Talk:Robert A. Heinlein/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Censorship

Needs information on censorship of some books or omitted pages.

Libertarianism

I try not to revert things in this category without discussion, but it *is* widely held that Libertarianism cannot be plotted on the traditional left-right political spectrum; it's not POV to say that. Recommend revert.
--Baylink 22:53, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree. I reverted it first, and then saw your comment.--Bcrowell 01:30, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Hi, this is my first wikipedia participation, so bear with me if I screw up the HTML or what have you...

I've got a quibble with the paragraph under "Politics" in which the revolution that occurs in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is based only on projections of economic disaster - actually, the great mass of party members simply hated the "Warden" - who was earth's appointed governor of Luna - as well as his enforcers. And the reference to the pre-revolutionary colony being some sort of anarchistic or libertarian utopia is misleading for a number of reasons, and kind of throws off the actual intent of the book. Might someone change it up?

--BarrettBrown 05:46, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Hi -- I wrote the stuff you're talking about, and I think it's correct. The tone of the book is strongly ironic. There is very little actual injustice by the Warden before the revolution; the only portrayal of injustice is the Warden's ill-fated attempt to break up a meeting by an earlier revolutionary group, who are portrayed unsympathetically. I've changed the sentence so that it doesn't imply that the economic projections were the motivation of the rank and file. It now reads In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, prerevolutionary life under the Lunar Authority is portrayed as a kind of anarchist or libertarian utopia; projections of economic disaster are the true (and secret) justification for the revolution, which brings with it the evils of republican government.--Bcrowell 15:12, 28 August 2005 (UTC)


Thanks, I think that works better.--BarrettBrown 03:04, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Destination Moon, Rocket Ship Galileo, and The Man Who Sold the Moon

I recently rented Destination Moon from Netflix, and was surprised at how little it had in common with Rocket Ship Galileo, which it's supposedly based on. The only plot element I noticed that they had in common was the idea of taking off in defiance of a court order. I'm in the middle of reading The Man Who Sold the Moon now, for the first time in many years, and it really seems much closer to the movie: the project is headed by a rich industrialist, who insists on coming along himself. Although The Man Who Sold the Moon was published in 1951, the copyright date is 1949, which means it was probably written alongside of or even before the 1950 Destination Moon. Any insights? On the web, there are some statements that the movie was based on RSG, and others that it was based on both, which seems to make more sense to me.--Bcrowell 20:05, 30 July 2005 (UTC)


Actually this movie isn't based on any of his books per se. He may have used some of his books as reference or material to draw from but IIRC this was written for the screen itself. Shonsu 07:42, 26 November 2005 (UTC)


I have a copy of Three Times Infinity edited by Leo Margulies that includes a novelette by Heinlein called Destination Moon. The copyright page says it originally appeared in Short Stories Magazine in 1950. The Fiction of Robert A. Heinlein says "The novella in Short Stories Magazine was written at the request of an editor to match the movie." Tom Harrison (talk) 17:15, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Social Credit

The person who added this to the Social Credit category hit on something I had forgotten about. I noticed that EPIC and Sinclair weren't in the category yet either. I may have to add them. --Dunkelza 20:23 08-04-2005 (EDT)

Heinlein's best book

I've taken the liberty to remove this comment and centralize discussion at Talk:The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, simply so we don't have to track down threads across different pages. Anyone interested in this dispute can check there. — Phil Welch 05:32, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Herbert

Was Frank Herbert as good of a science fiction author as Clarke, Asimov and Heinlen, the so called Big Three of science fiction?--Moosh88 22:05, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

imo his technical skills were not as good and the plot interweaving the Big Three display, but that's just my opinion. Alf melmac 22:08, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

What do you mean by "the Big Three display"?--Moosh88 22:18, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

It doesn't really matter if we think so. The article is documenting what the general opinion was among SF readers. (But for the record, I don't think Herbert even comes close. A lot of his writing was just horrible, and a lot of it was just so-so.)--Bcrowell 22:38, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

I wasn't asking so as to change anything in the article, I was just curious after I read the wiki article on Herbert and it said that Dune is often considered the best science fiction series of all time.--Moosh88 22:51, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, I was unclear. I meant on both counts, plot and technical skills, for me, he was not as good as the 'Big Three'. Alf melmac 22:56, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

His high-point, Dune, merits consideration as top 20th C. SF, but in my opinion there is not a compelling lifetime body of work to merit "Grandmaster" standing comparable to the Big Three. Kcarlin 21:18, 14 October 2005 (UTC)

"Grand Master" is a specific award given by the SFWA, and Herbert is not on the list of recipients. However, the award can only be given to authors who are still living. Herbert died in 1986, at which time the only authors who had received the award were Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. Brandon39 03:30, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

Getting back to the original question-- from a purely technical standpoint, it's pretty easy to argue that Arthur C. Clarke offers the strongest prose of the three, Asimov's (fiction)writing was goddawful, and Heinlein occupied the happy medium. If you're more concerned with good storytelling, well, that's a different fish... anon 19:27, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Disagreement that the Article is Overly Long

This article is stamped with the 'very long' label. More than a third of the article is comprised by the bibliography, notes and references. The article itself does not seem overly long to describe such a prolific and popular author and the article itself is 'featured', indicating that it is of high quality. Because of this, I believe that the 'very long' label is inappropriate. In any good encyclopedia, many articles are sufficently described by concise summary, but where a subject is rich in detail which will likely be of interest or use to the reader, the text is correspondingly expansive. The Wikipedia should develop more content, not only through breadth, but in depth as well. I think the depiction of this article as overly long is a hint that the policies towards long articles should be revisited. Thank you. anon. Oct 2005.

I agree that the article is not actually longer than it should be. Since there's been no further discussion on this since October, I'm going to go ahead and delete the marker.--Bcrowell 21:31, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Geary cover

I recently bought a 1949 edition of Red Planet as an exercise in nostalgia. The white-on-black illustrations by Clifford Geary really take me back to my childhood. Since Geary illustrated so many of the Heinlein juveniles, I thought it would make sense to have a Geary cover in the article to show his distinctive style, so I've replaced the image of Have Space Suit ... with a scan of the Red Planet cover.--Bcrowell 20:43, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Not an Oceanographer

I removed the Oceanographer and Oceanography categories. I don't think they can be supported. If you have a reference to support it, post it here. Hu 16:33, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Another perspective

Oceanographers direct or influence interdisciplinary oceanography research.

As a graduate from USNA, he's acknowledged as an interdisciplinary imagineer ...

Imagineers come in all forms; artists, writers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, model builders, construction managers, technicians, designers and a whole range of others.


