Robert Heinlein writes letters to editors and librarians

by John Holbo on September 12, 2017

Enough Lovecraft! Robert Heinlein! I’m reading Innocent Experiments:Childhood and the Culture of Popular Science in the United States, by Rebecca Onion. Chapter 4, “Space Cadets and Rocket Boys: Policing the Masculinity of Scientific Enthusiasms” has quite a bit of good stuff on Heinlein – well it would have to, wouldn’t it? If you’ve read some Heinlein you kind of know what Heinlein is like. But there’s good stuff here about his exchanges with editors. The guy was one serious SJW, insisting on his minority quotas. Of course, he always manages to make it weird in his cosmopolitan-but-All-American, messianic-rationalist-masculinist libertarian-disciplinarian anti-authoritarian-but-in-an-authoritarian-way way.

In a [1946] letter to Blassingame written while he was working on Young Atomic Engineers [which became Rocketship Galileo], Heinlein wrote that his heroes were of Scotch English, German, and American Jewish extraction and warned, “You may run into an editor who does not want one of the young heroes to be Jewish. I will not do business with such a firm. The ancestry of these three boys is a ‘must’ and the book is offered under those conditions. My interest was aroused in this book by the opportunity to show to kids what I conceive to be Americanism.” The conflict did not arise, perhaps in part because Morrie, of Rocket Ship Galileo, was never explicitly identified as Jewish, despite the presence of certain vaguely invoked cultural and religious markers. During the editorial process for Tunnel in the Sky, which included a prominent black female character, Caroline, Heinlein told Dalgliesh [this is 1955] that he “wanted Caroline identified as Negro from the start. . . . This girl’s characterization all through the book is believable only if she is colored, I want her tagged from the start.” Replying to Dalgliesh’s concern that “this Negro secondary character would lose us sales in the South,” he wrote back, “This is not a point on which I am willing to budge.” He did, however, change the identifier used to describe Caroline from “black” to “Zulu,” thereby giving her an exotic provenance that would explain her “characterization” as a brash, uncouth female warrior while also abstracting her from present-day conflicts in the United States. While Heinlein defended Caroline’s right to exist, he marked her as different: loud, violent, and romantically unfit (important in a book whose plot included more than a few romantic pairings).

We can laugh about it now, but it was 1955 at the time.

There’s a bit about how a librarian (with a great name) got real upset about the Divorce Court For Children in The Star Beast. The protagonist divorces his mom because she wants him to be a lawyer and he wants to be an exobiologist.

Learned Bulman, a children’s librarian for the Free Public Library of East Orange, New Jersey, wrote to Dalgliesh [Heinlein’s editor, in 1954] to inform her that he planned to give the book a negative review in the Library Journal, based on this plot point (“It is certainly one of his best but WHY did he destroy it with his reference to the Court of Divorce for Children?”). In the ensuing flurry of letters, Heinlein told Bulman that he believed that society’s inevitable progress toward a “better civilization” would certainly make it common for children to have the right to initiate a split with parents: “I expect the idea of minor children as persons in the eyes of the law to grow in the same fashion in which we have seen women become legal persons.”

I like the idea of Heinlein wasting a lot of time trading epistles with Learned Bulman about whether children should be allowed to divorce their parents if their parents are stupid.

It’s obvious to anyone with eyes, a brain and a copy of any given Heinlein book that the man was determined to educate and uplift the species – well, at least the boy half. I just didn’t know how many angry letters to editors and librarians he wrote about it. We should also remember it wasn’t all as militaristic as Starship Troopers. There’s pre-Sputnik and post-Sputnik Heinlein. And he couldn’t ever quite figure out where to put the girls. In all the universe, where did they fit? But credit where due:

During World War II, Heinlein scouted universities for female engineers, looking for draft-exempt workers for his research division at the Philadelphia Naval Yard; he wrote that he found at the University of Delaware that the School of Engineering did not permit females to register and was furious: “I took nasty pleasure in chewing out the President of the University . . . by telling him that his University’s medieval policies had deprived the country of trained engineers at a time when the very life of his country depended on such people.”

(I am, as you may guess, making some notes on the history of SF. Trying to think how the Sputnik-and-Boy’s-Adventure stuff all went down in the 40’s and 50’s. Bit before my time, really.)

UPDATE: Naturally I started thinking about the whole ‘Scary Spice’ thing after reading about Caroline turning Zulu. And I just want you to know that a full minute of Googling reveals NR was on the case as recently as last year. ‘Scary’ was not a race thing, turns out.



SusanC 09.12.17 at 2:38 pm

It looks like CT’s on a mission to rehabiltate some of the more notorious authors in the sf/fantasy canon….

First we have a staunch opponent of Nazism (as early as 1937. I mean, nearly everyone was anti Nazi after WWII, but 1937 requires a little more foresight. Could you say the same for, e.g. Martin Heidegger?): H P Lovecraft.

Then we have that early campaigner for women’s rights, especially wrt admission into university engineering courses, Robert Henlein.

I wonder who is next….


John Holbo 09.12.17 at 2:50 pm

I’m open to suggestions. Maybe I should argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs had Yankee sympathies despite his penchant for Southern gentlemen on Mars.


AcademicLurker 09.12.17 at 3:12 pm

My favorite Heinlein story is his association with this guy. The whole Crowley-Hubbard-Parsons-NASA-Scify saga is so gloriously weird I doubt any fiction writer could have invented it.


Brad DeLong 09.12.17 at 3:44 pm

IMHO, Sputnik unmanned Heinlein in a deep and profoundly destructive way…

For example, Johnny Rico in _Starship Troopers_ winds up becoming the kind of idiot Marine that the kindly wise naval officer superior Lieutenant Wong steers the protagonist Matt Doddson away from becoming in _Space Cadet_:

>At last he took it up with Lieutenant Wong. “You want to transfer to the marines?”

>”Yes. I think so.”


>Matt explained his increasing feeling of frustration in dealing with both atomic physics and astrogation.

>Wong nodded. “I thought so. But we knew that you would have tough sledding since you came here insufficently prepared. I don’t like the sloppy work you’ve been doing since you came back from Luna.”

>”I’ve done the best I could, sir.”

>”No, you haven’t. But you can master these two subjects and I will see to it that you do.”

>Matt explained, almost inaudibly, that he was not sure he wanted to.

>Wong, for the first time, looked vexed. “Still on that? If you turn in a request for transfer, I won’t okay it and I can tell you ahead of time that the Commandant will turn it down.”

>Matt’s jaw muscles twitched. “That’s your privilege, sir.”

>”Damn it, Dodson, it’s not my privilege; it’s my duty. You would never make a marine and I say so because I know you, your record, and your capabilities. You have a good chance of making a Patrol officer.”

>Matt looked startled. “Why couldn’t I become a marine?”

