Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lovely orchids, sin and blasphemy


The Widow's Son turned me on to author Robert A. Heinlein's fictional worlds several years ago. Some women who have read "just a little" of RAH mistake him for a misogynist, misunderstanding his love and respect for women. Au contraire! RAH not only respected women, but knew how to treat them!

From Wikipedia:
Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most influential and controversial authors of "hard" science fiction. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility that few have equaled, but also helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first writer to break into mainstream general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling novel-length science fiction in the modern mass-market era. For many years Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the Big Three of science fiction.

The major themes of Heinlein's work were social: radical individualism, libertarianism, solipsism, religion, the relationship between physical and emotional love, and speculation about unorthodox family relationships. His iconoclastic approach to these themes has led to wildly divergent perceptions of his works. His 1959 novel Starship Troopers was excoriated by some as being fascist. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, on the other hand, put him in the unexpected role of pied piper to the sexual revolution and counterculture.

The English language has absorbed several words from his fiction, including "grok," meaning "to understand something so thoroughly that it becomes part of the observer." During his lifetime, beginning with his very first works in the later 1930s, he was also a major influence on many other writers, who tried to emulate, with varying degrees of success, the apparently effortless skill with which he blended speculative concepts and fast-paced storytelling.

Heinlein won four Hugo Awards for his novels following the year of publication. In addition, fifty years after publication, three of Heinlein's works were awarded "Retro Hugos" — awards given retrospectively for years in which no Hugos had been awarded. He also won the first Grand Master Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for lifetime achievement.

Here are some of my favorite quotations from various books by Robert A. Heinlein, who lifted from this planet on May 8, 1988.

— Mary
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Heinlein was a pretty strange guy, but he had quite a wealth of ideas, and he was certainly his own man.

A very good writer, who paid homage to him and took up quite a few of his ideas is John Varley. Titan, Demon and Wizard a trilogy, and especially Steel Beach, probably his best book, all owe something to Heinlein and indeed Steel Beach deals with his ideas tacitly and directly in that there are a group of people called Heinleiners in the story itself.

Heinlein has been in my thoughts recently, because his was the first novel I read that as a man writing as a woman in the first person perspective, which I am myself attempting at the moment.

To Sale Beyond the Sunset, which I think was his last novel is the book I am thinking of, and I have always thought of it as a man writing how he would like a woman to be, but who knows.

Varley also does writes from this perspective in Steel Beach, except it is in a future society where sex change takes place at will, so it puts an interesting slant on the situation.
Heinlein's "Mama Maureen" was definitely a class act, a true Sacred Fem. Feminine and thoughtful, strong yet soft, she could hold her own in any situation.

-- Mary
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