RJBurkhart 03:02, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Imaginative not Imagineer not Oceanographer

It is very true that Heinlein was an imaginative writer (and therefore thinker). However, the term imagineer is specific and for all intents and purposes proprietary to Disney entertainment engineers. Further, it is not sufficient for a person to just to think about things to become designated as a professional in the field. If that were sufficient, then Heinlein would also be called a member of a hundred professions, which is ridiculous. Also, graduation from the USNA does not automatically make a person an imagineer, not by any definition of "imagineer", and it is not a prerequisite. Heinlein was not an oceanographer. Hu 06:20, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Suggest Separating the Bibliography

I suggest that we separate out the bibliography (including filmography) as a separate article, because it is so extensive and it is making the main article over-long. It is almost half of the real estate of the page (wide screen) and half of the Table of Contents. I'm not in favor of condensing the main article at this time. The important books are mentioned directly in the main article. It is common for prolific rock bands like Pink Floyd to have a separate discography (Pink Floyd discography). Hu 21:31, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Since more than 100 hours have passed with no dissenting remarks, I have created the Robert A. Heinlein bibliography from the main article. The main article size has been reduced from 61 to 51 kilobytes, and the Table of Contents has be cut in half. Hu 00:56, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Starship Troopers (Nomination)

FYI Starship Troopers is a current Featured Article Candidate. If anyone wants to either vote on it, or make some improvements to the page, now's the time to do it. Palm_Dogg 21:46, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

Job related to The Unpleasant Profession??

I have read both these stories (several times) as well as almost of RAH's work and I fail to see any connection whatsoever between JOB and The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. Suggest this either be removed, or if there is a recognised connection then a few words are inserted to explains this. 218.102.220.248 07:52, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Job is a fantasy about a man toyed with by powerful personalities beyond his comprehension. tUPoJH is a fantasy about a man toyed with by powerful entities beyond his comprehension - but there's a substantial difference in the importance of the character. In Job, Alec/Alex is a Job figure. In Hoag, Hoag is the ugly duckling, the unknown prince, and is secretly one of the Powers himself. Nevertheless, there are some subtle correspondences. Perhaps you were looking too superficially? Eh Nonymous 11:20, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Word usage in intro paragraph?

"He won seven Hugo Awards, three of them retrospectively, as well as the first Grand Master Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for lifetime achievement." This didn't really seem clear to me, for the most part because "retrospectively" was used due to the title of the awards given, rather than the more appropriate word "retroactively." I made an edit to elucidate, mentioning the Retro Hugos and linking it. 66.229.227.175 03:53, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

sex, homosexuality, gender roles, homophobia?

There's been some recent discussion in Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers about allegations that Heinlein was a homophobe. I've added a section on sexual liberation to the Heinlein article, and there's a long discussion in the Stranger in a Strange Land article of the relevant passages from that book. Let the flame wars begin! I think the discussion of incest could probably be improved (it's just what I was able to remember off the top of my head). In Time Enough for Love, do the brother and sister eventually have sex and have children, after genetic screening? Isn't there a scene in one of the books where Long and Libby experiment with homosexual sex, but find it unexciting? In The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, is there a positive description of sex between a boyscout and a scoutmaster, or is it two scouts? Does Long ever have sex with his own mother?--Bcrowell 18:03, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

In The Cat' The lead had a homosexual experience he didn't find unpleasant - with a Boy Scout Leader. It's a long time since I read Time Enough. Alf melmac 23:31, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
I've added some more text to the section. (Hee hee -- I still think Freud was a moron, but I did initially type that as "I've added some more sex...") Any comments? A lot of this is based on my imperfect memory of the relevant books.--Bcrowell 01:21, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
Rounds the section off nicely now, good point at the end of the sentence too. Alf melmac 06:52, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
Let me geek out on you all. There IS brother-sister sex in Time Enough for Love, but I'm not sure which plot element you are referring to (that book is really like a bunch of short stories...) The most interesting case from a psychological perspective are the two former slaves -- they are bioligically "unrelated" (thru some strange discussion I never quite get and my husband assures me is unlikely to ever work) but are raised as siblings. They end up marrying and having a passle of kids. Long's alter-ego makes sure there will not be a problem (not precisely genetic screening). Other exposition certainly states that incest (as we would consider it) does happen on Secundus (where most of the Howards went): there is a passage indicating that a geneticist might tell two completely unrelated people not to have kids and give the go-ahead to siblings. Plus there is that bit where Long's genetic twin "sisters" insist they have sex before he goes back in time.... To me that implied that it definitely happened. Long and Libby are implied to have had a sexual relationship occasionally in their travels around the galaxy. The experiment, find it exciting (and then go back to playing tennis!) is somewhere else .. I'm not sure it is even in Time Enough For Love. Might have been in The Number of the Beast (Jacob I think). Lazarus Long does have sex with his mother (after travelling back into the past). R343L 12:54, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
It is possible for fraternal twins to be genetically unrelated to each other. If I am correct in my math, the odds of fraternal twins sharing not even a single chromosome with each other are 1 in 70,368,744,177,664 (4^23).--RLent 20:47, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Wouldn't the number in the exponent be the number of genes, rather than the number of chromosomes? Anyway, I reread the book recently, and story makes it clear that the twins are the result of genetic engineering.--Bcrowell 22:56, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
In addition, there is the incident in To Sail Beyond the Sunset where Maureen's two teenage children (her last in the 20th century, as I recall), start having sex with each other. When she is unable to stop them, she forcibly sends them to her ex-husband Brian. They are never mentioned again. Even though I'm one of those who think Heinlein's later books are deeply flawed, I take this as a sign that Maureen is yet to undergo the sexual liberation she will on Tertius.--Wehwalt 10:51, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Early vs. Mature vs. Late?

What does the term yocky mean? I can't find it in the dict. and a cursory google doesn't shed any light.:Murph 09:36, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the root is a yiddishism, "to yok," meaning "to talk, to gab," as in "Hey, I could be a lawyer, I can yok."--Bcrowell 01:55, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

I take issue with the division of Heinlein's work into these three epochs. There is a great deal in the so-called "Early work" that clearly reflects both the complexity and the philosophy of the so-called "Mature work." Much that is in the "Late" work is direct commentary on both the "Mature work" and the "Early work".

For example, Friday (1982), properly understood, is a retrospective look at two earlier moments in Heinlein's career -- his writing of "Gulf" (1949), and his writing of Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). The story of Friday is told as a flashback to events that took place approximately fifteen years earlier. It also refers explicitly to the events in "Gulf" (one character appears in both stories), which are supposed to have happened about twenty years before the events in Friday (or about 35 years before Friday is telling her story). "Gulf" ends with a biologically and intellectual superior next step in human evolution leaving Earth behind them, whereas Stranger ends with all humanity seeking a better life through spiritual and intellectual development. In Friday, the heroine is faced with a world of frank racial prejudice and a sense that biology is destiny, and finds happiness only in migrating with her spiritually and morally more mature lovers. In Friday, furthermore, a firmly dismissive reference is made to "those self-styled supermen" in "Gulf." Thus, in Friday, Heinlein is commenting on his own development as a writer, from someone who could seriously spout biology as destiny to someone who believed that human imagination was the key to the future.