>”Because it’s too easy for you-so easy that you would fail.”


>”Don’t say `huh.’ The spread in I.Q. between leader and follower should not be more than thirty points. You are considerably more than thirty points ahead of those old sergeants-don’t get me wrong; they are fine men. But your mind doesn’t work like theirs.” Wong went on, “Have you ever wondered why the Patrol consists of nothing but officers-and student officers, cadets?”

>”Mmm, no, sir.”

>”Naturally you wouldn’t. We never wonder at what we grow up with. Strictly speaking, the Patrol is not a military organization at all.”


>”I know, I know-you are trained to use weapons, you are under orders, ders, you wear a uniform. But your purpose is not to fight, but to prevent vent fighting, by every possible means. The Patrol is not a fighting organization; it is the repository of weapons too dangerous to entrust to military men.

>”With the development last century of mass-destruction weapons, warfare became all offense and no defense, speaking broadly. A nation could launch a horrific attack but it could not even protect its own rocket bases. Then space travel came along.

>”The spaceship is the perfect answer in a military sense to the atom bomb, and to germ warfare and weather warfare. It can deliver an attack that can’t be stopped-and it is utterly impossible to attack that spaceship ship from the surface of a planet.”

>Matt nodded. “The gravity gauge.”

>”Yes, the gravity gauge. Men on the surface of a planet are as helpless against men in spaceships as a man would be trying to conduct a rock-throwing throwing fight from the bottom of a well. The man at the top of the well has gravity working for him.

>”We might have ended up with the tightest, most nearly unbreakable tyranny the world has ever seen. But the human race got a couple of lucky breaks and it didn’t work out that way. It’s the business of the Patrol to see that it stays lucky.

>”But the Patrol can’t drop an atom bomb simply because some pipsqueak squeak Hitler has made a power grab and might some day, when he has time enough, build spaceships and mass-destruction weapons. The power is too great, too awkward-it’s like trying to keep order in a nursery ery with a loaded gun instead of a switch.

>”The space marines are the Patrol’s switch. They are the finest-”

>”Excuse me, sir-”


>”I know how the marines work. They do the active policing in the System-but that’s why I want to transfer. They’re a more active outfit. They are-”

>”-more daring, more adventurous, more colorful, more glamorous-and and they don’t have to study things that Matthew Dodson is tired of studying. Now shut up and listen; there is a lot you don’t know about the setup, or you wouldn’t be trying to transfer.”

>Matt shut up.

>”People tend to fall into three psychological types, all differently motivated. There is the type, motivated by economic factors, money … and there is the type motivated by `face,’ or pride. This type is a spender, fighter, boaster, lover, sportsman, gambler; he has a will to power and an itch for glory. And there is the professional type, which claims to follow a code of ethics rather than simply seeking money or glory-priests and ministers, teachers, scientists, medical men, some artists and writers. The idea is that such a man believes that he is devoting his life to some purpose pose more important than his individual self. You follow me?”

>”I … think so.”

>”Mind you this is terrifically oversimplified. And don’t try to apply these rules to non-terrestrials; they won’t fit. The Martian is another sort of a cat, and so is the Venerian.” Wong continued, “Now we get to the point: The Patrol is meant to be made up exclusively of the professional type. In the space marines, every single man jack, from the generals to the privates, is or should be the sort who lives by pride and glory.”


>Wong waited for it to sink in. “You can see it in the very uniforms; the Patrol wears the plainest of uniforms, the marines wear the gaudiest possible. In the Patrol all the emphasis is on the oath, the responsibility to humanity. In the space marines the emphasis is on pride in their corps and its glorious history, loyalty to comrades, the ancient virtues of the soldier. I am not disparaging the marine when I say that he does not care a tinker’s damn for the political institutions of the Solar System; he cares only for his organization.

>”But it’s not your style, Matt. I know more about you than you do yourself, because I have studied the results of your psychological tests. You will never make a marine.”

>Wong paused so long that Matt said diffidently, “Is that all, sir?”

>”Almost. You’ve got to learn astrogation. If deep-sea diving were the key to the Patrol’s responsibility, it would be that that you would have to learn. But the key happens to be space travel. So-I’ll lay out a course of sprouts for you. For a few weeks you’ll do nothing but astrogate. Does that appeal to you?”

>”No, sir.”

>”I didn’t think it would. But when I get through with you, you’ll be able to find your way around the System blindfolded. Now let me see-”

>The next few weeks were deadly monotony, but Matt made progress. He had plenty of time to think-when he was not bending over a calculator. Oscar and Tex went to the Moon together; Pete was on night shift in the power room. Matt kept sullenly and stubbornly at work-and brooded. He promised himself to stick it out until Wong let up on him. After that-well, he would have a leave coming up one of these days. If he decided to chuck it, why, lots of cadets never came back from their first leave. In the meantime his work began to get the grudging approval of Lieutenant Wong.

>At last Wong let up on him and he went back to a normal routine. He was settling into it when he found himself posted for an extra duty. Pursuant thereto, he reported one morning to the officer of the watch, received ceived a briefing, memorized a list of names, and was issued a black armband. Then he went to the main airlock and waited. Presently a group of scared and greenish boys began erupting from the lock. When his turn came, he moved forward and called out, “Squad seven! Where is the squad leader of squad seven?”

No, I do not know whether Lieutenant Wong is relating the Myth of the Metals in Your Soul from Plato’s Πολιτεια here or not. But it is clear that Heinlein regards the career of a Marine—of a Johnny Rico—as unworthy of the kind of boy who would be reading a Robert Heinlein novel.

Or, at least, so he did before Sputnik. After Sputnik… well, Johnny Rico becomes the equivalent of a Warrior Caste Bug: fighting not for Truth, Justice, and the American Way but rather only for the biological expansion of genus Homo…


John Holbo 09.12.17 at 4:01 pm

Hi Brad, good to see you around here again. Here’s another eyebrow raising quote from the book:

‘Heinlein believed that “speculative fiction,” a term he preferred to “science fiction,” “is also concerned with sociology, psychology, esoteric aspects of biology, impact of terrestrial culture on the others [sic] cultures we may encounter when we conquer space, etc., without end.”’

That’s in 1949. I don’t think Heinlein thought it was our manifest destiny to conquer other beings and start an infinite space empire. But it’s kind of in there.


RD 09.12.17 at 4:06 pm

The 3 Stooges were originally Ted Healy’s “3 Southern Gentlemen.”


SusanC 09.12.17 at 4:30 pm

@2: AE van Voght was an advocate for gun control? C S Lewis became an atheist at the end of his life? The possibilities are endless…


LFC 09.12.17 at 4:43 pm

@J Holbo
You would be interested in this NYT op-ed of a couple of months ago (which makes ref to Sputnik and Cosmism & SF etc). On basis of a quick reading a while back, I questioned one or two graphs, but I’d never heard of some of this stuff.


