Re: Heinlein

1

OMFG. Um, there's lots of good SF that's not Heinlein out there. Really there is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:20 AM
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I was all ready for the book to be I Will Fear No Evil or Farnham's Freehold and I was going to laugh and laugh and laugh. It's still pretty funny, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:21 AM
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I sort of hope this is an extraordinarily well-constructed troll on heebie's part.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:22 AM
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It's got the positively-portrayed incest.


Posted by: lambchop | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:22 AM
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I too am 3.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:23 AM
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Holy shit is that not the book I would have expected.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:23 AM
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See, I'm not going to get any of the jokes in this thread, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:23 AM
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And I post 1 from the perspective of someone who, as a teenager, read I think literally everything Heinlein ever wrote, and enjoyed most of it quite a lot at the time. But reading that shit in cold blood as an adult? Yow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:23 AM
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Also there's Heinlein out there that is good SF.

I can't remember for certain if Time Enough For Love was one of them, but there are a few books that he wrote later in his life that turned out a bit odd. There's a rumor (at least) that at some point he suffered some sort of brain damage, maybe due to a stroke, that affected his writing.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:24 AM
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4: In multiple versions: What about marrying your adoptive daughter? What about your genetically engineered twin sibling who you share literally no DNA with? What about screwing your opposite sex clones? What about YOUR MOM?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:25 AM
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It was recommended by a different friend who thought all the sex and free love would make good discussion fodder. This was in the same conversation that that same different friend recommended Tom Robbins, which I rudely, vociferously shot down. (I think I said "That's sort of like recommending the Red Hot Chili Peppers.")

So when the book-chooser posed two choices, I voted for the Ursala LeGuin book, but we ended up with this one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:25 AM
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BTW, in case anyone was thinking of reading the second volume of the authorized Heinlein biography, Brad DeLong would like to advise against that.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:27 AM
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Having read the wikipedia summary, I am fully prepared to debate this book on the merits. You guy should have picked Starship Troopers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:27 AM
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The later Heinlein novels got seriously creepy.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:27 AM
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An admirably respectful take on late Heinlein.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:27 AM
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I love Starship Troopers! Unless I'm confusing it with the one I really do love! Tim Allen 4evah?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:28 AM
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I read Starship Troopers probably forty or fifty times. I really dug that book. I'm not at all sure why. Obviously I was aware even at the time that its politics were cuckoo bananas.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:29 AM
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9: Yeah, he had a transient ischemic attack and blockage of the carotid artery in '78.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:30 AM
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What about YOUR MOM?

I dunno. My mom's kinda hot for a Medicare-eligible woman.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:31 AM
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16: You must be thinking of Galaxy Quest. But also great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:32 AM
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Thought I don't think there is a Galaxy Quest book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:33 AM
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22

Ogged needs to raise his trolling game.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:33 AM
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Now I feel as if I should say nice things about Heinlein. I really did enjoy his writing a whole lot on a page-by-page, authorial voice level. "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" was great. I had a collected edition of all the Future History stories (collectively, the backstory for Time Enough For Love) that I adored. But man, there is a writer who said a lot of stupid, pernicious things in a calmly authoritative way that convinced a lot of readers to be stupider than they were before they read him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:39 AM
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17: The politics are cuckoo, but it's basically the best possible presentation of them.

Stranger in a Strange Land was good, too. It's funny to think that they were written by the same person, given how the sort of people their politics should appeal to is so different.

11: Do you remember which LeGuin book? If you have some spare time, you might want to read it anyway; she's just an amazing writer. (And her politics are leagues better.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:39 AM
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Hrm. The goal of that comment drifted after the first sentence.

Oh, "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag." Very successfully creepy. He didn't write much fantasy, but I think I generally liked it, although I'm losing examples other than Hoag.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:40 AM
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23.last is exactly right. It's a really cool trick if you can pull it off.

When I was much younger I really enjoyed his short story "...All You Zombies...", but I expect if I revisit it it will squick me out, express questionable views regarding transpeople (no, spell correct, not tradespeople), and have completely nonsensical resolutions of paradoxes. So I'm gonna not do that.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:42 AM
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25.b Glory Road (meh), "Magic, Inc."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:45 AM
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I wonder how All You Zombies would come across in terms of modern trans politics. On the plus side, no real shock or disgust as far as I can recall at the idea of transitioning/changing gender. On the minus, gender is assumed to be completely determined by bodily correspondence to a conventional gender norm; the narrator's [SPOILER] female until surgery renders her male, and then his gender identity immediately tracks his new bodily presentation. I think the latter would come across wildly unrealistic, but I'm not sure how offensive it would be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:47 AM
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24.last is also exactly right. You can't really go wrong with LeGuin, but if it was The Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed, definitely read that next.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:47 AM
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The thing that tipped me over the edge wrt Starship Troopers was finding out that Heinlein wrote it in a rush, full of passionate intensity... because the Eisenhower administration was considering a limited nuclear test ban.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:48 AM
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I don't click with Le Guin somehow. Loved the original Earthsea trilogy, liked whatever the short novel was about the guy with the dreams that changed reality. But most of her serious works I've read, and they don't stick; I've read the Left Hand of Darkness and the Disposessed, and couldn't tell you a thing about either of them, whereas I, sadly, have total recall of pretty much everything Heinlein ever wrote.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:50 AM
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Heinlein's politics, both big-p and little-p, were clearly poisonous*, but the man could write an adventure story. I think The Puppet Masters is pretty fantastic example of a lurid pulp novel, and his juveniles remain great (I'm particularly fond of Tunnel in the Sky, although Rfts can't see the attraction).

* I will say that with the glaring and somewhat baffling exception of Farnham's Freehold, his racial politics were way about replacement-level for a man born in 1907.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:50 AM
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26, 28: I reread it recently. The entire thing is so bonkers that the trans issues didn't really jump out at me, particularly combined with the basic filters you have to apply to get through any Heinlein at this point. I mean, if you start thinking about it basically *everything* he wrote about how people work will squick you out.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:51 AM
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I think FF was explicitly intended to be anti-racist. It failed in a horrifyingly spectacular nightmare of a way, but you can see the good intentions paving the road to where it ended up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:52 AM
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The road to hell is paved with "I want to show that race is a social construction, so I will write a thought-experiment book about a world where Africans were the conquerors and Europeans the slaves, then fill it with ooga-booga cannibalism and depraved blacks lusting after white womenfolk".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:54 AM
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30: tipped you over the edge into liking it even more? Because I think that just happened to me when I read your comment. What a kook!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:56 AM
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BTW, if anyone's interested, Alexei Panshin's Heinlein in Dimension is online in full. I've been reading it slowly; I think the most surprising thing to me is that Panshin really really really didn't like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. But he does a really good job of picking out precisely why Heinlein was so effective at his best.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:56 AM
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30: Woah! I guess my first response shouldn't be that that's hilarious, but it is. Man, the past was a weird place filled with characters that you just can't make up.

