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  #201  
Old 12-28-2012, 01:40 PM
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Excursus - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

For the first time we come to a story by RAH that I've never read before. It was certainly not included in my original copy of The Past Through Tomorrow, I know that. From the notes I believe it was written for the Shasta publication of The Man Who Sold the Moon.

Actually, it's only a few hundred words, tops. It functions as an intro to The Man Who Sold the Moon and sets the stage for that story. It's a short love-letter-style description of what the moon is like, now that the cities are there and travel is routine. Then it segues back to the novella to come.

Still, the writing it good and evocative. It does paint that picture well. I enjoyed it.
  #202  
Old 01-04-2013, 02:00 PM
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The Man Who Sold the Moon - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

Look, I don't know anyone who doesn't think this story is one of Heinlein's best. Best in the Future History, best outside of the Future History. Just plain best.

The amazing thing about it is how it was written out of sequence and what that implies about Heinlein and the nature of writing.

By the time he got around to writing TMWSTM, the vast majority of the Future History had been written, including one that uses the major character, Delos David Harriman. Working something in this late in the process, and making it, essentially, the launching point for several stories, written earlier but existing later in the timeline, is quite an accomplishment.

It's also one of the most developed of the Future History stories. That may be because of its length, true, but it shows a lot greater sense of character than some of his earlier works like Life-Line or Blowups Happen.

It tells the tale of an entrepreneur, already a successful businessman by any sense, who puts together the first trip to the moon. It's a brilliant story and incorporates, to my experienced eye, many of the tactics I've used in creating companies and getting investors to believe in them. I wouldn't be surprised if, subconsciously, I took this story as an example when I started having to do the 'talk fast and don't let them think too much' routine.

This is a well-written story about an adventure, but it's also a character study of how a certain type of person bends the world to his will. D.D. isn't always shown as a hero, just as a man determined to achieve his goal. It's a great piece of work.
  #203  
Old 01-05-2013, 10:25 AM
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By the time he got around to writing TMWSTM, the vast majority of the Future History had been written, including one that uses the major character, Delos David Harriman.
Which story was that?

And while I don't know that I'd call Harriman a "hero", either, I will say that the world needs more men like him.
  #204  
Old 01-05-2013, 10:37 AM
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Which story was that?

And while I don't know that I'd call Harriman a "hero", either, I will say that the world needs more men like him.
Requiem.
  #205  
Old 01-05-2013, 07:01 PM
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This is a well-written story about an adventure, but it's also a character study of how a certain type of person bends the world to his will. D.D. isn't always shown as a hero, just as a man determined to achieve his goal. It's a great piece of work.
A great story. By the way, a classic work on computer programming, The Mythical Man-Month (by Fred Brooks), excerpts a portion of "The Man Who Sold the Moon" to demonstrate the difference between being "chief designer" and "chief administrator".
  #206  
Old 01-06-2013, 11:54 AM
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Keep in mind that MWSTM is essentially the last Future History story written, so besides having the arc and ideas in mind all through writing the others, it could be neatly dovetailed to fit among all the existing works.

(No, I don't regard Time Enough for Love as the "capstone" of the Future History; it treats little from any prior story with more than a passing glance and is much more the first book of the Multiverse/World as Myth series.)
  #207  
Old 01-06-2013, 11:55 AM
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And while I don't know that I'd call Harriman a "hero", either, I will say that the world needs more men like him.
Like Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis?
  #208  
Old 01-06-2013, 02:39 PM
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Like Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis?
I never said that the world didn't have any men like Harriman, only that we need more of them.

And was "Requiem" seriously written before "The Man who Sold the Moon"? That seems amazing to me. He must have had at least the broad outline of "TMwStM" in mind, in order to make "Requiem" possible.
  #209  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:22 PM
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Yep, according to the release dates on wiki and the notes, The Green Hills of Earth was published in 1950, ten years AFTER Requiem. It was written to provide extra material for a collection of Future History stories that were to be entitled The Outward Urge (God spare us from that title). The notes in my edition say that Heinlein started thinking about TMWSTM in 1946, six years after the character of DD Harriman first saw print. That's really something, isn't it?