Obxperegrin 09.12.17 at 5:50 pm

I can scarcely believe that post was made by J. Bredford Delong. Mr. Delong you are one delightfully interesting cat. This comment is totally beside the point., not adding a jot to the discussion…..I know. Carry on.


Farah Mendlesohn 09.12.17 at 6:14 pm

“It’s obvious to anyone with eyes, a brain and a copy of any given Heinlein book that the man was determined to educate and uplift the species – well, at least the boy half.”

Oh for the girl half as well. My most recent re-reading of Podkayne led me to the realisation that it’s a long attack on the parents for the shabby job they do of education Podkayne. And Pee Wee is smarter than Kip Russell, and Maureen goes to college as an adult to collect the education she lost out on as a girl in the 1910s. Friday gets let loose in a library (bliss!).


Farah Mendlesohn 09.12.17 at 6:17 pm

Brad I completely agree with your reading of Matt/Johnny Rico. It’s blatant, we are told over and over again in Starship Troopers that Rico is a follower. His dad says it, his best friend says it and his officers say it. Tho I think he’s what organisational theory calls the First Follower: get Rico to follow you and others follow on as well.


Yankee 09.12.17 at 7:13 pm

These were the comic books I read since I was a tad. The idea that you can solve common dilemmas by a burst of concentrated thought had a pernicious effect on my personal life and the life of the era in general.

@Brad: Johnny Rico was a man who found a social role he was completely suited for and entirely satisfied with. Heinlein was read by boys who were not destined to be successful in the academy, as I attest; but it turned out the US Marines weren’t like that.


John Holbo 09.12.17 at 11:24 pm

““It’s obvious to anyone with eyes, a brain and a copy of any given Heinlein book that the man was determined to educate and uplift the species – well, at least the boy half.”

Oh for the girl half as well. My most recent re-reading of Podkayne led me to the realisation that it’s a long attack on the parents for the shabby job they do of education Podkayne.”

That’s a funny case becuase Pod dies at the end, right? What I should have said is that Heinlein knows what to do to help girls – namely, help them escape from their mothers. But he doesn’t know what to do with them when they grow up because they presumably grow into mothers.


John Holbo 09.12.17 at 11:51 pm

Heinlein is anti-establishment when it comes to education, but he has models of good educational establishments (albeit eccentric ones sometimes.) He hates US high schools but he loves Caltech. He doesn’t really have models of good, strong women who have somehow bucked all the bad mothering he hates and grown up to be good mothers. It’s a classic 50’s problem. Heinlein doesn’t want to be narrow-minded. He would be ashamed to be convicted of thinking like our petty suburban tribe, but he can’t square the circle of ‘women should be strong and independent’ and ‘women should be conventional housewives’. Not really a new problem, or peculiar to him. But it is striking that it was really the final frontier of the imagination. You could imagine almost anything else except for that, if you were a male SF-type in this era.


Brad DeLong 09.13.17 at 4:47 am

I refuse to believe that Podkayne dies at the end. Reading takes place mostly between the ears. Marks on a page are simply aids to my constructing a super-Turing class simulation of the associated universe to run on my wetware. And in the version running on my wetware, Podkayne lives!

You are free to build a different simulation…


John Holbo 09.13.17 at 6:08 am

Gosh, I should reread it!


Raven 09.13.17 at 7:01 am

John Holbo @ 16: Yes, you should; you’re not remembering the published version.

(I.e. Brad DeLong’s wetware is in accord with the hard cold print of hardcovers and paperbacks….)


John Holbo 09.13.17 at 7:12 am

Oh yeah the dual ending thing! I had forgotten.


John Holbo 09.13.17 at 7:13 am

Rebecca Onion talks about this in the book actually – that Heinlein wanted a death and the editor didn’t. I just misremembered how it all worked out actually.


Gareth Wilson 09.13.17 at 9:43 am

“Strictly speaking, the Patrol is not a military organization at all.”

So it’s an organisation that travels through space with devastating weapons, consists only of cadets and officers, and claims to not be military. Why does that sound familiar?


Lee A. Arnold 09.13.17 at 10:49 am

Heinlein transformed into a “rock-ribbed far right conservative” in later life, according to his former friend Isaac Asimov. I vaguely remember that Harlan Ellison wrote that Heinlein sealed himself in a fenced compound.


Cheryl Rofer 09.13.17 at 11:59 am

A thought from a girl who enjoyed much of Heinlein without noticing the sexism.

It was the 1950s. I may have had exceptional parents who encouraged me in ALL the pursuits I was interested in, which included or perhaps I should say were mostly science and math oriented. I read a lot of science fiction and dreamed a lot of dreams. Heinlein was willing to explore alternative social arrangements. He also had a lot of great science ideas. They augmented my imagination.

The real blow came when I realized that only middle-aged men were being considered for spaceflight. It thoroughly removed my interest in that area. It wasn’t fiction.


Katsue 09.13.17 at 12:50 pm

There was a War Nerd Radio podcast about right-wing science fiction, and Robert Heinlein figured prominently (as did Niven, Pournelle and Turtledove). Among the highlights was Heinlein’s advocacy for more nukes and for the Star Wars programme.


Ebenezer Scrooge 09.13.17 at 12:59 pm

In response to Lee@21, I remember reading somewhere that Heinlein’s politics tracked that of his wives. His first wife was a liberal; his second a rock-ribbed conservative.

More on point to this thread, I also remember reading the ultimate putdown of Heinlein: “His women were indistinguishable from his men were indistinguishable from his computers.” (Or something like that.) He was pretty good on his brand of unum: a gorgeous mosaic of hard techie men of all genders and races. He had a harder time with pluribus.


LFC 09.13.17 at 1:17 pm

from the OP

I am, as you may guess, making some notes on the history of SF. Trying to think how the Sputnik-and-Boy’s-Adventure stuff all went down in the 40’s and 50’s.

Apparently Holbo is interested in the how this stuff went down among American writers of SF, Heinlein in particular, but not v. interested in the ideological or other sources of Sputnik itself… well, maybe there’s no connection betw the former and the latter. I don’t know. (Never read Heinlein. No present plans to.)


LFC 09.13.17 at 1:18 pm

typo correction:
“in how this stuff”


John Holbo 09.13.17 at 2:26 pm

“but not v. interested in the ideological or other sources of Sputnik itself”



Brad DeLong 09.13.17 at 4:23 pm

Re: ‘Heinlein believed that “speculative fiction,” a term he preferred to “science fiction,” “is also concerned with sociology, psychology, esoteric aspects of biology, impact of terrestrial culture on the others [sic] cultures we may encounter when we conquer space, etc., without end”…’

I had always thought (to the extent I thought about it all) that the “conquest of space” was simply a victory over nature.

