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  #451  
Old 08-19-2013, 03:16 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
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.
Well, a pretty good start has been made on that.

I'd both agree and disagree - for those who need to get the exact nuances, a listing of contemporary references would be useful. But OTOH, anyone intelligent enough to enjoy The Star Beast isn't going to care that Pidgie is based on Beanie; I think the reference is as self-explanatory as necessary to get the joke and Kiku's discomfort. P-W could be anything from a Beanie puppet to a Max Headroom talking head to a real-time 3D animation; letting each generation interpret as they see best is hardly a bad thing.

But yes, there are references in RAH that can leave the reader cold and lost. I guess I'm close enough to the middle of his readership that they aren't that obscure, but the current gen is far enough ahead for me to appreciate their cultural ignorance.
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  #452  
Old 08-19-2013, 03:46 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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The "worst" of those obscure references is "Renshawing". Until the internet, I couldn't find a single word written by or about him in the library and it's a major plot-point in Citizen of the Galaxy. (and even now, there's still not much about him--apparently his "fame" such as it is comes from Heinlein talking about him)

What's funny is that while that reference stumped me as did a few other specific names ("Camp Arthur Curry" in ST remained a mystery to me until the internet as well), I never had any problems "grocking" his slang--"Let There Be Light" had a ton of then modern slang, and it's perfectly comprehensible. Or "By His Bootstraps". I read it to my nephew a few years back and the "You're in the groove, man--right in the groove" line (which isn't quite right) was no problem for my nephew despite the fact that he's seen a record player in action maybe two times in his life.

And on Job, (if Jonathan Chance will indulge a brief hijack, since I'm rereading it), the biggest problem is that Hergensheimer is a freakin' Nazi. As such. He's talking about being on the committee for a "final solution" to the "Jewish problem", sterilizing gay people, waiting for the right time to purge all Catholics, etc. But he's only that for one chapter. Outside of that, he's just a fundie/prig who was raised wrong.

The prig who learns better is a good character. Hitler, Jr. from the single chapter listing evil deeds he's done or is planning, however, can't be reconciled (at least by me) with the guy from the rest of the book (and how does Hergensheimer know how to do all that cloak-and-dagger stuff in the chapter with the goons and the $1,000,000?).

IMO the book would have been better if he was just some guy from that world and accepted what was going on (because he didn't know better) than making him Hitler, Jr.--the guy in charge of much of the evil going on--because he never does anything to redeem himself and earn the happy ending he gets.
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  #453  
Old 08-19-2013, 04:26 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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I'd both agree and disagree - for those who need to get the exact nuances, a listing of contemporary references would be useful. But OTOH, anyone intelligent enough to enjoy The Star Beast isn't going to care that Pidgie is based on Beanie; I think the reference is as self-explanatory as necessary to get the joke and Kiku's discomfort. P-W could be anything from a Beanie puppet to a Max Headroom talking head to a real-time 3D animation; letting each generation interpret as they see best is hardly a bad thing.
I'm ot saying that the reader has to understand every little nuance and origin in order to fully appreciate the Wonder That Is Heinlein. I'm saying that having a kid's puppet show have such a huge impact on national politics seems a bit weird 9it did to me when I first read the book) , unless you know the context. kids in 1954 who got The Star Beast for Christmas or their birthday knew about Time for Beany. People today probably don't, and Heinlein's use of it seems as strange and off-kilter as his ubiquitous Society Matrons.
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  #454  
Old 08-19-2013, 04:33 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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Interesting Friday discussions by all, I've been thread-stalking until it rolled around to this book.

I've re-read Friday four times now over the years, and it has the most reads of any Heinlein book by me. It's also among the least remembered, a movie trailer of catchy snippets and scenes, some great moments, but ultimately lacking any characters or motivations to make me care.

If there was some intentional meta-theme by RAH to show how rationalizing the necessity of the shallowness of a super-agent lifestyle in servitude to a soulless corporation then follows with Friday being doomed to rationalizing the intention of a shallow domestic life of servitude (with all the other 'liberation' headscratchers of being defined by childbirth, by genetic heritage, by forgiving and marrying your abuser, etc mentioned by others), then...um...mission accomplished? Or is it some meta-commentary on admiring the old retired soldiers and generals, forgetting atrocities and war as the gentlemanly necessities of being civilized, letting them age in peace?

But it all falls with an unsatisfying thud, the corporate masters continue their machinations, the world keeps turning, and Friday knits doilies by the fireside. If you're nice, someday grandma Friday will tell you the story of how she crushed five windpipes in three seconds before triggering the thermite detonator, but first let's finish painting the easter eggs.

The world-building was first-rate, there are infinite stories and adventures I'd love to read within, Friday's story just isn't one I cared about. Lindsay Lohan, superspy.

Last edited by GargoyleWB; 08-19-2013 at 04:34 PM..
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  #455  
Old 08-19-2013, 04:49 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
I'm saying that having a kid's puppet show have such a huge impact on national politics seems a bit weird 9it did to me when I first read the book) , unless you know the context. kids in 1954 who got The Star Beast for Christmas or their birthday knew about Time for Beany. People today probably don't, .
I didn't know about Beany until this thread (ignorance fought!) but that didn't stop it from working, as Sesame Street and other shows have had real-world impact at times.

Edit to add- today's readers might also be surprised by J B Rhine and his experiments with scientific psionics.
In Heinlein's earlier work, that was science fiction, and not fantasy. Attempts to replicate the results failed later (like cold fusion).

