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Heinlein's Last Novel Coming in September

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the pages-out-of-time dept.

276

Frightened_Turtle writes "Robert Heinlein's last novel, Variable Star , will be released in September. Completed by Spider Robinson at the behest of Heinlein's estate, the novel is based on the notes and outline created by Heinlein for the novel over 50 years ago. It was set aside and forgotten when Heinlein went to work on other projects. The story follows the life of Joel Johnston who — after having a fallout with his girlfriend and going on a bender — wakes up on a starship bound for the stars. Spider Robinson has done an excellent job maintaining Heinlein's style and flow throughout the novel. Want to check out the story for yourself? You can download the first eight chapters online from the 'Excerpts' link on the site as they are released over the next few weeks."

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276 comments

Scared, I am... (2, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002007)

While I haven't had the chance (obviously) to go read the first eight chapters of the book, these always feel to me like I'm going to end up with something like the recent "Tom Clancy" books -- some sort of author-inspired but mostly-ghost-written things that, despite being written in the STYLE of the autor, will just fall short.

(Insert gratuitous joke about Tupac and Biggie albums here...)

Re:Scared, I am... (2, Informative)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002078)

But unlike most ghost written crap, this is being finished by a very good author (and alumnus from my college :-p). I think Robinson's up to it, should be a good read (though it might contain some very bad puns)

Re:Scared, I am... (1, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002242)

But unlike most ghost written crap, this is being finished by a very good author

Very good authors have their own names on their books, not a famous corpse's.

Re:Scared, I am... (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002287)

Very good authors have their own names on their books, not a famous corpse's.

No, very good authors have their own names on their books, though in some cases, a corpse's name may also grace the cover when said corpse worked on the book. Observe:

http://variablestarbook.com/images/variable-star.j pg [variablestarbook.com]

And if you're really digging into the history, such VGAs have existed before. Arthur C. Clarke is, for example, on that list, having co-written Richter 10 with the person that he initially farmed the idea out to, but who died before completing it.

To boot, there are many who would argue that Spider Robinson (on the merits of the books that are purely his) is a better writter than Heinlein. I'm not sure if I'm one of them or not, as I enjoy both authors for different reasons.

Re:Scared, I am... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002532)

I might just speaking from the repeated frustration of piking up an "Asimov" book, starting to read it, and 30 pages in, realising it's crap, checking the cover more carefully to find the small print "based on" or "inspired by"... if you have faith in this author, and you really think the book idea was abandoned beacause of outside factors and not a good judgement call from the author, then by all means, go ahead and enjoy :)

Re:Scared, I am... (3, Informative)

moggie_xev (695282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002567)

Spider Robinson is an excelent author in his own right. I own atleast 5 of his books and he is known to be an old time Heinlein fan. He is the best choice I can think of to do the job and I suspect it will be a good book. I not sure if they have the names the right way round on the cover though :)

Re:Scared, I am... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002679)

But unlike most ghost written crap, this is being finished by a very good author (and alumnus from my college :-p). I think Robinson's up to it, should be a good read (though it might contain some very bad puns)

The words 'very good author' and 'Robinson' don't belong in the same sentence except where one is being indicated as not equivalent to the other.
 
Robinson once had great promise - but he's never lived up to it. Instead, he's merely been writing and rewriting the same story with the same wooden and forgettable characters. (Which is a real shame - because during the original Callahan's series, he had an excellent touch for creating memorable characters.) His later works are made even more tedious by his inability to go more than a page or two without repeating a cultural reference already made twenty seven times (either in that work or earlier) or superimposing his political or computer biases - even when such references or superimpositions have nothing to do with the story at hand.

Re:Scared, I am... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002983)

I agree, Spider's very good, and I think he can keep to the style. I remember competing in a pun contest with him in Vancouver BC, and I still feel a bit apologetic about that virus I gave his skinny Mac way back when (seriously, I did test the programs out on fat Macs and my dual floppy Mac SE, but ...).

He'd be on my short list of authors to do it.

Looking forward to it when it's in print!

Re:Scared, I am... (2, Informative)

L7_ (645377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002193)

same with the new Dune book... Hunters of Dune.

