Heinlein Bio Volume 2 Getting Closer

William H. Patterson Jr. has blogged about the latest edits to his Heinlein biography —

Some time in 2014 — nine years after I finished it the first time — we should have volume 2.

Part of that time was spent expanding the text and dividing the manuscript to make two volumes instead of one, an idea ultimately abandoned:

In the spring of this year [2012], midway into David [Hartwell]’s first set of edits for this volume, he brought up the possibility of splitting this volume into two books, giving a three volume biography in all. There was some back and forth; ultimately David decided not to go forward with a third volume, and since he gave me the word late in August, I’ve been working ever since to cut the manuscript back to the same size as volume 1. Possiby with the idea of a third volume in mind, David had asked for an expansion of the text that utimately accounted for about 400 pages of new manuscript. The expansion itself was not particularly demanding, as I had cut much more than that out of the manuscript in 2005 and 2006 — but it was neither possible nor desirable simpy to restore the old version; the expansion incorporated all of Hartwell’s edit.

Cutting a 1400+ page manuscript back to about 1000 pages is a time-consuming and finicky process involving several passes through the entire thing.

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6 thoughts on “Heinlein Bio Volume 2 Getting Closer

  1. 1,000 pages of what sounds like worshipful hagiography will doubtless make for supremely boring reading.

  2. Did you feel that way about the first volume? If not, that’s a fairly presumptuous statement. I thought volume 1 was pretty good and not at all overly worshipful, and I’m far from an uncritical Heinlein enthusiast myself.

  3. Speaking of the first volume, I was a little afraid that would be the case, myself. Yet I found it actually a superb biography, an entertaining read and only somewhat of a hagiography. You’d have to expect that, at least a little. People write biographies only for two reasons — they despise the subject or admire the subject. Clearly, Bill didn’t despise Heinlein, but I believe he rarely if ever resorted to hyperbole.

    As for the second volume … I have a certain trepidation. Successful authors do, as a rule, do grow dull as they age. Their lives become humdrum rounds of writing, accepting awards and taking trips to exotic places (or at least Boston or Denver) with all the bills paid for them. How exciting a read can it make? I never finished Asimov’s two volume autobiography, as the second volume bogged down in endless recitations of Hugo banquets how much he was paid for stories. Nevertheless, I look forward to see what Bill makes of it.

  4. I also thought Bill’s first volume was both highly readable and a first-rate work of historianship. The latter opinion has to do with his choices as a historian — for example, confining his narrative to things that could be established by documentation and testimony, and bypassing the very many opportunities for speculation and opinion-mongering all of which were kept from the main text and relegated to endnotes.

    The main factor that separates this from another work of history is the audience — what kind of people care to know the details of Heinlein’s life, which he was generally secretive about.

    Indeed, that’s an argument against assuming this is merely a worshipful effort, for Heinlein surely would have been irate to have so many of his personal activities publicly analyzed, and a mere fan would have protected the secrets.

  5. I read Volume 1, sent in some corrections and information, and await finishing the story.

    Asimov’s egobiogrqphy was not unreadable, but reminded me that people’s earlier memories are polished stories that can be told well, since they lived that life. The newer recollections haven’t formed that proper story shape and haven’t been told as frequently.

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