31: Huh. I found the long trek across the ice in Left Hand to be absolutely mesmerising. The years of famine in The Dispossessed were also affecting.

My only criticism of her writing style is that I often feel disconnected from the characters and actions; even if we get to look into somebody's head, something about the whole experience seems kind of flat and grey. This is an extreme case of a more general problem I have when reading: I've been spoiled by movies and expect cinematic conventions (which many, especially more recent, authors do follow).

Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't: the ice trek mentioned above was intensified by being cold and grey and lonely, but the (tragic and somewhat out of character interpersonal event) and (tragic political event) near the end of The Dispossessed seemed hazy and otherworldly, which probably wasn't her intent.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:58 AM
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For fans of "...All You Zombies...", let me recommend David Gerrold's equally bonkers closed-time-loop The Man Who Folded Himself, which raises the obvious point that time-travel autoboomchikabwow stories take on a completely different character when the author is gay. (I also love Jess Fink's We Can Fix It, which doesn't seem to be on the web any more since she got it published.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:58 AM
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I think I read FF at about the age of 15, and I have to say it put the tin lid on Heinlein for me. The final nail in the box was the description of the woman giving birth; I would expect more empathy from a random alligator.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:58 AM
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I think the good intentions were "Look, slavery was bad. Really bad. See how bad it looks when you flip the races? That bad. Also, I'm going to explicitly say that my black characters are smarter and fundamentally nicer than my white characters (barring My Hero and His Woman); they're not inferior, really they're not. Just, you know, cannibals." Which, if you imagine his racist interlocutor staking out the position that (a) slavery was fine because (b) blacks are intrinsically inferior... it doesn't excuse the book at all, but you can sort of see where the good intentions were aimed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:58 AM
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42

I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around "Having never ever read science fiction . . ."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:59 AM
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Agree with 32.1: "late Heinlein" is a horrendous mess (and I speak from experience here, having read "The Number of the Beast") but the early juveniles were a highlight of my childhood. Space Cadet, Tunnel in the Sky, Between Planets, The Rolling Stones, Have Space Suit Will Travel, Farmer in the Sky, Starship Troopers... my local library had them all and I burned through them. Pretty much that and Ursula Le Guin and Diana Wynne Jones are what got me interested in F&SF. Then I found Asimov and Clarke and Bradbury, then Banks and Gibson and Sterling...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:00 AM
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38: I'm not defending my reaction -- she just hits me on a blind spot, largely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:00 AM
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I love Starship Troopers!

Let me recommend Armor (I haven't read it years, but remember liking it as a different sort of military SF book, and I enjoyed it more than The Forever War as a response, of sorts, to Starship Troopers).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:01 AM
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28: My first thought on reading this was "so the protagonist was female first? That makes sense, because you'd only need X chromosomes then. Good thinking, Heinlein!" Stupid brain. But your point tracks with my memory; the protagonist was very much A Girl and then (for small values of "and then") very much A Man, both in the Heinleinian sense.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:02 AM
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I never really bonded with Heinlein's fiction (or, for that matter, LeGuin's fiction) the way I did with Asimov's fiction, which I devoured all of. I don't know what that says about me except that I like robots.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:02 AM
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36: The late '50s were a weird fucking time.

You know, reading House of War helped put Heinlein's attitude towards nuclear weapons into context. They changed over time in exactly the same way as the dominant thinking in DC did; right after the war he was utterly convinced that the only way to prevent a nuclear war was to turn control of them over to a pan-national organization like the UN, then by the mid- to late-'50s he was equally as convinced that anything less than utter nuclear domination by the US was a recipe for Soviet domination. I'm quite certain he never would have admitted for a moment being influenced by others on the subject, though.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:02 AM
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Asimov sort of annoyed me, but I can't remember why.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:03 AM
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45: Armor is good but weird - the bits that are about Starship Troopers are very good and terribly intense. ("This isn't a mountain." "What is it, then?" "It's a hive.") But the other bits don't really fit thematically. It should have been a novella or just a short story.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:03 AM
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I may have actually read The Number of The Beast first, when I was ten or so? My father didn't read a lot of science fiction, but a copy was in the house somehow, and I'm pretty sure Mom didn't buy it. And then I ended up reading everything else he ever wrote, despite in retrospect agreeing that it's a terrible, terrible book.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:03 AM
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I often feel disconnected from the characters and actions; even if we get to look into somebody's head, something about the whole experience seems kind of flat and grey.

Other than The Dispossessed, which I loved, this is my reaction to LeGuin as well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:04 AM
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right after the war he was utterly convinced that the only way to prevent a nuclear war was to turn control of them over to a pan-national organization like the UN

Eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard gave a lecture on that subject in the 60s, saying - as Heinlein does with the Patrol - that the last sort of person you want in charge of the nukes is an aggressive person prepared to take the initiative, take risks and accept losses in the pursuit of victory, but that's exactly the sort of person that most armed forces (rightly) promote, so you want the nukes to be handled by a completely separate civilianised service.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:05 AM
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47: Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke were my early, uncritical period of reading SF, where I was just looking for more of whatever this shit was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:06 AM
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There's not a lot to like about the Cold War but I must admit the fact that was alive and paying atttention when both Robert Heinlein and Edward Teller were advocating for the US Government to develop orbital death lasers gives off a pleasing whiff of nostalgic unreality.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:06 AM
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so you want the nukes to be handled by a completely separate civilianised service.

The Air Force isn't that separate.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:06 AM
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45: I don't really love Starship Troopers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:06 AM
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54: I mean, I read 'em all. Along with whatever vintage "Year's Best SF" my dad would bring home from the used bookstore. But I identified myself as an Asimov partisan, possibly in part because there was just so much Asimov to read.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:07 AM
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Along with whatever vintage "Year's Best SF"

I was going to bring up that series. Yes, definitely.

Being an adult is sad. There is nothing I like as much now as I liked that vintage of SF then.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:09 AM
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Stranger in a Strange Land was good, too.

Sooooooort of.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:09 AM
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Armor is good but weird ... the other bits don't really fit thematically.

The second half is less intense than the first, but I thought it fit together. If you think that one basic theme of the book is, "we have a character who, when you put him in battle armor, is capable of being the most effective fighter in the galaxy (a classic military SF trope) and his life is awful because of it. There's very little glory or satisfaction, just terror, nausea, survival, and regret then the second half demonstrates that just viewing his battle recordings causes the same reaction. In that regard, I found it effective that the stakes were so much lower, but even so re-visiting his wartime experience was still overwhelming.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:09 AM
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44: Understood.

Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke were my early, uncritical period of reading SF

My maximally uncritical phase was reading Star Wars books. This was when the remastered movies came out in the mid 90's, and so they really amped up the Expanded Universe then. I think you came out ahead.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:09 AM
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(I don't think it aged very well.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:10 AM
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Speaking of Asimov, have we talked here about what a creep he turned out to be? 'Cause, really, a total creep.

(Although not as bad as Marion Zimmer Bradley.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:10 AM
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60: I mean good in a "I read it when I was maybe 13 and have fond but hazy memories of it that I don't want to revisit for fear of ruining them" sort of way.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:11 AM
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Oh, wasn't there just some discussion about this? That the "Dirty old man" pose wasn't just comedy, but was in fact substantially unpleasant harassment for the women around him? Feh.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:11 AM
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So seriously, Heebie, did you just uncomplicatedly think this? "knowing that he's considered one of the good writers, I was pleased. I figure the best stuff in any genre is worth reading, and I was never going to get around to it otherwise."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:12 AM
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61: maybe thematically is the wrong word. I mean that I can see what he was trying to do and how it fits together, but it just didn't work for me.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:12 AM
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65: Oh, yeah, stick with that.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:12 AM
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66: Something about pinching butts. Here we are (first results for "asimov butts").


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:13 AM
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59: also the Science Fiction Hall of Fame collections. I read so much old SF without any real sense of or thought about what era it came from. For instance, I was just totally shocked to realize that The Machine Stops was written in 1909. Young Sifu did not pay much attention to covers or publication dates. Young Sifu just wanted MORE SCIFI TO READ.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:14 AM
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67: I could see that, for someone who never read SF. Someone says Heinlein, and respectable people (we're all respectable, right? I know I respect all of you very deeply) get all excited and start talking about it. There's clearly something there to talk about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:14 AM
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71: I was you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:15 AM
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67: That is the depth of my understanding, yes. However, I knew that this crowd is supremely opinionated on the topic, and whatever I wrote would be funny, but not in ways I could understand.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:15 AM
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(The reason we're all reacting like this, Heebs, is that this is like joining a film appreciation group, deciding that you'd explore Orson Welles' work, and having someone kick things off with his immortal turn as Unicron in Transformers: The Movie.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:17 AM
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Last month, we read Among Others, which was super charming. The narrator is a sci-fi obsessed teen girl, and she name-drops copious amounts of titles of her favorite sci-fi books, and they all ran together for me, but Heinlein showed up a lot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:17 AM
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I liked whatever the short novel was about the guy with the dreams that changed reality.

The Lathe of Heaven. It's very good, but it very much feels like LeGuin doing PK Dick, rather than writing in her own voice. Which is why I didn't mention it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:20 AM
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75 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:20 AM
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"For a time, I considered sparing your wretched little planet, Cybertron. But now, you shall witness... its DISMEMBERMENT. " -- Orson Welles


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:20 AM
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And banned. I just like to be reminded that you can go from Citizen Kane to that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:20 AM
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Among Others is super charming! I agree.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:21 AM
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75 would be fantastic. And I'm not just saying that because I posted as Unicron here a month or two back.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:21 AM
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I should read that. I like Jo Walton (her Trollope pastiche, with dragons, was very odd).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:22 AM
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My maximally uncritical phase was reading

Battlefield Earth.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:23 AM
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I read it, but I was never uncritical enough for that to get past me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:25 AM
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First we get a super racist link and now we get Heinlein as "one of the good writers". Is this International Troll Appreciation Week?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:26 AM
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I started Stranger In A Strange Land maybe 8 years ago as part of project try to get into science fiction and see what everyone is talking about and found it unreadable. I sort of feel like if you don't get into the genre by age 14 you just won't, though as I've said before I have no problem with sci fi movies and TV shows. I've made this boring complaint before though and who gives a shit about what I do or don't like.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:26 AM
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84: Thanks, that makes me feel better about "The Han Solo Adventures."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:27 AM
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84: Me also. That was shit, but I finished.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:27 AM
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But, I've never read a Star Wars novel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:27 AM
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It occurs to the that Joanna Russ was obviously responding to "All You Zombies" when she wrote her Alyx stories - no having-sex-with-yourself, but the...ahem...Trans-Temporal Bureau into which one is enlisted. And they are not very nice.

Vis-a-vis "All You Zombies" and transness....speaking as an innovatively gendered person, I tend not to read that character as trans any more than I read Bron in Triton as trans, or the characters in mid-period John Varley. It's much more that gender-switching is being used to prove a political point - those characters have nothing to do with anyone's understanding of being trans and are arguably not actually intended to be trans. In no case is there any suggestion that the person has any kind of dysphoria/sense-of-needing-to-change-their-body, and all the narratives about transness that any of those authors would have had access to do emphasize dysphoria and an underlying "real" gender identity. For Heinlein, the gender is more like a vaguely titillating punchline crossed with an opportunity to write about how sad and alienating life is for white dudes while also making a kind of plot-joke; for Delany, it's an opportunity to write about cis men and misogyny; for Varley, it's a way of asserting that gender and particularly gender hierarchies are social constructs, and a little bit of an opportunity to titillate-while-genuinely-scandalizing a certain sort of straight male reader.

If anything, the way these writers handle gender-changes suggest that trans people are not especially real to them, and that gender-changing isn't something they consider a lived reality but rather a metaphor or plot device.

"The Man Who Folded Himself" sounds incredibly depressing.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:28 AM
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I started Stranger In A Strange Land maybe 8 years ago as part of project try to get into science fiction and see what everyone is talking about and found it unreadable. I sort of feel like if you don't get into the genre by age 14 you just won't

My mother did! By way of reading stuff that actually holds up. I should ask her what she read that did the trick.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:32 AM
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Battlefield Earth

I can't really hold anything against L. Ron Hubbard because the whole thing with him, Jack Parsons, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Aleister Crowley has got to be one of the most gloriously bizarre true stories of all time.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:33 AM
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I read a Charles In Charge novel.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:34 AM
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Stranger in a Strange Land isn't a good place to start to answer the question of "will I like science fiction" from a standing start, but I'm not sure what would be. (Probably something like Ender's Game that I can then seethe about.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:34 AM
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IMO, reading Stranger In A Strange Land to get into science fiction is a bit like reading Infinite Jest to get into contemporary literary fiction. Except that I would a hundred times rather reread Infinite Jest than ever again have to read Heinlein.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:34 AM
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96 seems about right to me.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:39 AM
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91 is excellent. It's exactly right and better said than I possibly could.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:40 AM
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All the stuff I read when I was a teenager seems inaccessibly dated now. It was largely old when I read it, but somehow reading things from the 1940s and 50s in the 80s seemed plausible in a way that reading the same things now just isn't; like, I haven't recommended Asimov to either of my kids. (I have, recently, thought about digging up some of the really nuts and boltsy early Clarke space exploration stuff, because they're both into the literal space program, in the NASA rather than SF sense).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:41 AM
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I've tried twice to read Infinite Jest. I never get past the tennis part at the beginning. Because wordy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:42 AM
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Can 94 be true?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:42 AM
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IMO, reading Stranger In A Strange Land to get into science fiction is a bit like reading Infinite Jest to get into contemporary literary fiction

Valis is, I think, an even weirder choice, but it sort of worked for me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:43 AM
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101: In theory.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:45 AM
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I personally would recommend something a bit more modern to determine one's SF compatibility - as noted, it can be hard to gt past a lot of RAH's dated ness and, especially, later strangeness.

