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  #401  
Old 08-07-2013, 02:59 PM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Door has always been one of my favorites. The "ick" factor about marrying a younger woman whom he knew when she was 11 doesn't bother me in the least, because it was never portrayed as Davis being a perv or lusting after the young'un. It was more a case of soul mates doing what was necessary to be for each other, be it time travel or cold sleep.

I have to admit a lot of the charm is because of Pete.
I don't get the "ick" factor either. My current wife was 4 years old when I started college. No I did not know her then.

I had to waste some time with other, wrong women, but eventually it all came together. No cold sleep, quite a bit of time travel by just letting time elapse at it's normal rate.

My cat, in the Winter or when it is raining, makes me check each door to see it the weather is different outside one or the other.

Last edited by Dallas Jones; 08-07-2013 at 03:02 PM.
  #402  
Old 08-18-2013, 10:44 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Friday Volume XXIV of The Virginia Edition

Another of Heinlein's later works, this one is the second of the 'late Heinlein' novels that appeared in the 1980s. It was a nominee for the Hugo, the Locus and the Nebula awards.

For the life of me, I can't see why.

In the end, this is a character study of a woman. Fine. But the character isn't all that great. She's constantly on the run and having her moves forced on her. She's more a reactor than an actor. Along the entire route she runs (she spends most of the book on the move) she makes decisions tactically, but never strategically. She is, simply put, a protagonist who is not in charge of her own life.

In the introduction, James and Patterson go far around the barn trying to define Friday as a feminist work but I have trouble buying it. Yes, Friday the character is capable and smart, that's nice. But two things work against perceiving the character as a feminist icon. First, she's that way as a result of genetic manipulation. That's certainly not the fault of the character but it does take away from seeing her as an example for others. Second, the overwhelming naivete shown by the character on several occasions. Friday is simply not a self-aware nor self-actualizing person (if I can wander into cant). Not unlike the Mary Cavanaugh character of The Puppet Masters - who is also a highly competent person in her own right but seems content to surrender that part of herself when a family situation comes along - Friday seems to think that holding her own value alone is secondary to the need to be a part of a family. Hell, at one point late in the book she states that she now knows she's human because she had a human baby. In effect, the character is defining her value solely through the concept of childbirth and all of her other accomplishments fall by the wayside. Urgh. Dangerous territory for a male writer.

Heck, even in the very end when she lists what she does in her new, quieter life, her position on her town council is 'secretary'. That's likely inadvertent but ugh, what a choice for a position for a soi-disant feminist character.

Hell, at times Friday even appears childlike and simple in her response to others and situations. Some of that stems from her own insecurities - which stem from the prejudice her society shows against those people in their midst who are designed and not born through chance - but at other times it seems to stem from the character simply being childlike. That's all well and good, but it's not an example of what I would call feminism. Not even the rebelling-against-calcified-feminism that James and Patterson claim that Heinlein is attempting to confront.

Honestly, Friday the character is interesting, but more in what she says and thinks than in anything she does. An interesting aside is her continual denigration of people she perceives as 'amateur'. However, that seems to change depending on her mood. In the opening chapter, upon being captured and interrogated, a character, Pete, who is holding her allows her to hit the toilet when she needs to. She refers to Pete as being 'amateurish' while noting that making a captive break toilet training can be useful in breaking someone. Late in the book, she again meets Pete and refers to his boss as an 'amateur' for disciplining Pete for allowing her to use the toilet.

As a character study of an isolated woman attempting to regain control of herself, I suppose Friday is worthwhile. But as an adventure yarn or as a novel that can grip the reader I find it lacking.