Last edited by aNewLeaf; 08-19-2013 at 04:51 PM..
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  #456  
Old 08-19-2013, 07:53 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
Sure about that? IIRC, Jerry's world had regular shuttles, not a beanstalk.
Just got there--it's right at the beginning of chapter XVIII. A rocket has taken off, Alex thinks it's the Rapture, Jerry says: Nah--just rocket-ships, Alex says "Golly Moses" and feels bad about swearing, Jerry talks about how space travel boomed under JFK's second term, and then talks about how a lot of his money is tied up in space-stuff "--started with model rockets as a kid. Now, besides Diana Freight Lines, I've got a piece of Jacob's Ladder and the Beanstalk, bouth--just a tax loss at present but--"

Plus, IIRC (and it's been a while since I've read Friday) the car-things that they're using on the highway in that scene also show up in Friday

IIRC, there's a little wink to "They" towards the end, as well as (again, IIRC) a blatant reference to "Unpleasant Profession" and, while I haven't read it, my understanding is that the kindly old vet/doctor at the end (Mr. Konshi(?)) is straight from James Branch Cabell's Jurgen.

Last edited by Fenris; 08-19-2013 at 07:54 PM..
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  #457  
Old 08-19-2013, 08:12 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I've got a piece of Jacob's Ladder and the Beanstalk, bouth--just a tax loss at present but--"
Yep. I'd forgotten that. Thanks for the 'fresher.

Quote:
Plus, IIRC (and it's been a while since I've read Friday) the car-things that they're using on the highway in that scene also show up in Friday.
Friday is odd in that respect in that personal cars or anything much like them seems to have gone away - it's a big deal to use a "power wagon" on roads and steamships are a regular way to get up and down the rivers. I think it stems from an inversion of "one person, two cars" but he didn't quite work it through. Really, that describes much of the book - a good idea introduced and then kinda now why did I come in here? Remember, too, that that world is created to deceive Alex and Marga; its reality is questionable.[/quote]
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  #458  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:00 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Yeah, but I can't say that a mention of the Beanstalk is a clear reference to Friday in Job. The Beanstalks in Friday are in Kenya and Ecuador...there's no mention of one in Texas.
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  #459  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:17 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The Beanstalk was in Ecuador; the Skyhook was in Kenya. Or maybe the other way around.

And is there any mention that either of the projects Jerry is invested in are sited in Texas? Even if they're owned by a Texas company, they could be anywhere.
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  #460  
Old 08-19-2013, 09:39 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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The only mention of the Beanstalk is in that single sentence I quoted. The only other Friday clue is that just as Alec and Marge are leaving Jerry, Alex preaches a bit to Jerry, trying to save* his soul and Jerry mentions something about how he feels like the world is about to end...which could mean Armageddon or the big war/catastrophe of Friday

The "They" reference I finally figured out. After Alex reunites with Katie and Sibyl in hell, one of them comments that the world-changes were only in Alex's vicinity--that there were "construction workers" building and tearing down stuff like stage props. Which is, of course, right out of "They", but....it's also just solipsism which Heinlein loved to play with. I like the idea that it's a nod to "They", but I wasn't convinced until I got to a bit I'd forgotten: Koshchei asks Lucifer if he'd like to be assigned to the Glaroon for a few cycles (and Lucifer's not thrilled by the idea) and the Glaroon is the one um..."persecuting"(?) the guy in "They"

The "Hoag" references are not as obvious. Yaweh and Lucifer are clearly working for the same people that Hoag is a critic for. I'm only halfway through the scene (just got to the Glaroon line) and I think there's a specific reference.

Seriously--rereading this, IMO, except for the one "Heinlein rants about fundies=Nazis and assigns their goals/motives to Alex" bit (which really is completely out of character for him--a final solution for Jews? And Marga could love him? Nah), it's a return to some of Heinlein's best work from the mid '40s (UNKNOWN Magazine and thereabouts).



*Should "save" in that context be capitalized?

Last edited by Fenris; 08-19-2013 at 09:43 PM.. Reason: typed exactly the opposite of what I meant! Oops.
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  #461  
Old 08-20-2013, 12:22 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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Shouldn't a "space elevator" be sited on the equator? I can't see one in Texas. A rocket port, sure, they could launch towards the Gulf and have it there for staging or aborts.
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  #462  
Old 08-20-2013, 06:40 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Seriously--rereading this, IMO, except for the one "Heinlein rants about fundies=Nazis and assigns their goals/motives to Alex" bit (which really is completely out of character for him--a final solution for Jews? And Marga could love him? Nah), it's a return to some of Heinlein's best work from the mid '40s (UNKNOWN Magazine and thereabouts).
I dunno, Fenris. I think the point of Alexander running through that list of things accomplished and hope to accomplish is to show the social matrix that Hergensheimer is operating within. That doesn't necessarily excuse him, but it does allow the reader to truly understand what sort of American theocracy he comes from. Because, let's face it, in the narrative there's not a lot of info on the origins of Hergensheimer. Within a few pages we're out of that world and living inside Hergensheimer's head.

So, even though our POV character is sympathetic, being a literal stranger in a strange land (forgive me) it's necessary for the author to make clear just out over-the-top his culture is. It's a culture in which those tasks he lays out appear to be achievable goals. That's a frightening thing and lays out the extent to which Hergensheimer needs to change over the course of the story. Even with that RAH lays out Hergensheimer's love for the pulps and such as a boy to establish that he's not always been this way to allow the reader to perceive him as twisted by his culture and not from birth.
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  #463  
Old 08-20-2013, 07:35 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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But to me, the flaw is that Alex is a primary architect of that culture. I'd be fine if he was just some guy from Fundie-Nazi-Land who was sympathetic to their goals until he learned better. But he was one of the main movers-and-shakers. He wasn't a schlub drafted into the German army, he was Goebbels.