For Heinlein, at least, when we get out into space humans encounter (a) mysterious and wise but usually enervated and somewhat decadent sophonts from whom we can and should learn, and whom we should treat gingerly, and (b) “primitive” sophonts who (often) turn out not to be primitive at all with whom we either treat or flee.

Until _Starship Troopers_, of course. Then the genocidal impulse comes to the forefront. (But cf. also, earlier, _The Puppet Masters_ and _Sixth Column_)…

And also cf. Orson Scott Card, the _Enders’ Game_ series, in which, IMHO, Card starts out writing about a successful and (barely) justifiable human genocidal war against aliens, and then has many, many second thoughts…


Mark Jackson 09.13.17 at 4:25 pm

So if Sputnik explains Starship Troopers what explains Farnham’s Freehold?


LFC 09.13.17 at 6:12 pm

Holbo @27

Was cryptic, sorry. Just wondering about the possibly ironic connections betw. the reaction to Sputnik in the U.S. and the apparent (if the op-ed I linked to @8 is to be believed) motives/visions/whatever of some of those who worked on its launch. But I haven’t fully worked out these thoughts, if that’s even what they are…

On another point: esp. given the historical context, there’s really nothing “weird” (which is the OP’s word) about Heinlein’s reference to ‘Americanism’ in that 1946 letter (i.e., first seven lines of the first block quote). Maybe that’s not what the OP intended to call “weird,” but if so, it’s not v. clear.


Douglas Weinfield 09.13.17 at 6:28 pm

Re: “So if Sputnik explains Starship Troopers what explains Farnham’s Freehold?”

I always assumed it was an extended takedown of racism in 1950’s-1960’s US.


David Wilford 09.13.17 at 8:29 pm

I always thought what pushed Heinlein to write Starship Troopers wasn’t Sputnik but a proposed nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union.


John Holbo 09.13.17 at 11:29 pm

De Long: “For Heinlein, at least, when we get out into space humans encounter (a) mysterious and wise but usually enervated and somewhat decadent sophonts from whom we can and should learn, and whom we should treat gingerly, and (b) “primitive” sophonts who (often) turn out not to be primitive at all with whom we either treat or flee.”

That sounds about right.

Oh, OK LFC you just were referring to the op-ed. yes, that’s interesting. I didn’t know that stuff either.


Brad DeLong 09.13.17 at 11:47 pm

David Wilford: touché…

Eisenhower’s cessation of testing was certainly the lit fuse. But I think Sputnik was the TNT…

I could be wrong…


Raven 09.14.17 at 12:34 am

Gareth Wilson @ 20: Star Trek‘s Starfleet, of course.


Raven 09.14.17 at 1:07 am

Lee A. Arnold @ 21: Have you ever actually read RAH’s later works, such as Job: A Comedy of Justice, and the later “Lazarus Long” series from Time Enough for Love to To Sail Beyond the Sunset? Do you characterize those as conveying “rock-ribbed far right conservative” political viewpoints?

Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long: “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. … No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. … A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld. … Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs—sex especially. When they are growing up they are nerve ends all over, and resent (quite properly) any invasions of their privacy. Oh sure, they’ll make mistakes—but that’s their business, not yours. (You made your own mistakes, did you not?)”

All stuff you expect to hear from a “rock-ribbed far right conservative”, eh?


heckblazer 09.14.17 at 4:15 am

Raven @ 36
“All stuff you expect to hear from a ‘rock-ribbed far right conservative’, eh?”

Those attitudes would fit have right in with the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican Party.


mclaren 09.14.17 at 4:55 am

Heinlein’s political and economic views changed radically over time. Beyond This Horizon (1941) involves an economy most people would call communist or socialist-cooperative: for example, profit is not permitted and excess monies get reinvested as “social surplus.” When an entrepreneur arrives from the 20th century courtesy of a time suspension gimmick, he proves unable to understand how the future economy works without profit.

Amusing factoid: Heinlein was banned from classified military work initially when the U.S. went into WW II because his political views were too far left. Heinlein says that his second wife Virginia “educated him on economics,” presumably meaning brainwashed him with far-right conservative-libertarian Chicago School Friedrich Hayek stuff.

Re Lee Arnold @21, Heinlein seemed to become radically more conservative mainly because of his trip to the Soviet Union in 1960. Heinlein’s wife had learned Russian so they were able to get some information about everyday life, and it led them to some fairly bizarre conclusions. Viz., sitting on a riverbank and counting river barge traffic: “They’re not even reproducing themselves, Robert!” By which logic & faulty amateur sleuthing the Russian Republic should be empty and devoid of people by now, 57 years later…

A lot of people forget that Heinlein’s early and arguably most interesting science fiction involved speculation about what we’d today call genetic engineering and its effects on upending social relations. For example, the backstory of the short piece “Jerry Was A Man.” And of course the entire social backdrop of Beyond This Horizon, although that involves controlled breeding rather than direct gene manipulation as in the later story.

IMHO Heinlein got a lot less interesting as he got more libertarian and John-Birchian post-1960. Even so, he managed to bang out at least one good late book: Time Enough For Love. And I don’t see a lot of signs of the hard-core libertarian Heinlein of the post-Soviet-Union visit in that late book. So his political beliefs were a moving target pretty much throughout his life.


Wraithe 09.14.17 at 5:05 am

Two minor mentions:
in “The Star Beast”, in addition to the mention of the protagonist having the option to divorce his mother, his best friend, Betty (who is prominent throughout the story) already had divorced her parents.

Mark Jackson@29: “…what explains Farnham’s Freehold?”:
Charlie Stross has the best explanation I’ve ever seen:
“…a privileged white male from California, a notoriously exclusionary state, trying to understand American racism in the pre-Martin Luther King era. And getting it wrong for facepalm values of wrong, so wrong he wasn’t even on the right map … but at least he wasn’t ignoring it.”.


Raven 09.14.17 at 5:40 am

heckblazer @ 37, mclaren @ 38: I’ll let you two argue it out, because “those attitudes [that heckblazer says] would have fit right in with the Barry Goldwater wing of the Republican Party” came from the same book that mclaren cites as “at least one good late book… [in which] I don’t see a lot of signs of the hard-core libertarian….”


heckblazer 09.14.17 at 6:59 am

Raven @ 40:
What you quoted is perfectly compatible with a conservative libertarianism, but without details on economics it can also be compatible with not being conservative. I was unable to get far into Time Enough For Love so I can’t really comment on the book.


Farah Mendlesohn 09.14.17 at 7:14 am

I don’t agree with Charlie’s analysis of FF. The first two thirds of the book is pretty good indeed with one really stunning speech from Joe. But RAH had been using the cannibalism metaphor for cultural relativism throughout his fiction, and it never seems to have crossed his mind that it was a complete disaster to use it here.