We'll see if the authors can hold true to the Frank Herbert's legacy.

Re:Scared, I am... (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002299)

We don't have to wait. Kevin Anderson and Herbert's son have already done a trilogy. While it may have been okay, it was nowhere close to the original Dune Series.

Re:Scared, I am... (2, Informative)

big-magic (695949) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002383)

Not quite. The recent Dune books (prequels and sequels) were written by Brian Herbert (son of Frank Herbert) using notes left by this father. They do not claim to be written by Frank Herbert. Although I have not read them, my understanding is that the Dune books written by Brian Herbert received decent reviews.

Re:Scared, I am... (3, Informative)

fumblebruschi (831320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002558)

Especially since the reason Heinlein set aside the unfinished book and forgot about it was probably that he'd decided it wasn't any good. In the years after Hemingway died, his heirs kept publishing "new Hemingway novels" that were really just unfinished books he'd abandoned because he thought they weren't going anywhere. (The result being that future generations will think Hemingway didn't know the difference between his own good writing and his own bad writing.) In this case I can't see any grounds for optimism, since A) Heinlein abandoned the book, which suggests he didn't think much of it himself, and certainly means he never went back and edited it; and B) it's being "finished" by a guy who has shamelessly fan-wanked over Heinlein (see Robinson's embarrassingly bad article "Rah Rah R.A.H.") and who firmly believes Heinlein can do no wrong, so will probably not edit those parts of the unfinished story that need editing. Robinson is one of those people who confuse the "I like Heinlein's writing" school of being a fan with the "I embrace Heinlein as my personal savior" school. So, unfinished and probably subpar book + adoring and uncritical editor = waste of paper.

In this case, it may be an improvement... (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002643)

While I really liked Heinlein's older novels, his more recent output failed to impress me. The depth and suspense were simply not there anymore, at least not in the degree I was used from Heinlein.
Same for Tom Clancy BTW, and for similar reasons.
Now Spider Robinson is at least reasonably good at storytelling, and his version may actually be better than what Heinlein might have written in his old days.

Re:In this case, it may be an improvement... (3, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002884)

While I really liked Heinlein's older novels, his more recent output failed to impress me. The depth and suspense were simply not there anymore, at least not in the degree I was used from Heinlein.

I'd go even farther and say that Heinlein's last few novels were awful. As he went further along the protagonist became an older and older man who was having sex with younger and younger women. In my (humble) opinion he peaked at around "The Moon is Harsh Mistress".

I loved Heinlein as a kid, but re-reading him as an adult, he's just too absolute, too certain... "this is the way things are, anyone who disagrees with me is a fool". If I want to see that, I can read slashdot.

Re:Scared, I am... (2, Insightful)

stevey (64018) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002721)

I have the same fear, and by way of example I'm going to present the Dune Prequels.

Good authors (apparently; I've not read their independant books) including the son of Frank Herbert, but the novels were just .. flat. Or outright "wrong".

In fact it is hard to think of a good example of an estate/relative finishing off novels once the primary creator had died. The only one I can think of is Christopher Tolkien - and he faired only poorly in some areas. (Mind you the amount of papers that J.R.R Tolkien left behind I think he was damn lucky to get anything coherant out of them - so this isn't meant as a criticism of him.)

Re:Scared, I am... (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002812)

Those are "Tom Clancy" the brand, not Tom Clancy the author. The straight-to-paper books are more like designer clothing with the Clancy label.

So this is not Heinlein's novel (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002011)

Nice way to capitalize on the author's name though.

Re:So this is not Heinlein's novel (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002882)

Even worse to capitalize on Peter Parker's unfortunate accident and call yourself "Spider".

Worth Buying (5, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002012)

The Variable Star project is intended to help the Heinlein Trust continue to fund the $500,000 Heinlein Prize [heinleinprize.com] for commercial manned spaceflight

It's worth buying just for that!

wow yes (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002139)

Thanks for the link! I did not know about this prize. What a worthwhile use of the old man's fortune. What a pity he did not live to see Rutan's SS1 and so forth.