One other interesting point...and this is to Heinlein's credit...Alex never gets over his racism. It's pounded into him too deeply. He can see THIS black person or THAT black person as an individual and an equal, but he never gets to the point where he can extrapolate to "...then ALL black people are my equals and individuals". Which is sad, but realistic.
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  #464  
Old 08-20-2013, 11:17 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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But to me, the flaw is that Alex is a primary architect of that culture. I'd be fine if he was just some guy from Fundie-Nazi-Land who was sympathetic to their goals until he learned better. But he was one of the main movers-and-shakers. He wasn't a schlub drafted into the German army, he was Goebbels.
To carry it further, I think RAH is making a sort of jab at Christianity. Regardless of the sins Alex has done or condoned, he gets reborn and his sins are washed away and he's got a 1st class ticket to Heaven. Unlike the non-Christian infants that have been killed.
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  #465  
Old 08-20-2013, 11:29 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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I don't think that any specific, put-your-finger-on-it references to "The Unfortunate Profession of Jonathon Hoag" are really necessary-- The overall description of the world as a whole is sufficient to make it clear that they're either the same world, or similar enough that they might as well be.

Did we actually move on to Job, BTW, or is this all just an extended side-track?
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  #466  
Old 08-20-2013, 11:35 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I dunno, Fenris. I think the point of Alexander running through that list of things accomplished and hope to accomplish is to show the social matrix that Hergensheimer is operating within. That doesn't necessarily excuse him, but it does allow the reader to truly understand what sort of American theocracy he comes from. Because, let's face it, in the narrative there's not a lot of info on the origins of Hergensheimer. Within a few pages we're out of that world and living inside Hergensheimer's head.
I think AH's viewpoint is that these are all positive efforts he supports.

I love Job and agree it's Heinlein's best late book, and among his best overall (maybe top 20)... but the evolution of Alex from moralistic prig to Heinlein Hero is utterly unconvincing in motive, timeline and development. He just flips a switch on all prior cultural conditioning because he meets a hot cheesecake Danish.
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  #467  
Old 08-20-2013, 12:16 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Did we actually move on to Job, BTW, or is this all just an extended side-track?
Extended side-track, I think.
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  #468  
Old 08-20-2013, 12:40 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Side track, definitely. But it's a sign of a power of the book that it's spurred two extended discussions in the thread.
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  #469  
Old 08-20-2013, 02:00 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I think AH's viewpoint is that these are all positive efforts he supports.
Exactly. And not only "supports" but is on a star-chamber to promote and advance these things. The main organization banned abortions, contraceptives and four or five other things. The star-chamber AH is in is currently discussing if it's time to move to the "final solution" for the "Jewish problem", if sterilizations or (something--coventry? lobotomies?) are the way to handle gay people, what about Catholics? Is it time to turn on them...or wait 'till later to deal with them. How about blacks? And the context is that AH is proud to be on this secret committee. Also, he's high enough in the ranks of his org that he can call collect giving nothing but his name and he has every expectation that any worker who answers the phone will know who he is. (The fact that he gets some random pre-teen answering the phone (kid's a soprano--it said so. ) is just Loki's mischief, one assumes.

Quote:
I love Job and agree it's Heinlein's best late book, and among his best overall (maybe top 20)... but the evolution of Alex from moralistic prig to Heinlein Hero is utterly unconvincing in motive, timeline and development. He just flips a switch on all prior cultural conditioning because he meets a hot cheesecake Danish.
For what it's worth, he beats himself up about it every now and then when Heinlein thinks about it.

AH also keeps gaining skills that he *should not have*. The bit where the thugs try to bully him out of the $1,000,000 and he flings himself in the pool and near-drowns the thug while yelling "Help!"? The bit towards the end of the book where he out cons the crooked lawyer? AH should have absolutely no idea how to do that. None. Alex Graham? Maybe. AH? No.

(PS-sorry for the hijack Jonathan! )
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  #470  
Old 08-20-2013, 02:08 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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By the way, here's the passage in question:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Hergensheimer
Giving up Margrethe for Abigail would be far too high a price to pay to resume the position of power and importance I had until recently held. Yet I had enjoyed my work and the deep satisfaction over worthwhile accomplishment that went with it. We had achieved our best year since the foundation was formed - I refer to the non-profit corporation, Churches United for Decency. 'Non-profit' does not mean that such an organization cannot pay appropriate salaries and even bonuses, and I had been taking a well-earned vacation after the best fund-raising year of our history - primarily my accomplishment because, as deputy director, my first duty was to see that our coffers were kept filled.

But I took even greater satisfaction in our labors in the vineyards, as fund raising means nothing if our programs of spiritual welfare do not meet their goals.

The past 'year' had seen the following positive accomplishments:

a) A federal law making abortion a capital offense;

b) A federal law making the manufacture, sale, possession, importation, transportation, and/or use of any contraceptive drug or device a felony carrying a mandatory prison sentence of not less than a year and a day but not more than twenty years for each offense - and eliminating the hypocritical subterfuge of 'For Prevention of Disease Only';

c) A federal law that, while it did not abolish gambling, did make the control and licensing of it a federal jurisdiction. One step at a time - having built. this foundation we could tackle those twin pits, Nevada and New Jersey, piece by piece. Divide and conquer!

d) A Supreme Court decision in which we had appeared as amicus curiae under which community standards of the typical or median-population community applied to all cities of each state (Tomkins v. Allied News Distributors);

e) Real progress in our drive to get tobacco defined as a prescription drug through the tactical device of separating snuff and chewing tobacco from the problem by inaugurating the definition 'substances intended for burning and inhaling';

f) Progress at our annual national prayer meeting on several subjects in which I was interested. One was the matter of how to remove the tax-free status of any private school not affiliated with a Christian sect. Policy on this was not yet complete because of the thorny matter of Roman Catholic schools. Should our umbrella cover them? Or was it time to strike? Whether the Catholics were allies or enemies was always a deep problem to those of us out on the firing line.

At least as difficult was the Jewish problem - was a humane solution possible? If not, then what? Should we grasp the nettle? This was debated only in camera.

Another matter was a pet project of my own: the frustrating of astronomers. Few laymen realize what mischief astronomers are up to. I first noticed it when I was still in engineering school and took a course in descriptive astronomy under the requirements for breadth in each student's program. Give an astronomer a bigger telescope and turn him loose, leave him unsupervised, and the first -thing he does is to come down with pestiferous, half-baked guesses denying the ancient truths of Genesis.

