Something about the master- Heinlein, Robinson, Niven, et al.

So what’s with the stinkeroo stories? I’ve put it all down for a little while and am not as current as I could be.
What’s your fav of his?- Story, and character.
(Deety and LL and his ma 'Reen are two of mine- Deety’s step-ma, i forget her name here for a minute, that’s how I think when I read Scotti’s posts)
Forum qualifier:

Who or which, in your opinion, is the most enjoyable sci-fi writer or the most enjoyable story of the genre published, why, and can you give the album name so that we may go decide for ourselves?
Hmmm. This is tough. I have many favs.
I will nominate Spider Robinson, “Stardance”.
Made me cry, and the science was just the right amount of hard. Wonderful premise, and he writes from life, so the characters are better developed than many stories making up the whole thing from scratch.
Fenris! That’s coool!

Well, troop, you’ve named the thread after three of my four favorite authors. To which I’d add Lois McMaster Bujold.

If I left this thread without mentioning the Callahan stories, I think Tygr would storm across the courtyard and start throwing old Construction Market Overviews at me.

But the single story I love the most from a wealth of choices would have to be The Door into Summer. Because I’ve been there, and done that. I’ve told most of that story here and there online already, and I won’t rehash it. But it’s the single story that touches me the most, and contains a fair chunk of the philosophy I learned from the Master as well.

Although I could go on and on, with second, third, … 496th choices…

Amen on the philosophy-

There’s one of his stories, don’t remember which- has a bunch of LL quotes in it.
One that sticks in my mind is ‘Little girls and kittens need no excuse’.
It’s so sweet.
Door Into Summer- been a long time- I’m off this weekend to the library to refresh myself. (tomorrow I’m gonna go try snowshoeing for the first time, along with my four big dogs-oughtta be worthy of video, I’m betting…)
And Amen to the Callahan stories, Oh very yes. Did you know there (at least used to be) Callahan boards? I don’t remember how to get there…
Lois Bujold, uh? What’s s/he like?

I apologize in advance for any appearance of gloating. I’m just excited that I’ve finally completed my Heinlein collection after ::counts fingers…not enough…counts toes…still not enough…):: 22 years.

Heinelein had three stories that he called “stinkeroos”. He didn’t like them and he and his estate will not permit them to be reprinted. Their titles and original publications are:
“Beyond Doubt” (Astonishing Stories, April 1941)
“My Object All Sublime” (Future, Feb 1942)
“Pied Piper” (Astonishing, March 1942)

Frankly, they’re not his best work, but it’s Heinlein that I’ve never read before! (The Future story is the one I just got!)

Aaargh…ask an easy one next time, willya?

Erm…All of them?

Ok. Um. I love Rod Walker and Caroline <something> from Tunnel in the Sky. I love Potiphar Breen from the short story “Year of the Jackpot”

Alex and Marga from Job.

The earlier Lazarus Long.

Favorite story? or novel?

Story would be either “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”, “By His Bootstraps” the unbelievably convoluted “All You Zombies” or the powerful “Jerry Was A Man”. “The Man Who Travelled in Elephants” always makes me sniffle.


The restored version of The Puppet Masters still gives me the creeps, Tunnel In The Sky is a stunning rebuttal to Lord of the Flies and is a nice portrait a human race worth belonging to. Job is a lot of fun, for all that it’s flawed at points. But if I had to pick, I’d say that the first Heinlein I read is still has a special place in my heart: Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. And it has one of the all-time great last lines. “I threw it in his face.”

BTW: Deety’s stepmom is Hilda.

Favorite writer? Off the top of my head: Heinlein, Niven, Kuttner, Egan, Robinson (with qualifiers), Pratchett


I agree about Stardance with a caveat: Robinson, to me, likes his characters TOO much. It seems he’s afraid to let anything bad happen to them.


In Stardance, for instance, Sharra’s sacrifice is beautiful, and the original short story is a perfect gem. The novel is excellent, but I found it marred when Sharra returned at the end. Many of Robinson’s novels show him afraid to hurt a character he likes. Look at Jake from the Callahan’s books. For several books we see him starting to deal with the guilt of inadvertently causing his wife and child’s death, and then >poof< magic time-travellers tell him “It wasn’t your fault”. It made the character happier, but it stopped his growth. If Robinson could get just a [sub]tiny[/sub] bit more of an edge into his writing, a bit of “tragic relief” as Pratchett would say, Robinson would be perfect. As it is, he still wins first prize for “author who’s characters you’d most like to hang around with”


You’ve never read Bujold?! I envy the fact that you’re about to read her for the first time.

