D'Artagnon Posted September 23, 2014 Report Share Posted September 23, 2014 In the 1950's, the pulp fiction magazine scene in America exploded with a new flavor of science fiction. It took a nod to the science-fantasy writings of the turn of the century (Jules Vern and Edgar Rice Burrows come to mind), and started branching out in directions that the technology of World War 2 pointed us in. One of the early writers in this movement was Robert A. Heinlein. He began slowly, submitting stories while trying to make a living apart from writing. But the editors of the pulps he submitted to kept paying him and asking for more. Soon he was writing professionally full time, and never considered himself actually honestly working ever again. When he was asked why he wrote science fiction, he simply replied that he didn't write stories about the technical stuff, or flying saucers (this was the 1950's after all), but he wrote about the people for whom the technical stuff was their everyday life. As a kid, I found Heinlein's early stuff was kind of tame. Fun, good reads, but really idealistic and without a lot of the fighting and conflict that modern Sci-Fi over does in place of a good story. As I grew older and had other authors to compare Heinlein's writings to, Andre Norton comes chiefly to mind, I began to see something more. Beyond the surface of the story was this idea that he was testing social mores. Today, such things are a little more open and obvious. Mr. Heinlein was a master of subtleties, in a time when all sorts of media was under the gaze of a government terrified of communism and communist themes undermining American ideals. Many of his works envisioned and predicted the internet, global ease of communications, cell phones, the difficulties that international banking can have on the economy, and social engineering emerging with our advanced science. He also predicted that advances in science and culture would be opposed, primarily by religious zealots and political parties. At least two of his works were considered so controversial that in some places they are still on banned reading lists for high schools ("Stranger in a Strange Land" and "Farnham's Freehold"). He didn't break ground with the purpose of just being controversial. He wrote things to point out that while we think we're an advanced society, we often need to look at ourselves with as keen an eye as we turn to our universe. He approaches his characters with a sense of charm and wit that is sadly missing in a lot of stories these days. Of the influences on my writing, I count how Heinlein treats each character as their own personal hero of their own personal story as a primary lesson. He looks at the good and the bad of the character, whether that person is a hero of the overall story or the villain. He's more focused on the people and their motivations than the "stuff," which so much sci-fi expounds upon to the utmost. I recommend "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," "Between Planets," "Red Planet," "Tunnel in the Sky," "The Menace from Earth," "Farnham's Freehold," "Stranger in a Strange Land," "Friday," "Starship Troopers," "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls," "The Number of the Beast," and "Time Enough for Love." That should definitely keep any reader busy for a while. =P Mark C., Jeikor and A.B 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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