There is only one way to deal with this sort of nonsense: Hit them in the pocketbook! Redefine 'educational' to exclude those colossal white elephants, astronomical observatories. Make the Naval Observatory the only one tax free, reduce its staff, and limit their activity to matters clearly related to navigation. (Some of the most blasphemous and subversive theories have come from tenured civil servants there who don't have enough legitimate Work to keep them busy.)

Self-styled 'scientists' are usually up to no good, but astronomers are the worst of the lot.

Another matter that comes up regularly at each annual' prayer meeting I did not favor spending time or money on: 'Votes for Women'. These hysterical females styling themselves 'suffragettes' are not a threat, can never win, and it just makes them feel self-important to pay attention to them. They should not be jailed and should not be displayed in stocks - never let them be martyrs! Ignore them.

There were other interesting and worthwhile goals that I kept off the agenda and did not suffer to be brought up from the floor in the sessions I moderated, but instead carried them on my 'Maybe next year' list:

Separate schools for boys and girls.

Restoring the death penalty for witchcraft and satanism.

The Alaska option for the Negro problem.

Federal control of prostitution.

Homosexuals - what's the answer? Punishment? Surgery? Other?

There are endless good causes commending themselves to guardians of the public morals - the question is always how to pick and choose to the greater glory of God.
Oddly, (or because of sloppy editing) he refers to Catholics as stauch allies at like two other points, but goes after Jehovah's Witnessess for being too rigid. Not a major problem with the book, but slightly sloppy.

Last edited by Fenris; 08-20-2013 at 02:09 PM..
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  #471  
Old 08-20-2013, 02:54 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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And I will NEVER stop giggling. Heinlein's finest jest in a long list of them.
I don't get it. What's so funny?
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  #472  
Old 08-20-2013, 03:44 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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"John Thomas" is (IIRC) Navy slang for penis.

It gets funnier when you understand that Heinlein's idiot editor at Scribner's was a "Freudian" -- she saw porn in everything--a martian pet that was essentailly a furry bowling ball with three eyestalks was too suggestive and she fought him tooth and nail because the eyestalks were "suggestive" or "Freudian" or "dirty" or somesuch.

So slipping the John Thomas thing past her wasn't just putting a doity word in a kid's book, it was putting one over on a notorious/incompetent censor.*

*She also wrote little girls with horsies books and Heinlein had some things to say about the "Freudian" nature of them.
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  #473  
Old 08-20-2013, 03:57 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Huh--I just looked it up. It's not specifically Navy slang, it's from (get this!) Lady Chatterly's Lover. Apparently Ms Chatterly's boyfriend calls his weenie his "John Thomas".
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  #474  
Old 08-20-2013, 04:11 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Huh--I just looked it up. It's not specifically Navy slang, it's from (get this!) Lady Chatterly's Lover. Apparently Ms Chatterly's boyfriend calls his weenie his "John Thomas".
Bingo.

You'll never read Star Beast the same way again. There's one particularly telling line...

SPOILER:
When Mr. Kiku tells Betty that Lummox has been "raising John Thomases," her reaction can be read more than one way.


There are many others. My favorite literary easter egg.
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  #475  
Old 08-20-2013, 05:24 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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One last quick hijack....(sorry Jonathan! I promise I'll stop)

Apparently Alice Dagleish actually published stuff beyond "little girls and horsey" books. She got several Newbery* Awards including one for a book I vaguely remember plodding through in Elementary School: The Courage of Sarah Noble about a little (like 6) girl from Boston who moves to "the wilderness" with her dad and mom but is terrified because her friends tell her how the savages will eat her and chop her head off. She's able to manage her fear because her mommy gives her a phrase to repeat when she's scared....something like "Remember your courage, Sarah". Some "good" Indians show up and she realizes that they might be human. For some reason (I really don't remember what) the kid ends up having a sleep-over with the indians (who apparently live alone--there's no tribe, no society, just a mommy Indian, a daddy Indian and three (?) kid Indians). She plays games and has fun and decides that...maybe....they're people. She comes home the next day and mom freaks out that she was allowed to do a sleepover. The book ends with Sarah talking about how their "good" Indians will protect them from the "bad, Northern" Indians.

It's written at about a 2nd grade level--if you've ever read the "Little House" books, Courage is written at a MUCH lower age level.

There's an interesting discussion of it here. (Interesting=a lot of people with differing yet valid viewpoints and a few hypersensitive ninnies.)

Also--I wonder if Dagliesh ripped off something from Heinlein. In Farmer in the Sky there's a repeated motif of getting courage from what your mom said... Bill kept remembering his mom saying "Stand tall, Billy" as he goes to live on the frontier. In Courage, Sarah's mommy's saying gives her the courage to live on the frontier. It's obviously no more than a swipe of the gimmick, the stories aren't similar at all. But....given a several year gap (and more, since she saw Farmer long before it was published....I have to wonder if she "borrowed" that bit. (Farmer was 1953, Courage was 1955)





*Which doesn't impress me all that much. I'm not a fan of the Newbery criteria--far too much emphasis on lit'rary qualities and not on "books that kids devour and teach a love of reading" overall. But it still is a major award.
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  #476  
Old 08-20-2013, 06:14 PM
Andy L Andy L is offline
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Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Huh--I just looked it up. It's not specifically Navy slang, it's from (get this!) Lady Chatterly's Lover. Apparently Ms Chatterly's boyfriend calls his weenie his "John Thomas".
The term is also used in Blackadder III (in the episode titled "Amy And Amiability")
"I'd no more place my daughter in the hands of an unworthy man than I'd place my john thomas in the hands of a lunatic with a pair of scissors. "
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  #477  
Old 08-20-2013, 06:14 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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By the way, here's the passage in question:


Oddly, (or because of sloppy editing) he refers to Catholics as stauch allies at like two other points, but goes after Jehovah's Witnessess for being too rigid. Not a major problem with the book, but slightly sloppy.
I still gotta disagree, Fenris. You seem to feel that what AH is doing is some sort of secret cabal or something. RAH is describing nothing more than a lobbying group, and for a lot of those line items you can fine groups in DC right now advocating them (God knows I used to cover them sometimes).