To take another example from the "Late" novels, The Number of the Beast has been shown by David Potterto be a deliberate parody of various bad styles of writing, each being signalled in the text by the arrival of a new character whose name is an anagram either of Heinlein's name or of his wife's.

Going in the other direction, it is hard to argue that the late juveniles -- Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Citizen of the Galaxy, etc., are not on a par with the so-called "mature" novels.

The "mature" novels (as one can see from reading Heinlein's letters), are separate experiments with specific inquires into narrative and the nature of speculation. Heinlein called Stranger his "sex and God" book, because he intended it to challenge the most sacred taboos he could think of -- throwing cannibalism in for good measure. He wrote Starship Troopers as another thought experiment, and so forth. However, the same sort of experimentation can be seen in the "late" novels -- speculation about what a just God would say about human religion (Job), speculation about what makes writing good or bad (The Number of the Beast), etc.

I agree that the periodization isn't clearcut, but any periodization will be imperfect. The publication of For Us , the Living shows that many of the themes that were typical of Heinlein's later work were in fact on his mind from the very beginning. In an article of this length, however, we need ways of breaking things up into smaller chunks that people's brains can organize. "... it is hard to argue that the late juveniles -- Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Citizen of the Galaxy, etc., are not on a par with the so-called "mature" novels." But I don't think anyone has argued that they're sub-par; in fact, one of Heinlein's stated purposes in the juveniles was to write juveniles that didn't talk down to kids. I'm skeptical of your claim that the later works are commentaries on the earlier ones, and even if it was true, it wouldn't vitiate the periodization--Bcrowell 21:41, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

How many parentheticals are needed to screw in a light bulb?

Perhaps it is merely my editorial shrew leaping for the food dish, but this article seems marred by the excessive use of parenthetical asides (particularly those that that ought to be statements in their own right, or set off by dashes (or delimited by commas if the aside is brief) or should simply be cut, since they break the flow of the article) A useful reference in this regard is [1]. Anyone feel strongly about style and voice edits to feature articles?

I agree. Cleaned up a few in the Life section, there are also quite a few interesting but unsupported bits of trivia needing citation. Phil 19:04, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Hi Phil -- Thanks for your help! I located a source for the statement about Ginny being a better engineer, and included the relevant footnote. Thanks for your addition of the footnotes about nudism and the bomb shelter. A minor quibble, but -- please make sure when adding footnotes to make them conform to the style used in the rest of the article.--Bcrowell 01:29, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Possible copyvio

Refer to A Political History of SF, by Eric S. Raymond. It looks like the paragraph recently added about description by indirection was copied verbatim. I've reverted the page to the version before that. I apologize if I have taken out someone's work. Tom Harrison (talk) 20:08, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Polyamory

In case anyone's interested, I've (finally) sourced properly my addition of RAH to "Famous polyamorists", on the Polyamory page. My edit comment suggested it was Spider Robinson, in the forward to FUtL; I was worng: it was Heinlein scholar Robert James, Ph.D., in the *afterword*. I'll try to get an exact quote and page ref in this week.
--Baylink 03:54, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Copy Edits Jan. 7, 2006

I have made a series of small edits, several of which are copy edits or corrections of typos or link work. More substantial edits are the following:

  • I removed solipsism from the introduction because though it is important, it is not a social theme as the rest of the items listed are. It is mentioned later in the article. I made the Pantheistic solipsism link more prominent.
  • I move the Future History material from the introduction to a more appropriate part in the Early Works section. Also, the future history concept is not really a contribution to English language but to fiction writing.
  • Spider Robinson is not a hagiographer. He has been critical of Heinlein about some issues. However, it is true that he has been greatly influenced by Heinlein and is a big fan.
Hu 15:12, 7 January 2006 (UTC)
I am not sure you using "Hagiographer" the way I would. Spider identified at least one flaw, noting RAH's dislike of marijuana use, and criticized him for putting *in the mouth of a character* a disparagement of homosexuality (or intersexuality). But if hagiography means ignoring or explaining and excusing the vast majority of faults, and then treating the subject as a saint, the claim is almost *literally* true. RAH is Spider's venerated idol of SF. "Rah Rah RAH" is not mere apologia, it is a "worshipful or idealizing" quasi-biographical sketch. Looks hagiographic to me.Eh Nonymous 11:26, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Positivism

The Mature Work section says that Heinlein was opposed to positivism but the link goes to a disambiguation page and the article doesn't seem to clarify. Could someone familiar enough with his life clarify this? I'm curious about what is meant. -- Zarvok | Talk 04:56, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Positivism (philosophy) --Bcrowell 01:56, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

POV

Isn't this entire article dripping with cheerleading?

I disagree in general. However, I think there is one place where it should treat Heinlein more negatively, and that's in the discussion of his late books. When I first started working on this article a long time ago, I unequivocally said they were of low quality, possibly because of his health problems, or time pressure from his publisher to get the books out for the Christmas market. The problem was that I didn't have any third-party critical opinions to back me up about their quality, and I didn't have any verifiable information to support the rumored/suspected reason for the books' low quality. Also, some other wikipedians disagreed with me about the low quality, so we ended up with the text we have here. I think it would be a big improvement in the article if we could put in a quote from a respected critic saying how bad one or more of those books were. I just don't have any good ideas on where to locate such a quote. I have some books on my shelf by literary critics about Heinlein, but they were generally published before the he started writing what I consider to be his sub-par work. Sure, we could google search and find something on the web by some fan or amateur critic trashing the books, but that wouldn't carry much weight.--Bcrowell 16:11, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that most of the late books are fairly useless. If they'd had some good editing, they might have become v. good books. But RAH, at that stage in his career, would never allow anyone except Ginnie to even *suggest* the idea of editing (what I really mean, of course, is drastically shortening) his stuff. As I recall, the first of the lengthy ones, To Fear No Evil, was serialized in Galaxy, to which I subscribed at the time. A few months later, when it was published as a novel, the Galaxy book reviewer, A.J. Budrys, I believe, wrote something like: "Now that Heinlein has got this enormous yawn of a novel out of the way, maybe he can...." As you say, there was a lot of intense criticism over the years of his Yawners of books, but I'm like you, too lazy to try to track down the actual sources. They're out there, though, and I thoroughly agree that they ought to be incorporated into this article. (I actually think that his *last* book, the Sunset one, was probably the best of the bunch....) Hayford Peirce 17:23, 19 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that his later novels (with the exceptions of Friday and Job) aren't up to par, and I have always understood the reason for that to be that he stopped allowing himself to be edited, as you mention. However, I have no idea where I learned that. This is important information, and should be in the article. So, please, somebody find out when, how and why he ditched his editors, add a link, and include that info in the Later Work section! -- Calion | Talk 05:01, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