Anyway, the story he submitted for the compilation was so strong that it was named for it, rather than any other story or title.
  #210  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:33 PM
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Delilah and the Space Rigger - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

I'm going to try to blow through some quickly, as I've gotten busy and fallen behind.

DatSR is one of the better stories in the future history. Like several of the next set, it shows Heinlein's attempt at portraying life off Earth. Indeed, following the war he spent time working to make a American Moon trip possible, working to get believe to believe in a new round of manifest destiny right over our heads. While a trip in the 40s didn't work out, God knows, in his writings Heinlein spent quite a bit of time trying to make clear just how day-to-day life would be for those who did.

This one shows something that will be a real problem once we move into space on a regular basis: men and women, interacting together. It details a construction crew, all male, and the impact it has when a woman is assigned to be a communications officer for the team. The solution, after much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, is the obvious one: get more women on the crew. It's a natural and a good idea.

The story is enjoyable and well-written, better than most of the earlier stuff. It shows that it was written and published in 1949, ten years after Heinlein started writing with his clunkier, early stuff.
  #211  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:41 PM
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Space Jockey - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

I simply canNOT read that title without thinking of Alien, at this point. It's just not possible.

Published in 1947 by The Saturday Evening Post it was a sign that Heinlein had truly arrived. 1947 saw a whole spate of Heinlein publications as he committed to writing again, full time.

This is another one of his 'regular life in space' set of stories that, to me at least, make The Future History so special. It's not about grand schemes and adventures, it's about showing how people will adapt to living in space. More importantly, it's about how people won't change much when they do. Sure, the location's are exotic, the moon, after all, ain't Charleston, SC. But what people are and how they behave? Not so different.

This one is about a pilot working in space and the stresses his job puts on his marriage. Nothing else. Again, the background is different, and there are some side notes, including one very annoying blowhard of a father and son combination, but this could have been written about a pilot or truck driver forced to spend time away from his wife for too many weeks. It strikes a chord in me.

This also has a mention of Harriman in it, in that the blowhard character has a letter from Harriman asking the pilot to provide the blowhard 'every courtesy'.
  #212  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:46 PM
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Requiem - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

The oddball among what I'm reading right now as it was published in 1940, before the war.

The story is the fifth Heinlein story to be placed and the first that takes us offworld in any sense. It's the tale of an old man, DD Harriman, who brought man to the moon but couldn't go himself. It's basically a character study of Harriman in his elderly days. A story of regret and accomplishment set on a final attempt to get to the moon.

The amazing thing is that Heinlein conceived it before he conceived The Man Who Sold the Moon. The two fit together so well, Requiem as a coda to TMWSTM, that it's incredible that they were written on different sides of the war and in the reverse of the expected order.

Still, he did it. And it works.

But not for everyone. The notes say that, when he received it, John W. Campbell didn't like the story. He ran it anyway, but he didn't like it.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 01-08-2013 at 02:48 PM.
  #213  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:54 PM
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The Long Watch - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

The story that ties Space Cadet into The Future History!

This one came about in the late 40s as Heinlein suffered another bout of writer's block. Ginny suggested that he go back to where he was when he was last badly blocked, Space Cadet. She suggested he write a story about one of the men mentioned as 'heroes of the Patrol' in that book.

So he did. It's again a character study. What sort of character does it take to stand up for what you believe, even if it kills you. Well, even if it MIGHT kill you. John Dahlquist doesn't know he's killing himself with his actions, just that it's dangerous. By the time he does know the price, the decision point is past.

The story took eight months to sell, as it was a bit of a downer and didn't fit in a lot of editorial styles. Eventually, American Legion Magazine picked it up and it ran in 1949.

Again, though, we see that this is a story not so much about space travel and such, but about how people will interact with each other, and their environment, while off Earth. It's a fair dinkum piece of writing and I'm glad to revisit it here.
  #214  
Old 01-08-2013, 02:57 PM
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The Long Watch was the first of RAH's stories to really get to me as a kid. It was part of the group of stories and authors that taught me about honor, duty and doing the right thing because it is the right thing.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:59 PM
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Dammit, now I'm feeling the desire to reread my Heinlein collection. Like I have that kind of time!
  #216  
Old 01-08-2013, 03:56 PM
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Tell me about it. But I'll read them so YOU WON'T HAVE TO!