RAH is using that to define just how different the world of AH is from the one the reader lives in. It's a place where the worst of the Mrs. Grundy impulses is considered normal and moral and that infuses AH as a base part of his personality. But it doesn't make him (as deputy director he's primarily a fundraiser) Hitler.

Remember, also, that AH was initially a failed engineer (couldn't handle the math) and then a failed pastor (couldn't handle the congregation). He fell into fundraising and lobbying because it was something he COULD do. He's a classic busybody convinced of his own righteousness. That's what makes his transformation more telling. Remember, Loki describes God as saying he'd produced the greatest bigot EVER and Loki couldn't break him.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:15 PM
Reno Nevada Reno Nevada is offline
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J...and, while I haven't read it, my understanding is that the kindly old vet/doctor at the end (Mr. Konshi(?)) is straight from James Branch Cabell's Jurgen.
Despite the fact that I am a fan of (early) Heinlein and a HUGE fan of Cabell, I have never read Job. Following this discussion I will rectify that lapse. Fenris, I strong recommend you read Jurgen.

Apparently from comments later in the thread the character's name is Koshchei, which probably is a reference to the character of Koshchei the Deathless, the Enemy of all the Gods of Men, from Jurgen. Jurgen, a failed poet and successful pawnbroker, meets Koshchei when he (Jurgen) says a kind word about the Devil. Koshchei, in return, takes Jurgen's wife away, and Jurgen has to travel to a number of improbable and uncomfortable places to get her back, including the Heaven of his Grandmother and the Hell of his Father.

Jurgen is extremely good and was banned in Boston, so it was also extremely successful.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:19 PM
Andy L Andy L is offline
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Koshchei, in return, takes Jurgen's wife away, and Jurgen has to travel to a number of improbable and uncomfortable places to get her back, including the Heaven of his Grandmother and the Hell of his Father.
Based on this description, there's a strong resemblance between the plot of the second half (or so) of "Job" and Jurgen.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:57 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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The Koshchei of Job tellingly works out of the Branch office.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:55 PM
asterion asterion is online now
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For anyone interested, Jurgen is in the public domain and available from Gutenberg.
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  #482  
Old 08-23-2013, 07:57 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I'm now rereading Friday (inspired by the discussion here) and a couple of thoughts so far (I'm up to the part where she's with Ian, Georges and Janet and all the crackpots claiming credit for that coup/attack) :

1) There's another clue that Friday's world is Jerry's (from Job) world beyond the "beanstalk" thing. In Jerry's America, Christians (presumably including Catholics) are a semi-persecuted minority. Same with Friday's world although we're only shown Catholics being persecuted. ("Uncle Jim" in one of the pre-rape chapters--there are hushed whispers that he might be <gasp> a papist...or beyond that, <double-gasp> a priest).

2) The rape scene is just ghastly-bad. She doesn't sound like a woman, she sounds like a man writing not what he thinks of as a woman (which Heinlein usually does) but a man writing a tract on what a woman should be like and how she should deal with a rape. This goes into the Farnham's Freehold category of "His heart was in the right place, but epic fail".

3) That said, I'd forgotten how damned whiney Friday is. My god, she never stops snivelling. She's possibly the most passive main character/good-guy* (and certainly the most passive female character) Heinlein ever wrote. Ignoring a physical confrontation, Peewee or Ricky (both pre-teens) have more spunk and would shred Friday in a battle of wills.

4) There's something...off...about the dialogue. I can't put my finger on what, but it was off the same way in Number of the Beast and it stopped being off in Job and Sunset.

More to follow.
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  #483  
Old 08-23-2013, 09:47 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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That hanging asterisk is gonna kill me.
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  #484  
Old 08-23-2013, 10:47 AM
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The Asterisk of Damocles!
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:18 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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*Mrs Farnham doesn't count as a "good guy"--she's mildly evil from the start and gets worse as things go.

(Don't post stuff pre-coffee!)
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:55 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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3) That said, I'd forgotten how damned whiney Friday is. My god, she never stops snivelling. She's possibly the most passive main character/good-guy* (and certainly the most passive female character) Heinlein ever wrote. Ignoring a physical confrontation, Peewee or Ricky (both pre-teens) have more spunk and would shred Friday in a battle of wills.
But I think an argument could be made that Friday's defining characteristic is her insecurity and whining. Her experience in the creche and out on her own, and her response to the discrimination she fears (but doesn't often experience) feeds on itself until she has to let it out.
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:47 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Are you talking about Hit Girl, Friday, Podkayne, Allucquere/Mary, or Maureen?
Oh, the memories! Anyone who likes Heinlein's smart, spunky, growing-up-fast young women would enjoy Joe Haldeman's Marsbound, which I just finished. The heroine is part of the first permanent human settlement on Mars, about 50-some years from now. Good stuff.

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Interesting Friday discussions by all, I've been thread-stalking until it rolled around to this book.

I've re-read Friday four times now over the years, and it has the most reads of any Heinlein book by me. It's also among the least remembered, a movie trailer of catchy snippets and scenes, some great moments, but ultimately lacking any characters or motivations to make me care.

...Friday's story just isn't one I cared about. Lindsay Lohan, superspy.
Wow. You've read a book you hate four times?
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Old 08-23-2013, 02:06 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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It may be a defining characteristic, but it's also annoying as hell to read.

For what it's worth, Georges finds it annoying too.
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Old 08-23-2013, 02:31 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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And Kettle Belly Baldwin, too.