The one place the book does shine, however, is in the worldbuilding. In the book, which is a direct in-universe descendent of the earlier novella Gulf, the United States and Canada have broken up into at least these nation-states:
  • Republique de Quebec
  • British Canada
  • The California Confederacy
  • The Chicago Imperium
  • Las Vegas Free State
  • The Atlantic Union
  • The Lone Star Republic
  • The Kingdom of Mexico

However, looming over it all is the existence of ultra-powerful multi-national corporations. While we - in our world - have concerns about how much influence corporations have, in the world of Friday it's much stronger. Corporations in Friday field their own private armies and use them to enforce their will on other corporations and nation-states. Early in the book, Interworld (the employer of a supporting character) destroys Acapulco - and theoretically more than 1 million people according to the 2012 census of the metro area - and the perception is that Mexico was silly for not caving in earlier and forcing Interworld to take that step.

Other interesting parts of the worldbuilding are the existence - and prejudice against - artificial persons (genetic constructs that look like humans) and living artifacts (genetic constructs that do not look like humans). Friday herself is an AP and suffers from significant character issues deriving from the discrimination she fears even though she's been successfully passing as a natural born human for most of her life. That insecurity is her driving force, the need for commonality and the acknowledgement of her humanity. Still, in the end it's others who achieve this for her, not herself that does so.

I could wish, if Heinlein were truly attempting to write a book to challenge the then-current perception of radical feminism, he had done so with a more dynamic character. Not since John Thomas Stuart XI of The Star Beast has there been a main character in a Heinlein novel so dedicated to falling into success as opposed to working to achieve.

Still, the reintroduction of Hartley Baldwin of Gulf and the display of the failure of Gulf's attempt to introduce an almost Neitzchean superman to take over the world is worth reading. Especially the fact that Baldwin never refers to it directly but does say that the civilization in which he operates is doomed but he is fighting a holding action to delay the inevitable. That rewards a Heinlein reader who has dived into his older work when reading this one.

Books Completed:
Vol 1: I Will Fear No Evil
Vol 3: Starship Troopers
Vol 5: The Door Into Summer
Vol 9: How to Be a Politician
Vol 10: Rocket Ship Galileo
Vol 11: Space Cadet
Vol 14: Between Planets
Vol 18: Tunnel in the Sky
Vol 20: Citizen of the Galaxy
Vol 22: The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. I
Vol 23: The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. II
Vol 24: Friday
Vol 26: Job: A Comedy of Justice
Vol 30: Sixth Column
Vol 32: Creating a Genre (short stories)
Vol 35: Glory Road
Vol 36: The Puppet Masters
Vol 44: Screen Writing of Robert A. Heinlein Vol. I

Up next: New Worlds to Conquer
  #403  
Old 08-18-2013, 11:01 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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I think the reason everybody was so thrilled with Friday is because I Will Fear No Evil sucked so hard they thought RAH would never produce a decent novel again.

Unfortunately, I fear they were right.
  #404  
Old 08-18-2013, 12:17 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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The problem with Friday is that it's a damned good old-school Heinlein sf/thriller for half a book, and then it's almost random events for ten chapters more. For the life of me, I have never been able to make sense of the story and plot after she leaves Georges in New Orleans. Yes, yes, I can piece together what happens, but it's like reading random ten-page excerpts at intervals from among a thousand pages. The inconsistencies and contradictions just pile up and up.

Apologies to Bill and RJ, but it's a feminist novel the way Irving Wallace's The Fan Club is. That is to say, not. Not not. It's a prefeminist man's idea of what a feminist novel should be, beginning with the infamous rape scene. Which has nothing much to do with Heinlein's overall attitude towards women etc.; he was just fumbling in a dark corner never lit by his education and experience. (FWIW, the majority of "feminist" fiction is in the same boat, even those written by women feminists.)

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-18-2013 at 12:20 PM.
  #405  
Old 08-18-2013, 02:51 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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I remember enjoying Friday when it first came out, esp. as compared to his previous several novels, but it's been a loooong time. I should go back to it sometime.
  #406  
Old 08-18-2013, 02:54 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
I think the reason everybody was so thrilled with Friday is because I Will Fear No Evil sucked so hard they thought RAH would never produce a decent novel again.