I've added a statement about their poor reception among many critics, with a link to a representative online review of one of the books from that period.--Bcrowell 19:42, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Anonymous editor 72.155.28.92 recently made a bunch of edits, nearly all of which were problematic (not encyclopedic, concerned trivia, or fannishly POV), and which I've reverted, with comments in the edit summaries about my reasons. However, I think this points up a problem with the article, which is that it makes a lot of statements about what critics and fans thought of Heinlein's various stories, rather than giving verifiable sources for those assertions. Once a few such assertions are in the article, it opens the door for the article to turn into a POV battleground. Although I've tried to move things in the right direction by adding one link to an online critic, the basic problem here is that I just don't have any print criticism on my bookshelf about the later novels, which are the ones that all the disagreement would be about. It would be extremely valuable, IMO, if anyone could find print criticism by respected critics and start converting the vague assertions into specific quotes and footnotes. If not, then more quotes and footnotes referring to online critics might be the next best thing.--Bcrowell 21:13, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Hey folks, I'm new to the Wiki community, so I'll naturally defer myself to the veterans... but I do have a comment to make. It seems that the point of this discussion (cheerleading in the article) has been missed, and you're simply moving to the opposite extreme. From what I gather, Wiki is soupposed to be about factual information, and in terms of authors and other artists, generalized and fairly universal opinions concerning their subject matter. Admittedly, I disagree very deeply with the notion that RAH's later works were "snoozers" or boring, or of inferior quality. I am a Heinlein scholar, and find his later work to be fascinating for different reasons I won't mention here, because it is beside the point. Essentially, isn't it just moving to the other extreme when you go out of your way to find criticism about works that you personally find inferior to past works, despite the fact that the obvious LACK of documented criticism would give testament to the fact that your opinion is far from universal? This isn't a personal crusade by any means... however, I do believe it would be an injustice to post criticisms simply because they back your own personal views. Ayesee 08:53, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Well said, Ayesee. You seem to grok our NPOV policy well. =P Ideally, Wikipedia articles should contain no opinions except those attributed to specific notable people, or general trends that are objectively true. —Keenan Pepper 14:49, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the problem is that we're lacking positive criticism or negative criticism of the later books -- we're simply lacking *any* substantial discussion of them from well-known critics in the academic or print publishing world. All the print criticism I have on my bookshelf simply predates the the books we're talking about. I think what we have right now is reasonably NPOV, and won't be improved significantly unless we can locate some good sources.--Bcrowell 01:52, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

I did find one comment in Gifford's book about I Will Fear No Evil, and I've added that to the article. In general, however, Gifford refrains from value judgments about Heinlein's work, and he's the only critic I have access to who's written about Heinlein's late stuff.--Bcrowell 04:08, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone have access to this book?

  • Tom Shippey. 2000. "Starship Troopers, Galactic Heroes, Mercenary Princes: the Military and its Discontents in Science Fiction", in Alan Sandison and Robert Dingley, ed.s, Histories of the Future: Studies in Fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 0312236042.

It seems to be relevant, but it's out of print, and very expensive on alibris.--Bcrowell 04:35, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Section on Race

... needs some rework, as it takes a POV that's hard to justify by reading of RAH's actual work. I'm loath to just modify it without opening up some discussion, however, as I dn't think warring reverts would help.

Specific points:

  • On the discussion of Farnham's Freehold, the notion that the treatment of the future african-descended dominant culture uses "african stereotypes" is mistaken: RAH gives it away by pointing out early on by Farnham describing a place in the West Indies where the blacks are cultured and sophisticated, and whites are feckless and shiftless. He then plays out a traditional slave narrative with Farnham as the narrator. It's not africans and caucasians, it's masters and slaves.
  • Similarly, on "asian culture", the section misstates a coupole of significant points. First, the "ray" isn't specific to people of "asian blood", it's tunable to different races, and in fact the tunability becomes essential to the denoument -- which also includes an American of Asian ancestry heroically, and selflessly, saving the others from the psychotic white man. The character deserves a little better than the later, anonymous mention. The reference that RAH found Sixth Column "an embarrassment" gives the impression that Heinlein felt the racial treatment was what was embarrassing, while the cited quotation is of Heinlein saying he's worked hard to eliminate the racist overtones of Campbell's original idea, but didn't feel it was an artistic success.

The net effect is to give a lot of wink-wink nudge-nudge implications of racism to someone who was agressively anti-racist and anti-racialist.

Charlie (Colorado) 05:35, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

It's been a while since I've read Farnham's Freehold; I'll have to go back and read it again. But I think the sentence you refer to in the article is clearly bogus, especially without any counterpoint being offered. I've transplanted it into the Farnham's Freehold article, along with a paraphrase of your contrary argument. We've seen this kind of silliness before, with, e.g., one editor being determined to state that Heinlein was a homophobe, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.--Bcrowell 21:54, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I've done some more rewriting of the race section. I don't remember the story of Sixth Column very well, but maybe Charlie could amplify on that more in the article's text.--Bcrowell 22:15, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I took a shot. I'd still love to mention Frank Mitsui, the Nisei who figures in the ending, but I think what I changed probably works best. Give it a look. --- Charlie (Colorado) 04:30, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

I so want to make some horrible pun using that phrase about "reslanting"... Charlie (Colorado) 23:30, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

A day or two ago, I added some text underneath the picture of the cover of Friday, and someone has reverted/erased it. What I added was that in the novel she uses different sorts of techniques to conceal her identity and/or alter her appearance, and this includes making herself appear to have a different shade of skin. To not mention this alongside what is already mentioned beneath the picture is misleading in that it insinuates that Heinlein and/or his consituents chose to put a white female on the cover of the book for no justifiable reason. It can be debated wether or not the choice to put a White Friday on the cover was right or not, considering her true ethnicity was one of a more exotic descent, but it must be noted that at a point in the novel she actually did have white skin, and that picturing her as caucasian is not unjustified. To do otherwise serves to slant readers towards the (entirely incorrect) assumption that Heinlein and/or his constituents (publishers and other literary contacts involved with Friday) were racially biased, and allowed this to manifest in this form. I'm not asking to have what I wrote restored, just that equal time be given to the facts, and any possible bias be avoided. Ayesee 11:12, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