Great! (2, Interesting)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002017)

I'm an unabashed Heinlein fan. I've read enough Spider Robinson to feel that he's up to the task.

I'm really looking forward to this.

Re:Great! (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002053)

I have to agree. If I can't read the Grandmaster's own words, Spider comes a close second.

Re:Great! (1)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002112)

Yeah...there's something about not reading Heinlein's actual thoughts and words that just turns me off to this idea.

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002067)

I'm an unabashed Heinlein fan. I've read enough Spider Robinson to feel that he's up to the task. I'm really looking forward to this.

I'm an unabashed Heinlein fan. I've read enough Spider Robinson to feel that he's not up to the task.

Let's Make this Political! (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002257)

Heinlein was a right wing libertarian type. Spider is a lefty hippy anarchist type. Both are great writers, but if you can't stand reading political views that don't agree with your own, I suggest staying away from one or the other.

Just guessing, but you're a libertarian type, aren't you?

Re:Let's Make this Political! (1)

F1re (249002) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002503)

Have you ever read 'Stranger in a Strange Land'?

Re:Let's Make this Political! (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002779)

I think Heinlein was a libertarian first and right-wing second. So the idea that unusual sexulal relations between consenting adults are OK is not surprising from him.
Besides, some libertarian ideas (like personal responsibility rather than a nanny state) are often associated with "conservative", correctly or not. That may make Heinlein look more right-wing than he really was.

Re:Let's Make this Political! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002781)

Yeah, and libertarianism is a form of anarchism. But 'Stranger in a Strange Land' does not make Heinlein a hippy left leaning anarchist. Spider is more along the lines of Ursala K. LeGuinn.

Re:Let's Make this Political! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002767)

Wow... if you consider Libertarian views to be right-wing, you must come from waaaaaaay left... you anarchist :)

I do think that Libertarian is far more correct than right-wing.

Heinlein definitely did not believe that participation in our political processes should be given as a right, rather earned by service to the nation in whatever form. When you have contributed to something you tend to have more of a vested interest in its well-being.

He definitely didn't believe in the current form of "criminal rehabilitation" (HA!). In his views actions should have very direct consequences, not an adult version of "time-out" with cable and three squares a day. It obviously didn't work when they were children, what makes you think it will magically work on them as adults?

I realize that you were trolling for comments, but let's not lump moderates with right-wingers

Does that mean no sex scenes? (2, Insightful)

PhineusJWhoopee (926130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002035)

Plot line over 50 years old? Does that mean no sex scenes?

ed

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002050)

If my parents and grandparents are any indication, people were *probably* having sex 50 years ago.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (3, Funny)

Escherial (806342) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002080)

But were they having sex scenes?

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002103)

> But were they having sex scenes?

The moon is a harsh mistress.

Corollary: A mass driver respects no safeword.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002117)

Since this is 1950's science fiction, it's the petri dish version.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002104)

You've obviously never read Heinlein's other works.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Commando (6326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002083)

You've obviously never read any Heinlein...

*sigh*... (2)

PhineusJWhoopee (926130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002113)

...there were very few sex scenes in his novels prior to about 1968-ish. Then, it was like he was on literary Viagra.

ed

Re:*sigh*... (1)

Anonymous Commando (6326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002140)

ah yes - I seem to mostly remember his later stuff, I guess - wonder why? :-)

Re:*sigh*... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002203)

I had the misfortune to read that first novel of his that was recently released (the one that kept getting rejected or what-not). That book was full of sexual tension all over the place and you can see the basis for all of his later stuff. After reading that I was more suprised that there wasn't any sex in a lot of his earlier works.

Re:*sigh*... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002275)

By that time he was probably famous enough that he could demand his works not be edited. Boy was he wrong.

Boy Scouts (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002342)

Well, a lot of his early work (although not everything by any means) was aimed directly at the Boy Scouts, for publication in their magazine. And back then, they weren't out, so pretty much no sex scenes.

Re:Boy Scouts (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002437)

He did a juvenile novel every year up until his publisher (Scribner's) rejected "Starship Troopers". His editor at Scribner's was apparently difficult to put up with and when the rejected ST, it was the last straw. After that he focused on writing for adults and had several huge break-out novels including Stranger in a Strange Land, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, etc. and his editors basically stopped editing him.

