Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Discuss: Robert Heinlein


Karen: I was introduced to the works of Robert Heinlein when I was a pre-teen by my older brother. I started with books like Orphans of the Sky, The  Door into Summer, then onto Starship Troopers, The Puppet Masters, and then to the really odd stuff, like Stranger in a Strange Land. Heinlein didn't become a favorite of mine, but I appreciated much of what I read. He's certainly not without controversy amongst the SF community though, particularly his final novels. Any thoughts on this writer?

9 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Used to like him more than I do now. I'd have to say I think his best work is his "juvenile" novels from the 1950s and maybe one or two of his novels from the 1960s. I can't stand most of his later, better-known work, like "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Number of the Beast", etc. This has little to do with his controversial politics and more to do with the writing style: basically, I can't stand his pretentious, smug and sometimes overbearing characters.
My personal favorite Heinlein book is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." It has some of the features of Heinlein's later writing that I don't like, but it's still a tightly written book that tells a good, fast-moving story and he manages to make his major political points without getting too preachy.

Karen said...

I guess Heinlein was not too popular with the BAB crowd -sheesh! Thanks Edo for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you regarding the writing style of Heinlein's later work - "smug" is a very good way to put it. I never read some of the really strange Lazarus Long stuff -I heard enough about it to know it was not my cup of tea.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rip Jagger said...

The first Heinlein book I ever tried to read was Stranger in a Strange Land and despite being nearly of college age at the time, I could not properly "grok" it.

Later I read some more Heinlein and enjoyed it much better. The movie Destination Moon is a fave too.

I was thinking about Heinlein just the other day when I was watching a TV show about how space exploration has been largely privatized in the United States. That was the vision of Heinlein, a writer who really got the political complexity of humans and space.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, wow, count me as surprised, too. I thought for sure there would be quite a few contributions (pro or con, either way), since it always seemed to me like Heinlein was one of those authors that every comics and/or SF geek runs into at some point or another (kind of like Asimov or Bradbury). I think his so-called juvenile novels can usually be found in most elementary school libraries - that's how I came to read of bunch of his early books (like "Red Planet," "Starman Jones," "Rolling Stones" and "Have Space Suit - Will Travel").
Anyway, Hope this doesn't discourage any future discussions of SF authors...

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I had a chance to read what was Heinlien's first rejected book. It was called, "For Us....The Living", about someone who was hurled forward in time to see a world that's very strange and without morals. It read more like a textbook than a novel. I would have to say it was a let down for me. I was looking for something more dramatic and insightful. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" is nothing like the movie. I find his work to be hit or miss. The only reason I picked up "The Rolling Stones" was because I read David Gerrold found his inspiration for the Tribbles in this novel. The creatures in "The Rolling Stones" are very much like the Tribbles in Star Trek.

Karen said...

Edo, that was exactly why I ran Heinlein right after Norton -it just seemed like he was one of those authors everybody read! I'm hoping that the lack of response is more due to the holidays than anything else. We'll pick up with more SF and fantasy authors and books after Doug and I take our January hiatus, but if the response is tepid we'll certainly shelve the topic in favor of ones that get better response.

Anonymous said...

I really think the tepid response may be more due to the holiday than a lack of interest. I would have expected a lot of comments, ranging from libertarians praising his genius to liberals accusing him of warmongering fascism. I remember checking out some of his juveniles, including "The Star Beast" and "Time for the Stars," from the school library in seventh grade. I found a lot of his later work unreadable. "More like a textbook than a novel" is a good way to describe it. I also disliked the simplistic gung-ho tone of "Starship Troopers" (and I'm not a pacifist), although I did like the idea of a society in which citizenship, including the right to vote, must be earned by doing public service.

Lisa said...

A rarely mentioned Heilein book is "Friday." It's one of the last books he wrote and definately one of my favs.

Friday may be (correct me if I'm wrong) one of his only female protagonists and she's pretty awesome.

"Friday" definitely reads more modern and is less hard science fiction than most of his earlier stuff. (Also being newer you don't run into space captains using slide rulers for space navigation.)

It's a shame that so few people read this book. I'll be reviewing it in the next few days at www.sciencefiction-lit.com. Please leave your own reviews there too. You all seem to know a fair bit about the genre!

Lisa

Related Posts with Thumbnails