She’s…Heinlein-esque, I suppose, but with a unique voice of her own.

Inor, my friend. Run, walk or snowshoe to the nearest bookstore or library and pick up The Warrior’s Apprentice, wherein you will meet Miles Vorkosigan(sp). Imagine Aahz and Skeeve from the Myth-Adventure books, Lazarus Long and just a dash of Pournelle’s Jannisaries mixed together.

From what I’ve seen of your tastes, you’ll love her stuff!


You may not have noticed it, but…
You are!

Drop into MPSIMS and check out any randomly selected ten threads.

Five will be people making merry.
Three will be atrocious puns, witty exchanges, and all the other things you’ve run into.
And two will be what happens after the glass hits the fireplace.

It took having that literally sproing into my face for me to realize it…Tygr was bemoaning that Callahan’s wasn’t real, because right then he needed it.

Little realizing he was posting to a cyber-version of it at the time.

So I told him so.

And we became online friends.

Then he lost his job. And happened to mention where he lives – here – and what he does – which the company I work for needed.

I told him to shoot me his resume. And passed it on to the ladies who run that department.

He started work Wednesday of last week.

And he and I and our wives are having lunch together Sunday.

And I’ve argued religion with Satan, metaphysics with Spiritus Mundi, engaged in flights of fancy with Falcon, debated mythology with Freyr, and even read the posts of GOD (who evidently didn’t have Satan’s stick-to-itiveness here, but I suppose John Milton could have told me that! :rolleyes: ).

And I’ve met real-live analogs for Josie Bauer, Marty Matthias, half a dozen of the regulars… And I expect to run into the rest before I’m done here.

Maybe it’s a different take on Matt_mcl’s “flights of fancy” point: the real world is full of enough wonderful things that I don’t need the other.

The only problem I have with Heinlein is that I have yet to see a decent movie made from one of his stories. It’s bound to be tough though, with all that great dialog. I always thought Quentin Tarrantino would be a good choice to direct a RAH movie, because he deals with dialogue so well.


One of my favorite Heinlein stories is “Columbus Was a Dope”. Barely 3 pages long. Quick, concise, and insightful.

And now a quick hijack:

In what order would you recommend a newcomer to Heinlein read his novels? I have introduced many to RAH, and have used the following strategy: Have them read some of the light entertaining stuff first, then move them toward the heavier material. My suggested reading list goes in the following order:

The Puppet Masters
Podkayne of Mars
Starship Troopers

After that they are often hooked and they’ll find their own way to the rest. Comments?

I am in the presence of fan greatness!

I would have similar recommendations with a wee difference-
puppet masters
then jump right in and get with time enough for love- can’t help but like the people, even the ai’s (especially the ai’s!), and it would make them really want to get all stories of that line. Then they would be hooked, and have to compulsively read every piece he ever wrote, even the non-stories.
(which makes me wonder about your question- do you work for a publishing house? :wink: )

God you guys! It’s been a long time for me- I gotta go re-read- I don’t even remember some of these! (I’ve read and re-read them all, but haven’t touched them for a while- it’s gonna be like getting a call from a long-time-ago best friend!)

Poly, I been thinking that same thing- some of these threads get an unmistakeable feel to them- I was wondering if anyone else out there thought the same- oooothis is sooo cool- what a cool deal with Tygr!
Josie Bauer -mmmmmmmmmmm…


Takin you at your word- shall be doing so ASAP- (hey, what I’m readin here from you all- I figure no way could I go wrong!)

This was one of the first books that really kind of got under my skin- I wanted to be somewhat like Alex, and marry someone like Marga. So strong, resilient, not-shutting-out-life.

You damn liar- :wink:
Thanks for the reminder on Hilda.

I was hoping another one would open up. I didn’t get on the board until tclouie’s Debate thread had already pretty much been beaten to death.