Daniel Suarez is pretty accessible and low-commitment - Daemon would be the one to start with. This Is Not A Game by Walter John Williams is probably in the same box. If you want more space opera-ey stuff, Ian M. Banks is fun. (Hint with him - if he's using his middle initial, he's writing SF, if not, it is 'regular' fiction, and if you want to be seriously squicked, read Complicity.)

Fun SF inside baseball - Joe Haldeman wrote The Forever War as a reply to Starship Troopers.


Posted by: grumbles | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:51 AM
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I read maybe a third of my sister's Sweet Valley High books all the way through. They were clearly terrible even at the time but fascinating. God it's true confession time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:52 AM
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I'd actually kind of forgotten which one Time Enough For Love was (so I looked it up). I remember at the time thinking it was really pretty good compared to I Will Fear No Evil, which was his preceding one, written when he had a problem with blood flow in his brain. It was fixed surgically and TEFL resulted.

I loved Heinlein at the age (14) and remember some of his books fondly, even though I'm increasingly wary of re-reading them. I actually reread Job: A Comedy of Justice fairly recently, which is his Jurgen (James Branch Cabell) homage. Even stole the subtitle. A lot of it held up fairly well. It's one of his rare fantasies.

A lot of Panshin's theories about Heinlein as a person turned out to be pretty off-base in the light of the stuff in Patterson's biography. Panshin's descriptions of Heinlein's literary style are still pretty insightful, though.

A big problem with Heinlein is his tendency to drop into a long didactic rant at the drop of a hat. Think "right-wing Kim Stanley Robinson."

Almost all science fiction has aged badly on gender issues. Joanna Russ is certainly an exception.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:54 AM
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Yes, what about YOUR MOM? You are a depraved pack of filthy nerds. I don't think I ever finished a Heinlein joint,* except maybe Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.

* I am hip.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:54 AM
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105: I had a college roommate who would watch Charles in Charge reruns every day after class because he had a thing for Nicole Eggert and no fear of appearing creepy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:56 AM
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God people are unlucky or get bad advice. There are lots of good ways to get started in Classic SF, Simak and Sturgeon are sweet and fun if slight.

The Years Best Series edited by either Carr or Dozois, are good intros, with a mix of entertaining and ambitious and the Hall of Fame series is fine, although certainly has some dated material. Silverberg's more mainstream compilations (of others' material) of the 70s and 80s are also recommended. His early 70s stuff like Orbit got arty.

I was into Dick, Disch, and Delany before I was into my teens and moved from there to the high modernists in my teens. Went back at 30 and read everything recommendable or nominated.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:56 AM
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A big problem with Heinlein is his tendency to drop into a long didactic rant at the drop of a hat.

Am I the only reader who admits to adoring long didactic rants? I do get that it's in some objective sense bad writing, but my actual response to that kind of thing is "Ooh, yeah, lecture me some more."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:56 AM
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104.3: So was Harry Harrison's "Bill the Galactic Hero," and it was funnier.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:57 AM
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I wonder how Sturgeon's dated. There's someone I loved and haven't reread or thought about much as an adult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:57 AM
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Am I the only reader who admits to adoring long didactic rants?

No, there's clearly an audience for them. But it does suggest, worryingly, that you might be more comfortable over at Ba/en's B/ar.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:58 AM
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110: Me too.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:58 AM
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105.last to 110.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:59 AM
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I've tried twice to read Infinite Jest. I never get past the tennis part at the beginning. Because wordy.

It's wordy all the way down. For me, that was a feature, not a bug. YMMV.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:59 AM
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106 - I was kind of shocked that Jurgen was a filthy as it is. I mean, really: "The two began to wrangle, not at all angrily, as to what Jurgen had
best do with his prized staff. 'Do you take it away from me, at any rate!' says Chloris. So Jurgen hid his staff where Chloris could not possibly see it; and he drew the Hamadryad close to him, and he laughed contentedly."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:00 AM
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104.3: So was Harry Harrison's "Bill the Galactic Hero," and it was funnier.

I really like Bill The Galactic Hero. Not only is it very funny but the writing is excellent -- on any random page you're likely to find a sentence or paragraph that's worth reading outloud.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:07 AM
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"The Man Who Folded Himself" sounds incredibly depressing.

It was the 70s, dude. Spoken in a Chinatown tone of voice.

To a degree the artier crowd went into reaction against the failure of New Wave, the commercialization that made Heinlein and Asimov and Bradley millionaires, the Star Wars phenomenon, the rise of the New Romanticism and the explosion of cheap neo-feudal high fantasy etc.

There was a lot of dark, difficult, depressing and dense stuff.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:07 AM
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Valis is a very, very weird choice.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:08 AM
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It was the 70s, dude. Spoken in a Chinatown tone of voice.

I misread this so I heard it in a Big Trouble in Little China tone of voice.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:16 AM
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This can't be serious. Heebie not only knows that there are a lot of SF fans on the site, she's read the various threads. I'm sure the horrors of much of late Heinlein have been discussed. She's trolling us.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:19 AM
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87: as part of project try to get into science fiction

If you want to do this in a fairly painless way, get a couple of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame series that the Tweetster mentions in 71. If you don't like a story or novella skip to the next*. A bit dated, but it will give you a good sampling of the "Golden Age" (extended interpretation) and what all those kids were getting excited about back in the day.

*If you end up skipping them all, Sci Fi is probably not for you. (Well maybe could try a New Dimensions anthology to see if your proclivities go in that direction.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:23 AM
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4, 10: I thought the discussion of Balzac wad in the other thread?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:25 AM
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Just because I mentioned John Sladek yesterday, and we're talking about Heinlein today, Sladek wrote a bunch of parodies of Golden Age SF writers that were dead on and hysterical. The only one I remember at all well was the Heinlein one, which included the line "You're a hell of an engineer, sweetheart, but you're no meterologist."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:27 AM
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If you are going to read just one Heinlein and shorter pieces are allowed, I'd go with "The Man Who Sold the Moon."