If no one objects, I will insert an aside as I did before either into the pictures caption. I've received support as to the fact that this aside should be made. If no one objects, I'll take care of it within 24 hours. Speak now or forever hold your peace =) Ayesee 20:26, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
I see what happened. Keenan Pepper shortened the caption. But then when I saw the shortened version, I wasn't able to understand the point it was trying to make, so I deleted the text about the disguises. Now I think I understand that Ayesee was suggesting that the cover could have been portraying her when she was disguised as white. I think the point is a little too complicated to be crammed into a figure caption, and too arcane to be so prominently featured. I've replaced the figure with a collage of three covers showing characters with (arguably) the wrong race, and I've added a discussion in a footnote, giving a verifiable source (Gifford) for the skin colors of the characters in two of the books.--Bcrowell 20:57, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Bcrowell, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you very much for the equal argument. I wasn't trying to be a prick about it or one of those people that just forces an argument, but I honestly believe that the original caption gave an unfair (albeit unintentional) slant to the issue of race concerning Heinlein and his novels, and I simply wanted to make sure that was avoided. Your solution was concise and proper, and much more appropriate than my (admittedly novice) attempt to clarify it in an overly long picture caption. Well done. Ayesee 05:09, 11 March 2006 (UTC)


Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most influential and, at times, controversial authors of "hard" science fiction. <--- that doesnt sound very npov --Fafnir665 05:34, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
What's NOT NPOV about it? He was certainly one of the most influential authors. You dispute that? And he was certainly one of the most controversial. You dispute that? I think, actually, that almost every source you can find would agree with those statements, whether the source likes Heinlein or not, or agrees with him or not. So that makes writing it here NPOV.... Hayford Peirce 05:52, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm content with it as it stands.--Wehwalt 12:38, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Trivia

I added a few tidbits to the new trivia section of the article. If anyone objects to them or feels that they would be better if simply slid under another heading in the article and stated in that context, please do so. As I stated before, I'm new to Wiki, so vocal feedback would be appreciated when it comes to edits I make, and if they are correct or incorrect. Thanks. Ayesee 13:30, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi -- The article was already too long for WP guidelines, and we'd been struggling to cut it, e.g., by moving the books to the separate bibliography article. I'm going to delete the section. We can always bring it back if other people disagree with me. It's also conceivable that there should be a separate Heinlein trivia article; Gifford's Reader's Companion is full of that kind of stuff.--Bcrowell 16:52, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
No problem at all... if you think it's necessary, I'd be happy to start putting together a Heinlein Trivia article, just depends on if you think it would be worth having. Ayesee 17:03, 7 March 2006 (UTC)


you people don't _really_ think grok is in common usage outside geek circles, do you?

TANSTAAFL

Although Heinlein most certainly popularized this term, he did not coin it. The exact phrase, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch", was first seen in popular print in a June 1949 edition of the San Francisco News, which in fact, was claimed to be a reprint of an editorial from 1938. However, it is debatable as to wether Heinlein should receive credit for the use of the term as a word, as in, saying "Tanstaafl!" (tans-stay-ful) to someone in common speech. Either way, I feel that some sort of distinction should be made. Does anyone else agree? Ayesee 13:44, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

The article only claims that he coined the word (i.e., the acronym), not the phrase.--Bcrowell 16:54, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Clarified. Thanks ya much. Ayesee 20:27, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Was the editorial from someone in EPIC? It might have been a phrase he was associated with through them that he then coverted into an acronym. --Dunkelza 19:10, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

new photo

Someone added a link to a cool 1952 Popular Mechanics article on the Heinleins' house in Colorado. It's public domain, and I've added a photo from it to the WP article.--Bcrowell 21:20, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Scientific accuracy in Heinlein's works

One thing I see missing from this article is a section about the scientific accuracy of Heinlein's novels. Many of his works are riddled an astute understanding of physics, orbital mechanics, and science in general. For example: (if I remember correctly) his novel Friday talks about the most efficient path for an intersteller spacecraft to follow. The novel also mentions, almost as an aside, the impacts a truely portable and limitless supply of energy would have on society (socially important given that this was the purported goal of nuclear power for decades). He also frequently mentions sub-orbital travel and other futuristic transportation devices. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress contains several passages about ballsitics and orbital mechanics, specifically I'm thinking about the disucssion of the calculations necessary to accurately target the rock bombs. As an engineer, I have never read any work that so accurately portrayed scientific principles. The fact that Heinlein was able to do it almost as an aside within a novel with complex themes deserves mention.

Lastly, I've heard a story that may be worth including in the article if it can be substantiated. It was that during the writing of one of his stories or novels that involved travel to Mars, Heinlein used giant pieces of butcher paper to actually plot out the trajectory to ensure he treated it with accuracy in the book. If true, this would be an excellent example of the seriousness with which Heinlein treated real science and the effort he was willing to undertake to ensure he didn't mislead his readers with rubbish science. Awuerl 05:26, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

As an engineer, I have never read any work that so accurately portrayed scientific principles. - read David Brin's Uplift series. Brin, a physics professor and former consultant for NASA, definitely imbues his works with real science. Raul654 21:03, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the book tip, but if anyone has any thoughts regarding the topic of adding a scientific accuracy section to this article that's what I was originally interested in.Awuerl 05:26, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
IIRC, the novel you refer to is Stranger in a Strange Land, and…hm. I'm not sure where I heard that either. It's not in the Preface to the Uncut edition. -- Calion | Talk 18:43, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
"Lastly, I've heard a story that may be worth including in the article if it can be substantiated. It was that during the writing of one of his stories or novels that involved travel to Mars, Heinlein used giant pieces of butcher paper to actually plot out the trajectory to ensure he treated it with accuracy in the book. If true, this would be an excellent example of the seriousness with which Heinlein treated real science and the effort he was willing to undertake to ensure he didn't mislead his readers with rubbish science" - That is true (or it is according to Heinlein that is) but I couldn't find the reference to it. I'm pretty sure that it's somewhere in Expanded Universe but I couldn't find it. But in that book he also talked about being invited to speak in front of a some House committee's on the effect NASA has on the elderly. He said that at the time he knew next to nothing so he researched it through friends and acquaintances... wrote a report and threw it away the next day as someone had just published something that said everything his report said.... so he started over.

I've read as much as I could get my hands on by/about Heinlein and from everything I've read he was heavily into research. He'd research for weeks for something that was only a couple of sentences in his story.Shonsu | 08:03, 25 April 2006

Found it. Expanded Universe, "The Happy Days Ahead", p.519–520:
A few years ago, I was visited by a astronomer, young and quite briliant. ... I was telling him about the time I needed a synergistic orbit from Earth to a 24-hour station; ...
I'm married to a woman who knows more math, history, and languages than I do. This should teach me humility (and sometimes does, for a few minutes). ... I was telling this young scientist how we obtained yards of butcher paper, then each of us worked three days, independently, solved the problem, and checked each other—then the answer disappeared into one line of one paragraph (SPACE CADET) but the effort had been worthwhile as it controlled what I could do dramatically in that sequence.
Doctor Whoois said, "But why didn't you just shove it through a computer?"
I blinked at him. Then said slowly, gently, "My dear boy, ... this was 1947."
It took him some seconds to get it, then he blushed.
—wwoods 21:31, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Expert dialectician and grammarian needed (non-Hungarian)