There needed to be some real character development to overcome that and make the Friday character arc worthwhile. And just saying at the end that she feels human now doesn't do it.
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Old 08-23-2013, 02:59 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Exactly.

Also, I found it to be a letdown that he used Kettle-Belly and dispensed with all the stuff from "Gulf" in about 3 sentences. Why bother to use Baldwin if you're not going to update us in detail. And for that matter, what happened to all those super-fancy learning techniques (the magical language where a paragraph could be expressed as a single syllable, etc) that he taught the hero of "Gulf"?

Another flaw: Friday was in the NZ family for what--8 years or so?--and her super-power is that she can put together disparate groups of data and come up with the right conclusion...and somehow she never quite noticed that the entire family was a group of raging Ku Klux Klan style bigots? It's not that they have a minor thing against Tongans, they're frothing at the mouth white supremacists. And she missed it. AND Friday missed that Anita was conning her? But her super-power is ferreting out stuff exactly like this. Oops.

Last edited by Fenris; 08-23-2013 at 03:04 PM..
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:04 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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And just saying at the end that she feels human now doesn't do it.
But... that was the point? She wasn't human, then became human. It's like Pinocchio.
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:26 PM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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Actually it was that she was ALWAYS human but having a baby and/or family let her learn that she had been human ALL ALONG!

More like the movie version of The Wizard of Oz where she had the power to go home all along.
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Old 08-23-2013, 03:38 PM
aNewLeaf aNewLeaf is offline
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True.
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Old 08-23-2013, 10:10 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Exactly.

Also, I found it to be a letdown that he used Kettle-Belly and dispensed with all the stuff from "Gulf" in about 3 sentences. Why bother to use Baldwin if you're not going to update us in detail. And for that matter, what happened to all those super-fancy learning techniques (the magical language where a paragraph could be expressed as a single syllable, etc) that he taught the hero of "Gulf"?

Another flaw: Friday was in the NZ family for what--8 years or so?--and her super-power is that she can put together disparate groups of data and come up with the right conclusion...and somehow she never quite noticed that the entire family was a group of raging Ku Klux Klan style bigots? It's not that they have a minor thing against Tongans, they're frothing at the mouth white supremacists. And she missed it. AND Friday missed that Anita was conning her? But her super-power is ferreting out stuff exactly like this. Oops.
I'd say Friday was willfully blind as regards her NZ family. Her craving for a place to belong let Anita take her to the cleaners while not risking too much with someone Anita thought was beneath them.

And I think you're overselling the racism of the NZ family. They are far from frothing klansmen. Their racism is more of the class-based kind that wouldn't possibly riot or rally against Tongans...it's the sort that believes that some people just 'wouldn't fit in' at their club and such. It's racism, that's clear, but there's never a hint of violence beneath it, it's more the British class system applied along racial lines. Though I'd be surprised if there wasn't a certain level of working class discrimination as well.

In terms of Hartley Baldwin, I saw those three sentences as RAH throwing out a 'Can you believe what I wrote forty years ago? Wow.' He does throw a bone out there. The world that Baldwin's will forbids Friday to emigrate to, Olympia, is the likely home of the subculture in 'Gulf'. It's where Baldwin's lawyer tells Friday 'those self-styled supermen' settled. It's clear that, whatever Baldwin thought of them at the time of 'Gulf', the bloom is off the rose by the time of Friday and Baldwin is back trying to do what he can without them. Especially necessary as they left to do their own thing.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:25 AM
Fenris Fenris is offline
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I'd say Friday was willfully blind as regards her NZ family. Her craving for a place to belong let Anita take her to the cleaners while not risking too much with someone Anita thought was beneath them.
But her super-power is that she isn't willfully blind. And in the 8 years she was with the family, she never once noticed anyone ever saying "Those darkies are subhuman" or hell, told her (as did whatshername) "Oh, when I say "darkies", I don't mean you dear, you're Cherokee...that's almost as good as being white." (close paraphrase). I can't buy that she was THAT blind--the kind of virulent poisonous talk that we got from the family members doesn't just suddenly happen--you can't know someone for 8 years and then be shocked to see that they're frothing bigots. Especially when your magic power is exactly to notice things like that.

Quote:
And I think you're overselling the racism of the NZ family. They are far from frothing klansmen. Their racism is more of the class-based kind that wouldn't possibly riot or rally against Tongans...it's the sort that believes that some people just 'wouldn't fit in' at their club and such. It's racism, that's clear, but there's never a hint of violence beneath it, it's more the British class system applied along racial lines. Though I'd be surprised if there wasn't a certain level of working class discrimination as well.
I got considerably worse than that from the scene where Friday tells whatshername that she's an artificial person. What'shername isn't just putting her nose in the air and sniffing that the Tongan husband (as well as black people, aboriginies, etc) "...aren't our sort of people, dear.", she point-blank calls them sub-human (the "Cherokees are nearly as good as whites...almost." line). At best it's a "White Man's Burden" type racism, but frankly, it seems worse than that.

Quote:
In terms of Hartley Baldwin, I saw those three sentences as RAH throwing out a 'Can you believe what I wrote forty years ago? Wow.' He does throw a bone out there. The world that Baldwin's will forbids Friday to emigrate to, Olympia, is the likely home of the subculture in 'Gulf'. It's where Baldwin's lawyer tells Friday 'those self-styled supermen' settled. It's clear that, whatever Baldwin thought of them at the time of 'Gulf', the bloom is off the rose by the time of Friday and Baldwin is back trying to do what he can without them. Especially necessary as they left to do their own thing.
I dunno--I would have liked to see just a bit more. I don't want/need it to recap "Gulf" entirely, but it would have been neat to see Baldwin train Friday in one of the techniques from "Gulf" (wasn't one of them "not needing to sleep"? That would have been useful when she was becoming an expert in everything.) and I'd have liked maybe one or two more sentences about the Baldwin/Superpeople split--did they give up on Earth? Did they decide that they were better than humans? A bit more info--again, a few sentences, not a chapter--would have been nice. When the lawyer comments about the "self-styled supermen" having gone to Olympus, she could have added how her dad got the real story from Baldwin and told her--the supermen thought X and Baldwin thought Y and blah-blah-blah.