And I will say that Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" was the first science fiction story I read that forced me to explicitly interpret it within the context of real-life politics.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:31 AM
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Balzac wad

Eww.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:34 AM
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Here it is, and I misremembered the line. It is, in fact, "Sweetheart, you may be a good power engineer, but you're one hell of a bad astronomer."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:35 AM
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It's better that way. Meteorologists are mostly TV people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:37 AM
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I just happened to mention it in a comment to a dead thread today, but Poul Anderson's "Epilogue" was the first SciFi story that I read that truly fired my imagination. Although in general I was somewhat late in coming to appreciate Science Fiction.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:42 AM
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129: did you think there wasn't enough trolling in this thread?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:43 AM
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I don't understand the question.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:46 AM
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The thread title alone is a great one-word troll for this blog. Maybe the pithiest possible, or the first in a series:

Gladwell
Dawkins
Libertarianism
Duke


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:48 AM
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You rang?


Posted by: Gladwell Dawkins, Libertarian Duke | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:50 AM
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Today's highlights from my local mother's group: the kid's name is "Aschlyne". She's trolling me, right? Perfect for this thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:50 AM
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I've made this boring complaint before though and who gives a shit about what I do or don't like

Halford, I do care because not for the first time, you've expressed precisely what I think and why I think I think it.

We're all different, as we should be, and there'll never be enough time to read what I want to, so this is not a personal problem, except in the sense that I knew this genre and this writer, these writers were out there when it might have seemed age appropriate, but like you I couldn't get into or like them.

And it was and is alienating that so many of the people, in school and after--and I'm here to testify that it seems to extend for the rest of your natural life--people whom I'd have thought were my natural companions, have been so drawn to this, and have such a big place in their hearts and memory for it.

On some level, it's a significant part of who they are.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:51 AM
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110 et al: Am I the only reader who admits to adoring long didactic rants?

I confess to liking them when it isn't an earlier one with the serial numbers filed off. Unfortunately Heinlein kept a file handy at all times.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:52 AM
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The Library of America anthology Nine Classic Novels of the 1950's is pretty good if you're really wanting to go old school. It's got:

Pohl and Kornbluth's Space Merchants
Sturgeon's More Than Human
Brackett's Long Tomorrow
Matheson's The Shrinking Man
Heinlein's Double Star
Blish's Case of Conscience
Budrys' Who?
Leiber's Big Time
Bester's The Stars My Destination.

Combined length not much more than two late Heinlein's or one recent Martin.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:56 AM
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135: it took no little bit of googling to figure out that's pronounced "ash lynn" as opposed to like it's a feminine form of Aeschylus.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:57 AM
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It makes me think of Solomon Asch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:58 AM
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No, there's clearly an audience for them. But it does suggest, worryingly, that you might be more comfortable over at Ba/en's B/ar.

I'm pretty sure KSR isn't published by Baen. And I loved both Red and Green Mars.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 11:59 AM
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In England, "Mars" is how they say "Milky Way."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:03 PM
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Veronica Milky Way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:04 PM
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In China she's Veronica Silver River.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:06 PM
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In Spain, they're aware of the duality of Veronica, both of the present linear time and the poetic whole.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:07 PM
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136 & halford's earlier comment: I've never enjoyed SF personally, and in light of the time constraint you mention am unlikely to make any concerted effort to do so at this point, but then i have some odd deeply cherished reading loves (anyone else reread terreur et subsistances, Paris and its provinces, le bracelet de parchemin, etc constantly? no? what a surprise!). I figure the appetite they are feeding has got to be something like the one I am, so I understand them that way.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:08 PM
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134 made me choke on my drink.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:09 PM
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138: Oh, that does look like an excellent selection. Except for "The Shrinking Man" which I've never read, so I can't speak to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:10 PM
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138:That'll do just fine, although I didn't like the Budrys.

The rest are masterpieces.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:10 PM
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When I was ten or so, I borrowed a sci fi short story collection from the school library that I've been trying to identify for a while. The first story was about a group of astronauts sent to Alpha Centauri on a sleeper ship, but by the time they get there they find that ship technology caught up with them and all of the planets have been colonised (and named after them). Possibly also murder. The other story I remember involved some sort of possibly alien dude (who appeared as human) who promised to the rubes all sorts of nice consumer goods, and I in particular remember a sort of fountain pen that could fill itself with any colour ink out magically. Probably also murder. Do either of those sound familiar?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:10 PM
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s/out magically/out of thin air magically/


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:13 PM
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LT is also far from representative Brackett, who is at her best like this:

"Grimly Eric John Stark slogged toward that ancient Martian city -- with every step he cursed the talisman of Ban Cruach that flamed in his blood-stained belt. Behind him screamed the hordes of Ciaran, hungering for that magic jewel -- ahead lay the dread abode of the Ice Creatures -- at his side stalked the whispering specter of Ban Cruach, urging him on to a battle Stark knew he must lose!"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:16 PM
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Anything that has an enchanted jewel and a horde is pretty much bulletproof, plotwise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:19 PM
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I think 150.1 is A.E. van Vogt's "Far Centaurus".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:20 PM
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Hrm, looks like the first story was "Far Centaurus" by van Vogt, and the collection was probably Destination: Universe!. That was disappointing easy.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:21 PM
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Pwned, and thanks.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:21 PM
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152 Of those sorts of 'SF' my favorite are CL Moore's Northwest Smith stories.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:22 PM
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And what do you have against the Budrys? Fun paranoid Cold War SF.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:23 PM
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Shambleau!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:24 PM
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157/159 - Man, she was the best (Henry Kuttner was second best). "Vintage Season" is just heads and shoulders above everything else getting written in the '40s.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:27 PM
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Brackett was screenwriter on The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, and The Empire Strikes Back? That's quite the fucking career right there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:27 PM
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(Science fiction-wise. I am not claiming that "Vintage Season" was heads and shoulders above Brideshead Revisited.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:34 PM
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158:Plodding, and I didn't like the Cold War politics. I think I was born a commiesymp.

