A Heinlein Roundup

Stories of news and history about Robert A. Heinlein.

(1) Keith G. Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, tells the future of the Heinlein bust destined to be installed in the Hall of Famous Missourians.

I was going to send you the news that THS has met its fundraising goal on the Heinlein statuary, thanks to super-donor Jeb Kinnison and the matching grant from the Heinlein Prize Trust, when I see you have already posted the story!

Let me add a followup that THS will attempt to get the Heinlein exhibit on loan to the 2016 MidAmeriCon 2 Worldcon for display; we are examining transportation and insurance costs, and need some understanding from the concom about security arrangements.  We are also considering sequencing the timing of the sculpture etc. so that we can do the Worldcon exhibit first, then trek the 160 miles from Kansas City to Jefferson City for the official Induction Ceremony after Big Mac 2.  That would allow more Heinleiners to attend the Ceremony.

This went a lot faster than I thought, and Kinnison cited File 770 as his primary source of information.  Thanks to you for your help and support.

Jeb Kinnison adds:

Let no one say that nothing good came of the Puppy War. 🙂

Heinlein Society logo(2) The Heinlein Society has also called for help in wording the plaque that will be part of the installation.

Remembering that you have to count the spaces and punctuation marks as well, what you get from looking at [Mark] Twain’s is 965 total characters, We’ve been advised that probably 1,100 total characters is the practical limit.

So, we are hereby soliciting “Heinlein’s Children” for the suggested wording to be used on Robert’s plaque. We won’t pay you (except with “Thanks!”), we reserve the right to mix and match bits and pieces from several contributions, and to the degree we can remember we will acknowledge who we took bits and pieces from on our website once we settle on the final wording.

Which parts of Robert’s career would you choose to highlight?

…Please submit all suggested wordings (remember, 1,100 total characters tops, including all spaces and punctuation marks) to secretary@heinleinsociety.org.

The deadline is August 1.

(3) Photos of Robert and Leslyn Heinlein in the early 1940s housed at GeneralSemantics.org.

(4) Photos of all three of Heinlein’s wives here, from Spider Robinson’s website.

(4) Earlier this month two bloggers defended Heinlein against accusations of misogyny.

Cedar Sanderson – “Gold Plated Misogynist”

Clearly those who are still  flinging mud have slipped dreamlessly into a delusion so deep they might never be able to get back out again. When the woman who had first made the titular accusation was questioned by multiple voices in startlement, she finally admitted that she knew it to be so, because she had read it in Asimov’s biography. Wait a minute, was my reply, you mean that man that Eric Leif Davin in his recent book Partners in Wonder wrote this about? ” Isaac Asimov is on record for stating that male fans didn’t want females invading their space.  According to the letter columns of the time, it seems that the only fan who held that opinion was… Isaac Asimov.  A number of males fans welcomed their female counterparts.  As did the editors, something Davin goes to great lengths to document.” (You can read more on the women that other women ignore here at Keith West’s blog) So this woman has taken a known misogynist’s claim that another man is a misogynist without questioning and swallowed it whole.

Sarah A. Hoyt – “Glamor and Fairy Gold” – June 2

My friend Cedar, today, posted about one of those lies that “everybody knows” and that are absolutely not true. Not only not true, but risible on their face. The lie is that Heinlein was a misogynist, which is not only a lie but a whole construct, an artifact of lies. And one that humans, nonetheless seem to buy wholesale…..

I run into this again and again. In a panel, once, questioning accusations of misogyny directed at Heinlein I got back “Well, obviously he was. His women wear aprons.” I then got really cold and explained that in Portugal, growing up, when clothes were expensive (how expensive. People stole the wash from the line. Imagine that happening here. People stealing clothes. Just clothes. Not designers, not leather, just clothes, including much-washed-and-mended pajamas.) we always wore aprons in the kitchen. And Heinlein was writing when clothes were way more expensive, relatively. (I buy my clothes at thrift stores. So unless it’s a favorite pair of jeans or something, I don’t wear aprons.) The difference is not “putting women in their place.” The difference is the cost of clothes.