Unfortunately, I fear they were right.
Well, the immediate successor to IWFNE is usually regarded as one of his masterpieces...
  #407  
Old 08-18-2013, 02:59 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Further thought as I rummage the Friday boxes in my brain... one of the problems is that it's almost irrelevant that Friday is a woman. For all the window dressing and hoo-rah, she's not a very feminine character in action or behavior, and it would take little effort to rewrite the story with a male protagonist. Even the pregnancy is almost an afterthought and seems to be contrived more to make the ending more satisfying than to provide real peril earlier.
  #408  
Old 08-18-2013, 03:05 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Well, the immediate successor to IWFNE is usually regarded as one of his masterpieces...
And the one after that went all cuckoo. TEFL was partially saved by the fact that it was Lazarus-centric. Even then, the last part (Missouri) was a sign of The End Times for Heinlein as an innovative writer.
  #409  
Old 08-18-2013, 04:12 PM
Typo Knig Typo Knig is offline
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My memory of Friday is that is didn't come to a spreeching halt for a lot of pointless philosophizing, which made the novel a fun and fast read. It's been ages since I read Friday, but I just re-read Starship Troopers after seeing the Rifftrax version of the movie. My God, RAH underestimated the progress that was made in the social and behavioral sciences between the late 1950s and the 2010s, let alone the 2300s. Whenever he talks about behaior management he sounds incredibly old fashioned.
  #410  
Old 08-18-2013, 04:51 PM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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I'm with the "No masterpiece - a muddle..." crowd. One element I remember - it's a long time since I read it - was the nightmare that was Friday's New Zealand line marriage. The alternative viewpoint to Mannie's utopian picture of the Davis family on Luna.
  #411  
Old 08-18-2013, 05:45 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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I liked Friday, and I Will Fear No Evil. Better than Number of the Beast anyway, and that's still an ok book.

Agreed that Friday seemed like it was going to be some other story, then changed.
But there's precedent- he totally got away with that in Glory Road. Perhaps a younger Heinlein could have saved Friday.
Or perhaps he's have just filed her away, and that would be too bad.

Last edited by aNewLeaf; 08-18-2013 at 05:45 PM.
  #412  
Old 08-18-2013, 05:52 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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...the nightmare that was Friday's New Zealand line marriage. The alternative viewpoint to Mannie's utopian picture of the Davis family on Luna.
Yes, good observation. One of the big problems for me was how muddled the timeline got with respect to telling the story of the marriage. Time markers were easy to miss in the first sentences of a section, and alla sudden it's, "What? When did that happen?" Only by very careful reading can a first-time reader keep the sequence of events completely straight, I think.

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Originally Posted by aNewLeaf View Post
Agreed that Friday seemed like it was going to be some other story, then changed.
But there's precedent- he totally got away with that in Glory Road.
I don't think the two changes are all that similar. GR was a very smooth progression of the story, just in an unexpected direction. Friday cruises along a highway at a good, smooth clip and then is without warning bouncing through a dark forest at night.

The handling of lesbianism was also somewhere between simplistic and childish, a real case of ew-ick-I've-got-a-woody. Friday is supposed to be utterly complacent about sexuality, but resists advances from other women Most Heroically until she stoically Gives In for the Good of The Cause... and then her "marriage" to Goldie has a much of a veil as any hetero couple in Heinlein's golden era writing. All inept tease and covered eyes.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-18-2013 at 05:55 PM.
  #413  
Old 08-18-2013, 06:01 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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Oh, not similar at all in how they were carried out. Glory Road is awesome.
Just saying he's got 'some' cred with that sort of plot twist.