Rogue Moon was terrific, and Michaelmas was fun, and Falling Torch ain't so great, but the slightly disguised depiction of the expatriate Lithuanian community was fun.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:36 PM
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re: 11

I would sort of defend the Red Hot Chilli Peppers versus the Tom Robbins comparison, or at least I'd defend one era of them. And I'm not even a Chilli Peppers fan [although I like some of Frusciante's solo stuff quite a bit].

re: 83

I found her WW2 thing, Farthing sort of embarrassing and I wondered why it got so much (SF-nal) critical praise. If I'd been told it was a pastiche or a piece of jokey fan-fiction, I'd not have been surprised. Perhaps the sequels are/were better?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:41 PM
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||

Lawyers: can a case be made that showing up at a place of business with a bunch of loaded automatic weapons is a form of harassment? How is this not an attempt to create a climate of fear and intimidation?

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:41 PM
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Vintage Season is awesome. It's too bad she stopped writing after Kuttner died.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:41 PM
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This is also a pretty good compilation for somebody trying to figure out if they like SF.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:43 PM
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Yes, I love love love Vintage Season.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:43 PM
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(her Trollope pastiche, with dragons, was very odd).

Huh, I didn't realize Trollope's gentry were into cannibalism. Guess I should read more Trollope.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:43 PM
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167 Not sure if that's all that representative. It focuses on litfic Sfnal stuff and litficnal SF.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:47 PM
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Tooth and Claw isn't just Trollope generally, it's a pretty tight version of Framley Parsonage. More cannibalism and hats, of course, but the plot is perfectly recognizable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:47 PM
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How is this not an attempt to create a climate of fear and intimidation?

Words mean what the dumbest 5% of your compatriots, and the Supreme Court, say they mean.

Speaking of, it really is amazing how consequential Bush v Gore turned out to be.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:48 PM
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There are even good licensed Star Wars novels, though there might not be any not by Karen Traviss.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:51 PM
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If I'd been told it was a pastiche or a piece of jokey fan-fiction, I'd not have been surprised.

It is pastiche, kind of, loosely. Not like the Trollope, but she's said that those books were set off by the Josephine Tey mysteries, which are set immediately postwar but somehow don't mention it, which gets her to "England if they'd stayed out of the war", which gets her to fascist England. They didn't really work for me either: particularly the deus ex machina which ends the third book is incredibly weak.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:52 PM
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170 ... so?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:54 PM
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Wow, so Trollope's been given the zombie treatment and I somehow missed it?

I've never read Bill the Galactic Hero, but I think I read all of Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat series back in the day.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:55 PM
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Molly Keane's Good Behavior is basically vampire Jane Austen, in case anyone finds that appealing.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:56 PM
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I'm late responding to the OP, but: What the fuck? What kind of crazy person picks Time Enough for Love as an example of science fiction for a book club? The book a) sucks ass, and b) is written by a crazy person. Heebie, you should flat out not read it -- it is a total waste of time. You should sit this guy down and say "Clearly you picked this book because you want to fuck your mother. Which is fine -- I'm not judging. But I'm not reading about it."

The book doesn't have a plot, unless incest counts as a plot, and is full of the kinds of psycho points that Heinlein passes off as insight. Plus, every once in a while the book is interrupted by chapters of the kind of aphorisms Nietzsche would have written if he were a fucking moron.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:57 PM
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unless incest counts as a plot

And why wouldn't it?


Posted by: Opinionated Sophocles | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 12:59 PM
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Bob's 109.1 is right. Who's giving out this terrible advice? Stranger in a Strange Land is okay as a kind of trippy period piece, but who recommends it as a good gateway to science fiction. The only excuse for it would be that you were really, really stoned.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:00 PM
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Heebie, you should flat out not read it -- it is a total waste of time.

It's either this or Piketty. I finished VM in about 30 seconds.

Actually, the book I'm dying to get to is Dallas, 1963.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:05 PM
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Can we get a plot summary of the Charles in Charge novel?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:08 PM
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181: You'd be better off going back and reading that Charles in Charge novel.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:08 PM
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AL and I agree: Charles in Charge is the best.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:09 PM
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re: 174

I thought the tone, and the narrative voice was wrong. The dumb heiress narrator in the Farthing read like a Harry Enfield,* or Fast Show sketch.** I've never read Tey, so maybe I'm missing a very specific authorial voice that she's pastiche-ing, I suppose. The anti-Semitism and the homophobia was laid on too thick, for me, too. It became less sinister, and more comic, because it was so thickly applied.

* like Mr Cholmondoley-Warner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQWPR9TM0Gk

or 'Women, know your limits!':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w


** like Arthur Atkinson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_h0_OUSScc

*** clips worth watching, really.****
**** especially 'Women, know your limits!'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:10 PM
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You want Charles in charge of you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:10 PM
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It was based on the pilot episode, so it was basically how, on the one hand, Charles gets to college and I forget why his housing is unraveling, and on the other hand, this poor family sure does need a nanny. They sure are skeptical when a boy shows up for the interview, but when they see how well he handles the boy-child, the dad says, "Charles, you're hired!" Then there is a day of disasters, but the fact that Charles survives with creativity and spunk cements that he was the perfect choice for the family. I think mom was dead, and the kids were different than in the actual TV show.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:11 PM
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I've never read Farthing but Tey does not feature dumb heiress narrators.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:12 PM
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@187: Thanks! It sounds like it would have been better if zombies were involved.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:15 PM
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It's not pastiche on that level; the policeman is a recognizable version of Grant, sort of kind of, but the authorial voice doesn't sound like Tey. I'm reporting something Walton wrote about the book rather than something I would have recognized myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:15 PM
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Heinlein in general is very overrated. He exactly one good book, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. For a long time, I thought his juveniles were good, and I always remembered one in particular that I thought was great but I couldn't remember the title. Recently I looked around on Google until I found it, and it turned it out it was actually by Lester del Rey.

I guess the best of the juveniles he actually wrote was Time for the Stars, even though it ends with... surprise!... a creepy incest plot twist.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:17 PM
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There must be a cultural studies undergrad senior paper somewhere, possibly a Ph.D. thesis, on the feminist implications of the "Manny Sitcom" phenomenon of the mid-80s, including close readings of "Charles and Charge" "Who's the Boss?" and maybe some other examples that I'm forgetting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:18 PM
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167: I always recommend short story/novella collections because
1) short
and
2) I think relatively-speaking short-term SciFi is better than long form.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:19 PM
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Charles IN Charge. "Charles and Charge" was a cop movie sequel featuring Scott Baio and an orangutan named "Charge."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:19 PM
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178 "The book doesn't have a plot"

It really reads like what the SF world calls a fix-up book: stand-alone stories and novellas with filler material. His inherent solipsism got going full blast with this one, and carried right on through to his death. ("All You Zombies" and "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" were merely the first inklings.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:22 PM
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on the feminist implications of the "Manny Sitcom" phenomenon of the mid-80s, including close readings of "Charles and Charge" "Who's the Boss?" and maybe some other examples that I'm forgetting.