*does back flip into bathtub, runs around waving a flag*
  #217  
Old 01-09-2013, 10:49 AM
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I'm actually tearing up a bit just thinking about "The Long Watch". Part of what makes it hit so hard is the fact that Dahlquist isn't a Big Damn Hero: He's just the guy who was there, and did what needed to be done.
  #218  
Old 01-09-2013, 11:21 AM
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The Long Watch - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1....

It's a fair dinkum piece of writing and I'm glad to revisit it here.
I like "The Long Watch" very much. It's a beautiful story about duty, honor and self-sacrifice for a cause greater than self. Did you know it was cited in a 1988 Israeli court-martial?: http://www.thefullwiki.org/Adam_Keller_court_martial
  #219  
Old 01-09-2013, 02:46 PM
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I'm actually tearing up a bit just thinking about "The Long Watch". Part of what makes it hit so hard is the fact that Dahlquist isn't a Big Damn Hero: He's just the guy who was there, and did what needed to be done.
"The Long Watch" is one of my favorite Heinlein stories. I could have sworn it was in "Lazarus Long's Notebooks" but cannot find the quote yet. Something about "[Big Damn] Heroes are often made on the spot and often from whatever material is handy." Anyone recognize the quote? I'm sure I've messed up the wording which is probably why I can't find it, whomever it's from. Dahlquist was not a hero to himself, certainly not at the start of the story. But he put himself between evil and his wife and child and by extension, everyone else. That's a hero.

I'm surprised to hear that "Requiem" was done before "TMWSTM". I remember the first time I read both and just assumed that Requiem" was Heinlein re-visiting the character years later and giving him a happy ending. Many thanks to Jonathan for passing along all this great information. I'm following this thread with great anticipation.
  #220  
Old 01-09-2013, 05:01 PM
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The notes say that, when he received it, John W. Campbell didn't like the story. He ran it anyway, but he didn't like it.
To quote Heinlein via Jubal Harshaw, he liked it better after he peed in it. (The magazine version had two lines added to the ending that made Heinlein apopleptic.)
  #221  
Old 01-09-2013, 08:57 PM
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As a writer, I have used that line on editors from time to time.

And taught it to my journalism students.
  #222  
Old 01-10-2013, 01:09 AM
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What were the two lines?
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:48 AM
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So how much of the 46 volumes cover Heinlein's incest fetish?
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:15 AM
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What were the two lines?
"Then Patrick Duffy stepped out of the shower. 'It was all a dream,' he said."
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:41 AM
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"Then Patrick Duffy stepped out of the shower. 'It was all a dream,' he said."
*applause*

Almost as bad:
Charlie looked toward the relaxed figure propped up on the bed of Lunar pumice, face fixed towards the Earth. "Well," he grunted, "he hit the Moon--"
To which Heinlein complained that JWC had ruined the story by leading the reader away from the its real point.

If anyone remembers the film Space Cowboys, it lifted its ending right from this short story.
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:20 PM
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*applause*

Almost as bad:
Charlie looked toward the relaxed figure propped up on the bed of Lunar pumice, face fixed towards the Earth. "Well," he grunted, "he hit the Moon--"
To which Heinlein complained that JWC had ruined the story by leading the reader away from the its real point.

If anyone remembers the film Space Cowboys, it lifted its ending right from this short story.
Campbell messed with the last paragraph of Asimov's "Nightfall" too.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:25 PM
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Gentlemen, Be Seated - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

OK, this is clearly another piece of the 'let's see how people will live and work in space' series. This was originally written for Town & Country but failed there and ended up with Argosy. I can see how a story that centers on, essentially, a few men's butts might not work out as well as the previous The Green Hills of Earth. But at least it found a home.

The point, beyond the narrative, again comes from the everyday behavior of the characters in it. None of the old moon hands, all except the narrator, are at all filled wonder or awe about being on the moon. The big guy, Fats, is a union man who knows the rules and wheedles bonus pay out of every situation. What's more normal than that?

