Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

For Us, The Living, by Robert A. Heinlein

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-to-be-confused-with-we-the-living dept.

Sci-Fi 348

Sethb writes "For Us, The Living, Robert A. Heinlein's first novel, written in 1938, is not a lost masterpiece. It is, however, a fascinating piece of writing for the Heinlein fan to ingest. It's not a book you should give to a friend to introduce them to Heinlein, in fact, it works best as what it is, the last piece of Heinlein's work to be published, and it should almost certainly be one of the last pieces someone starting to read Heinlein should attempt." Read on for Sethb's review. M : CBC also has a feature about the book.

The book starts with an excellent foreword from Spider Robinson, a friend of Heinlein's as well as a fan, and an excellent Sci-Fi writer in his own right. Spider lays it all out for you in the foreword: this book isn't strong on stories, it's strong on ideas. People who found Heinlein's later works too preachy should steer clear, as this book is probably his preachiest. Robinson speculates that Heinlein really wanted to convey his radical ideas, having just lost a political race, and spent too much of the book standing on the proverbial soapbox, and not enough telling a good story. He says that Heinlein learned from this, and went on to become a master storyteller, learning that people are much more likely to sit still for the lecture if it's embedded in a gripping story.

And that leads me to exactly what's wrong with For Us, The Living. There's very little story in it. There is a plot, and it goes like this. Perry, our hero, (n reality a thinly veiled version of Heinlein himself), is involved in a car accident in 1939, and wakes up in the year 2086 in the body of someone who looks very much like himself, but the original inhabitant of the body chose to end his life (shades of Stranger in a Strange Land here). Our Hero was discovered in the snowy Nevada mountains by a woman named Diana, who is a professional dancer and lives in the mountains. She takes him back to her place to recover, and they're lounging around her house naked by the second page of the book.

From then on, the rest of the book is primarily spent following our hero as he is lectured (literally at times) on the ways of the future, covering topics such as polygamy/polyamory, nudism, the stupidity of jealousy, economics, religion, and the treatment of criminals as patients who need to be cured, rather than miscreants who need to be punished. Many of the ideas that turn up later in Heinlein's books, especially his later books, appear here for the first time. The book is very much, as Spider calls it in the foreword, Heinlein's literary DNA. This is the primordial ooze from which the later books, (Time Enough For Love, Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and dozens more) are formed.

I found Heinlein's predictions of the future very interesting. Since the book was written in 1938-1939, the world hadn't witnessed World War II yet, though Heinlein predicts it. In his version, the U.S. stays out of the War, and Europe eventually self-destructs. Heinlein gets quite a bit of the future right, and quite a bit of it wrong. For instance, in 2086, they still haven't landed a man on the moon, though they're working on it. And, while in the future everyone has terminals (seen in later Heinlein novels) from which they can access live video and audio, information is still printed on paper and transported physically via pneumatic (and magnetic) tubes. But, given that it was written before the atomic age, those things are forgiven, and they're part of what makes the book interesting to read.

It's very obvious why this book wasn't published in 1939 -- it's not very good. Also, much of the subject matter is so controversial and sexual to this day that no major publisher would have dared print it then. The book is a bit rough, and a bit "off" in places. For instance, Heinlein uses a two-page footnote(!) to give us Diana's life story, rather than weave it into the story or the dialogue, something he'd never do in his later work, and the story only starts to get compelling in the last 50 pages or so, once the bulk of the lectures are past us.

So do I recommend this book? Yes and no. If you're a Heinlein fan, and you've read most, if not all, of his other work, then you'll love this book, and you should get a copy right now. It's a great snapshot of Heinlein's writing while he was still struggling to define it himself. If you've never read a Heinlein book, don't start here, pick up Starship Troopers, or Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. If you've read a few Heinlein books, read a few more before you try this one, especially Time Enough For Love, and his later works. I've read everything he ever published, and was sad when I finished off The Menace From Earth, as I'd run out of Heinlein to read. This book provided me with one more thrill, and it made me appreciate how strongly Heinlein held his convictions, and how far he came as a writer, from this, his first attempt.

Now that Bob & Ginny Heinlein have passed on, however, this is almost certainly the last significant piece of Heinlein's writing left unpublished, and for us, the living, it's fun to have something new from the Grand Master to curl up with on a cold winter night.


You can purchase For Us, The Living from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to submit a review for consideration, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

cancel ×

348 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

If this is not the first post... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702176)

...I will spread peanut butter on my nuts and present them to my neighbor's rottweiler.

As always, links to pictures will be posted.

Text of article in case it gets /.ed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702734)

[Posting AC so I can't be accused of karma whoring.]