Mr Belvedere, right? He's the butler in theory but the nanny in practice, as I remember it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:22 PM
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I just got the book in 167. At under $5 including shipping why the hell not.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:23 PM
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192: Does "Mr. Belvedere" count?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:23 PM
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196 -- yes! Great example.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:23 PM
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198 gets some love too! Mr. Belvedere everyone!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:24 PM
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it turned it out it was actually by Lester del Rey

Lester del Rey is definitely the awesomer early-Heinlein for connoisseurs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:25 PM
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I did not expect to get pwned on Mr. Belvedere.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:26 PM
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192: Some of you may have forgotten that "Growing Pains" was about a family with a stay-at-home dad.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:28 PM
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And now the theme songs for all three shows are competing in my head.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:28 PM
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203: Fortunately, I can't remember that song.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:29 PM
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but the nanny in practice

Indeed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:30 PM
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Also Full House. Also My Two Dads.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:31 PM
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I did not expect to get pwned on Mr. Belvedere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:34 PM
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Is 206 from Ogged's indexed and itemized collection of Mr. Belvedere screen grabs?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:34 PM
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Also:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Upper_Hand

Which made great play of Honor Blackman as 'GILF'*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylGPb_aTRw4

* before any ugly *ILF acronyms had been invented, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:35 PM
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And if we're counting the big screen as well, Mr. Mom and 3 Men and a Baby.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:35 PM
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Mrs. Doubtfire.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:36 PM
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167 is ok. Intense in its variety, and with some of the more intense of its sub-genres, and pretty adult and intellectual but containing great stuff.

I just re-read "Aye...and Gomorrah" online and I'm still not sure I completely get it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:36 PM
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I forgot about "My Two Dads." It's sort of amazing that it ever got made and that it wasn't called "My Mom Got Around."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:37 PM
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Or, "Things Were Different in the 70s."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:39 PM
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Or "Tequila, Cherry Kool Aid, and a Very Relaxed Family Court Judge."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:41 PM
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"My Two Dads." (not exactly nannies)

"The Fresh Prince."

"Jessie" is a current show with the same character.

One of the oddities is that the mannies always seem to have upper class British accents.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:42 PM
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PS:Part of the fun of early Delany is that he is way too much of a nerd (and too young) to be anywhere near as transgressive as he would like to be.

Rimbaud, Genet, or Selby he's not.

Speaking of transgressive, does anybody but a few academics still read John Hawkes? Did anybody but a few academics and I ever read John Hawkes?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:43 PM
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217.last: Tony Danza?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:43 PM
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Did anybody but a few academics and I ever read John Hawkes?

I read Second Skin and another one.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 1:54 PM
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220: The other one was Blood Oranges.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:03 PM
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217. last: Scott Baio?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:05 PM
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Thirding "among Others". It's amazingly good.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:07 PM
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Mr Belvedere, right? He's the butler in theory but the nanny in practice, as I remember it.

"A butler in the streets/nanny in the sheets" as the saying is.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:10 PM
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I laughed, then I felt bad for because I wondered if I was laugh at the sexual harassment of household help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:13 PM
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Let's not forget the pioneering work of Mr. French on "Family Affair".


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:13 PM
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But the point of "Aye...and Gommorah" isn't transgression, it's melancholy and queerness and economics, and the way the artist is interpellated by capitalism and the various tolls that takes. And it's about romance outside the straight-people-couple model. If you're reading it for the transgression, yes, you will be disappointed - but I suppose for the truly informed and hard-core, even Hogg may end up being lightweight, right?

It's a lovely, gentle and charming story that queers the tough-guy voice of late fifties/early sixties SF as heard in "All You Zombies". I mean, read the narrator's dialogue with Maud and see if it isn't camp.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:19 PM
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Then I realized I don't know what "a butler in the streets" could mean.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:22 PM
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Nothing, I was just trying to get a laugh.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:27 PM
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Then I realized I was over thinking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:29 PM
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I was over thinking 5 or years ago.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:31 PM
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5 or 6


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:31 PM
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Then I realized life is more than mere survival.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:32 PM
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234

233 is totally from the Mr. Belvedere theme song. The tune to which I cannot now recall except for the neoclassical piano riff at the end symbolizing the classyness of butlers.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:35 PM
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I don't know any of these theme songs well enough to dislodge the Hooters' "All You Zombies".


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:39 PM
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My God, 234 is right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:41 PM
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I find there's nothing "mere" about survival.

I agree with 235. I've been hearing that song in my head for hours now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:41 PM
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Streaks on the china,
never mattered before,
who cares.

When you drop-kicked your jacket
As you came through the door,
No one glared.

But sometimes things get turned around
And no one's spared.

All hands look out below
There's a change in the status quo.
Gonna need all the help that we can get.

According to our new arrival
Life is more than mere survival
We just might live the good life yet.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:42 PM
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Damn you, now I can remember the tune to the song. Funny, I don't think I ever watched an episode of Mr. Belvedere, but I definitely know the theme music. I wonder if it was on after something else I watched.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:49 PM
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Because of your age, you have inherently watched Mr. Belvedere whether you watched Mr. Belvedere or not.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 2:54 PM
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I'm very aware of ambient music but don't have any idea of the Mr. Belvedere theme. Which probably can be taken as proof of Smearcase's point. I just looked at the wiki to see if I'm missing any other connection. I do remember noticing back in the 80s that it was a show, because like other ancient people I was aware of the series of Clifton Webb movies, of which I may have a few minutes of one, enough to have a clear idea of Webb's characterization.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:07 PM
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Also this book is 500+ pages long.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:12 PM
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You are reading a 500-page Mr. Belvedere novel?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:19 PM
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Theme song here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:19 PM
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It's sort of an incoherent anthology of four? I think? shorter things, with some stuff gluing them together. So, if you're getting bogged down, something entirely unrelated (other than thematically with the whole incest thing) will happen fairly soon.

Really, it's not a good book.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:19 PM
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243: Butlering In The 21st Century


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:27 PM
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I'm very aware of ambient music but don't have any idea of the Mr. Belvedere theme.

What, was it by Brian Eno or something?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:28 PM
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"Consider what a nanny would do."


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:31 PM
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247: Taking The Owens Family By Strategy


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:32 PM
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Walton's latest, My Real Children, is really good - bunch of chapters available on Tor.com. Her column for that site (now bookified) is great on rereading older books. Also I thougt highly of her King's Peace /Name books despite wishing to avoid anything remotely Arthurian like the plague (too many retellings out there).


