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Thread: Understanding Heinlein

  1. #451
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    And you were missed in all the preschool culls. I must report this to the Committee.
    *sigh* OK, I know the drill by now, who do I have to bribe THIS time?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  2. #452
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    *sigh* OK, I know the drill by now, who do I have to bribe THIS time?
    Captain Phasma can address those issues.

  3. #453
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    THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST is the most massive and wonderful practical joke ever played on the Speculative Fiction genre-reading public.

    "It's nothing but a MANUAL on How To Write Good Fiction, written on several simultaneous levels --- and people get out of it what they put INTO it.
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  4. #454
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesabrown View Post
    But how many people read novels to figure out how to write them?
    "Back off man, I'm a Scientist!"- Peter Venkman, PhD in Psychology and Parapsychology

  5. #455
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    and people get out of it what they put INTO it.
    Sounds awfully defensive to me.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  6. #456
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    Quote Originally Posted by starcanuck64 View Post
    But how many people read novels to figure out how to write them?
    That's the sort of thing I was talking about when I wrote "... but it did let Heinlein over-indulge his various later-life preoccupations".
    The novel is so self-conscious about all the games it plays, it's just tiresome. One thing Heinlein (and the Heinlein Society) never seem to have got is that it's possible for a reader to understand what a writer is doing and still not like it.

    To accept "The Number of the Beast" as the logical endpoint of a writer's evolution is simply nightmarish. The book is an embarrassment; it is unremittingly awful; it is the first Heinlein novel I've found it a genuine effort to finish, very nearly the first since Rocketship Galileo (1947) that I've put down with a strong resolve not to read, the first I've wanted to shut in a lead-lined cupboard and forget lest it contaminate my liking of (say) The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
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    Grant Hutchison

  7. #457
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    That's the sort of thing I was talking about when I wrote "... but it did let Heinlein over-indulge his various later-life preoccupations".
    The novel is so self-conscious about all the games it plays, it's just tiresome. One thing Heinlein (and the Heinlein Society) never seem to have got is that it's possible for a reader to understand what a writer is doing and still not like it.


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    Grant Hutchison
    Fans, pretty much by definition, turn off their critical faculties. Any one who is not excessively fannish would accept the possibility that reader would understand Heinlein and still dislike him.

    Heinlein sold well, and was considered one of the iconic sf authors of his era. At the end, he had enough -- possibly too much -- clout with his publishers so that it's possible that his work was not being properly evaluated before publishing and not properly edited after.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2016-May-01 at 09:03 PM.
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  8. #458
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    Fans, pretty much by definition, turn off their critical faculties. Any one who is not excessively fannish would accept the possibility that reader would understand Heinlein and still dislike him.
    Disagree. I'm a huge fan of some things that I'm perfectly aware are not for everybody.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #459
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    That's the sort of thing I was talking about when I wrote "... but it did let Heinlein over-indulge his various later-life preoccupations".
    The novel is so self-conscious about all the games it plays, it's just tiresome. One thing Heinlein (and the Heinlein Society) never seem to have got is that it's possible for a reader to understand what a writer is doing and still not like it.


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    Grant Hutchison
    I simply couldn't get through it, it may have been clever and as some have commented a joke played on the reader. But is that really something that a good writer wants to do, the whole time I was reading it I did feel offended in some sense. I think I got about 1/4 of the way into it and gave up in frustration and didn't read any Heinlein for a long time afterwards.

    For me the best fiction is the stuff where the writer submerges almost totally and it's as if you're telling the story to yourself. Tolkien is a good example for me, David Brin at times like with Startide Rising, Niven on lots of his Known Space stories and some other. When I constantly feel the author jabbing me to get something it gets tedious then very aggravating.
    "Back off man, I'm a Scientist!"- Peter Venkman, PhD in Psychology and Parapsychology

  10. #460
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Disagree. I'm a huge fan of some things that I'm perfectly aware are not for everybody.
    Yes. I sometimes find myself saying to friends whom I know well, "This is a marvellous book, but you would hate it."
    This is why I used the specific word "apologists" in an earlier post - people who have taken on a role of defending Heinlein's writings. They (for instance, the Heinlein Society and Spider Robinson) are generally the ones I see trying to suggest that it's a personal failure on the part of the reader to dislike (some example of) the author's work.

    Grant Hutchison

  11. #461
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Yes. I sometimes find myself saying to friends whom I know well, "This is a marvellous book, but you would hate it."
    This is why I used the specific word "apologists" in an earlier post - people who have taken on a role of defending Heinlein's writings. They (for instance, the Heinlein Society and Spider Robinson) are generally the ones I see trying to suggest that it's a personal failure on the part of the reader to dislike (some example of) the author's work.

    Grant Hutchison
    This is what I meant by "fan": people for whom an author's works, or a music group, or a baseball team can do no wrong. Any person who claims that disliking an author's work is a personal failing is the worst sort of fan. I am not a Fan of Heinlein; I think he wrote some crackin' good stories, and some vast and turgid turkeys. I do not consider him a great, or even particularly competent, social theorist, political philosopher, or military historian.