The second sentence of the article says "Most of his works have been....". I used to fight bitterly with a high-school English teacher about this. I would write something like the above, he would correct it to "most of his works has been...." on the theory that the verb reflects the subject and that the subject here is "most" and that "most" is singular, not plural. Therefore "has" rather than "have". Most of the time I try to observe this rule, but do, even as a published, copy-edited writer, make occasional mistakes in the usage. It seems to me that this Heinlein sentence is in error, but if one changes the "have" to "has", one then has to rewrite the rest of the sentence in subtle ways, and the ensuing sentence *sounds* wrong. Is there a New Yorker copy-editor in the house who could set us right on this issue (or at least this particular case)? Hayford Peirce 18:56, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

  • Most of his works have is perfectly fine. If it matters, I'm a former copyeditor and have an MA in English linguistics. --Lukobe 05:01, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
You're the man, then. I guess "most" can be plural by context.... Hayford Peirce 05:10, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that the subject is a compound noun: "most of his works" is plural, so it should read "most of his works have been". If the noun phrase was "most of his work" then the correct form would be "most of his work has been". Brandon39 05:19, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Lunar vs. American Revolution

I inserted a {{fact}} tag after the phrase "In fact, [Moon] is largely a description of the American Revolution." Noshaman referenced it to "'Because in all cases, in all times, in all places, "Like fire and fusion, government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master." And so, to drill that point home, Heinlein offered a future "Luna Revolution" as a needed update of the original American Revolution.' On Board the Discovery, James Pinkerton, New America Foundation, 2005 http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?pg=article&DocID=2502 retrieved 6 April 2006" Frankly, I'm not satisfied. This is one person's opinon from a reading of the book, referencing the similarities of Moon to the American Revolution. Well, certainly there are similarities; they're both wars of succession, for one. But the claim the article makes is that most of the actual detail of how the Lunar Revolution was planned and prosecuted is in fact a retelling of the events of the American Revolution. The cited article does not back up that claim. I'm going to leave this for a day or so, and if I'm not refuted and it's not changed, I'm going to put it back to "citation needed." -- Calion | Talk 18:53, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

FWIW, the "Rabble in Arms" section does echo Burgoyne's famous remark about the American rebels as well as the title of the Kenneth Roberts novel that was very popular in RAH's younger days. The passage in question does seem to over-argue the connection, though--RAH is capable of more nuanced and even ironic echoing of historical events and movements. RLetson 21:35, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Agree with Calion. Deleted.--24.52.254.62 20:49, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I also agree. There are PARALLELS between the American and Lunar Revolution. Several have been cited, others are explicit in the book (the Loonies want a Boston Tea Party sort of incident, there's a declaration of independence signed 300 years after the one in Philly). Others are more subtle--an individual who I think is named Foo Morris cosigns much of the revolutionary government's paper and goes broke and starts over, as did Robert Morris during the American Revolution. But it is not intended as a retelling, but sui generis, unlike, say, Turtledove's constant refightings of the Civil War and World War II.--Gary 21:48, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Even the parallels are non-interferingly allowed rather than designed. The significant cultural details that do not reflect actual successfull revolutions anywhere are from Australian colonialism, Californian mexican culture (zoot suit etc.) and particularly the Californian lawsuits (and massacres) to do with harvester labour strife; and the Cyprus negotiations for independence. -- Cimon avaro; on a pogostick. 00:35, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Good points are made above, and I think they could be sourced and integrated into a much improved version of "In fact, [Moon] is largely a description of the American Revolution." (I see such improvement is already under way but not quite finished I think, since it leaves out interesting aspects mentioned here on the talk page and is not sourced at all).
Having said that, I should probably add that the addition of the Pinkerton quote, rather than proving this is a widely supported view, limits it to the viewpoint of, erm, well, ahh, Pinkerton. Which I think offsets the comment that this is just one person's view. As such, I admit, it should be attributed (along the lines of "According to James Pinkerton, the book is largely a description of the American Revolution"). I also think the qualification of "just one person" is too narrow; Pinkerton is not average and notable enough. In fact, I think removing the statement so soon after it had been tagged and regardless of the attributable citation may have been a bit too fast. You may want to reinsert an attributed version. Perhaps as a middle road that should be acceptable to all pending improvement. Or maybe, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, as a view that is held by a minority as exemplified by Pinkerton and the fact that it gets at least a modicum of support where Pinkertons views are discussed among fans. I won't be doing so myself, just passing through and saw a fact tag I could resolve. Thanks, Noshaman let's talk 13:08, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Suggest that any matter regarding the parallel between Lunar and American Revolutions would be better placed in the article on the book.--Wehwalt 20:58, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
That's probably a good point. Just to address the earlier topic, Moon is actually a social critique that uses a pseudo-retelling of the American Revolution as a vehicle. The important criticisms come at the very beginning and the very end of the book, in which Manny questions the value of the revolution. Essentially, Heinlein is using the novel to remind Americans of how costly freedom is to win and how easy it is to lose. Much like the quote (not from Heinlein), "why should I trade a single tyrant a thousand miles away for a thousand tyrants one mile away?" On this point, it falls well within his established territory ("If this goes on-", Coventry, etc.) and deserves mention as the crowning work on that theme in his canon. --Dunkelza 19:20, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

Scientific and engineering plausibility, "dean of SF"

Correct me if I am wrong, but in "Starship Troopers" the bugs attack other planets by throwing rocks across space. I believe this is not a mark of scientific and engineering plausibility, and if someone believes otherwise they are welcome to revert my edit. Also a cite proclaiming Heinlein as "dean of science fiction" would be nice, as I do not believe that opinion is shared by everyone. At least I found his plots rather juvenile and his science unimpressive. Jayanta Sen 21:10, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

