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  1. #1
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Locus Magazine on Robert Heinlein

    Interesting article about Robert Heinlein from Locus Magazine: http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives...rt-a-heinlein/

    Claims that whereas most people follow the Panshin idea of Heinlein's work, that it was in three phases:
    From 1939 to 1942, Heinlein wrote exclusively for the science fiction magazines, with John W. Campbell, Jr.’s Astounding Science-Fiction as his venue of choice (since it paid the highest rates). From 1945 to 1959, while still contributing to science fiction magazines, Heinlein focused most of his energies on breaking into more lucrative markets, including a famous series of juvenile novels for Scribner’s, stories written for “slick” magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, and film and television projects. And from 1961 until his death in 1988, Heinlein specialized in writing novels that were increasingly long-winded, idiosyncratic, and highly opinionated.
    Westfahl suggests that actually there were two:
    Thus, I wish to argue instead that there were, in fact, only two periods in Heinlein’s career: from 1939 to 1957, Heinlein wrote science fiction, and from 1958 until his death in 1988, Heinlein wrote satires of science fiction. Or, if that language seems too strong, say that from 1939 to 1957, Heinlein took his science fiction very seriously, and after that, he no longer took his science fiction seriously.
    Whilst I'm not totally convinced by the argument, it's a good article and the argument is put forward well.

    Thought others might be interested, though I do like this part from the beginning:
    Readers of contemporary science fiction might understandably grow impatient with commentators who keep talking about older science fiction writers, since they have largely been supplanted by new favorites in today’s marketplace. Still, there is at least one classic writer that every science fiction reader must come to terms with; for when you visit a bookstore today, the science fiction section may have only a few books by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, or even Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, and there may be few signs of their influence on other writers. But the works of Robert A. Heinlein are still occupying a considerable amount of shelf space, and the evidence of his broad impact on the genre is undeniable.
    (Even though they are not that available in the UK.)
    Mark

  2. #2
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Readers of contemporary science fiction might understandably grow impatient with commentators who keep talking about older science fiction writers, since they have largely been supplanted by new favorites in today’s marketplace. Still, there is at least one classic writer that every science fiction reader must come to terms with; for when you visit a bookstore today, the science fiction section may have only a few books by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, or even Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, and there may be few signs of their influence on other writers. But the works of Robert A. Heinlein are still occupying a considerable amount of shelf space, and the evidence of his broad impact on the genre is undeniable.
    The most famous science fiction authors the field has ever produced are H.G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke (a few decades ago we might have said Verne as well, but he's not as prevalent today). Even if people don't know the names, if you say, "The guy who wrote War of the Worlds," or "The guy who created geostationary communications satellites (sort of)," (or, for older people, "The guy who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey") they'd at least get the importance of them.

    Robert Heinlein is comfortably in the second tier of famous SF authors, standing comfortably next to Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick in the 'almost all serious SF fans will have heard of them' category, which remains an impressive achievement. A very important author in the historical development of the field, most certainly, but not someone who you can comfortably recommend to readers today beyond perhaps Starship Troopers. As quite a few people have been discussing on Twitter today, Heinlein wrote an inordinate number of books that were 1) total garbage (most of the last decade of his career, if not longer), 2) have dated horrendously (Stranger in a Strange Land is so much of its time it physically hurts to read it today) and 3) were on the 'uncomfortable' side of skeevy.

  3. #3
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead View Post
    Robert Heinlein is comfortably in the second tier of famous SF authors, standing comfortably next to Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick in the 'almost all serious SF fans will have heard of them' category, which remains an impressive achievement.
    Heinlein may be famous to people into SF but not very much to non-SF types.

    psik

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