I'm sitting here realizing how young I was when I read all this. I found Glory Road in 5th grade, I Will Fear No Evil that year or the next.
Friday wasn't out yet, but I had read the preceding story, Assignment in Eternity. I was still a virgin when I read Friday- it all seemed plausible enough.
  #414  
Old 08-18-2013, 07:10 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Yeah, Friday was far below his best, but it's also the best of the works from his late period, and decent, at least, if judged independently of who wrote it.
  #415  
Old 08-18-2013, 08:56 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Further thought as I rummage the Friday boxes in my brain... one of the problems is that it's almost irrelevant that Friday is a woman. For all the window dressing and hoo-rah, she's not a very feminine character in action or behavior, and it would take little effort to rewrite the story with a male protagonist. Even the pregnancy is almost an afterthought and seems to be contrived more to make the ending more satisfying than to provide real peril earlier.
Hmm. I'm not sure I buy that. Handled correctly, a story written where the gender of the protagonist is irrelevant could be very feminist. Case in point is the portrayal of Hit Girl in the first Kick Ass movie (I haven't seen the new one). In that, we see a female action hero who is utterly unsexualized. Even at 12 it wouldn't have surprised me to see her dressed skimpily or whatever. But she was portrayed just as a boy with the same skills would be.

The biggest problem I have with the character is that she has all this ability, brains, talent, strength and so forth...and she just cashes it in to attain a feminine ideal. Feh.
  #416  
Old 08-19-2013, 08:55 AM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Hmm. I'm not sure I buy that. Handled correctly, a story written where the gender of the protagonist is irrelevant could be very feminist.
Have you read Outies by Jennifer Pournelle (Jerry Pournelle's daughter)? Set in the universe of The Mote in God's Eye the main protagonist is gender neutral. An interesting conceit but really doesn't save a pretty poor book.

I agree about Friday, the whole second half and the ending in particular is a real let down after a classic Heinlein opening.
  #417  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:24 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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The biggest problem I have with the character is that she has all this ability, brains, talent, strength and so forth...and she just cashes it in to attain a feminine ideal. Feh.
Are you talking about Hit Girl, Friday, Podkayne, Allucquere/Mary, or Maureen?
  #418  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:38 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Friday Volume XXIV of The Virginia Edition

In the end, this is a character study of a woman. Fine. But the character isn't all that great. She's constantly on the run and having her moves forced on her. She's more a reactor than an actor. Along the entire route she runs (she spends most of the book on the move) she makes decisions tactically, but never strategically. She is, simply put, a protagonist who is not in charge of her own life.
To me, the only place the character of Friday shows any real spunk was with the NZ family when she outs herself. That's (to me) one of Heinlein's best moments--from the "outing" to the consequences to her meeting up with the hawt pilot, just great writing.

Other than that, yeah, she's way too passive.

Note that in addition to tying in with Gulf, it also ties into Job. The Beanstalk in Texas is the same Texas where Alex visits you-know-who.
  #419  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:40 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Yeah, Friday was far below his best, but it's also the best of the works from his late period, and decent, at least, if judged independently of who wrote it.
Third best, IMO. I liked Job much better....and Sunset, while flawed, was a much better character study, IMO. For me, Friday could have been the best, but the whole second half from the time the war breaks out is just a mess.
  #420  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:48 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Note that in addition to tying in with Gulf, it also ties into Job. The Beanstalk in Texas is the same Texas where Alex visits you-know-who.
Sure about that? IIRC, Jerry's world had regular shuttles, not a beanstalk.
  #421  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:56 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I'm pretty sure--I'm rereading Job now (very, very early into it. Alex has just firewalked)...I'll try to skip ahead, but I'm about 90% certain that Jerry's world mentions Friday's beanstalk.
  #422  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:56 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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Taken as a character study, ...Sunset is actually quite good. As science fiction it sucks donkey balls.
  #423  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:11 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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It's a nice capstone to the Future History series, IMO, and it's fun to see some of the more famous Future History events from Maureen's POV. (Although the bit where he wedged Lazarus into "The Man Who Sold The Moon" was just...sad.)
  #424  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:14 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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...I'm about 90% certain that Jerry's world mentions Friday's beanstalk.
Could be. In other discussions I have found that my once-eidetic recall of the material is faring... poorly.

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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Taken as a character study, ...Sunset is actually quite good. As science fiction it sucks donkey balls.
Huh. Cuz it ain't got enough ray guns and rocketships?

Whatever faults it has, judging it as bad sf isn't one of them. IMHO. Now...