Another great story that makes clear that humans and humans, regardless.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:32 PM
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The Black Pits of Luna - From The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

Another story that mentions Harriman, this time in the guise of a person who represents 'The Harriman Trust'. By this time travel to the moon is so humdrum that a man might take his wife and children, one of the quite small, on a business trip there. Amazing.

At this point in the future history, the moon is getting populated and children and being born there. Off camera, and for story purposes necessary, a senior member of the trust has his young daughter around so that the POV family can borrow her suit for their youngest to take him to the surface.

Two things stand out in TBPOL. First, another appearance of 'The Heinlein Matron', a woman who is so used to comfort that she's quite unwilling to enjoy the excursion. She's the mother of the family and apparently frequently frustrates the younger narrator.

But what this really shows is the division, in Heinlein's mind, of those who want to pioneer and those who don't. Of the family, at the end of the story (which revolves around the youngest getting separated and lost on the moon and his older brother tracking him down) neither of the parents are seen as the 'pioneering' type while the elder boy is. In fact, he's specifically invited to return when he grows up. What more could a boy want?

Hell, *I* certainly wanted that at his age.

So we're seeing that an age of exploration is dawning and the division in the human race between those who want to go and those who want to stay home. It won't be the last time this pops up.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 01-11-2013 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:37 PM
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"It's Great to Be Back!" - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

I think we're seeing a familiar theme, here.

This time we have a couple who made the decision to emigrate to the moon make the decision to return to Earth, citing the need for open skies and such.

But what they'd forgotten is all of the little inconveniences that living on, not in, a planet can have. They constantly have colds, there's dust, and people are rude and such. Heinlein even puts a speech in that people on the moon are self-selected better and more polite and well adjusted that people on Earth.

In the end, this takes Heinlein's worldwide pitch for space travel and turns it on it's head, it shows not how great it is to live on the moon, but how miserable people can be living on Earth. It's an interesting take on what he's been showing in these stories.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:46 PM
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Searchlight - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

This was a stunt of a story, and one that illustrates one of my favorite Heinlein quotes, (I misquote, I'm sure) "The best prose there ever is is 'Pay to the order of Robert Heinlein."

I live by it as a writer. If you're a writer, you should, too.

This story started life as an advertisement. A ad-man named D.H. Steele, working for an electronics firm, was signing up SF authors to do a series of micro-stories about electronics in the future. He got Asimov, van Vogt and several others for a very high price, 28 cents per word. (Hell, I think I might be working for less than that now, somedays.)

Heinlein turned him down. Heinlein didn't think he could write anything at the 1200 word level. He was known for writing long, not short. But Steele kept pitching in a language Heinlein understood: cold hard cash. At 62 cents per word Heinlein broke down and agreed to do it. The result is this story of using tuned lasers to look for a blind girl lost on the moon. Even with that his first effort came in at 1900 words...far too long for a page-sized ad for Hoffman Electronics.

Cut, cut, cut. Eventually it worked and it ran as an ad in Scientific American and later in Fortune.

This is the last of the Future History stories, barring the inclusion of the novels later, to be written. It fit in so Heinlein put it in there during the lunar exploration period.

Oh, and he ended up sharing a 'Certificate of Merit' with the guy who wrote the actual ad copy from the Annual Exhibition of Advertising and Editorial Art in the West. Good for him.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:25 PM
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Campbell messed with the last paragraph of Asimov's "Nightfall" too.
Okay, I'll bite. Can you summarize how he changed it? I haven't read it for a long time, but I seem to remember it more as the main characters doing everything they could to prepare for the rare confluence when all the planets suns would be down at the same time and the stars would show. They didn't think there would be any problem and the last line is something like: "As they looked up, the stars started coming out..."
Thanks!
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:31 PM
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This story started life as an advertisement. A ad-man named D.H. Steele, working for an electronics firm, was signing up SF authors to do a series of micro-stories about electronics in the future. He got Asimov, van Vogt and several others for a very high price, 28 cents per word. (Hell, I think I might be working for less than that now, somedays.)
Nitpick: The theme for the stories was "communications", not "electronics". Asimov's contribution, incidentally, was called "My Son, the Physicist", and centered on the physicist's mother, not the physicist himself, coming up wit the solution.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:19 PM
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Okay, I'll bite. Can you summarize how he changed it? I haven't read it for a long time, but I seem to remember it more as the main characters doing everything they could to prepare for the rare confluence when all the planets suns would be down at the same time and the stars would show. They didn't think there would be any problem and the last line is something like: "As they looked up, the stars started coming out..."
Thanks!
You may be conflating this with the last line of Arthur C Clarke 's "The Nine Billion Names of God." It's something like
SPOILER:
As they looked up, without any fuss, the stars were going out


