Monday, April 09, 2007

Robert Heinlein at One Hundred

Robert Heinlein at One Hundred @ "The centennial of Robert Heinlein’s birth is coming up in July, and tempers are still worked up over this pulp fiction writer who turned into a consciousness-raising guru during the 1960s. Only a few weeks ago, a writer in the New York Times Book Review attacked Heinlein’s Starship Troopers as “an endorsement of fascism.” Heinlein’s defenders rushed in with letters to the editor to counter these charges, and a mini-controversy was soon brewing over a book for youngsters first published in 1959, by an author who died in 1988."


Allan Rast said...

I've been a reader of Robert Heinlein since I was in the fourth grade -- which is more years ago than I care to think about. Some of his books were controversial, some of his ideas I didn’t agree with but the books were all interesting.

Wikipedia defined fascism thusly: “Fascism is an authoritarian political ideology (generally tied to a mass movement) that considers individual and other societal interests inferior to the needs of the state, and seeks to forge a type of national unity, usually based on ethnic, religious, cultural, or racial attributes.”

I never saw the government shown in Starship Troopers to be defined this way. The main character is named Juan Rico and is not an Anglo. Citizenship is bestowed on all who serve, in any capapcity, in the armed forces. To join you had to be at lest 18 and of sound mind. Not even of sound body, as I recall.

I still enjoy his novels and stories after all these years.

Unknown said...

I'm with you, Allan, though I confess that I gave up on the later books. They didn't have the same storytelling as the early ones, and they were way too long for me even to attempt to read.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that he started lecturing as much as storytelling even as early as "The Green Hills of Earth," which didn't make some of his later work deft, even brilliant...but there was all that Other Later Work. I don't think it's accidental that the most commonly-cited sermonizing fictioneers among right-affiliated libertarians are Rand and Heinlein...both seemed to split the difference, and tell you how in more detail that anyone not a true believer or potential one would want (particularly if one actually wanted fiction).

And while he wasn't exactly a Mussolini acolyte, his notion, typical of what he might toss out, that only those who'd passed through the military deserved a vote could easily be confused with that sort of nonsense.

I certainly though GLORY ROAD started well...

Unknown said...

When I was a kid, I never noticed the sermonizing at all, even in Starship Troopers. I was surprised when I read it again (at the time to movie came out) to discover how talky it was. I loved the first part of Glory Road.