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:34 PM
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I loved her columns for Tor and miss her doing that, but half the value of them were the discussions in the comments. I can't imagine them without that.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:39 PM
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The real Manny sitcom is of course Black Books.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:43 PM
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203: I hate myself for knowing this, but I think Alan Thicke on "Growing Pains" was a shrink with a home office, not a SAHD.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 3:46 PM
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201 Lester del Rey is definitely the awesomer early-Heinlein for connoisseurs.

Oh yes. He wrote "Helen O'Loy" about a guy who fell in love with a robot maid (this was in the 40s, I think), and "For I am a Jealous People," about an alien invasion backed by God. PZ Meyers would either have an orgasm or a stroke at the thought.

I'm sort of afraid to re-read them for fear they aren't as good as I remember them being.

(Actually, John W. Campbell was the early Heinlein and molded all these guys in his image.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 4:05 PM
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Voting for LeGuin was a good move; I'm fan-boyish about her writing, but that's because it's typically very good. Especially on a nuts-and-bolts prose crafting level.

I suspect that part of what turns off LB about LeGuin's SF writing is that much of it is written in a space anthropology vein--often from the viewpoint of an outsider trying to figure out the local situation. The Telling or Four Ways to Forgiveness are more current books in that vein that you might appreciate.

John Scalzi's Old Man's War is quite approachable as modern military sci-fi--you might try recommending it to they guy who introduced this book.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 4:35 PM
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238 made me wonder why I was hearing Leon Redbone in my head, and it turned out that it's because he sang the song. I always used to wonder if he and Rocky Rococo were the same person.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 6:08 PM
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I read Time Enough too many times while I was in Japan with only a backpack's worth of English books, and seem to recall a part where they discuss eros and agape in a way so disjoint and devoid of antecedent that I could only assume a portion was left out.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:06 PM
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Thanks, Emir! I've been looking forward to reading her new one eventually.

Since I know very little of the butlering sitcoms of the '80s, does Charles in Charge have the BDSMiest theme song? I don't know the other ones, but COME ON!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:39 PM
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Huh, have other people who've lost their names accidentally previewed first? Because that's what just happened to meeeee!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:42 PM
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We knew it was you. Nobody else is that much into BDSM.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:46 PM
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Heebie read a Charles in Charge novelization and you think I'm the masochist? (Don't answer that; I'm sure I've read worse.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:47 PM
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A Joanie Loves Chachi novelization?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 8:51 PM
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You are reading a 500-page Mr. Belvedere novel?

Apparently it's only about half that length. Gwen Leys Davenport, whose 1947 novel, ''Belvedere,'' was adapted into three movies and a television comedy series, died here on March 23. She was 92 and lived in Louisville.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:10 PM
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NMM to Gwen Leys Davenport retroactive to 2002.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:10 PM
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Time Enough For Love has a plot. Powers-that-be track down oldest man in the galaxy, so they can download the database he's got in his brain; he's tired and bitter and would literally rather die. So the clinic team gets him telling stories & having sex, and eventually time-travelling hijinks ensue.

When I first read it, c. 14, I'll admit it seemed less a story than a set of good questions. If you could live to be a thousand, what could family life conceivably look like? What if you could choose your family: both the genes you passed on and the people you lived with? And if you'd seen it all -- or felt you had -- and were more than ready to die, what could change your mind? I had a vested interest in these questions.


Posted by: CadyGlaser | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:40 PM
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Is this the one where the first scene establishes that the society's most fundamental right is to suicide? 14-year-old me appreciated that bit. But I have a bad feeling that this is also the book which contains the line "And why are your areolae so crinkled, dear?"


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:45 PM
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I think I'm repeating myself, but Sitting Pretty, the first of the Clifton Webb Lynn Belvedere movies, is pretty great. I don't remember the set up for the tv series, but in the film the family thinks they've hired a woman, based on a misunderstanding of British naming conventions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:47 PM
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266: Yes, that line (or something very near it) is in there, plus lots of asides about how naked bodies smell -- teenage-me found all this horribly embarrassing. Then I grew up and had a couple of moments of surprise recognition. Once I stopped at a florist's, in front of a display of pink orchids, and laughed out loud.


Posted by: CadyGlaser | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 9:57 PM
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I suspect that part of what turns off LB about LeGuin's SF writing is that much of it is written in a space anthropology vein--often from the viewpoint of an outsider trying to figure out the local situation.

Well, the "K." does stand for "Kroeber." (I remember being quite surprised when I first learned that; in retrospect I'm not sure why.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:26 PM
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I started the thread and then had to keep going until I verified that 235 had come up.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 10:57 PM
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Time Enough for Love did the trick when I was a horny twelve year old with no access to actual pron or naughtier books, but gods it's awful for anybody with a functioning brain.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 1:23 AM
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There must be a cultural studies undergrad senior paper somewhere, possibly a Ph.D. thesis, on the feminist implications of the "Manny Sitcom" phenomenon of the mid-80s, including close readings of "Charles and Charge" "Who's the Boss?"

ANGELA. ANGELA WAS THE BOSS.


Posted by: Opinionated Abed | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 1:45 AM
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Last month, we read Among Others, which was super charming. The narrator is a sci-fi obsessed teen girl, and she name-drops copious amounts of titles of her favorite sci-fi books, and they all ran together for me, but Heinlein showed up a lot.

Did you notice how the narrator gets sexually molested and thinks that's what people do even if she doesn't like it much because Heinlein said everybody should have sex and never refuse anybody who wants it?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 4:06 AM
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Speaking of SciFi, don't fuck with Stanley Kubrick.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 5:44 AM
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273: I thought that was one of the most realistic parts of the whole story, yeah.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:43 AM
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The Nanny in Practice is a great and versatile name.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:00 AM
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I can't find the quote with a quick google, but somebody once said that Heinlein has three basic characters: The young buck coming into his own, the grizzled veteran, and the strong independent woman who eventually settles down and pumps out babies. The actual quote is pithier, but that's the gist, IIRC.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:51 AM
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I think that was Cory Panshin's theory, except it was the young buck, "competent man" adult, and the wise older guru.

The advice in 273.2 doesn't really seem very Heinlein-esque.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:07 AM
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Oh, yes it does.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:14 AM
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That is, that a healthy, happy person wants Sex! all the time fairly indiscriminately, so if you're in a circumstance where sex is being offered or pushed upon you, the natural consequence is that simply not wanting to is diagnostic of your not being a healthy, happy person. So, fake it till you make it and go along with whatever anyone else wants you to do. Heinlein doesn't say that it in so many words, but I can completely see that as a reading of what he does say.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:29 AM
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I didn't start reading sci fi or fantasy much at all until college, when one of my Econ professors assigned The Dispossesed and . Now, as most of you know from the Other Place, I teach a course on it. Unfortunately, this means I should get around to reading "Stranger" because a number of my students write their final papers about it.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 12:26 PM
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