Two other points:

1) Heinlein's grasp of idiom is usually his strong point. He fails in Friday. "I don't see why human people make such a heavy trip out of sex.". Um..."heavy trip"? That's incredibly dated terminology at the time he was writing it--minimum 10 years out of date. It's not, however, as bad as Fritz Leiber inflicts on humanity in The Wanderer ("Interracial weed brothers..." and such) so he's sort-of forgiven. Also, after this book, I think he stopped using "slitch" and "spung!". Humanity thanks him for that.

2) As an exercise, I Googled some of the stuff Friday was asked to look up on her terminal. Ben Franklin's parable of the whistle gets it exactly backwards and has an incredibly ignorant (surprising for Franklin) view of "value" (which also contradicts what I know of Heinlein's). The parable of the whistle is about how Franklin bought a whistle as a child for 4 times it's market price, but which gave him great joy--until he was told that he overpaid for it. The actual moral of the story is NOT "Don't overpay", despite what Franklin intended, it's a perfect illustration that value is not intrinsic to an item. If it brought joy to Franklin, then it was "worth" what he paid. (Also, I Youtubed that comedian that Friday/Heinlein loves so much: "The world's greatest authority" is tedious in his earlier clips and just...shrill and political and grossly unfunny in his later stuff. You'd be better off watching something by Ernie Kovaks (say, "The Nairobi Trio") for a contemporary of that Expert guy who actually IS funny. Or Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner's 2000 Year Old Man stuff )

3) It's interesting that Heinlein's "terminals" are essentially the Internet* and Friday's first day with them leads her to exactly the sort-of link-following that happens on the internet--at one point she starts with searching for Louis XI and ends up spending the afternoon listening to old Broadway musicals she's downloaded. Nice bit of extrapolation on how addictively time-wasting (and educational) following random links can be.

*As far as I can tell, Leinster was the first to hit on the concept of the internet in "A Logic Named Joe" circa 1955. He predicts streaming news, porn-filters, illegal web-activities, privacy issues, etc.

Last edited by Fenris; 08-24-2013 at 08:29 AM..
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  #496  
Old 08-24-2013, 09:21 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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The Star Beast Volume XVII of The Virginia Edition

Written during RAH's juvenile era, The Star Beast was serialized (I have it) and later released in book form in 1954. Immediately preceding it was Starman Jones and following was Tunnel in the Sky.

I bring up the books surrounding it for the purpose of contrast. Both SJ and TitS are classic juvenile novels. A young man finds himself on an adventure and grows as a result of it. Bang, novel.

But The Star Beast isn't like that at all. Despite having the trappings of the rest of Heinlein's juveniles - there's a boy, a Heinlein matron mother, an alien, some danger, and so forth - the boy doesn't learn anything. Hell, he's terrible at pretty much everything he does. There's not a situation in the book where he doesn't allow himself to be pushed around or simply makes bad decisions on his own. Even the sequence where he's reviewing his ancestors (who share his name) and their acts of courage, he takes nothing from it except to form a pointless and ineffective plan.

Look, it's orthodoxy in Heinlein criticism to make the point that John Thomas Stuart XI is sort of an anti-Heinlein hero. Fine. But that makes me think more about what the hell the book is about.

The book has other characters. Stuart's girlfriend, the divorced-from-her-parents Betty Sorenson - is a person who acts. Not always with great skill outside of her comfort zone (look at the difference in how she can manipulate the Chief of Police in their small town and the older Henry Kiku) but she's certainly in their trying to control her own (and Stuart's) destiny.

Lummox - The alien of the title - is also a interesting character, but s/he's not really developed all that much. She starts as an alien with a childish point of view and even later when it's revealed that s/he's some sort of ET royalty she still behaves petulantly. She's demanding and abusive of her followers and very insistent in a 'my way or the highway' attitude. Heck, she even has the other ETs crawling around her on their bellies.

However, the four government types are where this book really delivers something worth reading. In each of them there's a strong contrast and compare that shows different aspects toward governing and adult behavior.

Secretary McClure is the Secretary of Space. He's an appointed official who is a politician and might aspire to a seat on the World Council and possibly even Secretary General. But he's revealed to be a politician first and foremost an empty suit more concerned with headlines and his own advancement than with doing the job properly. In the end, he bails out of an agreement to live off world as an ambassador to the newly contacted race of ETs. While it's not stated outright, as a former political reporter, I sense political rehabilitation and comeback for Mr. McClure. Or at least his political team decided that he had a better chance of advancement staying put and playing the game at home. The one thing - in the middle section of the book - that McClure truly is concerned about is how Kiku can harm him or even get him removed from his cabinet-level position.

Sergei Greenberg is an assistant - a highly placed one - for the Undersecretary of Space, Henry Kiku. Greenberg, when we first meet him, is in charge of System Trade Intelligence and is dispatched to investigate the first incident with Lummox at the beginning of the book. Greenberg is portrayed as a competent man who is still angling for advancement and has a reasonable chance of eventually being the senior career official at the Department of Space. However, in the story, he's constantly double-checking himself by trying to figure whether he was doing the right thing by asking what would Kiku do. That can be seen two ways. First, that he's trying to be a good underling and thinking about how to apply his boss' policies to the situation he finds himself in. Second, that he holds Kiku in such high regard that he tries to pattern his actions on Kiku.

Wes Robbins is the sketchiest character that has a major role in the book. He's a PR and media man for the Department of Space and plays an important role. He's not really a climber and instead limits his role to making sure the right story gets out there in the way that will benefit the goals of the Dept of Space, and Kiku, if the two things are to be considered different in any way.

But...