IMO if you name any science fiction writer who wrote as much as Heinlein did, over a period of many decades, you'd be guaranteed to be able to find some scientific goofs or stretches. For example, Clarke also had engineering expertise, and was generally extremely careful about his science, but posited FTL travel, telekinesis, etc., in some of his stories. My impression about "big three" and "dean of SF" is that the former was a widely held opinion for a long time, whereas Jayanta Sen may very well be right that "dean of SF" was merely a marketing label applied by his publisher. Since consensus seems to be running against "dean of SF," I'll go ahead and take it back out.--24.52.254.62 00:12, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't offhand recall the exact means by which the bugs attack other planets (they wipe out Buenos Aires at one point), but it is never central to the plot. Throwing rocks is much more central in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" or Niven's "Footfall". Heinlein is just sometimes sketchy or unimaginative on technology--look at Starman Jones, with interstellar travel with computers that do only binary input/output and need math tables.--Wehwalt 15:37, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Heinlein doesn't say what happened to Buenos Aires, just "smeared" or "lost". And the Pluto station is "smashed". Throwing rocks was the movie.
As for the computers in Starman Jones, you can sort of strain to explain that as a demonstration of the power of the unions to impose featherbedding work rules. :-)
—wwoods 19:28, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Heh heh, featherbedding. I like that. But it doesn't seem to be that way. When Jones is promoted to apprentice astrogator, it is (among other reasons) because Hendrix says the astrogation department is shorthanded (although that can be explained away because he realizes that he himself may be in ill health, the Captain is past his prime, and Simes is not reliable and Hendrix realizes the ship may be left badly off). But there is no mention of featherbedding in the book, just of restrictive guild policies on entry.
In addition, Heinlein, in his juveniles, very often transported the Fifties into the future, perhaps to make his readers more comfortable. We have, in Starman Jones, a timeless farm and early computers. The town in Star Beast could be out of the Fifties, even to the malt shop, except for the occaisonal kid flying around in a copter harness. Same goes for Have Space Suit, Will Travel. Or it could just be the flaws of his juvenile novels--Wehwalt 20:13, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
The Arachnids do NOT throw rocks in Starship Troopers. They throw them in Paul Verhoeven's mistranslation. In the novel, the Bugs are very clearly portrayed as technologically advanced, including descriptions of an infantry beam weapon that could slice a man up like an egg while leaving the armor intact (particle beam?). The Arachnids are a spacefaring, sapient species and the attacks on Buenos Aires and Pluto are described in terms that are rather vague. However, in the context of the novel, those attacks may even have been actual infantry strikes, much like the raid in the first chapter. --Dunkelza 19:26, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

The Wikipedia article for all its self-indulgent prolixity fails to mention that Heinlein graduated the United States Naval Academy where he received an education in engineering. He was medically discharged with tuberculosis. But he served as an engineering officer on destroyers during his active service. This fact is so well-known in science fiction circles that some alternate history stories have been written with an 'Admiral Heinlein' character. His education and his naval service go a long way to explaining the engineering expertise and admiration for military customs displayed in his writing. More so than the pseudo-psychological analysis-by-proxy in the article.

Why does the article fail to mention "The Green Hills of Earth" (IMO the best science fiction short story ever), "The Long Watch", "We Also Walk Dogs", "And He Built a Crooked House", or "Lifeline"? What about "Waldo", "The Roads Must Roll", "By His Bootstraps", "Magic, Inc.", "Blowups Happen"?

I expected a factual, knowledgeable exposition on Heinlein's body of work. I even hoped it might reveal one of his works I had not read. Instead I found a sophomoric socio-psychosexual analysis of Heinlein. It has been done and done better.

Heinlein was one of the finest writers of the 20th century. He elevated the quality of writing in science fiction and lifted the genre to respectable pay scales. We are all in his debt. --hlk

The dean of science fiction

Just to close off this debate (hopefully). "Dean" really just means "oldest". Or maybe, even, "the first". In French it's "Doyen," and it means the same. "The Doyen of the Senat", for instance. In S.F. I've seen book blurbs from the late 1950s in which Heinlein is called "the youthful dean of science fiction." This is obviously meaningless. In 1959, let's say, Murray Leinster, Clifford Simak, and Jack Williamson, among others, had predated Heinlein by a number of years and would be considered "deans" long before you would pick Heinlein. As the years went by, Leinster and Simak died. But Williamson is still alive today and wrote his last book only a year or so ago. So Heinlein, in actuality, was *never* the dean of science fiction. I think where the problem arises, is that many people have come to conflate the word "dean" with "best" or "old and great" or something of that nature. In that case, maybe you *could* call Heinlein, at some point in his career, the "dean" or something or other. But I myself am glad to see this word disappear from the article. Hayford Peirce 04:24, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Er, if you look up "dean" in a dictionary, you'll find that it means a church or educational leader, as in a department or division head. It has nothing to do with age. And if you google on "dean of science fiction", by far the most common hit is for Robert Heinlein. Brandon39 11:09, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
I am not sure about the "by far the most common hit is for Robert Heinlein". Here are the actual Google results: Search "dean of science fiction" + heinlein = 13,000 matches, search "dean of science fiction" + asimov = 12,400 matches, search "dean of science fiction" + clarke = 34,000 matches. I am a pretty big Clarke fan and think that worldwide he has the greatest recognition (as also is apparent from the google matches). A straight up google search for "Robert A. Heinlein" has 1.62 million matches vs. 4.5 million for "Arthur C. Clarke". Jayanta Sen 16:17, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Of course, if either Heinlein or Asimov had survived into this era in which the Internet is widespread, your results would have been quite different, I'm sure.--Wehwalt 20:17, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
"Dean" has nothing to do with chronological age, but it does refer to tenure in a position, in addition to its other meanings.[2]. No one would argue that Heinlein held an administrative academic position vis a vis Science Fiction writers. It comes down to what material we should include in this article. "Dean" is a notable epithet that has been applied to Heinlein. If we can attribute it we should include it. -Will Beback 11:18, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Okay, if you want to be ridiculous about it. Yes, dean means a guy in an administrative place in a school, etc., plus he can be a religious-type guy. But let's stipulate that we're not using any of these meanings to describe Heinlein. Or, if we are, then we're all idiots. So let's go on to the *next* meaning of the word dean, as defined on page 319 of my 11th Edition of the M-W Collegiate Dictionary. That definition (in caps) is: DOYEN. Okie, so we turn the pages to page 377 and we come to DOYEN. Doyen is defined as "the senior member of a body of group; a person considered to be knowledgeable or uniquely skilled as a result of long experience in some field of endeavor; the oldest example of a category." I would say that Heinlein could, mistakenly, be taken to fit any of those definitions, at least if one were a blurb-writer for a book. Yes, yes, I know, he should have said: "Heinlein is the doyen of science fiction." But then he wonders if everyone will understand what he means. So he looks up Doyen and is referred back to DEAN. So he uses Dean instead.... Hayford Peirce 16:48, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Originally, the term "Dean of Science Fiction" refers to Murray Leinster, a phrase which was used in his life time and also in the New York Times obituary for him in 1976. It also appeared as the title of John Pierce's introduction to The Best of Murray Leinster in 1978. It has since begun to be used for Heinlein, Asimov, and Bradbury.[3] Shsilver 17:00, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

"Dean" isn't currently in the article, and basically nobody is proposing putting it back in (except Will Beback, who only proposes doing it if we have a cite, which we don't). So is this discussion accomplishing anything? I'm also not sure why Hayford Peirce finds it necessary to use such vitriolic language.--24.52.254.62 21:41, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Remove sentence

I propose we remove the sentence "He was among the first authors of bestselling novel-length science fiction in the 1960s." from the first paragraph. The meaning of the sentence is not clear. It can mean: 1) Heinlein was among the first authors of bestselling novel-length sci-fi. And his work was done in the 1960s. 2) Among the best-selling sci-fi authors of 1960, Heinlein was one of the first. If the meaning is 1) then the statement is inaccurate as best-selling writers like Wells, Verne and Bradbury preceeded him by quite a few years. If the meaning is 2) then there is nothing special about the 1960s (compared to, say the 1950s or 1970s) to make this information important. Jayanta Sen 21:14, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

