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August 17, 2010 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Robert A. Heinlein: The Tor.com Blog Symposium - a series of blog posts commemorating the publication the first half of a new biography of Robert Heinlein. Interview with the Biographer.
posted by Artw (23 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
But is he still dead? You didn't say!
posted by Rangeboy at 11:58 AM on August 17, 2010


Keen MeFite celeb watchers will recognize a couple of names here, BTW.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on August 17, 2010


Nice to see that the permanent floating Heinlein flamewar has found a new place to settle for the time being.

(I have little use for Heinlein's fiction anymore, and most of the things I've read about his personal behavior suggests that I'd have hated him if we'd ever met, but I swear to god reading about him is like crack to me. I found Alexei Panshin's site a while back and lost hours reading all the articles, and I'm sure I'll end up buying a copy of the Patterson biography later this week.)
posted by asterix at 12:24 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]




As usual, fandom_wank ls on the case.
posted by kmz at 1:26 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Artw: "A brief thought about why Heinlein discussions frequently become acrimonious"

Hoyt? They open up with quoting Susan "barbed tentacles and glowing phallic shapes all around a nearly naked woman doesn't have any sexual connotations at all, nosiree" Hoyt? Really? Really?
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:26 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice to see that the permanent floating Heinlein flamewar has found a new place to settle for the time being.

I'm about to unsubscribe from their RSS feed until Heinlein week is over. I skimmed that Hoyt post and I swear, it was like getting lectured about Heinlein by my ex-husband all over again. (If we people who didn't like the books would just free our minds, the rest would follow, to misquote a song.) I can't wait until Heinlein's a nonissue and people can just like him or not without it being a big deal and a floating flamewar.
posted by immlass at 1:33 PM on August 17, 2010


I just read "Orphans of the Sky" and enjoyed it.
posted by fuq at 1:39 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't wait until Heinlein's a nonissue

Waiting for Heinlein to be a non-issue is like waiting for Tolkien to be a nonissue when it comes to fantasy. Regardless of the merits (or lack of same) of his fiction he was a towering figure in Science Fiction. Love him, hate him, feel ambivalent about him, or don't care either way about his fiction, his shadow still looms over the stuff you do read. If you read science fiction. Oh, as with anything as time passes his influence will become second, third, or fourth hand. Over time it will be attenuated and talking about Heinlein will be of interest mostly to scholars. But that's not going to be in our lifetimes... again, if you have any interest in SF.

I had considered making a post about Heinlein to coincide with this biography. It is supposed to be a monumental work. But I haven't read it yet and Jo Walton has instilled some reservations in me with regard to how much trust one can put in the details of Patterson's scholarship so I held off until such time as I was satisfied.

One wonders how pleased Tor is with Jo's comments about the biography.

In any case, if any SF author deserves a biography with a double-barrelled title like Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve, it's RAH. I hope it lives up to the title and multi-volume page count despite Jo's reservations. The critique of Patterson's reporting of Heinlein's medical records doesn't bother me at all and I think is a bit misguided. The bit about Edna St. Vincent Millay is unfortunate but really just a rhetorical flourish that went awry. But the error about Iwo Jima is troublesome and does not inspire confidence in me; that is something that should easily have been caught either by the author, his editor(s), or readers of the ARC.
posted by Justinian at 2:28 PM on August 17, 2010


But the error about Iwo Jima is troublesome and does not inspire confidence in me; that is something that should easily have been caught either by the author, his editor(s), or readers of the ARC.

The part that makes me nervous is that, per Patterson,
Only one of [the readers of the full manuscript] was completely disconnected from what might loosely be called the "Heinlein community." Two of them had an interest in Heinlein as a personal friend but had no other interaction with the Heinlein community.
Friends and fans don't strike me as the most likely people to be able to give you a frank and accurate assessment of a biography.
posted by asterix at 2:50 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heinlein Bio Errata

I don't envy Patterson the task of writing a bio of overwhelming interest to some of the nitpickiest nitpickers ever to pick a nit (why, yes, I pre-ordered mine several months ago.)
posted by Zed at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Friends and fans don't strike me as the most likely people to be able to give you a frank and accurate assessment of a biography.

I'm not sure "friends and fans" is an accurate assessment, though. Alexei Panshin was certainly part of "the Heinlein community" but I wouldn't fault Heinlein in Dimension as having been written by friends and fans. Unless we know exactly who the readers of the manuscript were it is impossible to say for sure. But I take your point; I'm quite certain that Patterson's choices were not the same as the ones I were to make.

Aside from a few people with relevant expertise and knowledge, If I were writing such a biography three of my readers would be Jo Walton, James Nicoll, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Assuming I didn't actually have to deal directly with PNH, I mean. I'm guessing any book that survived that process would be ok.
posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on August 17, 2010


"Strangers" episode "The Veldt:" Bob comes home with four new 1970s-style elephantine rear-projection big screen TVs, one for each wall of the living room. Ray disapproves. Asimov figures out how to hook the Atari up such that you can play pong on all four screens simultaneously. Bob becomes obsessed with this and eventually realizes he needs to send the TVs back after PKD helps him see the truth.
posted by mwhybark at 3:04 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I next have to kill off a character with a race space disease they are definitely getting Myxococcus cattarhalis.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on August 17, 2010


EF or FF?
posted by lazaruslong at 3:24 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assuming I didn't actually have to deal directly with PNH, I mean.

Avoiding personal interaction? How very Soviet of you.
posted by asterix at 4:02 PM on August 17, 2010


I am the new soviet man.
posted by Justinian at 4:39 PM on August 17, 2010


EF or FF?

Both!
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:26 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


A brief thought about why Heinlein discussions frequently become acrimonious

Because people invite Sarah A Hoyt to take part? A nice insane follow up from her here.
posted by ninebelow at 5:48 AM on August 18, 2010


That's some crazy right there. Still better than Orson Scott Card or John C. Wright though.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2010


A nice insane follow up from her here.

What do you expect from someone who named her kid Robert Anson?
posted by asterix at 3:12 PM on August 18, 2010


Whats Your Favourite Heinlein Novel Charles Stross? - interesting answer and rationale.
posted by Artw at 11:07 PM on August 23, 2010


What’s Your Favorite Robert A. Heinlein Novel? posted by Artw at 7:55 AM on September 8, 2010


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