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...it's fun to see some of the more famous Future History events from Maureen's POV. (Although the bit where he wedged Lazarus into "The Man Who Sold The Moon" was just...sad.)
...completely rewriting the FH, including moving Harriman's moon shot back another full decade to trump Apollo... that's a flaw.
  #425  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:24 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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...completely rewriting the FH, including moving Harriman's moon shot back another full decade to trump Apollo... that's a flaw.
Wait--what???

I thought LaCroix's flight was always in the '50s.

Now I gotta go look at the timeline, dammit!
  #426  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:32 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I thought LaCroix's flight was always in the '50s.

Now I gotta go look at the timeline, dammit!
Well, there are five of them plus some minor variants. The story was written in 1950, virtually the last piece of the original Future History. (Its real capstone, by some ways of looking at it.)

In the original published timeline the Harriman flight was around 1976. It disappears from later editions. Then Sunset moves it back to 1966.
  #427  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:35 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Wasn't the "The Roads Must Roll" strike in 1976 and "Man Who Sold The Moon" two stories later with "Blowups Happen" between the two? If so--realistically, "Moon" had to be originally set in the late 80s to give some time after "Blowups Happen"

Last edited by Fenris; 08-19-2013 at 10:37 AM.
  #428  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:40 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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!!!! You're right, but you're underestimating how far back he moved it!

The "The Roads Must Roll" strike was in 1976 and "Man Who Sold The Moon" was two stories later, ("Blowups Happen" comes between the two). So--realistically, "Moon" had to be originally set in the late 80s to give some time after "Blowups Happen"
You're conflating two or three versions of the FH chart, as is the author of the link you provided. It's easy to do since not all who have written about the FH are aware of the many changes, and various late editions have chosen an insert chart at random.

The strike was originally in 1960, later moved forward to 1976.

I am not sure there is any one, completely consistent timeline even if the dates are allowed to slide forward and back. No matter where you date things on any version, there are anomalies and gaps.

ETA: Like the little inconsistency of my quoting you before you edited your comment.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-19-2013 at 10:41 AM.
  #429  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:42 AM
silenus silenus is offline
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Huh. Cuz it ain't got enough ray guns and rocketships?

Whatever faults it has, judging it as bad sf isn't one of them. IMHO.
He ties it all in with his silly-ass "World As Myth" booshwa, which makes it Bad SF. IMHO.
  #430  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:45 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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This should help in sorting out the inconsistencies: The FH Chart History
  #431  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:49 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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He ties it all in with his silly-ass "World As Myth" booshwa, which makes it Bad SF. IMHO.
Mmm. I'll reserve judgment except to say that I think Bill Patterson has made a convincing argument that Heinlein's body of work ties together far earlier than the first appearance of WAM, and that he had at least some intention of it doing so from the very beginning. Cabell was a very, very significant influence on RAH before he started writing seriously.

Whether a reader likes any particular phase of RAH's writing is for reasons other than "Heinlein changed." When you look past the most superficial levels, Heinlein did not change very much - not in ability, interests, or social, sexual or political viewpoints. The venues changed; the world changed; the audience changed. Heinlein was a rock amidst all that, for good or bad.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-19-2013 at 10:51 AM.
  #432  
Old 08-19-2013, 10:51 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I knew there were two versions (or three) of the chart--but I wasn't aware that there were five of them.

The link I removed (you responded before my edit was completed ) is here
http://templetongate.net/rahfuture.htm

And looking at it, as far as I'm concerned, it's not a "valid" chart. Whether Heinlein (or whoever) liked it or not, if "Let There Be Light" isn't part of the timeline, the timeline is incorrect. There's too many mentions of the Douglas-Martin sunstones later on for that story to be excised.
  #433  
Old 08-19-2013, 11:01 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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And looking at it, as far as I'm concerned, it's not a "valid" chart. Whether Heinlein (or whoever) liked it or not, if "Let There Be Light" isn't part of the timeline, the timeline is incorrect. There's too many mentions of the Douglas-Martin sunstones later on for that story to be excised.
That's the fifth version, modified to fit the peculiarities of TPTT as Damon Knight thought it should be. It's also the one used in most reprints from 1967 on.