    As I've said before: I do not read fiction for information; I most certainly do not read sf/f for that, even though Robert Forward's books are occasionally better textbooks than novels; the very best sf/f can be immersive; much of it is not. I love Melville's works; I don't read Moby Dick to learn about whales or Omoo to learn the details of Marquessan society. I read them for story: plot, characters, milieu, and for some insight (but not hard data) on the social milieu about which they were written. I read Heinlein, and every other author, for story. SF/F, more than mainstream novels, creates, at its very best, secondary worlds which are more than the author's wish fulfilment. Probably the only sff books I've read that meet that criteria are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, 1984, and Brave New World. [eta]...and I've read a lot of sf/f, from EE Smith, through Fred Pohl and Bob Silverberg, and into the contemporary scene.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2016-May-02 at 09:51 PM.
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  12. #462
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    The term usually applied to that sort of fanatic is "superfan".
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  13. #463
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    I'm beginning to see where some broader misunderstandings happen on this site. If you've been imagining "fans" of various franchises and people are truly unhinged, yegads! I don't think the literal "fanatical" aspect of a "fan" has been part of the functional definition for a long time. I think Noclevername's notion of a superfan may be closer to the mark.

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  14. #464
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    I'm beginning to see where some broader misunderstandings happen on this site. If you've been imagining "fans" of various franchises and people are truly unhinged, yegads! I don't think the literal "fanatical" aspect of a "fan" has been part of the functional definition for a long time. I think Noclevername's notion of a superfan may be closer to the mark.

    CJSF
    That sounds about right.

    I'm a fan of Heinlein's stories, but there are some that I don't like or understand.

    Joss Whedon on the other hand can do no wrong.
    "Back off man, I'm a Scientist!"- Peter Venkman, PhD in Psychology and Parapsychology

  15. #465
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    I'm beginning to see where some broader misunderstandings happen on this site. If you've been imagining "fans" of various franchises and people are truly unhinged, yegads! I don't think the literal "fanatical" aspect of a "fan" has been part of the functional definition for a long time. I think Noclevername's notion of a superfan may be closer to the mark.

    CJSF
    Unhinged? No, just a little obsessed. But if anyone makes the claim that dislike of some author's work is indicative of a character flaw, there are few complimentary terms I'd apply to such a person. I happen to think Melville is the great American novelist; I'd not consider disliking Melville a sign of a character flaw.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



  16. #466
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    But if anyone makes the claim that dislike of some author's work is indicative of a character flaw, there are few complimentary terms I'd apply to such a person.
    But that IMO makes them more than just a fan.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  17. #467
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    But that IMO makes them more than just a fan.
    My experience with fans (or Fans) includes supporters of the Mets (boo!), the Yankees(meh), the Red Sox (mild yea!), Rangers, Islanders, Giants, Jets, Patriots, Bruins, Devils, Celtics, Knicks, Nets, all of which are within about 100 miles of where I live.

    And many of which give "fan" a bad name.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

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  18. #468
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    My experience with fans (or Fans) includes supporters of the Mets (boo!), the Yankees(meh), the Red Sox (mild yea!), Rangers, Islanders, Giants, Jets, Patriots, Bruins, Devils, Celtics, Knicks, Nets, all of which are within about 100 miles of where I live.

    And many of which give "fan" a bad name.
    But not all of them, yet they are all covered by the term "fan". Even the "mild yay" fans.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  19. #469
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Quit while you're ahead.
    A resounding recommendation. Based on no positive reviews from you guys, I'll start reading A Mote in God's Eye, which was delivered last week.
    My travel blog Mostly about riding a motorcycle across the US and Europe. Also has cool things that happen in between.

  20. #470
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    A resounding recommendation. Based on no positive reviews from you guys, I'll start reading A Mote in God's Eye, which was delivered last week.
    The system works!
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  21. #471
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    Has anyone read Number of the Beast? My aunt gave me a copy for a flight. I'm about 40 pages in. So far it's a mystery/thriller with sex involved.
    It pretty quickly wanders into a maundering socio-philosophical tome with a mystery without the thrill.
    Information about American English usage here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

    How do things fly? This explains it all.

    Actually they can't: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.



  22. #472
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    A resounding recommendation. Based on no positive reviews from you guys, I'll start reading A Mote in God's Eye, which was delivered last week.
    No contest. You've made the right decision.

    Grant Hutchison

  23. #473
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    Quote Originally Posted by crosscountry View Post
    A resounding recommendation. Based on no positive reviews from you guys, I'll start reading A Mote in God's Eye, which was delivered last week.
    Good choice. Just don't read the sequel. I never give up on a book once I've gotten into it, but I made an exception for that one.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek View Post
    Good choice. Just don't read the sequel. I never give up on a book once I've gotten into it, but I made an exception for that one.
    I really liked the The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye (the title given to The Gripping Hand in the UK) too. Different pace from Mote, and at one point a character made a very stupid decision just to keep the plot going, but it was very far from bad. I'm not sure why it gets such bad press, except maybe by contrast with the exceptional Mote. They also left some hooks in place for a third novel (not the JR Pournelle spin-off), which I'd be glad to see but have stopped expecting.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I really liked the The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye (the title given to The Gripping Hand in the UK) too. Different pace from Mote, and at one point a character made a very stupid decision just to keep the plot going, but it was very far from bad. I'm not sure why it gets such bad press, except maybe by contrast with the exceptional Mote. They also left some hooks in place for a third novel (not the JR Pournelle spin-off), which I'd be glad to see but have stopped expecting.

    Grant Hutchison
    I found it was too disjointed, something that can happen more easily with co-written stories I think. The original was gripping and well paced and quite exciting with things like the explosion in population of the Motie toolmakers on the MaCarthur and the humans who end up on the Motie homeworld.
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