Engineer Al's Sci-Fi Library: Robert A. Heinlein

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25 May 2018 13:37 #274100 by engineer Al

Robert Heinlein is the greatest writer of Science Fiction that ever lived.

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25 May 2018 21:29 #274101 by WadeMonnig
—All You Zombies— is the quintessential time travel story.
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25 May 2018 22:22 - 25 May 2018 22:23 #274103 by Sagrilarus
A nice writeup sir. A little long, can you remove 400 words?

Stranger in a Strange Land got adopted by the hippie generation, something that propelled it into mainstream consciousness and haunted Heinlein, as he was a very conservative individual politically. But the result was that it has a much larger readership than his other novels. It transcended the genre.

I still think about Friday on occasion. A couple of concepts in that one (not one of his best sellers) hit me differently.

One of my English teachers in college knew him personally and would tell stories in class. "Bobby Heinlein"
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25 May 2018 23:30 #274104 by KingPut
My fav is Heinlein. His stuff is very accessible. If he was writing today HBO would be buying everything he wrote.
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26 May 2018 08:54 #274110 by stoic
I'm a fan too!

GW's Warhammer 40K rips off so many of Heinlein's tropes: Space Marines, Scientists as Priests, Affable Space Rogues...
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26 May 2018 09:44 #274113 by engineer Al

KingPut wrote: My fav is Heinlein.


Pete, I've known you most of my life now, and I had no idea! What are your Heinlein favorites?

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26 May 2018 18:29 - 29 May 2018 16:53 #274120 by SuperflyTNT
I’m also in agreement. He’s prolific, which is his greatest achievement. Only Dick and Clarke rivals him as a contemporary.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress are literally one of the most excellent works of science fiction as a corollary of the modern (at the time) world.

I ~like~ Burroughs' John Carter series better, and I like Dune better than any one piece that Heinlein ever wrote, but Burroughs is a pulpy guilty pleasure and Dune is a Tolkienesque masterwork that has been diluted in its greatness by its sequels and inability of the Howard estate to stop milking the cow.

But Heinlein...he had timely, interesting, and digestible works which spoke to scholars and fans alike, telling stories while making a statement.

Master.
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27 May 2018 17:55 #274136 by southernman
I'm an Asimov lad - how to you compare the two Al ?
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27 May 2018 20:49 #274139 by Black Barney
I just rewatched half of The Puppet Masters cuz of this thread
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27 May 2018 22:56 #274149 by cdennett
I read a bunch of Heinlein in high school then put him down for a long time, but later picked him up (probably 10ish years ago) to fill in some of the gaps (namely The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which this thread has me wanting to read again). My favorite book of his is probably still JOB: A Comedy of Justice. In High School English I actually wrote a comparison book analysis with it and a play named "JB" (which the teacher suggested after denying me using the actual book of Job form the Bible)...probably one of my favorite writing assignments.

Threads like these make me sad that I barely read anymore...I basically don't do it except when traveling. I should break that habit.
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27 May 2018 23:27 #274152 by engineer Al

Southernman wrote: I'm an Asimov lad - how to you compare the two Al ?


Actually, I think there are many similarities between the two. Both are born out of the pulps and therefore share a certain attitude toward both science and storytelling. Also both tend to lean toward the "hard" science side of "science fiction". I think Asimov presents ideas that are in some ways more "fantastic", while Heinlein is better at creating characters and his stories are more character driven.
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27 May 2018 23:36 #274155 by engineer Al

cdennett wrote: My favorite book of his is probably still JOB: A Comedy of Justice.


REALLY? I never read this one because I hated FRIDAY and THE CAT WHO WALKS THROUGH WALLS which were written at around the same time. If you are saying this is good I will be VERY EXCITED. Pretty sure I already have it in the library. . .

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28 May 2018 01:29 #274161 by cdennett

engineer Al wrote:

cdennett wrote: My favorite book of his is probably still JOB: A Comedy of Justice.


REALLY? I never read this one because I hated FRIDAY and THE CAT WHO WALKS THROUGH WALLS which were written at around the same time. If you are saying this is good I will be VERY EXCITED. Pretty sure I already have it in the library. . .

Well, let's be clear, I enjoyed the subject matter and story. It resonates with my personal beliefs and I like the way it picks at the hypocrisy and logical dissonance surrounding religion.

But I also thought The Cat Who Walks Through Walls was alright, though not terribly memorable, so perhaps my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
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28 May 2018 07:49 #274166 by Sagrilarus
I bought Friday because the girl on the cover was completely hot.
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28 May 2018 12:52 - 28 May 2018 12:54 #274184 by Josh Look
Gosh, Al, thank you for bringing this wonderful column back. However, I want 25 cents every time someone uses my trademark “Listen” to preface their argument.

Never has a writer gotten me so jazzed about the genre just as much as they have frustrated me like Heinlein has. Perhaps Harlan Ellison, but I’ve read more Heinlein. It’s not that books like STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS fell flat for me, but rather I completely disagreed with their ideas. And yet I’m still carrying those books around in my headspace years after I’ve read them, while so many others have left me with nothing more than “I liked that” or “I didn’t like that.” They’re far from bad books, especially in the case of TMIAHM, I just completely disagree with their world views. I’ve heard some people say he was doing parody or sarcasm in Starship Troopers, but that’s not at all the case. I think it was in the introduction to THE FOREVER WAR that he was serious about that stuff and Haldeman wrote his book in part as an answer, saying, “No, Heinlein, you’re wrong.” Heinlein is often like the awkaward uncle who comes to family events who makes everyone uncomfortable but you keep him around because you want to hear what he has to say next.

And yet I *LOVE* so much of his stuff. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS is a masterpiece. THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW is absolutely wonderful. If there’s one book anyone should pick up by him, it’s that one. HAVE SPACE SUIT WILL TRAVEL is a blast. It may not be his best, but I had a good time with GLORY ROAD.

The greatest? Yeah, maybe. Aside from Asimov, I don’t know who else I’d put in the running.
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