Re:*sigh*... (3, Interesting)

Demolition (713476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002410)

...there were very few sex scenes in his novels prior to about 1968-ish.


Probably because his editor and/or publisher objected to them. Overtly sexual passages in fiction were frowned upon in the increasingly puritanical morality of the 1950s. Even subtle hints of sexuality were banished. This was done in the name of saving our innocent virgin minds from such filthiness.

But, then the swinging 1960s rolled around and it wasn't such a concern, anymore. That attitude prevailed until the 1980s, when Heinlein really began to cut loose. As an example, "Friday" is probably the best-known Heinlein novel from the 1980s, and it's not because it was an outstanding literary work.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (2, Interesting)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002090)

Am I the only one who read Heinlein's later novels?

If Mr. Robinson stays "true to form", it's going to be all 12-year-olds trying to get into the grizzled old man's pants.

Look, nobody cares about Piers Anthony, he can get away with -- with -- with whatever he wants to, twice, chocolate-covered. It always amazes me that Heinlein gets a pass on the latter end of his Future History.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002101)

hmmm, I'm not so sure... havent you heard of viagra? Even a dead man will get stiff! The sex scenes may be forced underground in the book though...

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (2, Funny)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002119)

Yeah, because Heinlein never wrote about sex. Or drinking.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002219)

Nobody seems to get the joke, which is that Heinlein's earlier books were more-or-less sex-free, or at least keeping it to a minimum, while his later books got more and more randy and referenced group sex, underage sex, incest, and other taboos. I'm not Heinlen-ologist, but it seems the turning point was Stranger in a Strange Land, which was an excellent book. Some of the later ones seem to be more dominated by the sex themes, and very light on substance. In other words he slowly transitioned from young serious author to mature exploratory author to dirty old man.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (5, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002301)

Heinlein put plenty of sex into his adult novels (his teen novels are another thing). But he didn't seem to feel the need to describe it. Perhaps he felt that if you were old enough you could supply the details from your own experience, and if you were young enough, encouraging your fantasies would only distract you from the novel.

He didn't even spend much time describing his men and women sexually. Few female characters were introduced with a description of their breasts, for example, although you might learn about their cup size by and by, somewhat incidentally. It's like the way you only learn late in the books and somewhat incidentally that Dr. Richard Ames is black and Lieutenant Rico is Hispanic.

Indeed, I think one of the reasons Heinlein is popular among geeky types is because he emphasized the sexual attractiveness of mind, character, and accomplishment. The fastest way to a Heinlein heroine's heart was witty repartee or a devastatingly clever and insightful argument...you know, the /. ideal for comments, +5 Sexy, that kind of thing.

correction (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002684)

OK, brain fart, Rico is Filipino. Oops.

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002701)

He didn't even spend much time describing his men and women sexually. Few female characters were introduced with a description of their breasts, for example, although you might learn about their cup size by and by, somewhat incidentally.

I take it you haven't read Number of the Beast ...

Re:Does that mean no sex scenes? (1)

darklordyoda (899383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002783)

Oh dammit. I'll read the rest of the comments once I finish reading "The Cat who Walks Through Walls".

What is coming next (3, Funny)

UR30 (603039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002036)

A new play by Shakespeare? Poems by Poe? Nonfiction by Carl Sagan?

Re:What is coming next (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002070)

Another Dune novel or three, of course! :)

Re:What is coming next (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002089)

Non-fiction by Carl Sagan? *Now* you just joking.

Re:What is coming next (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002263)

On a similiar note, one of the few sc-fi/fantasy novels that I have kept and re-read is "The witches of Karres" by James Schmitz. Recently I found out that there was a sequel wrtten by a bunch of writers (Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer). When I saw it on the shelves I heard warning bells going off in my head which I should have heeded. They had the same characters and a similiar plot to the first book, but managed to totally miss what made the original (IMO) a great yarn. I also remember seeing a flame war between one of the writes and someone who told them to their face that the book was crap.

I have no idea what this Heinlein'ish book will be like as I haven't read andy of Spiders work, but I might sample the download to see if it stinks or not before I commit to giving money.