The last line of "Nightfall " is something like"The long night had come again,"

I don't know how Campbell interfered with the paragraph .
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:28 PM
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he last line of "Nightfall " is something like"The long night had come again,"

I don't know how Campbell interfered with the paragraph .
I believe that, unlike Heinlein, Asimov never changed the story back to his original. He did sometimes, mostly with titles, but in his autobiography he says something like "JWC changed the ending, so I've never been as satisfied with that story as I might have been."

I have the ASF issue but it's packed a bit deeply - comparing it with any later collected version of the story would say. I do have a dim memory of making the comparison and finding no difference but I wouldn't swear to it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:39 PM
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You may be conflating this with the last line of Arthur C Clarke 's "The Nine Billion Names of God." It's something like
SPOILER:
As they looked up, without any fuss, the stars were going out


The last line of "Nightfall " is something like"The long night had come again,"

I don't know how Campbell interfered with the paragraph .

Yah, I thought about that after I posted. I'm remembering a bit also, wasn't there a mob of people in a panic approaching their observatory with torches? The idea being that every x years, the suns all set and the people burn everything in a panic and then their civilization falls. I'll try to find it in my books when I get home tonight.
  #236  
Old 01-11-2013, 06:38 PM
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Okay, I'll bite. Can you summarize how he changed it? I haven't read it for a long time, but I seem to remember it more as the main characters doing everything they could to prepare for the rare confluence when all the planets suns would be down at the same time and the stars would show. They didn't think there would be any problem and the last line is something like: "As they looked up, the stars started coming out..."
Thanks!
The paragraph Campbell added is just before the end of the story "Not Earth's feeble thirty-six hundred Stars visible to the eye; Lagash was in the center of a giant cluster. Thirty thousand mighty suns shone down in a soul-searing splendor that was more frighteningly cold in its awful indifference than the bitter wind that shivered across the cold, horribly bleak world."

Asimov hated it because he didn't like people meddling with her words without his permission but also because the passage Campbell added mentioned "Earth."
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:30 PM
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"It's Great to Be Back!" - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

...Heinlein even puts a speech in that people on the moon are self-selected better and more polite and well adjusted that people on Earth....
I read that story a few months ago and got really irritated, just as I was the first time I read it, by the pig-headedness and insularity of the people in the small American town where the couple from the Moon (briefly) settle. A local contractor doesn't promptly make the repairs they asked for, IIRC, so when they bring in a craftsman from elsewhere, the townies snub them. Grrrr!
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:08 AM
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Actually, that strikes me as the most typical thing in the story. I've spent a great deal of time in small towns and that's not an atypical reaction.

Also, remember that the couple is breaking one of Heinlein's later rules. They did NOT attempt to fit in with local beliefs and mores (rubbing blue mud into their bellybuttons) in the town. Yes, the locals are guilty of not being accepting, but the couple are guilty of not attempting to fit in as well.
  #239  
Old 01-12-2013, 10:13 AM
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Nitpick: The theme for the stories was "communications", not "electronics". Asimov's contribution, incidentally, was called "My Son, the Physicist", and centered on the physicist's mother, not the physicist himself, coming up wit the solution.
Are you sure, Chronos? The end notes for this story read thusly:

Quote:
It started out with a "cute" idea for an ad campaign: for their Hoffman Electronics account, they would get notable science fiction writers to imagine electronics of the future and then write 1,200 word short-shorts they could publish in a two-page ad.
I'm not trying to pick a fight or (God help me) start a cite war, just in exploring different facts put forward.
  #240  
Old 01-12-2013, 10:21 AM
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Ordeal in Space - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

This is another one of the 'Life in the Future' series, sort of. This story defines a man who steps away from space travel following a nearly fatal problem on his final space mission. He develops acute agoraphobia and can't bear to space.

