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Posts Tagged ‘heinlein’

Sarah Hoyt: Heinlein vs. Handmaid’s Tale

Posted by Richard on August 1, 2018

Have you read Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100? It’s part of his future history series (which you should read in its entirety, and which is, IMHO, the ne plus ultra of the science fiction genre). I haven’t read it in about 40 years (although I’ve reread some of his other future history stories since then). After reading Sarah Hoyt’s column contrasting it and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I think I’ll reread it. And I’ll continue to not read Atwood’s book and to not watch the Hulu series based on it (easy enough, since I don’t subscribe to Hulu and don’t intend to).

Hoyt’s column is impossible to excerpt in a way that does justice to it, so you just have to read the whole thing. But here’s the opening as a teaser:

I’ve been waiting for someone to accuse me of hypocrisy for liking Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 (“If this goes on…”) and hating Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Mind you, I’m a libertarian which means being accused of hypocrisy is my bread and butter, and if it doesn’t happen at least twice a day I start feeling a little off.

The left, for instance, is fond of accusing me of hypocrisy for the stuff I write, since my moral and religious standing should not allow me to do that.  Not that I have a moral or religious stand (or rather I do, but often in a different direction from every other human being).  In other words, I’m often enough accused of hypocrisy for not matching their strawman of me, so that I expect to be accused of hypocrisy at the drop of a hat.

But there are substantive reasons why “If this goes on…”/Revolt in 2100 is a worthy contribution to speculative literature, while Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tail survives only by being mercilessly inflicted on school children by their progressive elders.  And the reasons go way beyond the fact that the blinkered Atwood refuses to be considered “speculative fiction” under the impression that science fiction is bug-eyed monsters ravishing beauties. (Yeah, she said that.  No, seriously.)  They even go beyond the fact that Robert A. Heinlein could spin a tale, while Margaret Atwood has the writing skills of a bad porn writer, easily matched by any of a dozen newby erotica writers on Amazon Lending Library who at least, most of the time, manage to make their porn titillating while she only manages to make hers stultifying.

The reasons are more substantive when you get to world-building and the nature of fiction.

Like I said, RTWT.

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Remembering Heinlein

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2007

Glenn Reynolds has posted the transcript of Bill Bruner's remarks at the Heinlein Centennial in Kansas City. Bruner, NASA's head of legislative affairs, talked about what Heinlein meant to him personally and what he meant to the future of freedom in space:

Beating the odds, I was the first in my family to earn a college degree – a Bachelor’s in Astronomy. Now, I am a retired Air Force fighter aviator & colonel working for America’s space agency – in large part because RAH told me that race doesn't matter, military service is honorable, freedom is better than tyranny and humankind's destiny lies among the stars.

Go. Read the whole thing. Might put a lump in your throat.

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Heinlein’s 100th

Posted by Richard on July 7, 2007

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.
— Robert A. Heinlein

Today is Robert A. Heinlein's 100th birthday. There's a big celebration this weekend in Kansas City. The Peoria Pundit, at his alternate location, Heinleinblog, posted a wonderful description of what discovering Heinlein as a young teen meant to him in the long run:

My youthful politics were liberal. I've stood there like an idiot with signs proclaiming that we ought to just give peace a chance.

Heinlein would have wanted to slap me upside the head and tell me to wake up. In a way, he did just that. My first Heinlein book was "Friday." … I bought it because the cover showed a busty blonde chick wearing a blue jump suit unbuttoned down to there. I was in junior high at the time, and the sexy passes left me flustered. The heady political commentary no doubt festered in the back of my brain.

You see, that's how insideous Heinlein is. You read his stuff becauseit's so damn much fun – all that violence and action – and you end up being taught tot hink for yourself. I remeined a liberal Democrat for the next 15 years or so, but in retrospect, I have to admit there was always a little tinkle, a buzz, really, that was telling me that people really ought to be more self-reliant, and that I ought to not be supporting candidates who want to take away folks guns.

Still I knew I wasn't a Republican or a conservative.

I came across a passage describing Heinlein as "libertarian," so I visited a few Libertarian Party Web sites and decided I found a home. I left THAT home after 2001 when I heard LP standard bearer Harry Browne blame the United States for causing the terrorists to attack us. Heinlein woduld have slapped Browne silly – figurately speaking, of course. Whether or not a more libertarian-minded foreign policy priot to Sept. 11, 2001, would have gotten the terrorists mad at us or not is debatable, but there's no debate in my mind on what should have happened after Sept. 11, 2001. And it isn't sitting around hoping that they don't get mad at us again. "Starship Troopers" told us what Heinlein would have thought about that idea.

So, Heinlein left me a man without a political party to call my own. Which is where any person with a working brain ought to be.

Heinlein would approve.

There's a campaign under way to get one of the futuristic new Zumwalt-class destroyers named the USS Robert A. Heinlein in honor of the Annapolis graduate and proud Navy man. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is on board. It sounds like a fine idea to me, so I'll be sending a letter.

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