However I fear that the download stunt is only to drum up business for a book that may not deserve to exist.

Re:What is coming next (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002307)

A new play by Shakespeare? Poems by Poe? Nonfiction by Carl Sagan?


Puh-leeze.

We'll get another Tupac album first.

Re:What is coming next (1)

leoPetr (926753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002341)

In 1994, we were blessed with a new Jules Vernes novel [wikipedia.org] .:P

Re:What is coming next (1)

myster0n (216276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002961)

A fact about French copyright law (as Verne was French) : as that Jules Verne novel was written in 1863 and first published in 1994, you'd think that the first time it was published it was already in the public domain, but it isn't.
In the case of posthumous works, copyright lasts always until 70 years after the death of the author. But if those works are revealed only after this lapse of time, the time of protection falls at 25 years from January 1 of the year it was published.

Same writing style? (5, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002072)

So it will be full of gratuitous sex in every possible combination of the following?

Hetrosexual
Homosexual
Incest
Self
2-way
3-way
Orgy

And occur with in the realms of:
This universe (now)
This universe (time travel, forward and backward)
Parallel universes

Between people who are:
Real
Imagined
Living
Life-After-Death
Multiple people sharing the same skull

And that's just with the human characters. Heaven knows what interpsecies liasons will occur.

Boy did I read too much Heinlein when I was young.

Re:Same writing style? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002150)

LOL too true!
You can factor out most of the weirdest stuff by pretending that "The Number Of The Beast" and "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" were written by somebody else.

Re:Same writing style? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002209)

You can factor out most of the weirdest stuff by pretending that "The Number Of The Beast" and "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" were written by somebody else.

No... no, you really can't.

Heinlein wrote some good stories, but dude, his characters had a habit of fucking anything that moved (or were about to move, or might be moving in an overarching multiverse), and some things that didn't move. Kinda makes me glad I somehow missed his books when I was a teenager. My head probably would have spun off my neck like a top.

Re:Same writing style? (4, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002285)

Heinlein wrote some good stories, but dude, his characters had a habit of fucking anything that moved (or were about to move, or might be moving in an overarching multiverse), and some things that didn't move. Kinda makes me glad I somehow missed his books when I was a teenager. My head probably would have spun off my neck like a top.


Are you kidding? That's why I was thrilled to find his stuff as a teenager.

Re:Same writing style? (3, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002191)

Wait, are we talking about Piers Anthony now?

Re:Same writing style? (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002277)

Nah, he's referring to what would happen if William S. Burroughs had actually written everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Except he left out the drugs.

Re:Same writing style? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002293)

You forgot to add a little spanking too.

Re:Same writing style? (1)

grappler (14976) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002452)

Hetrosexual
Homosexual
Incest
Self
2-way
3-way
Orgy ...
Multiple people sharing the same skull


yikes!

Re:Same writing style? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002898)

Boy did I read too much Heinlein when I was young.

Too much? You make it sound like you read a lot of his stuff. You can complete that list in, what, 2 or 3 books?

The Heinlein Paradox... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002091)

What's the odd of someone screwing up a relationship, going on a bender, and ending up on a starship?

Re:The Heinlein Paradox... (3, Funny)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002235)

"What's the odd of someone screwing up a relationship, going on a bender, and ending up on a starship?"


They must be fairly low. I've never ended up on a star ship.

Re:The Heinlein Paradox... (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002356)

Hint: Consider whether or not the events are independent [wikipedia.org]



Answer: The event will almost surely [wikipedia.org] occur.

Re:The Heinlein Paradox... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002387)

I didn't realize that I just step into a pile of probability dog poo. I thought you needed time travel for that. :)

Here's hoping (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002095)

I'm the biggest Heinlein fan ever, but "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" left a pretty bad taste in my mouth as his last novel. Maybe this one (even though he wasn't really involved) will help me remember him more fondly. (although there's always Lazarus...)

Re:Here's hoping (2, Interesting)

MasterThis (903688) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002164)

That's what I'm wondering -- is this the early/mid Scifi Heinlein, or the late (post "Moon is a Harsh Mistress") new age Heinlein?

