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Heinleinorama (Part Two)

Thomas James has a link roundup.

And don't miss this speech from NASA's head congressional liaison:

Scarcely a week after the Challenger accident, President Reagan gave his State of the Union. And to a nation still in mourning he declared, “The future belongs to the free.”

The future still does – if we will it, and if we work for it.

Step by step and launch by launch, America’s space agency is transforming Heinlein’s science fiction into hard fact. We can, and I hope we will keep doing so.

Beating the odds, I was the first in my family to earn a college degree – a Bachelor’s in Astronomy. Now, I am a retired Air Force fighter aviator & colonel working for America’s space agency – in large part because RAH told me that race doesn't matter, military service is honorable, freedom is better than tyranny and humankind's destiny lies among the stars.

I guess he didn't get the memo about RAH being a right-wing fascist...

[Preemptive hint for the sarcasm impaired. That last was sarcasm.]

[Update on Tuesday morning]

There's more Heinlein event reporting over at the Space Prizes Blog, here, and here.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 09, 2007 07:12 AM
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After reading the article(ahem)and the succeeding comments. I'm amazed at the number of people who still don't get what he meant. In the story, the idea was national service. Those that didn't serve in the military were given other service. The premise was those that serve others first would govern better not just serving in the military. Everyone was welcome to vote as long as they served their "term". I think some conflate the movie(fascist overtones) into the book.

Posted by Bill Maron at July 9, 2007 08:38 AM

Paul Verhoeven went out of his way to depict the world of Starship Troopers as fascist, and produced a crummy movie in the process. Unfortunately, I suspect that with the decline of hard SF that the movie will end up defining Heinlein for more people than have known him through his stories.

If Hollywood wasn't the political monolith that it is, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" would have been made into a movie years ago.

Posted by K at July 9, 2007 01:59 PM

Many (shallow and uninformed) people have thought that Starship Troopers was fascist since long before Verhoeven ever considered making a movie of it. Many thought so at the time the book came out, in fact.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 9, 2007 02:11 PM

RAH politics did shift around over time, his very early essays on politics are practically left wing and there's a letter from him to (I think)Clifford Simak in the Seattle SF museum where he's wondering if he wrote a really libertarian book, would people know he was joking.

The facism label is hurled at Starship Troopers from time to time, there's been panels discussing it at various serious SF conventions.

It's a product of his time as Stranger in a Stange Land is of the 60s, although there are less essays on was RAH an old hippy.

There are quite a lot more questions asked about some of his personal "interests" after the love interest in the last third of Time Enough for Love.

Posted by Dave at July 9, 2007 03:54 PM

The fascism charge has always puzzled me too. Actually, his problem (to me) was that he was too sunny and optimistic about human nature. That's about as far from control-'em-all-with-the-iron-fist fascism as you can get. He was in fact a classic liberal. I think most Heinlein haters call him a "fascist" because he wore that little mustache. (So does John Waters, but no one calls him a fascist. Maybe if Heinlein was remembered more for his ideas on sex than his political philosophy...)

Posted by Andrea Harris at July 9, 2007 06:23 PM

If you have to explain your jokes, they aren't funny.

Posted by Adrasteia at July 9, 2007 07:12 PM

Actually, his problem (to me) was that he was too sunny and optimistic about human nature.

I think that's a very libertarian idea. If you add in that his characters were never above eliminating anyone who crossed the line of living well with others, to becoming a detriment to society. I don't know that he owned guns, but breaking into his house probably would NOT have been a great idea.

A good libertarian would shoot to kill to protect society at large.

Posted by Steve at July 9, 2007 07:15 PM

Uh-oh, here I go!

I don't think Starship Troopers endorsed fascism or was a fascist book. If anything it was a response to the critics of the Korean War and an explanation of the need for conventional forces in an age of 'pushbutton nuclear warfare'.

But in fairness I think I can see how some people saw hints of fascism in the book.

Now If I recall correctly isn't there a part in the book where the high-school lecturer on history claims the only valid moral system is one based upon natural selection? I think that may have been a case of Heinlein being a little too provocative for his own good.

Posted by Brad at July 9, 2007 08:05 PM

I'm in the process of some posts on the conference at the Space Prizes bl*g if you're interested.

Posted by Ray at July 10, 2007 04:54 AM

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