The goods are truly delivered by the portrayal of Henry Kiku, the Undersecretary of Space. Note how all three of the previous characters actions and attitudes revolve around Kiku, even when - in the case of McClure - they are largely unaware of it. Kiku is the pivot on which the story revolves and it does so based on his wisdom and experience. Instead of seeing a brash young man driving the action as in so many of Heinlein's other juveniles, we get an elderly and largely unflappable (he admits to discomfort with Dr. Ftaeml - an ET with tendrils that resemble snakes on his head - due to the Kiku's fear of snakes) man navigating in an adult way a crisis that could have ruined Earth.

An interesting point to note in how Kiku is established as the adult in the room is how Heinlein refers to him in the text. The other characters are generally referred to by the narrator - not the other characters now, but RAH - by their last name. "Greenberg said...", "Robbins did..." and so forth. Kiku is - almost universally - referred to in the text as "Mr. Kiku". Heinlein is displaying who the most important - and to be most respected - person in the book is by setting off references to Kiku with an honorific. I cannot believe this was anything but intentional on the part of RAH. Kiku - more than the learned Dr. Ftaeml, more than the space prince/ss Lummox, more than Secretary McClure and enormously moreso that John Thomas Stuart XI - is the focal point of the story. And Kiku is portrayed of being worthy of the position. Kiku runs his department while dealing with appointees and underlings and random events from across light years, all without raising his voice and often without needing to give his staff explicit orders. In truth, there's most of a lesson in management in how Heinlein portrays Kiku and many people could learn how to approach problems by paying attention to how Kiku is presented here.

Kiku even shows the only real bit of character development in the book. As mentioned earlier, Kiku has an irrational fear of snakes (at one point he hints at an incident during his childhood in Africa) and his trouble dealing with the sort-of snakeheaded Dr. Ftaeml. But by the end of the book he's worked with Ftaeml enough to have this exchange take place:

Quote:
Originally by Robert Anson Heinlein
"I am interested only in how it affects the future ... and in getting out of this pesky wind." Mr. Kiku sneezed. "Oh, dear."
Dr. Ftaeml took his cape off and hung it around Mr. Kiku's narrow shoulders. "My friend ... my brother. I am sorry."
"No, no, you will be cold."
"Not I."
"Let us share it then."
Heck, Patterson and James, in their forward to the book, fall into the "Greenberg" vs "Mr. Kiku" pattern. Honestly, I find their forward to this book - with its ongoing description of troubles with editor Dalgliesh and its celebration of the dick joke in the soi-disant protagonist's name - disappointing. There's a lot more deconstruction of the book that could have been done. Instead the forward focuses on the more obvious.

For a juvenile, this book presents governance the best of all of them. There will later be echos of it in Secretary Joe Douglas in Stranger in a Strange Land, but I don't think there's another instance of RAH showing such a competent person in government from The Star Beast on.

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 17: The Star Beast
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: Hemingway, Eichmann...
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  #497  
Old 08-24-2013, 10:22 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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And smwrimes it's quie simper. "Gulf" was written as a poece pg yhr 'prophesied' future issue of Astounding, abd as a result had to matchh the letter commenting on it, The character given Kettle-Belly Baldwin was displeasing to Heinlein's friend and former boss at the Philadelphia Naval MaterialsLab, J. Hartley Bowen, who stated that Friday was his favorite novel.
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  #498  
Old 08-24-2013, 10:42 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I'll agree that Star Beast is worth far more deep examination and thoughtful criticism than it's ever been given. Yes, I tend to get distracted by the JT joke and its history, but I am far more fascinated by many of the implied social issues.

Betty divorcing her parents and keeping it enough of a secret that JT did not know; he is shocked and embarrassed by the revelation.

The implied change in sexual roles, presumably due to reliable birth control, that leads to JT seriously having to be concerned about his reputation being alone with Betty in the woods. Betty's comment that "boys had to start worrying when girls stopped" bespeaks volumes.

JT's hostile relationship with his mother.

I think the key is two-part: the novel is carried by the government as protagonist, and JC's breakdown of the four characters is a good first sketch. (Don't forget the local officials who tried to "deal" with Lummox as part of that equation.) The second part is the social portait carried by the lightweight and secondary characters of JT, Betty and a few others.

And the third part is that Heinlein got all these astounding concepts across under Dalgleish, from the smirking dick joke to major social-sexual-parental role changes.
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:17 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Hmm. Close, AB, but I think some things are missing.

On the subject of Dalgliesh, James and Patterson state that Dalgliesh loved the book as first presented. She may not have picked up on the dick joke (then again, she may have. Given her notion of publishing sometimes pushing-the-limits books such as Two and the Town the sort of one dimensional treatment she normally gets in Heinlein analysis may be overwritten) but she seems to have caught and worried about the mention of child divorce and asked permission of Heinlein's agent to make a change to downplay it but other items such as JT's concern about his reputation and let's not forget the casual way that Betty states that she'll ask JT to marry someday.

TSB did get some pushback from librarians, and some bad reviews from them. One is pointed out in the forward. But it appeared not to harm sales and RAH and Dalgliesh appear to have by then worked out a modus viviendi.
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:55 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Quoth Polycarp:

And smwrimes it's quie simper. "Gulf" was written as a poece pg yhr 'prophesied' future issue of Astounding, abd as a result had to matchh the letter commenting on it,
Something spilled on your keyboard? I'm guessing that was meant to be
Quote:
And sometimes it's quite simple. "Gulf" was written as a piece of the 'prophesied' future issue of Astounding, and as a result had to match the letter commenting on it,
And the other thing I find interesting about The Star Beast is that, out of all of the many juvenile novels where the young male protagonist is oblivious to the young lady who's scheming to marry him, it's the only one where the marriage is actually stated in the book, instead of just being implied to be an eventual certainty. Is this perhaps related somehow to John Stuart Thomas's passivity?

Last edited by Chronos; 08-24-2013 at 11:56 AM..
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