For Us, The Living, by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by timothy on 12-12-03 11:00
Sethb (jew) writes "For Us, The Living, Robert A. Heinlein's first novel, written in 1938, is not a lost masterpiece. It is, however, a fascinating piece of writing for the Heinlein fan to ingest. It's not a book you should give to a friend to introduce them to Heinlein, in fact, it works best as what it is, the last piece of Heinlein's work to be published, and it should almost certainly be one of the last pieces someone starting to read Heinlein should attempt." Read on for Sethb's review. M: CBC also has a feature about the book. For Us, The LIving
author Robert A. Heinlein
pages 288 pages
publisher Scribner
rating 3
reviewer Seth Bokelman
ISBN 074325998X
summary Great piece for die-hard Heinlein fans, not for newbies.

The book starts with an excellent foreword from Spider Robinson, a friend of Heinlein's as well as a fan, and an excellent Sci-Fi writer in his own right. Spider lays it all out for you in the foreword: this book isn't strong on stories, it's strong on ideas. People who found Heinlein's later works too preachy should steer clear, as this book is probably his preachiest. Robinson speculates that Heinlein really wanted to convey his radical ideas, having just lost a political race, and spent too much of the book standing on the proverbial soapbox, and not enough telling a good story. He says that Heinlein learned from this, and went on to become a master storyteller, learning that people are much more likely to sit still for the lecture if it's embedded in a gripping story.

And that leads me to exactly what's wrong with For Us, The Living. There's very little story in it. There is a plot, and it goes like this. Perry, our hero, (n reality a thinly veiled version of Heinlein himself), is involved in a car accident in 1939, and wakes up in the year 2086 in the body of someone who looks very much like himself, but the original inhabitant of the body chose to end his life (shades of Stranger in a Strange Land here). Our Hero was discovered in the snowy Nevada mountains by a woman named Diana, who is a professional dancer and lives in the mountains. She takes him back to her place to recover, and they're lounging around her house naked by the second page of the book.

From then on, the rest of the book is primarily spent following our hero as he is lectured (literally at times) on the ways of the future, covering topics such as polygamy/polyamory, nudism, the stupidity of jealousy, economics, religion, and the treatment of criminals as patients who need to be cured, rather than miscreants who need to be punished. Many of the ideas that turn up later in Heinlein's books, especially his later books, appear here for the first time. The book is very much, as Spider calls it in the foreword, Heinlein's literary DNA. This is the primordial ooze from which the later books, (Time Enough For Love, Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and dozens more) are formed.

I found Heinlein's predictions of the future very interesting. Since the book was written in 1938-1939, the world hadn't witnessed World War II yet, though Heinlein predicts it. In his version, the U.S. stays out of the War, and Europe eventually self-destructs. Heinlein gets quite a bit of the future right, and quite a bit of it wrong. For instance, in 2086, they still haven't landed a man on the moon, though they're working on it. And, while in the future everyone has terminals (seen in later Heinlein novels) from which they can access live video and audio, information is still printed on paper and transported physically via pneumatic (and magnetic) tubes. But, given that it was written before the atomic age, those things are forgiven, and they're part of what makes the book interesting to read.

It's very obvious why this book wasn't published in 1939 -- it's not very good. Also, much of the subject matter is so controversial and sexual to this day that no major publisher would have dared print it then. The book is a bit rough, and a bit "off" in places. For instance, Heinlein uses a two-page footnote(!) to give us Diana's life story, rather than weave it into the story or the dialogue, something he'd never do in his later work, and the story only starts to get compelling in the last 50 pages or so, once the bulk of the lectures are past us.

So do I recommend this book? Yes and no. If you're a Heinlein fan, and you've read most, if not all, of his other work, then you'll love this book, and you should get a copy right now. It's a great snapshot of Heinlein's writing while he was still struggling to define it himself. If you've never read a Heinlein book, don't start here, pick up Starship Troopers, or Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. If you've read a few Heinlein books, read a few more before you try this one, especially Time Enough For Love, and his later works. I've read everything he ever published, and was sad when I finished off The Menace From Earth, as I'd run out of Heinlein to read. This book provided me with one more thrill, and it made me appreciate how strongly Heinlein held his convictions, and how far he came as a writer, from this, his first attempt.

Now that Bob & Ginny Heinlein have passed on, however, this is almost certainly the last significant piece of Heinlein's writing left unpublished, and for us, the living, it's fun to have something new from the Grand Master to curl up with on a cold winter night.

Who? (-1, Flamebait)

nepheles (642829) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702185)

Would somebody care to explain who Henlein is, and why his book is on the front-page of slashdot.org?

Re:Who? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702239)


There's a very well done bio of Heinlein on Yahoo [yahoo.com] . Well worth the read.

Re:Who? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702284)


Criminy. Check the link, mods! Informative indeed!

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702303)

He sounded like a fascinating man, I'll have to pick up a book of his to try out. Thanks for the link.