There's probably room to do a fully "corrected" and annotated version of the chart but I never got to it.
  #434  
Old 08-19-2013, 11:40 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Doth I detect a publishing opportunity, AB? The SDMB Heinlein Aficionados take on the Master?

Anyway, I don't have much problem with rewriting the timeline as RAH did. He knew going in that time would obsolete him. Therefore rewriting it to suit his needs is an expected result. It's not like we don't all know that fans are less willing to accept changes to canon as authors are to cause them.

Hell, the way Arthur C. Clarke changed and refitted the 2001 timeline was great and he publically stated that he was doing it for his own convenience in storytelling. More power to him!
  #435  
Old 08-19-2013, 11:43 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Are you talking about Hit Girl, Friday, Podkayne, Allucquere/Mary, or Maureen?
A more complicated question than appears at first. It would be worthwhile compare/contrasting female/feminist characters in Heinlein body of work. The important thing is to look for characters who take charge of their own lives.

I haven't done 'The Star Beast' yet, but it will be an interesting contrast between John Thomas Stuart XI - a very passive and basically ineffectual character - and his girlfriend Betty - who is anything but passive. That's a woman who knows how to define her goals and works to achieve them.
  #436  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:05 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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A more complicated question than appears at first.
Yes, but all of them sold their Heroine-ism for a pot of marriage, or planned to. All of them planned to make a right-angle change in life plans to accommodate a Mah-yun.

Can't think of any men who put their redheaded wives first and their own Hero path second.

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I haven't done 'The Star Beast' yet, but it will be an interesting contrast between John Thomas Stuart XI - a very passive and basically ineffectual character - and his girlfriend Betty - who is anything but passive. That's a woman who knows how to define her goals and works to achieve them.
Star Beast is an interesting problem; you have to strongly consider that John Thomas giggle giggle isn't the protagonist or of very much importance at all. It all makes more sense to consider him a literary maguffin.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-19-2013 at 12:06 PM.
  #437  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:09 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Indeed, though I think there's an argument to be made that Maureen didn't do that. She lived her live through the 20th century becoming MORE actualized and self-reliant as she aged, regardless of the men in her life.

In any event, Hit Girl would just kill them all if they irritated her.

I'll tell you to get the JT giggles out of your system when I get to it. I know it's out there waiting to happen. But yes, there's a strange narrative and character structure to the Star Beast in terms of who the damn story is actually about. JT? Lummox? Kiku? Tough call.
  #438  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:18 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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Morgan Freeman as Mr Kiku, plz.
  #439  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:19 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Indeed, though I think there's an argument to be made that Maureen didn't do that. She lived her live through the 20th century becoming MORE actualized and self-reliant as she aged, regardless of the men in her life.
After expending more than a normal lifespan as a housewife and mother. One thing I see distort a lot of Heinlein commentary is a failure to acknowledge and account for the multiple-normal-lives of Howards. "Yes, but a thousand years later he..." and so forth. Cheating. At best you have to regard them as linearly descended characters.

Quote:
I'll tell you to get the JT giggles out of your system when I get to it. I know it's out there waiting to happen. But yes, there's a strange narrative and character structure to the Star Beast in terms of who the damn story is actually about. JT? Lummox? Kiku? Tough call.
I have a fairly radical notion about the "protagonist" that I've developed in recent idle years. I'll share it if you like, or I can wait until you've had your swing at it. Hint? "None of the Above."

And I will NEVER stop giggling. Heinlein's finest jest in a long list of them.
  #440  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:26 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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Yep. Right up there with Frank Cho (cartoonist of Liberty Meadows fame) when he had a beaver pick a fight with a bear and the bear yelled (in a newspaper!), "I've never met a beaver I couldn't lick!"

Oy.

But yeah, tell you what, I've just started NWTC. I'll abandon that and hit The Star Beast. It's a quick read. And we'll kick that around next.