Farah Mendlesohn 09.14.17 at 7:17 am

John Holbo, Podkayne does not die in the final version. The Uncle gives the parents a absolute earful about their behaviour towards her. More interesting I think is the female mentor figure who talks about how few options there are for women. I think it’s a mistake to criticise Heinlein for telling it like it really was for most girls. If you fast forward to To Sail Beyond the Sunset, he lays this all down fairly explicitly.


J-D 09.14.17 at 8:09 am

In Heinlein’s original ending, Podkayne is killed. This did not please his publisher, who demanded and got a rewrite over the author’s bitter objections. … In the original ending, … When the bomb … blows up, Podkayne is killed … In the revised version, Podkayne is badly injured by the bomb, but not fatally. … This is the ending that appeared when the book was published 1963. … The 1993 Baen edition included both endings … and featured a “pick the ending” contest, in which readers were asked to submit essays … The 1995 edition included both endings, … and twenty-five of the essays. The ending in which Podkayne dies was declared the winner. … This ending has appeared in all subsequent editions


J-D 09.14.17 at 8:10 am


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Gabriel 09.14.17 at 9:54 am

Brad, have you read SF author (and my dear friend) John Kessel’s takedown of Ender’s Game?


Matt 09.14.17 at 11:23 am

heckblazer and Raven – it’s been a long time since I read them, but I read more “late Heinlein” than the earlier stuff (_Time Enough for Love_, _To Sail Beyond the Sunset_, _The Number of the Beast_, _The Cat Who Walked Through Walls_, etc.) I’d say that the politics in them is to a large degree not really coherent enough to clearly characterize. There’s a strong anti-authoritarian libertarian streak, strong opposition to custom (with an exception I’ll mention) and religion and hierarchy that make them not fit well with anything called “conservativism”, Strong female characters who are sexually independent. (Several of my female friends in high school and early college told me that they really liked the portrayals of female sexuality in them, abstracting, I’m sure, from the weird incest stuff that was going on in some of the books), but also a sort of focus on “rugged independence”, a distrust of government, and, weirdly (this is the exception) some strong sympathy for patriotism. So, I think, lots of bits and pieces that are sometimes on their own attractive, but an incoherent mix. Of course, looking to sci fi authors, even good ones, for your politics is clearly a mistake, but it does depress me that so much focus is put on “Starship Troopers”, as if it were the most interesting, defining, or important book he wrote.

As for Sputnik, the logician Richard Zach nicely relayed the other day how Quine thought it was “fake news” at the time – how could Russians do that! So, while it’s hard for us to understand now, it really did blow a lot of people’s minds: (To his credit, he did change his mind quickly, though the first bit isn’t so grand.)


Collin Street 09.14.17 at 12:30 pm

John Holbo, Podkayne does not die in the final version.

The notion of “final version” is… not really useful, for texts. Every version is “final” as soon as the pen is laid down; it represents a coherent vision as shaped by that person at that time. No version is “final”; anybody — not just an earlier writer — can pick up a pen and spin a new story, as I once forced my mother to do to a particularly traumatic childhood book.

This book in particular you have to keep the multi-faceted reality in mind; at one state of the text she died, in another she lived. Both these are true. You can write your own text where she does neither but becomes an arhat in this life, and that will be true as well, although nobody will care because it would suck.

[when I was a child, I forced my mother to write a new ending to a story where a poor job in editing meant that the only plausible explanation for what happened to one of the characters — an anthropomorphised stove — was that they sank to the bottom of the sea and drowned, or whatever it is that happens to anthropomophised stoves when they sink to the bottom of the sea. This is a thing that people can do.]


ajay 09.14.17 at 12:55 pm

“Strictly speaking, the Patrol is not a military organization at all.”
So it’s an organisation that travels through space with devastating weapons, consists only of cadets and officers, and claims to not be military. Why does that sound familiar?

Heinlein was writing in 1946-7, when there was no such thing as a military organisation with nuclear weapons.
The US nuclear arsenal was under the physical and legal control of the AEC, a civilian agency, which was supposed to hand the nukes over to the Air Force when needed. And there was a strong body of support for either a) creating a separate US Nuclear Deterrence Force, which would have a completely different and more prudent ethos from the getting-warheads-on-foreheads approach of the armed services, or even b) ceding control of nuclear weapons to an international civilian agency under the UN; something like, basically, the Patrol.


Nickp 09.14.17 at 1:24 pm

Farah Mendelsohn,

I think James Nicoll makes a good point that the Uncle is primarily deflecting blame, and that he is guilty of more than the parents.

Also: “Where the classic Heinlein juveniles are about boys reaching for the stars, Podkayne of Mars is a hectoring lecture, telling women to stay in their place. ”


bob mcmanus 09.14.17 at 1:57 pm

46: New Genesis Evangelion is another example of the abused child, child warrior, reluctant killer, but flows and ends through the protagonist’s (mostly, esp EoE) in the absolute rejection of the social. I think.

I remember Podkayne interesting me because it seems to follow a parallel character growth of two characters through a non-omniscient narrative voice of one. Heinlein in his early years through say 1965 was working very hard with narrative voice, and that is part of what made him admired in the SF community.

My favorite is Double Star, about the actor pretending to be a statesman who becomes a statesman without even realizing it, all in a first person narrative voice. It’s pretty subtle, and I will leave it others as to how successful it is. I try to think of other literature that handles changing voice, Ford’s Good Soldier? There is also something here about how the use of tools changes us, an engineer’s embodiment.

But generally I think Heinlein avoids techne, the man-machine symbiosis or assemblage (well, Waldo maybe) that Enders and NGE confront and is so common now. People are largely psychologically independent and self-determining.


bob mcmanus 09.14.17 at 2:03 pm

Meant linked 45, and although good, is still like Card, dwelling in the individual, psychological and moral. Twas the system/machine that killed the buggers obviously, and Ender was only trying to survive and be successful within it.


bianca steele 09.14.17 at 2:12 pm

Matt @46

I think it’s fair to say Heinlein (and he’s not alone) is trying to delineate a moral, or ethical, way of staking out a life among American institutions as he perceived them. What makes him different from Twain or Cooper is that he knows about scientific and social progress, and he knows a bunch of things educated people in his time are supposed to know about social science. The idea that real social scientists would say the way he’d put it all together, in a projected future world, was incoherent or impossible, I suspect wouldn’t have made much sense to him.

(Was it Heinlein or Silverberg whose juvies were all about girls? My middle school library had all of those and seemingly all of the award anthologies.)


bianca steele 09.14.17 at 2:17 pm

Also, thinking back, I wonder if it’s possible to distinguish “liking the portrayal of female sexuality” from “liking the portrayal of men’s reactions and desires to the portrayal of female sexuality.” That isn’t meant to be a dig at your friends (and it sounds like the kind of “that’s not real life” attitude I associate with GRRM); I probably felt the same way when I was younger. But it would have been less enjoyable to see the same characters being rejected by men, continually treated to endless mansplaining as the price of male attention, or a number of other things that might have been more RL probable.