Re:Who? (-1, Offtopic)

Savatte (111615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702244)

Robert A. Henlein invented the toilet, the clapper (but not the Clap), and the coal-powered computer monitor.

Ok, I don't really know either

Mod parent DOWN you fucking moron nerds. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702314)

You really don't know how to use your fucking newly-given mod points do you, you fucking nerds?

Fuck you all.

Re:Who? (3, Interesting)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702456)

actually, heinlein, while imo a mediocre author did give the english language a valuable gift: the word grok [reference.com]

grok:
1. To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge.
2. Used of programs, may connote merely sufficient understanding. "Almost all C compilers grok the "void" type these days."

Re:Who? (1, Informative)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702687)

Why bother with grok?

What about things like:
Waterbeds
Waldos (and I don't mean "Where's Waldo")

Re:Who? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702246)

Heinlein is one of the founding members of Al Qaeda and well known Slashdot troll. More information can be found in his journal here [slashdot.org] .

Re:Who? (1, Insightful)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702255)


Are there still people who haven't heard of Google [google.com] ? Or Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702913)


Hmm.. let's see if I've got this:

1) Article on Subject X
2) Post asking "What is X?"
3) Post with relevant google/wikipedia links to X
4) ??
5) Flamebait!

Nice job, guys.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702257)

Scientology. He once said that one sure way to being rich was start your own religion. Boom, next year Dianetics.

Re:Who? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702278)

That's Hubbard, silly.

You call yourself geeks?!!! Sheesh... (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702535)

Actually, Heinlein & Hubbard were talking, and Heinlein said that the starting a religion was a sure way to get rich.

Hubbard went out and did it.

Re:You call yourself geeks?!!! Sheesh... (1)

Maskull (636191) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702708)

Nope, that story is an urban legend. Although there is reasonable evidence that Hubbard did say something like, "The way to get rich is to start your own religion," or something similar, Heinlein had nothing to do with it. Not his style.

As an aside, my doctor worked for Heinlein many years ago. When he quit, Heinlein gave him autographed copies of all his books, as well as the typewriter that he used to write Stranger.

Re:Who? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702289)

I think you mean L. Ron Hubbard.

Re:Who? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702625)

Thought that was Sturgeon. Am I wrong?

Re:Who? (1)

ekephart (256467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702260)

I would also like to know at what point I am no longer "starting to read" Henlein? I want to make sure I read this book at the right time.

Re:Who? (5, Funny)

tds67 (670584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702267)

Would somebody care to explain who Henlein is...

1. Heinlein invented a maneuver that can save a person from choking.

...and why his book is on the front-page of slashdot.org?

2. There is no new SCO news today.

Re:Who? (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702324)

2. There is no new SCO news today.

Yeah, and also no "Nintendo is dying / Spam Sucks" stories either :)

Re:Who? (-1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702349)

*gags* HEINLEIN MAN*GAG*

"...what?"

*gag* hein *GAG*"

"Your hyman's been removed?"

Re:Who? (-1)

michael noah (515401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702412)

Eddie Izzard is the funniest man? alive.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702742)

1. Heinlein invented a maneuver that can save a person from choking.

This action is called 'The Heinlick Maneuver' and is often not performed due to concerns for hygiene.

He's your mom, bitch. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702280)

Now shut your fucking trap before I smack you senseless.

Re:Who? (5, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702308)

Probably one of the best writers of science fiction.

Ever heard of Red Plant or Starship Troopers? Stranger in a Strange Land?

He won Hugo awards in 1956, 1959, 1961, and 1966. He's had other works nominated for the award. He was published for over 50 years.

He also has written quite a bit of nonfiction.

Re:Who? (1)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702704)

Probably one of the best writers of science fiction.

And inventor of the water-bed.

Re:Who? (-1, Troll)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702343)

He was the 20th Century's best science fiction author, and he's on the front page of Slashdot because Malda and crew are interested in him (it's amazing how many people still haven't figured out that Slashdot is, always has been, and probably always will be "News that interests Malda and friends").

Personal recommendation: Read "The Past Through Tomorrow" as an intro into the Heinlein universe, then go read "Time Enough for Love", probably the best science fiction book ever written (although a lot of people dispute that and say it was "Stranger in a Strange Land"...)

Re:Who? (0)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702413)

heinlein? best?

no way - he just wrote about weird alient sex...

IMHO, Asimov, Card are well above heinlein..

Re:Who? (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702616)

Bradbury, too.

Perhaps not so much sci-fi as "life-fi", but a phenomenal, prodigious author. Try "Twice-22".

Re:Who? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702798)

Asimov focused more on hard science fiction, while Card focused on social issues. I loved the Foundation series, the series starting with Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, but I still feel Heinlein's my favorite author. He falls somewhere between Asimov's and Card's respective focii.

"We, the Living?" (3, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702588)

What year did Ayn Rand publish "We, the Living"? This title sounds awfully similar.