Gotta beat slogging through Waldo again.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 08-19-2013 at 12:26 PM.
  #441  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:47 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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That's the fifth version, modified to fit the peculiarities of TPTT as Damon Knight thought it should be. It's also the one used in most reprints from 1967 on.

There's probably room to do a fully "corrected" and annotated version of the chart but I never got to it.
I seem to recall Heinlein saying the actual chart was huge, taking up a big chunk of wall in his home, and that printed versions are all edited.
  #442  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:54 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I seem to recall Heinlein saying the actual chart was huge, taking up a big chunk of wall in his home, and that printed versions are all edited.
See the link above.

The original chart was huge, but the first published version contained a lot more detail, and the handwritten chart was abandoned.
  #443  
Old 08-19-2013, 12:59 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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As long as we're discussing radical (or, in my case) crackpot notions of characters, I've got a pet theory that there are two Lazarus Longs from parallel timelines and one got swapped for the other or one Laz. Long who was badly, BADLY brain-damaged in his WW1 adventure.

In Methuselah's Children and TEfL, Laz is an intelligent guy--he thinks before jumping but isn't afraid to make a spontaneous decision in a crisis. He'll lie/cheat/steal if it advances his goals, but it's a means to an end. He's not afraid to manipulate people if that's what it takes, but he'll also deal with them honestly if that's an option.

However, in Number of the Beast and even moreso in Cat, he's a retarded man-child who will lie or cheat when the truth and fair-dealing will serve him better. We waste like 4 chapters in NotB as Laz tries multiple ploys to steal the ship instead of just saying "Hey, we need a lift to 1986 (or whenever). We can pay or owe you a favor or whatever--I want to rescue my mommy". The original Laz would have tried that and THEN stolen the ship if that didn't work. This Laz starts by cheating/lying and worse, he's a bumbling incompetent. In the same vein, the Laz in Cat pulls some shit (the bit with trying to guilt Richard about the leg transplant) that's so obnoxious and so incompetent that it's almost impossible to think of him as the same character from M's Children.

I like the idea that when the twins went back in time to rescue Laz from WWI, they switched timelines and grabbed someone who looked like Laz, but was a lot dumber.
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Old 08-19-2013, 01:35 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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The key point to remember about Lazarus is that when he's telling the story, or it's specifically his story being told, he's the greatest human ever to walk on two legs. When others describe him or interactions with him, he's an arrogant, pompous, self-serving jerk.
  #445  
Old 08-19-2013, 01:50 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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In other words, the way the rest of us "narrate" our lives.
  #446  
Old 08-19-2013, 02:05 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is online now
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"Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes."

Hmm. Who said that?
  #447  
Old 08-19-2013, 02:24 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quote:
Quoth Amateur Barbarian:

Star Beast is an interesting problem; you have to strongly consider that John Thomas giggle giggle isn't the protagonist or of very much importance at all. It all makes more sense to consider him a literary maguffin.
Indeed, the last chapters reveal that Lummox has been making something of a hobby of raising John Stuart Thomases.
  #448  
Old 08-19-2013, 02:29 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Indeed, the last chapters reveal that Lummox has been making something of a hobby of raising John Stuart Thomases.
Further giggles. Sorry.

Yes, treating Lummox as a benign dictator with almost unlimited powers who chooses to sit out the major human-centric events of the story is a valid viewpoint.
  #449  
Old 08-19-2013, 02:35 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is online now
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I agree with Jonathan Chance about Friday. I remember when it first came out - I was already a Heinlein junkie, and having a new Heinlein was an awesome event. This was a couple of years after "Number of the Beast" came out, which was a bit of a letdown and the early reviews of Friday promised a return to form for Heinlein. So I was biased towards liking it when I read it then, and put it down at the end reasonably satisfied.

But subsequent readings and the passage of years have not been kind to the book. It's just not very good. Now, even bad Heinlein has moments of wit and always has some interesting ideas, but the things that made his earlier work great were lacking - the characters, the plots, and the transparent world-building in which you could almost feel like you were there and understood his world without having to slog through page after page of detailed descriptions of minutia.