Matt 09.14.17 at 3:16 pm

Thanks, Bianca – that sounds plausible to me. I haven’t read any of the books in years, and from my memory of them, I am sure that the more mature versions of my friends would find very many things to dislike in the portrayal of women (me too.) I think that what they did like at the time was the depiction of women who liked sex and didn’t feel bad about it, though no doubt there was some other stuff (beyond the weird incest stuff) going on, too, that was less than great. You’re right about the “staking out a life” bit, and that appealed to me at the time, even though, as I got older, the whole thing seemed like an incoherent hodgpodge. Not that that made them bad books.


paintedjaguar 09.14.17 at 5:47 pm

John Holbo – “Maybe I should argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs had Yankee sympathies despite his penchant for Southern gentlemen on Mars.”

Absolutely you should if you want an honest assessment of both Burroughs and his protagonists rather than a self-righteous, ahistorical, second-hand hatchet job. A parody of Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden written by Burroughs a decade before he rose to fame makes it pretty clear where his sympathies actually lay:

According to Burroughs, the peak of Martian evolution and civilization was found in the red-skinned Martians, who were a racial mixture of Black, White, and Yellow Martians. Both John Carter and other Burroughs protagonists entered into mixed-race marriages (heck, Carter’s marriage was cross-species — Dejah Thoris was oviparous). Or consider that Burroughs chose to have John Carter believe that “It is the character that makes the man, not the clay which is its abode.” (Gee, seems like I’ve heard something like that somewhere else… ) For a more extended argument on Burroughs’ attitudes on race as implied in his Barsoom series, go here:

Both the Tarzan and John Carter stories are unfairly maligned by many anti-racists. Carter in particular was more about the “gentleman soldier” than the “Southern” — the South happened to be the part of the country that still clung to such notions, which is probably why Burroughs chose that back-story. Burroughs’ stories are chock-full of stereotypes, as was typical of the kind of pulp adventure he was writing. However he was just as likely to throw in “noble savages” as “degenerate cannibals”. Or a stereotypical evil Russian or good-hearted but inarticulate Swede. All grist for the tall tale.

By the way, while thinking about stereotypes and role models, I recommend to you Maureen O’Sullivan’s Jane in the first two Weismuller Tarzan flicks (Tarzan the Ape Man / Tarzan and His Mate). For someone completely out of her element, she’s remarkably strong willed and self possessed. Not to mention very liberated when it comes to sexy fun times.


bianca steele 09.14.17 at 6:11 pm

Re. incest, it seems odd to me that the only things I remember of Friday, the book that put me off Heinlein and new SF generally for a very long time, are all omitted from the Wikipedia entry: the frequent pelvic exams beginning in adolescence by her non-OB father, his insistence that she had a strong pheromone smell and needed to keep soap with her and wash several times a day, to the point where she panics about being raped if she finds herself soapless, her insistence on sharing a bed with people she’s met that day because sleeping alone is abhorrent to her. Even the fact that she doesn’t know she’s an artificial person (or is keeping it from the reader?) is not mentioned. All I remember is the kidnapping/arrest and a vague sense that it’s possible she killed the policeman because she “knew” he would be unable to resist raping her in her unwashed state.


paintedjaguar 09.14.17 at 6:25 pm

Now about Heinlein:

James Nicholl – “Where the classic Heinlein juveniles are about boys reaching for the stars, Podkayne of Mars is a hectoring lecture, telling women to stay in their place.” No, among other things it’s a hectoring lecture telling women (and men) that motherhood is a full time occupation. There’s a difference.

As for women “reaching for the stars”, without really thinking about it I can recall a bunch of female starship pilots, a female combat soldier, a starship captain, various female academicians, and an entire culture of matriarchal interstellar traders. Not to mention Lummox, the star-princess whose hobby is raising male humans. It’s also quite common for Heinlein’s women to be portrayed as more intelligent and/or competent than their male counterparts. You’re entitled to disagree with Heinlein’s notions, but not to just make stuff up.


mclaren 09.15.17 at 12:56 am

Re: Paintedjaguar @58 — Yes, the claim that Heinlein told women to stay in their place doesn’t fit with what he wrote. Heinlein pointed out women were better than men as spaceship pilots+crew b/c of their lower average body mass. Saves a lot of fuel, according to the rocket equation.


Raven 09.15.17 at 1:09 am

Matt @ 47: “… weirdly (this is the exception) some strong sympathy for patriotism.”

To resolve the discrepancy, look at what he considers the purpose of the state/government: a tool in human hands to serve human interests, and above all protect human survival. That’s an utterly Jeffersonian attitude. (And as the Declaration of Independence puts it, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”)

Thus, again from Lazarus Long, “No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has.” (Starship Troopers, written in 1958-59 amid the Draft Era, showed an all-volunteer force.) • “All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplus age, excrescence, adornment, luxury or folly which can—and must—be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a ‘perfect society’ on any foundation other than ‘women and children first!’ is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly—and no doubt will keep on trying.” • “When a place gets crowded enough to require ID’s, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere.” …


Lee A. Arnold 09.15.17 at 10:19 am

Raven #46: “Have you ever actually read…”

I am not sure what my reading habits have to do with the first-person opinions of Asimov and Ellison (and perhaps other writers who knew Heinlein). I am also not sure how the opinions of a fictional character must necessarily be taken as opinions that are believed by the author. I am also not sure how, “Have you actually read…” differs from, “Have you read…” — Anyway if I were called upon to characterize Heinlein, he strikes me as having become a right-wing Cold War libertarian.


Matt 09.15.17 at 10:48 am

Raven @ 47 – yes, that’s a plausible reading. (I suppose the truth of those claims depend on things like how we understand “in the long run…” and the like!) The part that always puzzled me, though, was all the male character in the family in _Time Enough for Love_ (can’t remember the name) running to sign up for the Spanish-American war or something like that. That seems pretty hard to square with some of the other views.

Bianca @ 57 – I can’t remember for sure if I read that book (from what you say, and what I read on wikipedia, parts sound familiar, but I have no specific recollection of it) but it is things like that – some really weird sex stuff – (and I don’t mean weird in a good or interesting way…) that makes me doubt that I’d like the books now that I’m older and have more experience with people. (I think maybe there was some stuff about girls needing to bath all the time in _T0 Sail Beyond the Sunset_, too, though I can’t really keep these things straight now, and wouldn’t want to go try to check.)