And we all know that Heinlien was notorious as a raving libertarian looney. Hell, he's practically slashdot's patron saint.

Re:Who? (0)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702652)

Who's Malda? I've never seen him post and I've been here a long time.

Re:Who? (1)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702695)

I don't know that I'd classify him as "the best" but he was certainly one of the best and a pioneer in many, many ways.

Any collection of information, whether a magazine, a web site or an anthology, is almost always "stuff that interests the editor(s)." What would you recommend, that the editors in charge of selecting content go out searching for stuff that bores them to tears?

Re:Who? (2, Insightful)

ksoltys (303989) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702369)

Robert Heinlein was probably the most influential science fiction writer of the 20th century, possibly the most influential American writer of the 20th century. He didn't create modern science fiction single-handedly, but he dominated the field from his first short story in 1940. It's impossible to estimate how many scientific and engineering careers were launched by his juvenile novels of the 1950s, but the number must be huge.

Go to www.heinleinsociety.org to find out more.

Re:Who? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702671)

I don't know, Arthur C. Clark is quite influential as well. Heck some of his ideas actually got implemented, that scores really high on my influential board.
I suppose he might have been less easily readable then heinlein though.

Quickshot.

Re:Who? (4, Informative)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702733)

possibly the most influential American writer of the 20th century.

No. The most influential American writer of the 20th century was probably ole Ez (Ezra Pound), another socred believer, and a treasonous bastard, who nevertheless dramatically affected the literature of the US and Europe from 1914 on, influencing Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Frost, Williams, cummings, and pretty much every writer listed in your common literature anthologies after 1925. Next most influential American? Maybe Pynchon. You may not realize the influence they had on the way you understand books, but they did have a significant influence.

Heinlein was a great pulp SF writer, but his influence on SF, or literature and culture in general, was only slightly greater than Asimov's or Clarke's. Given the "harder" science of Clarke's work, I'd argue that he had more influence on the future scientists and engineers of the world than Heinlein. Rand had more influence on politics (to our undying regret), and Hubbard, well, his influence for the worse is pretty easy to see, isn't it? The person who really dominated SF in the 40s and 50s was John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding/Analog who developed Asimov, Heinlein, de Camp, van Vogt, and many other famoust SF writers.

The most influential 20th c. SF *writer* might be Capek, who's important for more than just R.U.R. - he was an important figure in pre-WWII Czech (and European) cultural politics. I'd argue that the best SF writers who've gone were Herbert and Dick, with Heinlein and Asimov not that far behind, and that the best who are still around are Lem and Vinge. Heinlein is fun, and has a lot to say, but he has two major weaknesses: he's self-indulgent and repetitive.

Re:Who? (4, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702392)

Robert A. Heinlein. Very prolific and influential SF author, active from the 40s through the 80s. One of the grand old men of the genre.


I read great heaps of RAH in high school and my early college years. One of my "first loves" in SF. I'm less of a fan now, and see a lot of his stuff as dated and politically cranky . . . but his best stuff holds up well.


Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was already mentioned. A great YA novel.


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Libertarian moon colony vs. heavy-handed Earth authorities.


Time for the Stars. Under-appreciated YA novel about telepathic twins used to communicate with starships.


Waldo. Actually a novella. Genius-nerd with atrophied muscles, not satisfied with bedrest, builds . . . waldos.


Starship Troopers is a wonderful, obnoxious polemic.


Stefan

Re:Who? (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702771)

Wasn't Heinlen the person who originally gave the waldo its name?

Re:Who? (1)

Moekandu (300763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702874)

I think the "Heinlein Juveniles" are gread reads. In addition to many of them mentioned here, I've always enjoyed Starman Jones and Space Cadet.

The title short story, The Menace from Earth is probably one of my favorite stories in general.

Friday is probably one of my favorite representations of the new archetype that's been growing in our Collective Unconscious in the last seventy or so years: The Sexy Badass Chick.

Moekandu

Re:Who? (2, Informative)

mr_ekim (301315) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702399)

Robert Heinlein was a science fiction writer, possibly very well known recently because his book, "Starship Troopers" was made into a movie several years ago (although most people already knew about him anyways, especially ones who were literate). I'm sure you heard of that movie, unless you have been living in the caves of Afganistan recently. His book is on the front page of slashdot because he writes science fiction and I heard this rumor that nerds like science fiction. Using my incredible deductive skill of using my eyes to deciper written words, I can see that the phrase underneath the Slashdot title states "News for Nerds".

Re:Who? (4, Interesting)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702423)

Please tell me you're trolling.