Smelting (-1, Offtopic)

aersixb9 (267695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002192)

Did you know you can melt (most) plastics in a saucepan, and then pour the liquid plastic into a mould? (Or drip mould it yourself)

Spider Robinson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002254)

I've no great objections to Spider Robinson as an author, but completing Heinlein? I think I'd much prefer John Varley for the job.

Though I have the feeling this is going to wind up like E.E. "Doc" Smith's posthumous books (Family D'Alembert. IIRC): a scenario from Smith, with Smith's name prominently plastered over the book over, and a sneaking suspicion that 95% of the text was produced by the author "completing" the work.

Story outline is not enough... (4, Interesting)

aralin (107264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002256)

The one thing I am afraid of is that the story outline is usually just 20% of why Heinlein books were so great. He used the story and the environment it created for the characters to really present some new ideas and concepts and make the reader think about it. Heinlein books are often filled by strong ideas and concepts one appearing right after another, keeping your brain working all the time. I often found myself not remembering what the last 5 pages were about, because my mind run away with one of those ideas. He is so unlike other authors in this aspect. For most authors, the story outline would be enough for another writer to finish the book, since the main idea is usually also the only idea in the book and the rest is just sauce and random words and maybe nice story.

So I am really sceptical this would reach the quality of other Heinlein's books.

Re:Story outline is not enough... (2, Informative)

dracphelan (916527) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002760)

I completely agree with you. Some of his greatest novels dealt troubling or taboo subjects involving human nature. Some examples are: Farnham's Freehold - Racism A Stranger In A Strange Land - Religion The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - Government Time Enough For Love - Mortality, Love The Long Patrol (may not be remembering the title right) - Duty What I have always loved most about Heinlein's work is that it was never really about the technology. It was about people and how they interact. It was about what it takes to be a human being who is worth more than the chemicals that make up the body. Even in his juvenile novels, he wrote about what it takes for a boy to be a man. The last unpublished Heinlein novel I tried to read (Requiem?) was horrible. I could see why he chose not to publish it. Hopefully, this one will be better.

Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002260)

...or does this sound a lot like the premise behind the TV show Red Dwarf [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Is it just me... (1)

AndyboyH (837116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002378)

Strangely, I thought that too. I wonder if Grant Naylor (well Rob Grant and Doug Naylor) read the original incomplete version?

Even so, given the popularity and brilliant humour of Red Dwarf (at least in the UK...) I don't think it's worth worrying about

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002386)

Thought so myself but didn't want to first-post that on a story about Heinlein.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002768)

Its not just you

after having a fallout with his girlfriend and going on a bender -- wakes up on a starship bound for the stars


All it needs now is a left luggage locker and a box of ouroborus batteries.

Spider (3, Funny)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002270)

I guess that Spider Robinson truly groks Heinlein... Has anyone checked his corpse lately?

Must have been asleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002308)

Even if it's for only my benefit, I have to say it - Heinlein who?

Sorry. Make fun of me if you feel the need to.

Re:Must have been asleep (1)

nullChris (222844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002477)

Considered by many to be the father of "modern" science fiction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinlein [wikipedia.org]

Re:Must have been asleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002575)

Ok, fine, I looked at the Wiki article.
I recognized many of the book names.

But I can honestly say I don't remember hearing his name before.

Oh no, not the hippy heinlein (2, Funny)

VAXcat (674775) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002355)

Of the dozen or so Heinlein style writers extant today, it's a shame they picked the feckless hippy of the lot, Spider Robonson. I'd have vastly preferred one of the hard science Heinlein style writers (such as Varley, or maybe VInge) to the hippy dippy, dated, peace love dove style of Robinson, who wouldn't know real knowledge of physics if it knocked the bong out of his hand and spilled it all over his hand knotted macrame rug, inside his dome house.

Heinlein was a Dirty Old Man (1)

Ashen (6917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002372)

My bets are that it will be about an old man that hooks up with a young chick. Or two.

Either way, it couldn't be worse than The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls, could it?