I suggest that there is a third meaning: that Heinlein was the first writer of S.F. best-sellers in the *modern* mass market era. Verne and Wells had been a *long* time before and were considered "classics". As for Bradbury, I seriously doubt if he had ever achieved actual bestseller status before the 60s. I could be wrong on this, I admit, but I don't have that impression. What the paragraph is trying to say is that Heinlein was the first to break out of the S.F. genre, which had traditionally (and only for a few years, at that) sold maybe 5,000 hardbacks. Some clever person here ought to be able to encapsulate this in a concise sentence that admits of no possible vagueness of meaning. Hayford Peirce 21:24, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Hayford for your comments and thanks "24.52.254.62" for the rewrite. I think "modern mass-market era" sounds much better than "1960s". And if "24.52.254.62" logs in, it would be a bit less impersonal than a number! Jayanta Sen 17:28, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

How many movies and TV shows were made from his works?

I just got an email from SFWA announcing the first winner of the Heinlein Prize (incidentally, I think a prize of $500,000 offered by the estate of a writer is extraordinary enough to merit inclusion in the main article, not merely a link to a Website -- think how much capital is needed to generate that much income every year). In it, he says: "Robert Heinlein published over one hundred novels, short stories, and articles. He won six Hugo awards and has had his work adapted into four movies and five television series. The most prevalent theme underlying all his works is the practical benefit of man's activities in space. The majority of his works were published long before Neil Armstrong first set foot upon the Moon, writing against prevailing opinions of the time that declared such an endeavor as both impractical and impossible." Do 4 movies and 5 TV series sound right? Hayford Peirce 00:29, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

  • I guess definitions are everything . . . looking at imdb.com, they give Heinlein credit, near as I can tell, for about that many movies. If you count the three episodes of "Out There" separately, as a hasty publicity agent might, then it might be right. It astounds me that of all the great stuff Heinlein wrote, none of it has been converted to a movie or TV series of any quality. All of the stuff that has been done, basicly sucks.--Wehwalt 04:23, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree about the quality of RAH in other media. On the "Out There" series, since it was an anthology series with stories by several different authors, it seems reasonably fair to count them individually. -- Charlie (Colorado) 21:35, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

The Number of the Beast

The War of the Worlds (novel) says,

Robert A. Heinlein took up the same theme, in a bit more humorous way, in his The Number of the Beast where the heroes visit several different versions of Mars. One of them is the home planet of Martians who managed to hold on to the conquered Earth. The heroes encounter tribes of humans living in the Martian wilds, descendants of captive humans who had been transported to Mars by the conquerors and there managed to escape. Also on Mars, the wild humans still speak cockney English — while the Martians' obedient slaves seem descended mainly from upper-class Englishmen.

While The Number of the Beast (novel) says,

... An attempt to visit Barsoom, curiously, takes the quartet to a different version of Mars, seemingly under the colonial rule of the British Empire. Afterwards they discover that they had in fact been to Barsoom, the "colonial Mars" being an illusion imposed on them by the telepathically adept Barsoomians.

I don't remember either the enslaved-humans-on-Mars timeline or the telepathically adept Barsoomians. But it's been a long time since I read the Beast and I don't have a copy to check. Are these actually there? —wwoods 01:55, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Well, no. They really only went to one version of Mars and part of it was under British colonial rule (it was a prison colony) and part of it was under Russian rule. The obedient slaves they talk about aren't even human. They're Mogs (I think) semi-human thingies. As to the illusion from the Barsoomians... There was no mention of that at all in the book itself anyway. Shonsu 04:33, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Close, and helpful. On Barsoom, the Brits had as slaves what they referred to as "Wogs" (see derogatory phrases, Raj, India) which I would describe as the weak British form of the N-word in America. They had very bendy knees and were effectively subhuman in intelligence. By putting one in knee splints, however, Captain Burroughs and her crew were able to approximate the "Fake Ranger" who had scared them out of their own home and world. "Wogs" are not human. Wogs were slaves. Incidentally, the interpretation above, "an illusion imposed on them" is quite possibly correct, but was far from clear to me at the time I was first reading it. Eh Nonymous 11:34, 22 June 2006 (UTC)


re inappropriate categorisation of libertarianism.

First let me say I am not nitpicking with this revert. Honest. In saying 'an inappropriate tendency to try to place libertarianism on the traditional right-left spectrum of American politics' the article is making a sound political distinction, the existence of which does make Heinlein's actions, in this respect, inappropriate. The point being made is that Libertarianism does not fit into the traditional classification of left or right wing. Some things Libertarians hold can be so categorised i.e. no gun control could be seen as right wing, whereas a Libertarian position on drug laws i.e. that there should be none, could be seen as left wing. I recommend taking a look at World's Smallest Political Quiz for a clearer demonstration of this point.

Morgan Leigh 03:26, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Hear, hear! —Keenan Pepper 05:04, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Hi Howard. Firstly I would like to remind you to not revert edits without making a comment on the appropriate talk page to explain why you did so. Secondly, I'm not really sure that inappropriatly is a POV term, but I can see where you are coming from. Consequently I have edited the page to use more NPOV language.
Morgan Leigh 05:03, 2 July 2006 (UTC) Also posted to User_talk:Hayford_Peirce


Three wives?

The article claims that Heinlein had a wife before Leslyn, and says: 'Heinlein's biography, as given on the Heinlein Society web site, endorsed by his estate, says about his first wife, "We do know her name and other information on her life (we helped track down her and her fate) but are withholding it until Bill Patterson presents the material in his upcoming biography on Heinlein (so don't ask, we won't tell)'.

This biography, at the Heinlein Society website, does not contain those words, nor any other mention of a wife before Leslyn. Tagging as citeneeded accordingly.--Calair 00:20, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

About 15 seconds of Googling sent me to this page on the Heinlein Society site, which does include the copy in question: http://www.heinleinsociety.org/rah/FAQrah.html. I'm reverting the deletion, with a small fix to the source reference. RLetson 02:43, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
A bit later: The Heinlein Society FAQ page includes this small print: "©2003 D. A. Houdek Rule - no reproduction or distribution without consent of author. This material may not be copied and put on another website without permission." So maybe it's better to include the information and a link without quoting the language. (Though I'd call it fair use, my own self, and would not hesitate to quote it in any print piece I wrote. But who wants to stir up the Society's lawyers?) RLetson 05:05, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Just fixed it. RLetson 05:32, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Apologies for not Googling it; I assumed that the bio was the most appropriate place for that info, so if it wasn't there it wouldn't be anywhere on the site. Obviously I erred :-) --Calair 11:16, 3 July 2006 (UTC)