Taking the hook: Robert Heinlein was a science fiction writer who wrote a large number of books, most famously Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. He was a libertarian who infused his books with political and social theory. His "Future History" stories 1939-1950 ("If This Goes On", "Methuselah's Children," "The Man Who Sold The Moon," etc.) trace the development of American and world culture from the aftermath of the "Crazy Years" (basically the sixties on steroids) through the early interplanetary age to a short-lived totalitarian theocracy and into a an age of world government, near-immortality, and interstellar flight.

The other famous novels (not really in the Future History series) are The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Job.

Heinlein had a good reputation as a guy who tried to help out struggling SF writers (one example: PKD) in trouble.

His book is on the front page of slashdot because SF is one of the core elements of what slashdot considers to be nerdism.

By the way, on social credit: one major proponent of social credit was the poet Ezra Pound, who ended up following that line of thought unfortunately into support for the Mussolini regime, treasonous radio broadcasts during WWII, and a long stay in St. Elizabeth's mental hospital outside DC to avoid a conviction on treason charges. Not the direction Heinlein went in, obviously, but an interesting comparandum.

Grok (4, Interesting)

gruntled (107194) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702452)

If you're familiar with the word "grok" -- used to indicated grasp something completely, on every level -- you know Heinlein's work. The word is from Stranger In a Strange Land, arguably his greatest book, and a work that helped define science fiction for several generations. Heinlein's stories are classics; one of my personal favorites -- blanking on the title at the moment -- was about a society in which all citizens are required by law to carry guns. Duels are common, and everybody is incredibly polite :-). (I disagree with that objective, but I found the concept well-executed. As it were). Heinlein often exhibted a kind of crypto-fascist ideology on a certain level (read the book Starship Troopers and you'll get more out the humor within the movie), but it's not clear whether he actually believed it or was just being provocative. Sadly, much of his output after Stranger -- which came out in the early sixties -- was largely derivative of his earlier works.

Re:Grok (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702721)

one of my personal favorites -- blanking on the title at the moment -- was about a society in which all citizens are required by law to carry guns. Duels are common, and everybody is incredibly polite :-).

Sound's like H. Beam Piper's Planet for Texans. Indiscriminante killing is outlawed but shooting politicians is ok. Piper was a lot like Heinlein in his political outlook but rather more prudish in his social mores.

Re:Grok (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702825)

I've heard Grumbles from the Grave described as proving that later on, Heinlein merely wrote what his fans wanted to read.

Re:Who? (1)

Snowspinner (627098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702762)

Sure, as soon as you explain why someone who doesn't know who Heinlein is would read /. at all.

Re:Who? (-1, Flamebait)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702835)

Well, basically Heinlein was a dirty old man who wrote crap sci-fi.

I've never quite understood why he's so popular. Most of his books seem to concentrate on advocating unregulated capitalism (check out The Cat Who Walked Through Walls) and old men lusting after (and sometimes having sex with) young women.

TOASTER! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702210)

toaster,toaster toaser, do you have toast in you yet i think [rowdyruff.net]
so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Im not a toaster!!!!!!!!!!And one more
thing........YOUR A TOASER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND A COOKIE WITH MILK SOAGE
MILK!!!!!!!!!!AND A BUTT WITH POOP IN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A GREAT Read. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702241)

I highly reccommend this to anybody who is interested in the vague topic area covered by this book.

Heinlein does a great job of explaining the way Californians are perpetuating their state's misery, the way ghosts are sometimes seen through peoples windows.

It is a very good pickup, worth at least a look at the library or a perouse through the pages at Borders.

He's not the best writer in the world, but he does a good job of explaining the subject matter.

He is one SF author I reallly miss. (3, Interesting)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702252)

I've always liked his style. I admit that his main caracters were all essentally the same core personality, but I can truly say that I seriously enjoyed most all of his writing. This will be something I will get no matter what.

Ouch (5, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702286)

Heinlein's *preachiest* book?

Thats right there on my TODO list with:
i) Jim Carrey's wackiest movie,
ii) Todd Rundgren's most experimental synthesiser sounds,
iii) Elvis Presley's most sugary ballads
and
iV) JRR Tolkein's most esoteric back-of-an-envelope scribbling, lovingly -- and profitably -- edited by his hack son.

Re:Ouch (4, Funny)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702675)

iV) JRR Tolkein's most esoteric back-of-an-envelope scribbling, lovingly -- and profitably -- edited by his hack son.

Ooo! Ooo! How about Frank Herbert's most esoteric back-of-an-envelope scribbling, lovingly -- and profitably -- edited by his hack son? [penny-arcade.com]

The lesson here (3, Insightful)

b-baggins (610215) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702299)

Is to make totally sure you've destroyed EVERY copy of a manuscript you never want to see the light of day, because after you're dead, some self-serving snot will publish it for the world to see and who cares about your wishes in the matter.

Raging paranoia necessary (5, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702459)

Is to make totally sure you've destroyed EVERY copy of a manuscript you never want to see the light of day, because after you're dead, some self-serving snot will publish it for the world to see and who cares about your wishes in the matter.