And this is why I don’t get put on the “Heinlein, threat or menace” panels any more.

But 90% of the women who make the accusation that Heinlein hated women or couldn’t write women have never read him. They’ve just heard it repeated by people with “authority.” The cool kids. And so they can’t be reasoned out of this assumption, because it’s not an assumption. It’s glamor. (The other ten percent, usually, were primed to think he was a misogynist and read the beginning of a book and didn’t “get” some inside joke. Like, you know, the getting married after a tango. Which was pure fan fodder. They wouldn’t have thought anything of it if they hadn’t been primed. But they’d been primed. They were under a glamor to see what wasn’t there.)

 

27 thoughts on “A Heinlein Roundup

  1. I think something brief about being so accurate with respect to predictions about the Crazy Years and the Future History generally would be appropriate…maybe not in the tech details but the sociology was and is spot on…Elon Musk IS our Delos D. Harriman, for example…

  2. I’m glad the bust is funded. 🙂

    I’m tempted to make “I like Heinlein” a footnote on all my anti-slate comments. I have a long-standing debate with my partner about whether Heinlein is more important than/as important as Philip K Dick with me on the Heinlein side and I’ll be damned if I put up with anyone insisting that I can’t possibly like him because something something SJW.

  3. @Jeb I’m working on my Super Donor costume.

    Pics or GTFO!

    And once again, good show on your donation!

  4. I live less than 15 minutes from the Heinlein collection at UC Santa Cruz, and I’ve never made it to see it!

    Now that I have a reason to check out those letters, I may very well head over!
    Chris

  5. it does remain slightly strange to see the cultish devotion to Heinlein continue for so long after his death, both with regards to that bust as well as the over the top defenses of his honour. Vexing is that both of the defences linked to here don’t feel the need to link or show the original accusation and the effect is rather “old man yelling at clouds”.

    I wonder how long this devotion will last, or will it die out gradually as the people who grew up with him do?

  6. Meredith: I’m glad the bust is funded. 🙂

    Yes, and many thanks to Jeb Kinnison for his generous contribution on that.

    Meredith: I’m tempted to make “I like Heinlein” a footnote on all my anti-slate comments… I’ll be damned if I put up with anyone insisting that I can’t possibly like him because something something SJW.

    Likewise! It’s a pity that neither Sanderson nor Hoyt bothered to check out the numerous Heinlein discussions on File770, where his representations of women (and race) were discussed with considerable knowledge and insight.

  7. JJ: “It’s a pity that neither Sanderson nor Hoyt bothered to check out the numerous Heinlein discussions on File770, ….”

    But I checked them out and it had a lot to do with why I ran those quotes in the post. 🙂

  8. Martin Wisse: All of us Heinlein fans will croak someday. I hope you’re young enough to enjoy it.

    As a point of comparison, while I never minded hearing about A. Merritt, I note that his name just about never comes up anymore despite whole fanzines being dedicated to his work once upon a time.

  9. I always have to admit to some level of embarassment when Heinlein comes up, because I’m definitely one of those non-Pups who, well, doesn’t quite care for Heinlein. I’ve read some of his shorts, but nothing memorable. I’ve read Starship Trooper, but only because someone said that Forever War was a response/ or complementary to it. My personal SF Big 3 is probably Zelazny, Asimov, and Clarke (in that order).

    But hey, if I bounced of his stuff, so what? He’s indirectly contributed to a lot of things that I do like, so good on him, and I’m grateful for that at least.

  10. snowcrash: I always have to admit to some level of embarassment when Heinlein comes up, because I’m definitely one of those non-Pups who, well, doesn’t quite care for Heinlein.

    Apart from Starship Troopers, have you read any of his other novels?

    I honestly think you might love Double Star.

  11. @JJ

    Not really. I always feel that I should read more of him and Silverberg, who is another giant of the genre I don’t read enough of.

    Will give Double Star a shot. Jeez….my to-read pile is becoming a metaphorical mountain

  12. snowcrash:

    Okay, knowing that (because there are American analogues which you may not “get”, this is possibly the best (and it’s pretty damn good) persuasion I can offer you.