Sasha Clarkson 09.15.17 at 5:36 pm

My late mother was a fan of several of Heinlein’s books and characters, especially the computer Mike in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Mum was born in 1928 in Kiev, and her childhood ambition was to be an engineer, so she’d have heartily approved of Heinlein’s letter to Delaware. Alas, war intervened and interrupted her education at a crucial point. She and her mother became refugees and her life took a different course. Her first cousin Galina stayed behind though, and became a ship’s captain in the Dniepr/Black Sea/Danube merchant fleet.


Raven 09.15.17 at 8:41 pm

Sasha Clarkson @ 63: You might be interested in my eldest aunt’s obit, as she had a similar life history (ethnicity, refugee, ambition, interruption). The obit errs a bit; her master’s was in mathematics, not art. Her family memoir is here.


Raven 09.15.17 at 9:42 pm

Lee A. Arnold @ 61: “Anyway if I were called upon to characterize Heinlein, he strikes me as having become a right-wing Cold War libertarian.”

The original claim, “rock-ribbed far right conservative” (#21), conveys authoritarian — the other end of the spectrum from small-L libertarian (as distinct from the capital-L political party… just as the lowercased meanings of democrat & republican are distinct from the capitalized party names).

So you are now making a claim opposed to Asimov’s.

And I’ll note that most “right-wing Cold War” ideology was the opposite of libertarian, e.g. this was just when “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance (1954), and Congress ordered “In God We Trust” added to all US currency (1955), as public religion [=Christianity] became an implicit federal requirement. You already know RAH’s opposition to that idea.

Heinlein wrote both fiction and non-fiction (for instance his address to the graduating class at Annapolis, “The Pragmatics of Patriotism,” in Expanded Universe); you can read both for yourself; you are not bound to other people’s opinions of his beliefs, when you can see for yourself what he expressed of his own beliefs.

As for “writers who knew Heinlein”: I will let Spider Robinson’s 1980 essay answer…

• “Heinlein is right wing.” This is not always a semantic confusion similar to the “fascist” babble cited above; occasionally the loud nit in question actually has some idea of what “right wing” means, and is able to stretch the definition to fit a man who bitterly opposes military conscription, supports consensual sexual freedom and women’s ownership of their bellies, delights in unconventional marriage customs, champions massive expenditures for scientific research, suggests radical experiments in government; and; has written with apparent approval of anarchists, communists, socialists, technocrats, limited-franchise-republicans, emperors and empresses, capitalists, dictators, thieves, whores, charlatans and even career civil servants (Mr. Kiku in The Star Beast). If this indeed be conservatism, then Teddy Kennedy is a liberal, and I am Marie of Romania.


bekabot 09.15.17 at 10:21 pm

The part that always puzzled me, though, was all the male character in the family in _Time Enough for Love_ (can’t remember the name) running to sign up for the Spanish-American war or something like that. That seems pretty hard to square with some of the other views.

The male character is Lazarus Long, and he signs up to get his ass blown off (as he puts it himself) because there’s no other way for him to continue to be a male-in-good-standing in the fin de siècle society of which he’s then a member. (It’s also a necessity if he’s to continue to be a credible candidate for his biological mother’s attention[s].) I think it’s important to note that he (Lazarus) joins up in stark opposition to his certain knowledge and to his convictions, which go down like kindling before a hurricane when the people who surround him start to show that they think differently. Heinlein even goes to the trouble of engaging Lazarus in an acrimonious conversation with his biological grandfather, in which he (Lazarus) lists in order all the (very good) reasons why he should not go off to war. Lazarus’s grandfather reacts to this piece of special pleading only with a superb scorn, but the scorn is enough; it does its job. Lazarus reports to the recruiting office as his society (which isn’t even his real society, since he’s a man of the future) has determined that he must, because he’s being given the choice between death and ostracism, and he’s decided (as people often do when confronted with these two alternatives) that it’s better to be dead than to be shunned.

This episode might be interpreted as Heinlein’s revenge on the predilection his culture (ours) had (has) for narratives in which one lone hero faces down a herd of fools and emerges victorious. Heinlein is saying that while such a thing is possible in the sense that there’s no law of physics which precludes it, all the same it’s not very likely (because while soldiers may be martyrs, lone heroes almost always are).

JMO as always, but I still think I’m right.


Brad DeLong 09.16.17 at 2:51 am

IMHO, the post-Sputnik Heinlein (and, in many respects, the pre-Sputnik one too) is best characterized as not as right-wing but as, rather, asshole. Right wingers, for example, were in favor of giving obsolete U.S. military hardware to independent communist Josip Tito in Yugoslavia. Heinlein wasn’t. Right-wingers realized that they had—starting with the 1964 election—made the Devil’s Bargain of raising the freedom to discriminate against African-Americans the most important individual freedom in America. Heinlein didn’t.

In fact…

Let me quote a section from the 2nd volume of Patterson’s (who was also an asshole) biography—a book the 2nd volume of which I sometimes think only I have read:

>Heinlein wrote to his brother Larry [in 1964]:

>>I don’t know whether Goldwater can be elected or not—or whether he can change things if elected. But I would like to see the United States make a radical change away from its present course.

>>I’m sick of bailing out Kremlin murderers with wheat sold to them on credit and at tax-subsidized prices, I’m sick of giving F-86’s and Sherman tanks and money to communists, I’m sick of undeclared wars rigged out not to be won—I’m sick of conscripting American boys to die in such wars—I’m sick of having American service men rotting in communist prisons for eleven long years and of presidents (including that slimy faker Eisenhower!) who smilingly ignore the fact and do nothing,

>>I’m sick of confiscatory taxes for the benefit of socialist countries and of inflation that makes saving a mockery, I’m sick of signing treaties with scoundrels who boast of their own dishonesty and who have never been known to keep a treaty, I’m sick of laws that make loafing more attractive than honest work. But most of all I am sick of going abroad and finding that any citizen of any two-bit, county-sized country in the world doesn’t hesitate to insult the United States loudly and publicly while demanding still more “aid” and of course “with no strings attached” from the pockets of you and me.

>>I don’t give a hoot whether the United States is “loved” and I care nothing for “World Opinion” as represented by the yaps of “uncommitted nations” made up of illiterate savages—but I would like to see the United States respected once again (or even feared!)… [sic] and I think and hope that the Senator from Arizona is the sort of tough hombre who can bring it about. I hope—But it’s a forlorn hope at best! I’m much afraid that this country has gone too far down the road of bread and circuses to change its domestic course (who ‘shoots Santa Claus’?) and is too far committed to peace-at-any-price to reverse its foreign policy….

>Heinlein’s political experience had been gained in a Democratic Party that had recently tripled its size and was wide open, young, and vigorous. Moreover, his basic training was in an impoverished organization, not at first supported by the party establishment…. His sudden emergence into the staid, long-established Republican organization in El Paseo County was not so much a fresh breeze as a hurricane…. He was effective, no doubt, but his style was an affront to the party hierarchy….

>Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 had come to a vote just before the nominating conventions, and Goldwater had voted against it. Heinlein understood Goldwater was not voting against civil rights: He was voting against federal enforcement of civil rights. In Senator Goldwater’s opinion, it was a matter for each state to do, individually, for itself, and, even more importantly, it was, at heart, a matter of the attitude of individuals, which could not be legislated by state or federal government.

>Goldwater’s opinion was Constitutionally “correct.” The U.S. Constitution had not specifically delegated this kind of power to Congress or the Executive, and it did reserve to the states any powers not specifically delegated. Lyndon Johnson, following the Kennedy brothers’ lead, used federal forces for the pragmatic reason that some states—George Wallace’s Alabama, for example—would not cede the rights of U.S. citizens unless coerced. “States rights” is a conservative issue in American politics, going all the way back to the Federalist Papers. Goldwater was where he belonged, after all—and perhaps also where he could do the most good on net.

>Heinlein’s notions on this issue probably remained more typical of a Democrat…. Enforcement of a citizen’s civil rights under the Constitution most assuredly was the business of the federal government. But it was an honorable disagreement over tactics, not over basic goals, and it meant that racism would become an issue in the campaign. The Republican National Convention nominated Barry Goldwater on July 15, 1964. His acceptance speech articulated a position that was to become iconic:

>>I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

>But it was another campaign liability: The extremism charge had been raised earlier in the campaign by fellow Republican Nelson Rockefeller, who was standing up for the reactionaries in the party—but it allowed Lyndon Johnson, as activist a president as existed in American politics since Lincoln (and “the phoniest individual that ever came around,” according to Goldwater, since Johnson had been lukewarm to civil rights prior to this), to position himself as a moderate and Goldwater as a lunatic extremist….

>At another meeting at Bob Laura’s house on August 1, he finally had more than he could take. Laura was temporizing over an offer of help Ginny had taken by telephone from a woman who identified herself as a Negro. He would take the matter up with his State Central Committee contact, Laura said, but his own reaction was: “Oh, they are free to go ahead and form their own committee.”

>Heinlein lost his temper for the first time in many years. He told Laura:

>>They offered to stick their necks out; we should have shown instant gratitude and warmest welcome.… I can’t see anything in this behavior but Jim-Crowism.… you were suggesting a Jim-Crow section in the Goldwater organization.

>>Mr. Goldwater would not like that. His record proves it.

>>Negroes are citizens, Bob.… It is particularly offensive, this year and this campaign, to suggest that Negro Goldwater supporters form their own committee.…

>He then ticked down a list of Laura’s administrative foul-ups, concluding:

>>—these faults can easily lose the county … [sic] and with it the state … [sic] and, conceivably, if the race is close, the Presidency itself.…

>>So I’ll try to refrain hereafter from offering you advice. But I think it’s time for you either to behave like a manager, or resign.

>Laura apologized for his part in the altercation.

>Ginny went into field work full time, and Heinlein agreed to handle an expansion of the county office now that the nominating convention was over and the campaign was ramping up in earnest. As Laura temporized on the Jim-Crow question, he gave Heinlein a personal criticism, not the first time he had heard it: “I know you don’t believe that anyone could consider you a ‘yes’ man. I wonder, however, if you can conceive of another’s opinion, differing though it may be, possessing any merit.”

>On this issue, no: The opinion that a Negro volunteer should be treated differently from a white volunteer possessed no merit whatsoever— and if that was “intolerant” in Bob Laura’s book, so be it. “I’m one of the most intolerant men I’ve ever met,” Heinlein noted to himself. “I had thought that, simply because I had uncustomary responses as to what I liked and what I hated that I was ‘tolerant.’ I’m not. I’m not even mildly tolerant of what I despise.”

>There were things more important than party unity in the Republican Party of Colorado….


>[For] Senator Goldwater’s television appearances… Robert wrote three thirty-second spots:


>>“Communist opinion” 30-sec spot.
Heinlein 6 Oct. 1964

>>When Goldwater was nominated, Radio Moscow said, “The Republican Party has been taken over by some pirates led by a sworn enemy of the Communist camp.” But after the Democrat Convention, PRAVDA, official Soviet newspaper, praised the Democrat platform. Why?

>>THE WORKER, official organ of the American Communist Party, says: “STOP BARRY!”


>>Why does every socialist, every Communist, every person intent on overthrowing our free government, scream for us to “Stop Goldwater!” Think it over.

>>In your heart you **know** he’s right.



>>“Shooting from the hip” 30-sec spot.
Heinlein 6 Oct 64

>>SOUND EFFECT— three rapid gun shots.

>>1ST VOICE (male or female, surprised and frightened): He shoots from the hip!

>>2nd VOICE (male, confident, hearty approval): And he hits the mark— every time!

>>3RD VOICE (female, confident): In this supersonic age, fast, accurate decisions are a must! Goldwater knows where he stands and doesn’t have to waste precious minutes looking it up. He flies supersonic fighter planes where a man must have split-second correct judgment to stay alive. He has more than four thousand hours as a military pilot. Toda … [sic] for us all to stay alive… [sic] the man on that hot-line telephone must have fast and accurate judgment.

>>Vote for Goldwater!

>>In your heart you know he’s right!



>>“Civil rights” 30-second spot.
Heinlein – 6 Oct 64

>>MALE VOICE: (Rising intonation, indignant unbelief) Goldwater against Civil Rights? NONSENSE! Here’s the truth: as a Phoenix City Councilman, Goldwater voted to desegregate the city airport restaurant. As chief of staff of the Arizona Air National Guard, Goldwater ordered desegregation. GOLDWATER’s department store was the first major employer in Arizona to hire Negroes on a regular basis. Goldwater says: “The key to racial intolerance lies not in laws alone but in the hearts of men.” In your heart you know he’s right! Vote for Goldwater!



>There is no evidence these spots were ever used…

Patterson Jr., William H.. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better 1948-1988 (pp. 251 ff.). Tom Doherty Associates.


Jack Morava 09.17.17 at 12:34 am

Heinlein was much subtler than he’s given credit for. `The Number of the Beast’, for example, is a series of critical essays on speculative fiction; consider the episode in which Gay Deceiver (the eventually sentient spaceship) visits Alice’s Wonderland and acquires her miraculous bathroom; or `The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag’; or the episode in Puppet Masters when they try to have sex on speed… He evidently had a rather multidimensional sex life (all that time in nudist colonies? his lifelong friendship, starting in grammar school, with; Lazarus Long’s very nubile twin female clones…). I don’t think anyone has really done him justice; as a complicated human being (not as a writer) he’s arguably worth comparing with Tolstoy.

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