Hey, we're already at the stage where Douglas Adams had an unfinished book recovered from his hard drive and published.

If you want to be safe, use a word processor on a computer that never connects to a network (could recover data on the network), restrict your copies to removable disk to those you would be happy being published or are able to destroy, and at some stage physically destroy the hard drive beyond any possible recovery.

In fact, do the same to *any* part of the computer that might (even temporarily) have held your data, including the monitor.

Paranoid? Well, I'm trying to second-guess information recovery in 20-30 years time, and I defy anyone to say that this will never happen.

Of course, the radiation from your monitor probably induced microscopic interference in the TV signal your VCR is recording nearby, and with advanced signal-processing and pattern-recognition, your great lost tome is recovered from an episode of Dawson's Creek you taped back in 2003.

Yuk.

Sorry, but it must be done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702720)

Paranoid? Well, I'm trying to second-guess information recovery in 20-30 years time, and I defy anyone to say that this will never happen.

This will never happen.

that is all.

Re:The lesson here (4, Insightful)

PinkStainlessTail (469560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702529)

If not for one of those snots [pitt.edu] we wouldn't have much Kafka to read. Sometimes going against an author's wishes is the right thing to do. Sometimes.

This post should include something about goats... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702774)

Anonymous Coward is the Samuel Pepys of the digital age.

Be afraid for the future, very afraid!

Re:The lesson here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702938)

It has always seemed to be that Kafka's repeated admonishments to Brod were tongue-in-cheek. "Don't you dare publish these masterpieces posthumously just because I am too insecure to do it myself, OK?" Sure.

The other difference here is that Brod was not a moron.

Re:The lesson here (0)

MukiMuki (692124) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702659)

I just wanna point out that the EXACT same thing happened to Tezuka's "Metropolis" (not to mention that the main robot character's gender was swapped); in fact, in an interview with the producer, it's very clear that he made it knowing full well that Tezuka would not have approved of the project, as he turned down all pervious requests while he was alive.

Sort of a "James and the Giant Peach" situation.

Re:The lesson here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702769)

You know what? I'm kind of glad some people take it upon themselves to release works posthumously. Especially musical compositions.

Contradiction (1)

sprekken (623464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702304)

For Us, The Living, Robert A. Heinlein's first novel, ... in fact, it works best as what it is, the last piece of Heinlein's work to be published, and it should almost certainly be one of the last pieces someone starting to read Heinlein should attempt.

Is this just a mis-type, or is his first novel the last one to be published...?

Re:Contradiction (1)

michael noah (515401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702376)

It is not a mistake. The novel was lost. You could search back on slashdot to find where (some guys garage IIRC), and has only recently been published.

Yes (-1)

ToSeek (529348) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702394)

RTFA

Nope. It's not a contradiction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702398)

literally the first novel he ever wrote (and tried to sell) was the last novel published.

to more accurate 'latest novel published' or 'published thus far' would be appropriate -- particularly given the longevity of post-humous publishing anymore.

i'd be willing to bet this is by no means the only manuscript he shopped that didnt' sell.

likely there's another half-baked manuscript in a closet somewhere that'll be published by his estate the next time they'd like to drum up some cash.

Re:Contradiction (1, Insightful)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702403)

No, it is correct. This was not even a trunk novel. It was quite simply, aborted. The world was not yet ready, and the writer was not yet accomplished enough to convey the ideals.

Now, it has come to see the light of day.

It was his first, I actually would assume he would not have wanted it published, but I will read it anyway.

Re:Contradiction (2, Informative)

palironsat (529925) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702445)

Nope, this one's legit. This one was just recently discovered, according to this [heinleinsociety.org] article. While I admit that it's kind of cool that they found something like this and could publish it, I'm not sure of how good an idea it is - it was obviously unpublished for a reason. And according to a couple of reviews (particularly the one that this article mentions), that might be for the best... Of course, I'm still buying it. I have to round out my collection somehow.

Re:Contradiction (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702458)

I enjoy describing the book as, "Heinlein's first novel which is also his last novel but there were several others published in between and this one was published after he died."

There are no contradictions. If you think something is contradictory, examine your premises (or on /. RTFA).

So, basically... (-1, Flamebait)

JLSigman (699615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702305)

...he was a pervert into incest and the like from the beginning?

Good to know. I'll steer clear of this one, too.

Re:So, basically... (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702679)

In Time enough for love, Lazarus Long goes to great lengths to teach his children the dangers of incest. To the point of inbreeded many generations of guinea pigs and photographing the deformed and stillborn pups.

In To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Maureen works hard to keep two of her children from being involved with each other. The book may be considered as an epic from the lessons Maureen learns as a parent along the way.

