ever he ended up.


And quite obviously he was considered a hero by Heinlein. Cowpertown, after all, was named after someone who gave his life for the community -- very, very Heinlein.


Sun May 29, 2011 4:55 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human one
EdHEdH wrote:
How about the commander in the “Long Watch”

Most of the ones listed, like Simes are not so much evil as they have some personality disorder that makes them not fit to be a member of the society that they are in.


Like the engineer and union sympathizer in The Roads Must Roll.
When I was younger, I almost took that to be an anti-labor story. But then, I thought of Heinlein as a super-conservative at the time, too.


Sun May 29, 2011 4:57 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human one
As far as I'm concerned, one of the really great villains in Heinlein is Wormface from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.
Pure evil as biological imperative; similar to, but better than, the slugs in The Puppet Masters, also impelled biologically.
OK, I just noticed we're supposed to be talking about human villains here. Never mind.
But how about the spy in the early chapters of If This Goes On?

georule wrote:
Ah, it's been awhile since I re-read The Long Watch, but that does sound like a possible.

Don't get too hung up on "villain" literally in the Snidely Whiplash mold. If you prefer "antagonist" that's fine too. I like the way "villain" sounds (and of course there was Robert's quote handy to get me started). I intended for that to be clear by putting the "buffoonish caricatures" sub-catagory in there, and then excluding it --sorry if it wasn't.

Obviously Grant Cowper from Tunnel, who I listed originally, is no Snidely Whiplash. Nor is Simes (tho he is a notch or two closer to it).

In fact, we can't even be sure that John Weemsby is a dyed in the wool bastich. There is the *suggestion* in Thorby's mind that perhaps Weemsby was actually responsible for his parents' death and his own enslavement --but it is left as part of the unfinished business of the book. And part of why I think Citizen has always cried out for at least a sequel, and maybe even trilogy --the "unfinished business" left over is quite considerable.

But anyway, it's at least possible that Weemsby is no more than a grown up version of Grant Cowper on the "villain scale".

Ahhh. . . The Glaroon from They actually isn't too bad either, is he? We're starting to get a decent sized list here. Not sure that he's actually human, but he could be.


Last edited by holmesiv on Sun May 29, 2011 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun May 29, 2011 5:01 pm
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Post Re: Heinleins Villains --are they *any* believable human one
BillPatterson wrote:
EdHEdH wrote:
How about the commander in the “Long Watch”

Most of the ones listed, like Simes are not so much evil as they have some personality disorder that makes them not fit to be a member of the society that they are in.

Simes may have started out that way, but destroying the astrogration books is fairly called "evil." Aquinas' definition that evil is "good pursued badly" fits. If you are so interested in power and position that you willfully condemn the dozens-- hundreds? -- of people, then that is the very definition of evil so far as I can tell.


How does "good pursued badly" fit in with Simes' antisocial destruction of the books?


Sun May 29, 2011 5:05 pm
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