There's not a lot to it. It's more a character study about how the POV character tries to avoid his past and eventually overcomes his phobia through another act of (small) heroism that allows him to return to space.

This does show that a spaceman is a spaceman. He has nothing against the people who never go to space, but his lack shows in the writing. When he overcomes his phobia his immediate thought is that he'll be heading back to space. There's nothing else in his head.

This followed the publication of The Green Hills of Earth and was entitled by Heinlein, Broken Wings. He and his agent thought it was a lock for sale to the slick magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post. But the Post turned it down and it ended up in Town & Country magazine, which retitled it for publication to indicate to readers that it was a science fiction story.

Ah, to live in a universe where SF stories run in major market magazines.
  #241  
Old 01-12-2013, 10:32 AM
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The Green Hills of Earth - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

This is, first and foremost, a character study in its most literal sense. Hell, it's written as a magazine character piece following the death of Rhysling, the lead character.

The story accomplishes two goals. One, it illustrates Rhysling's character, certainly. However, it all serves to paint a larger picture of mankind's push into the solar system and the establishment of colonies on other planets. Rhysling, during his time as a spacer and his later time as an entertainer, visits Mars (where later we find he knew Lazarus Long), Venus, the Belt, Titan and so forth. That's a lot of traveling for one man.

According to the notes, Heinlein knew a man Tony D'Amico, during his time at the Philly Navy Yards during the war. D'Amico was a blind machinist who had been a singer before the war. Heinlein spoke with D'Amico and, if not based Rhysling on D'Amico as least used him as inspiration for the blind singer's life and perception of the world.

Still, the story did great. It ran in The Saturday Evening Post in February 1947 and, according to the editors there, got more fan mail than anything they'd ever run.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 01-12-2013 at 10:33 AM.
  #242  
Old 01-12-2013, 11:38 AM
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I'm not trying to pick a fight or (God help me) start a cite war, just in exploring different facts put forward.
<fx Sean Connery voice>Ov corsh yer not.</fx>

I have copies of all the stories here somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember if there was a single thread (communications) or if it was more general (electronics). Some of the VE notes, though, are written from a literary rather than technical expertise, and I can see the topic getting muddled.
  #243  
Old 01-12-2013, 12:11 PM
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Are you sure, Chronos? The end notes for this story read thusly:
Well, that's the version I read, anyway, though I can't remember exactly where I read it (probably in whichever Asimov collection I read his story in). Asimov's story, though, really doesn't involve electronics: The characters are communicating via radio, true, but the resolution would be just as applicable to a tin-can-and-string telephone.

Plot summary:
SPOILER:
A research team on Pluto has discovered extraterrestrial life. The team needs to be in constant communication with experts back on Earth, but all communications are hampered by the six-hour lightspeed delay. The titular physicist is called in to try to find a solution to this problem, but it's his mother who actually finds the solution: Both sides just keep on talking, without waiting for the reply from the other side. She explains that this technique has been employed by women on Earth talking to each other for ages.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:05 PM
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Yah, I thought about that after I posted. I'm remembering a bit also, wasn't there a mob of people in a panic approaching their observatory with torches? The idea being that every x years, the suns all set and the people burn everything in a panic and then their civilization falls. I'll try to find it in my books when I get home tonight.
Continuing the hijack ... There are two parts to this . The mob attacking the observatory are religiously driven and feel that the scientists are blasphemously investigating a religious phenomenon . The torches are not only to burn down the observatory but also because there is no other source of light. After a thousand years of having a minimum of one sun in the sky, and a maximum of six, this culture cannot deal with darkness and destroys its entire civilisation by burning it to provide light.

Anyway , I'm sure you've looked it up by now .
  #245  
Old 01-12-2013, 04:12 PM
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Well, that's the version I read, anyway, though I can't remember exactly where I read it (probably in whichever Asimov collection I read his story in). Asimov's story, though, really doesn't involve electronics: The characters are communicating via radio, true, but the resolution would be just as applicable to a tin-can-and-string telephone.
To both you and NitroPress...