Heinlein Published Just One Novel (5, Insightful)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702309)

The first novel of Heinlein's I read was "Time Enough for Love", and it made a huge impression on the teenager I was. I loved it.

Then I read "Stranger in A Strange Land", and I thought it was very similar in important respects, but I still liked it.

I went on to read several more of his books and short stories, and eventually I came to feel that he simply took the same central ideas, wrapped them in a thin veneer of different characters, and re-published them as a "new" book.

MAN, did I quickly grow tired of him!

(It did NOT help that I think his politics suck.)

Asimov is the Grand Master, not Heinlein. (In my opinion.)

Re:Heinlein Published Just One Novel (3, Insightful)

CodeWanker (534624) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702572)

I read my first Heinlein book (Red Planet) when I was 8, and I've read and re-read most if not all of his writing a LOT since then (I'm 34 now and still grab a bit of Heinlein now and then.)

IMHO, everything he wrote before Stranger in a Strange Land is awesome science fiction... And everything there and since is pretty Frakking awful. Except Friday. And now, not only do we have the Friday exception, we have the For Us, The Living exception.

From what I can tell from reading, For Us, The Living as a title is in part an homage to Ayn Rand (We The Living.) Heinlein was so much better when his characters practiced their philosophy instead of preaching it.

If you want to enjoy a great science fiction author, read Heinlein pre-Stranger. Especially The Puppet Masters and Double Star. I've read them both a dozen times and I still tear up like the fanboy I am at the last page of each one.

In fact, I can quote the last line of The Puppet Masters by heart: The free men of Earth are coming to kill you. Death and destruction!

See? Fanboy goosebumps and a tear in the eye. Lazarus Long and Valentine Michael Smith ain't gonna do that for anybody... Frakking hippies.

Re:Heinlein Published Just One Novel (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702956)

My first Heinlein book: "Space Cadet", age 9. My favourite: "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress".

Re:Heinlein Published Just One Novel (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702717)

My first was The Green Hills of Earth ... I even came up with my own tune to the poem by that name. And that was when I was in 4th grade.

Asimov the Ink Generator (0, Offtopic)

Coz (178857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702821)

I love Dr. A's work, but he produced so d@#n MUCH of it! The Robot stories alone qualify him for Grand Master status; the Foundation takes a much longer-term look at history and the forces that drive it than RAH really did, his short stories fill volumes... it's not uniformly Great, but it's almost always interesting. The problem is, it takes months or years to work your way through it all - on the other hand, it's not over so quickly. I could probably keep myself happy for a couple of weeks on the proverbial desert island with just the Robot and Foundation books and stories.

Then there are the hundreds of non-fiction works he authored, then edited (later). He's one of the ones I still miss, because I know if he were still alive, he'd still be writing, and I'd still be looking forward to his next work.

Re:Heinlein Published Just One Novel (5, Insightful)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702989)

In my experience this seems to happen a lot, especially with teenage boys. My first Heinlein was Starship Troopers and I still thinks its was of the best books ever written. But the more you read of Heinlein, especially his later stuff like I will Fear no Evil the more you begin to either really hate or really love him, becuase he really does go all Ayn Rand at the end there.

But in a way thats good I suppose. If people either love you or hate you then you must really be saying something.

Realism (4, Funny)

sssmashy (612587) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702311)

Perry, our hero, (in reality a thinly veiled version of Heinlein himself), is involved in a car accident in 1939, and wakes up in the year 2086 in the body of someone who looks very much like himself, but the original inhabitant of the body chose to end his life (shades of Stranger in a Strange Land here). Our Hero was discovered in the snowy Nevada mountains by a woman named Diana, who is a professional dancer and lives in the mountains. She takes him back to her place to recover, and they're lounging around her house naked by the second page of the book.

Well, come on. The poor guy hasn't had an erection in 147 years. I'm surprised he waited until the second page to start getting it on.

Re:Realism (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702854)

At least he didn't wake up inside the body of Diana.

Thanks, but... (4, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702344)

Thanks for the review...I'll probably check it out, as I've read about 85% of Heinlein's work. However, you recommend people start with "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel?" I'm sorry, that was not one of his better works. It was actually rather...lame. The characters were weak, the story was extremely thin. Invaders from space? You don't say. Try "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress." That was far and away one of the finest books I have ever read.

Re:Thanks, but... (1)

reidbold (55120) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702526)

Spot on man. Spacesuit was pretty pop corn. And The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a masterpiece.

Re:Thanks, but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702530)

Two different genres there. "Spacesuit" is juvenile fiction, and "Mistress" is not.

My guess is you are no longer a juvenile (or at least weren't when you read it) and are less likely to enjoy that kind of book.

Predicted WWII? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702431)

the world hadn't witnessed World War II yet, though Heinlein predicts it. In his version, the U.S. stays out of the War, and Europe eventually self-destructs.