The latter talent is often overlooked but IMO the best skill Heinlein had. The worlds of Heinlein's juveniles and early adult novels just popped off the page. You felt like you could picture every aspect of them, like you were there with the character and felt at home. And yet, Heinlein rarely devolved into long expository passages describing details of the world. He let you know that world through osmosis, by assuming you were bright enough to pick up the clues and piece it together without being told. So when a character would approach a door and it would 'dilate', that's all you needed to know. Slowly a picture of the world would build up without getting in the way of the action.

Friday was a bit like that, but mostly not. It was too wordy, the plot meandered and came to dead stops for little reason, and I never had that "you are there" feeling I get from better Heinlein books.

The best thing that can be said about the book is that it was better than "I Will Fear No Evil", although I ultimately think Time Enough for Love was a better book, if only because some of the embedded short stories were classics ("The Tale of the Adopted Daughter" can stand with the best stuff Heinlein wrote).

In my opinion, the best book of Heinlein's 'late' period was "Job: A Comedy of Justice".
  #450  
Old 08-19-2013, 03:00 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The discussion of The Star Beast brings up something that I've been thinking about for a while. we are reaching the point at which Heinlein is starting to require annotation if it is to be fully appreciated, because with the passage of time the people who are familiar with many of his cultural references are dying off.

certainly annotation would help a lot of folks understand the more obscure things in Heinlein -- he pretty often left some things unexplained, apparently sure that the dedicated would look it up, or the people who knew would get the joke or point. And certainly some of his science and technology could use some explanation (as well as the pseudoscience that looked edgy at the time, but has since been passed by).

But here I mean things that Heinlein might have expected his audience to understand because it referred to something common at the time, but which isn't, now.




Case in point: The Star Beast, Chapter XII: Concerning Pidgie-Widgie. Pidgie Widgie is the subject of some children's books and an immensely popular puppet show on TV that gets used in the war of popular opinion about Lummox.

a Puppet Show based on children's books? and not just popular among kids? well, there were several puppet shows in the early 1950s, but one that had a great reach was Bob Clampett's Time for Beany*, which made comments for adults alonside the kids stuff (as Soupy Sales did, and MST3K carried on more for adults than kids in later years). Einstein is said to have watched it:

Quote:
Albert Einstein was a fan of the show. On one occasion, the physicist interrupted a high-level conference by announcing, "You will have to excuse me, gentlemen. It's Time for Beany."[4]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_for_Beany


It seems highly probable that "Time for Beany" formed the basis for "Pidgie Widgie". But without footnotes, how would the current generation know? And, yes, Time for Beany preceded the writing of The Star Beast by at least a couple of years.



A similar example occurs at the beginning of Time for the Stars, where the hero refers to a famous saying about the Chinese people, if waling four abreast, would never pass a given point 9since births would expand the line more rapidly than the number marching past that given point, even if you include deaths). The idea was popularized by Robert Ripley in one of his believe it or Not Sunday cartoons, which was subsequently widely reprinted. It could be that heinlein was inspired by some common source, but considering the popularity of Believe it or Not, I strongly suspect that not only was Heinlein inspired by the cartoon, he expected his audience to have seen it, too.

http://home.earthlink.net/~yuba-yada-yada/marchin.html

Both of these predate me, but I know about the cartoon from reading ripley reprints, and about Time for Beany from various sources. but neither is extremely common knowledge these days.


*Bob Clampett was, of course, the legendary Warner Brothers animator (he's one of the ones who contributed to making Bugs Bunny "wild") who branched off on his own. He originally did "Time for Beany" with puppets of the beany-wearing kid Beany and his pal Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent. About a decade later he turned Beany and Cecil into a TV cartoon (and a syndicated newspaper strip), which is where I first saw it. The canny Clampett also worked his own name and caricature into the show's opening song and credits.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beany_and_Cecil_Show
http://images.search.yahoo.com/image...H&fr=yfp-t-900
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