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Sarah A. Hoyt

The Church of Heinlein (mildly) Reformed

Sometime ago I did an article about Heinlein for a blog (not this one) and tried to boil down the influence Heinlein had on me.

Because I was feeling less than sanguine about it–and also had more time than for this blogging, not being, then, pressed with deadlines–I not only gave it to friends to do first reading on, but I sent it to one of my publishers, Toni Weisskopf at Baen, to look over (a necessity since I’m capable of untold cruelty to the common comma, have an ongoing war with double letters and have written many a disreputable apostrophe–all of which immediately become invisible upon the paper, of course).

I’d made some general pronouncement about what Heinlein believed, and Toni rapped me on the knuckles with the editorial ruler and pointed out that in his long and varied life, Heinlein believed practically everything at one time or another.

She was right. Having read all his works one time or a hundred, I came to the conclusion that you can find in Heinlein anything you want to find.

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Series: Robert A. Heinlein: The Blog Symposium

What Do Heinlein Women Want?

Right. Predictably, on cue, as on every panel about SFF, if you mention the words “Heinlein” and “women” in the same sentence or even in the same page, you attract screaming, ranting and accusations that Heinlein and by extension yourself cook babies for breakfast or perhaps eat them live on camera.

So, kind sirs—and particularly madams—why all this sound and fury, signifying by and large absolutely nothing? Why do some women feel required to stone Heinlein in effigy whenever his name is mentioned?

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Series: Robert A. Heinlein: The Blog Symposium

American, Like Me

I first came across the notion that government derived its authority from the consent of the governed in a Heinlein book. I don’t remember which, but I remember the frisson of shock that went through me.

You see, I grew up in a country that was a monarchy for far longer than it has indulged in any appearance of representative government. And “appearance” is not meant as a derogatory comment on the Portuguese government. It tries. It does the best it can. But it is working under the combined legacies of Rome—government by corruption—and the mental equipment of the long-gone monarchy, which holds that all land/wealth belongs to the state and the citizen holds it by consent of the state.

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Series: Robert A. Heinlein: The Blog Symposium

The Customs Of His Tribe

Each man is his own prisoner, in solitary confinement for life.

    -Robert A. Heinlein, If This Goes On

As Shaw Pointed out, the customs of our tribe are not laws of nature

    –Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe

I’m sorry I’ve been absent from the site for a while. I was kept away by a filthy migraine, induced by a new antibiotic.

I’ve been on a dozen or two Heinlein panels at cons, and it always devolves to name calling. I will admit I am far from an unbiased observer, but hearing someone call Heinlein a racist or a sexist offends me.

Part of this is the blindness of those who–with blythe certainty and missionary zeal–undertake to tally the color of characters’ skin and the thoughts of every female character in Heinlein’s books.

Perhaps because I’m not American by birth or education (though I am American by choice—more on the Americanism of Heinlein later), I see this for what it is:

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Series: Robert A. Heinlein: The Blog Symposium

Coming Home

When first asked to be part of this blogging effort, I was overjoyed. Just as when I was asked to write an afterword for the Puppet Masters edition from Baen Books, I felt honored beyond my deserts and humbled at the same time. For the little kid who read Heinlein books in Portuguese translation and for whom writers were sort of gods in a distant overseas Olympus, this was an unimaginable elevation.

I was on a trip when the invitation came and when I returned and found the bound galley of Patterson’s first volume waiting for me, something funny happened. I couldn’t read it. I tried. One page or two and I’d stop cold and find something incredibly interesting to do, like cleaning cat boxes.

It wasn’t anything about Patterson’s writing, which manages the difficult feat of being perfectly factual and yet lyrical and inspiring. It was the subject.

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Series: Robert A. Heinlein: The Blog Symposium

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