The US did enter World War II and Europe did not self-destruct, the US and Russia destroyed it. So what exactly did Heinlein predict?

We're bastards, we should start acting like it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702641)

I think that we should destroy Europe again! And Russia!

Come on, America! Let's do what Napoleon and Hitler were to wussy to pull off!!!!

Re:Predicted WWII? (2, Informative)

JASegler (2913) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702803)

Although I haven't read the book the comment was straight forward to understand.

Heinlein predicted the war. However, he predicted the US stayed out of it and Europe self-destructed.

In actuallity the US WOULD have stayed out if not for Pearl Harbor. Because of Pearl Harbor, we did get involved and deviated from Heinlein's prediction.

So in answer to your question, he predicted the war, but got the outcome wrong. Although I don't think you had to be psychic to predict a war occuring in the late 1930's.

-Jerry

Re:Predicted WWII? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702915)

he predicted the war, but got the outcome wrong.

To be credited with a prediction, shouldn't you guess the outcome correctly?

About what I expected (4, Insightful)

Unknown Kadath (685094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702465)

I was thinking this would either be a cruder version of his earlier work, or a polemic. The fact that he hung on to it suggests it was important to him, so I'd suspected it involved his prevailing themes (sexual freedom, personal responsibility, etc.)

Heinlein hated the direction he foresaw the world taking, and it came out more and more in his later works, when he could write pretty much anything and his publisher would print it. I confess to liking Number of the Beast, but lord Bob almighty, it certainly can't compare to Stranger or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I'm glad Heinlein took the time to refine his craft.

That said, I'm kinda looking forward to reading what sounds like a Mary Sue story that neither he nor Ginny would ever have let see the light of day during their lives.

-Carolyn

Re:About what I expected (1)

gruntled (107194) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702566)

Maybe. But I've been writing professionally for 20 years and I never throw anything away, no matter how crappy it is. Stories are like children...

Also, it makes it easier to steal from yourself, which is the only way to make money; you keep selliing the same story over and over.

Actually, he didn't hang onto it(+) (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702813)

He had given a copy to a friend and it was found, he later destroyed all the copies he had. Or so the story goes...

Slightly off topic.... (1, Interesting)

Neop2Lemus (683727) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702505)

Whats a good book of his to start with please?

He's the one scifi author I have yet to read.

Re:Slightly off topic.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702917)

Moon is a Harsh Mistress, definitely - but keep in mind it was written in the early 60's for the computer stuff.

Also, Double Star, Glory Road, and Job - some of his best works, and often overlooked.

An Ominous Parallel (1)

aduzik (705453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702622)

Hmm... "For Us the Living"? Try "We the Living" published four years earlier by Ayn Rand. Title thief! (Actually, for the record, I've never read "For Us the Living", but I have read "We the Living")

Re:An Ominous Parallel (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702740)

I thought the title was kind of ironic, since Grumbles from the Grave was published posthumously.

I want to be a paperback writer (5, Funny)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702643)

Goddamn Heinlein,

Give it up! Yer supposed to be dead for chrissakes! STOP WRITING!!!

Give us unknown nobodies a chance huh?

Thanks.

Re:I want to be a paperback writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7702782)

It's his last book.

I understand now he's going to release a rap album.

Part of a series (5, Funny)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702672)

The second, following We, the Living [amazon.com] . It will be followed by Stephen King's We, the Dead. Then the series continues with Jerry Garcia's unpublished autobiography, For Us, the Dead. Finally it will be concluded with a Michael Crichton book, We, the terminally ill, but feeling better today. Perhaps there's still hope for a transplant.

At least he did not start his own religion!!!! (1)

nexusone (470558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702681)

As some other well know Sci-fi writter.

I love a lot of diffrent writter's works, but it is the religion and politics they get into sometimes I can live without. Just stick to writting guy's, that is what you do best.

Belay that (2, Informative)

pvera (250260) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702789)

I believe the last Heinlein you should read is "I will fear no evil." I almost did not read "Stranger in a Strange Land" because I had the misfortune to read "I will fear no evil" first.

Postmortem publication (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702823)

Remember those L. Ron Hubbard billboards? "Ten Bestsellers - and More to Come!" that appeared after he was dead? Scientology put those up during that weird period when it wasn't clear whether Hubbard was dead or not.

Decent Review (2, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702837)

This sounds exactly like the kind of book I would like to buy.

Short stories, too! (3, Informative)

vcohen (588583) | more than 10 years ago | (#7702878)

In addition to the geat novels others have mentioned here, be sure to check out All You Zombies, a (short!) short story that's one of the tightest time-travel tales you'll ever read. Originally published in 1959, you can find it in The Fantasies of Robert A Heinlein, a short-story collection. There's also a full copy online somewhere, posted by an English prof. for his class but accessible to anyone.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>