Re:Heinlein was a Dirty Old Man (1)

VAXcat (674775) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002430)

Teh only thing that I've seen that was worse than The Cat Who Walks Through Walls was Job: A Comedy of Justice. Oh wait, there was To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Now, don't get me started on Keith Laumer's post-stroke novels...

This just isn't fair (0, Troll)

bw-sf (937673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002649)

Why is this vile, talentless hack being given an opportunity to commit further crimes against literature and the English language twenty years after his long-overdue demise? There is not a worse writer in any language or any genre than Robert Heinlein. He is atrocious. By comparison, Jewel is a Nobel-winning poet, Shatner is an Oscar-nominated actor and Scientology is a sensible and sane belief system.

Re:This just isn't fair (1)

Attaturk (695988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002822)

If you start off on a premise far from that of the mainstream i.e. this extremely popular classic science fiction author is a "vile, talentless hack being given an opportunity to commit further crimes against literature and the English language twenty years after his long-overdue demise" then it might be an idea to qualify that statement with something a bit more worthwhile than "he is atrocious." In other words, don't tell us you hate him. Explain to the dear readers why you hate him. For they might otherwise take you to be as nutty as he was. ;-)

I've got an unearthly urge to cringe (1)

Delzuma (862349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002661)

But so long as Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson aren't the writers doing this I'll give it a chance. Anything's better than what those mediocre half-wits are passing off as Dune books.

It was the 60's (1)

Nitewing98 (308560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002690)

A lot of Heinlein's later writing was influenced by the times. It WAS the 60's, after all. AND lived in California.

His best work was from '61 on, if you ask me.

BTW: I'm a huge Heinlein fan, so I admit I'm not objective. He was born in Butler, MO, 50 miles south of Kansas City, where I live.

If there is just a 20% chance that it's any good, (1)

Whoah (954857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002694)

then I'll be glad to have had one more "Heinlein-esque" novel to enjoy. I love that guys stories.

FirsT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16002731)

plainl7 states that

Post mortem releases... now required. (2, Insightful)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002775)

First it was Douglas Adams' Salmon of Doubt, where in Douglas Adam's own words his final manuscripts were published.

Then it was the final book of the true dune series that was originally envisioned by Frank Herbert is now published (I don't know the name but I've heard more then enough about it).

And Now we have this.

What is it with people who have now basically gone around and robbed the grave? I mean Douglas Adams' salmon of doubt wasn't good but it was at least his work. Frank Herbert's son basically is robbing the grave here, and of course now this person's estate is now just asking for more money. It would be one thing if the person was dying and needed the money to go to a fund to save him from some sickness or cure other people, but in the end it's really just greed. I will give props to Brian Herbert, he at least has worked in his father's universe long before the final book was released, but even then his work has been far below his father's that to see him work on his father's last manuscript must be like watching a guy who shoots paint from his butt touch up a Picasso.

It's not that these people arn't well intentioned, they want to be loving with their work, but the fact is they will always change the work that they work on because it's the nature of the creative process.

Every time I see a post mortem release, whether it be a play (of course the script not being good enough or not being finished at the time of his death), a movie, a Cd, or even a book, I always feel a little sick and a little disgusted at the ultimate greed of man, especially when it's one of those platnium covered memorial copies that some groups try to sell fans.

so that means (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002809)

So that means he's not going to write anymore books?

Then this is Heinleins 2nd post humous book (1)

aliscool (597862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002829)

Grumbles from the grave was published a year or two after his death.
Really just a hodge podge of shorts stories and other material never published before, and quite frankly not very good IMHO.

Would have been way better if..... (1)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002838)

The basis of this book would have been way better if he woke up in a Yugo bound for the stars.
  Come one, finding yourself on a starship naturally leads to the "bound for the stars" conclusion.

Just finished Heinlein's FIRST novel... (2, Informative)

libertytrek (918855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002904)

"For US, the Living" www.heinleinsociety.org/newsFUTL.html Very interesting, with a forward by Spider, and an afterward by Robert James. You can definitely see the seeds of many of his best works in this novel - highly recommended...

Finally... (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16002950)

Heinlein will be in the esteemed company of V.C. Andrews, cranking out product with his name on it from beyond the grave!!!
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