Honestly, Heinlein's solution barely involved electronics, too. Modulating a laser to generate radio waves certainly is done by electronics, sure, but it's completely handwaved away in the story with a 'we're doing this!' sort of thing.

But again, I'd be interested in hearing more if you guys can dig it up.
  #246  
Old 01-13-2013, 06:14 AM
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Logic of Empire - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

This Future History story was published in 1941, about halfway through the writing of stories for the Future History. According to the wiki, there were eight stories in the cycle published before 1941, five published IN 1941, and 11 published after 1941. So it'd be fair to say that it was published in the middle of the cycle.

In this one, we see the cracks in Heinlein's bright, shining system-wide future for mankind. And he seems almost deterministic in his writing. It reminds me quite a bit of the way H. Beam Piper wrote his Terro-Human Future History 15 or so years later (which I love, by the way). Piper would take something that actually happened, and show it happening again in a futuristic setting, sometimes barely filing the serial numbers off. (Aside: For an excellent overview of this read Pournelle's introduction to the Piper compilation, Federation.)

Anyway, the 'hero', though he's not really, is a satisfied man on Earth who learns the hard way (through signing up as an indentured man on Venus) that the economics of system expansion don't lead to equitable outcomes for all. The story has a few expository paragraphs about economics and political development, but it's kept at a minimum and doesn't distract from the plot. That's a step forward from some of the earlier works that I've criticized upthread.

Still, this is a lot more mature and dark than earlier Future History stories. And worth it. It does, however, continue the theme of 'what man has been, man will be'. It just shows that men are more than bold pioneers who live lives and solve problems...they are also people who exploit others when opportunity presents.

Interestingly, the end notes from Logic of Empire indicate that Heinlein wrote the story for himself, and not as marketable copy. It was a break from the pressures of editors that still worked in the market. At least it worked for Campbell, who ran it in the March, 1941 edition of Astounding.

This is also where the Prophet, Nehemiah Scudder, shows up first, praised as a savior by one of the 'exploited' on Venus. The hero, a learned, well off man, laughs at the idea that Scudder could become any kind of a threat to society. It's a variation of Gandhi's saying, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." We know that Scudder wins in the end.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 01-13-2013 at 06:14 AM.
  #247  
Old 01-13-2013, 04:18 PM
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This is also where the Prophet, Nehemiah Scudder, shows up first, praised as a savior by one of the 'exploited' on Venus. The hero, a learned, well off man, laughs at the idea that Scudder could become any kind of a threat to society. It's a variation of Gandhi's saying, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." We know that Scudder wins in the end.
It's also likely an allusion to Hitler, who had his own period when he was not considered a serious political figure.
  #248  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:49 PM
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Actually, much more likely, come to think of it. But the Gandhi quote was what came to mind reading it. But at the time it was written, 1940-41, Hitler was on the way up and Gandhi was already well-established as a thorn in the side of the British.
  #249  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:58 PM
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The Menace From Earth - from The Future History of Robert Heinlein Vol. 1

Almost the last Future History story written (of the canon, only Searchlight was written later) this was published in 1957 in F&SF. Heinlein had intended it for The Saturday Evening Post but they wouldn't bite. Anyway, he was too long. His first draft ended up almost 15,000 words. He cut it down to 5,000 for The Post but no dice. F&SF bought it at 7,500 words but later took a 13,500 word earlier revision when the editor found out one was available (and paid for the extra, too!).

The story is interesting. Not a lot there except some interpersonal back and forths and the gorgeous description of flying on the moon.

But this is very interesting because there are four female speaking parts, all of the important actors are female. The one male with significant presence is pretty much dismissed by the women as unimportant, sort of. And the women are all smart, sharp and motivated. There's not a Heinlein matron to be seen, anywhere. The ladies know who they are and what they want. The lead character, Holly, has some trouble acknowledging her feelings towards the one boy, but later she figures it out (with some advice from an older woman). She even commits a real act of heroism in the story.

A good yarn, truth be told. And one that shows Heinlein writing good stories, with good characters. I could read it again right now.
  #250  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:03 AM
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OK, folks. That's the end of Volume 1 of the Future History. Do I go on to Volume 2 or hit something else for a spell?
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