  13. Mike Glyer,

    Merritt still seems to get a bit of coverage from the “New Pulp” crowd and also fairly frequently among Burroughsphiles.

    And of course there are the histories as well. He’s almost always name-checked in those.

  14. Heinlein clearly thought women were people; and at a time when it was quite a radical notion, thus making him a feminist. In his WWII aeornautical engineering job he sought out and hired female engineers when this was pretty radical. In 1952 he published a book aimed very specifically at adolescent boys, and included a discussion of the concept (not the term) of the “glass ceiling”, without the slightest hint that it was a good idea. A number of female engineers and scientists of my generation cite him as an influence on them to go into those fields, often saying he is where they learned it was possible for women to do so.

    However, he’s rather a gender essentialist, and that doesn’t stand up so well to examination today. In a lot of ways, what’s happened is a lot of parts (most of the good parts) of his message about women have become mainstream (and thus largely invisible), leaving only some of the bits that have not aged well to be what’s visible. Sadly, I would not recommend his books to young people today, until they’ve got enough familiarity with the world to read them as a kind of “historical SF”, and see them in their true context.

  15. Heinlein clearly thought women were people; and at a time when it was quite a radical notion, thus making him a feminist.
    […]
    However, he’s rather a gender essentialist, and that doesn’t stand up so well to examination today.

    That pretty much perfectly sums up what I’ve picked up about him both from reading his works and from talking to people who knew him personally. He thought women should be given the chance to do whatever they wanted and whatever they were capable of doing. He also sometimes seemed to think women were a separate species that men could never entirely hope to comprehend.

  16. Seconding DDB’s observations: I suspect that for many younger (that is, not-quite-middle-aged) readers, the YA novels will present fewest ideologicial/cultural/political speedbumps, and that the later “big” books (starting with Starship Troopers) require some historical/political context-setting. And some care in quickly and carelessly assigning labels that are optimized for addressing the current political-cultural environment. (Do people still call Heinlein a fascist? I thought that was sloppy 40 years ago.)

    And Snowcrash: Among the short works, probably the showstopper is “‘All You Zombies–‘,” especially when coupled with “They” and “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.” I suspect that the recurrence of this constellation of solipsism and relationship/connection anxiety was not random or merely commercially motivated.

  17. @David Dyer-Bennet

    I thought you articulated that beautifully.

    @snowcrash

    I prefer his juveniles, but I don’t know your tastes well enough to know if they’d be up your street.

  18. David Dyer-Bennet on June 18, 2015 at 7:47 am said:
    “Heinlein clearly thought women were people; and at a time when it was quite a radical notion, thus making him a feminist. In his WWII aeornautical engineering job he sought out and hired female engineers when this was pretty radical. In 1952 he published a book aimed very specifically at adolescent boys, and included a discussion of the concept (not the term) of the “glass ceiling”, without the slightest hint that it was a good idea. A number of female engineers and scientists of my generation cite him as an influence on them to go into those fields, often saying he is where they learned it was possible for women to do so.

    However, he’s rather a gender essentialist, and that doesn’t stand up so well to examination today. In a lot of ways, what’s happened is a lot of parts (most of the good parts) of his message about women have become mainstream (and thus largely invisible), leaving only some of the bits that have not aged well to be what’s visible. Sadly, I would not recommend his books to young people today, until they’ve got enough familiarity with the world to read them as a kind of “historical SF”, and see them in their true context.”
    This is a long way of saying Heinlein is ideologically unsound and should be purged. Think of the children!

    And you wonder why we defend him.

  19. aeou: This is a long way of saying Heinlein is ideologically unsound and should be purged. Think of the children! And you wonder why we defend him.

    This is a short way of saying “I have lousy reading comprehension”.

  20. I think I’ll reread Citizen of the Galaxy before I jump into Three-Body Problem. Its been awhile and it was always my favourite. It’ll make a change from alternating Hugo works with Anne McCaffrey’s books. 🙂

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