So many favorites…

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a standout for me. The computer was actually the character who touched me the most. I got all choked up at the end ---- “Man, my best friend…” I also thought that it was very neat that we got to meet Hazel Stone as a child in that one (who also showed up as a very cool Grandma in The Rolling Stones.) For all the folks who called Heinlein sexist, I don’t think you could come up with a smarter, stronger female role model than her.

Red Planet was the first book of his that I read, and I still have a real fondness for it, and all of his juveniles. I also agree that The Door into Summer was a real winner.

In general, I thought his later works were weaker. To Sail Beyond the Sunset was downright self-indulgent in its bringing together the characters from his various books. You had to have loved all of the earlier books and characters to really be able to enjoy the book. (Of course, I DID love all of them, but I could see how it could interfere with others’ enjoyment of it.)

The only real stinkeroos out of his work IMO were the “Pudd’n stories” that I read in one of the collections of his work. I think “Cliff and the Calories” was the title of the one I read. It was non-science fiction, and it genuinely did stink up the place.

Fenris, how did you get your hands on the latest “stinkeroos” you found? Also, I have the author’s cut of Stranger in a Strange Land, but in the earlier thread you mentioned one for Red Planet. Where did you find that? (I just checked Amazon, and they have Red Planet, but there’s no mention of whether or not it is the original version or uncut.) Any others you could point us to?

As for who else I read ----

Also a fan of Spider Robinson (anybody who writes a speech titled “rah, RAH, R.A.H!” has to be my kind of guy);

(Most of) David Brin — (Startide Rising was excellent, and The Practice Effect was a very fun romp (especially if you liked Heinlein’s Glory Road.)

My current favorite is Orson Scott Card. I read anything of his I can get my hands on, science fiction or not. The man can flat out WRITE — his characterizations are brilliant. I am fondest of his Alvin Maker series.

So many books, so little time…

“Starman Jones” Max, of course, and his mentor… dammit, forgot his name, loved his roguish ways, but well remember reading as a young teenager


his (the mentor character) death scene, poised and aiming carefully as sure death came at him.

And though there are many things that people can find to quibble about re Heinlein’s depiction of women, I loved them all. To me, they were perfect. As strong, stronger more often than not, than Heinlein’s males.

Favorite short story: “The Green Hills of Earth” and “Delilah and the Space Rigger.” Love that line that ensues when the first female on the station is told that so-and-so male is a good engineer (or whatever): She says: “He should be, I taught him.”


Vernor Vinge. If you enjoy hard SF, you owe it to yourself to read his books and anthologies. He’s got a couple of really monster books out, A Fire in the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, which are convulated, but well worth the effort to read.

I won’t say that any SF author is my favorite, as it changes according to my moods, but Heinlein has always been special to me. I read sooo many of his juveniles when I was a kid, and reread them as an adult to find that they were more than just adventure stories. Heinlein always gave his readers the best he could.

I think Fenris is right on the money about Spider Robinson.

Bujold…I think that I’m getting tired of Miles. This may be because Bujold ALWAYS sells to Analog first (and I subscribe to it), and then put out the novels or collections of short stories, which I always buy, expecting new material, and I never get it. I don’t begrudge her getting paid twice if she can manage it, it’s just that I really wanted a little more if I’m going to read the same material twice. That’s my problem, not hers. She has made an interesting, believable universe, and there’s plenty to explore in it.

I’m trying to remember other good hard SF writers. It’ll come to me, eventually. Most of my books are boxed up in storage, unfortunately, but I’m getting a room in my house remodeled, and it’s gonna be my Lair. Computer, books, PSX and SNES, and TV. No bathroom, though. I think that my husband is deliberately NOT putting one in, just so that he’ll see me sometimes.

Y’know…you’re right!

And extremely eloquent.

I’m shocked that I never noticed it before. Look at how people rally around other people who’re hurting.

Fenris, who’s gonna make an effort to hang around MPSIMS more.


Hey! The first half of Puppet Masters was damned good. And let us never speak of the second half again. :smiley:

I’d definitly included Puppet Masters and Starship Troopers. Podkayne is a troubled novel, given the various ending problems. I’d probably substitute Have SpaceSuit, or Tunnel in the Sky, and recommend Poddy for the second wave.

Since Friday’s a sequel (to “Gulf”), and since I felt it had some pacing problems, I’d leave that off the list, and probably substitute in either:
Moon Is A Harsh Misteress
Methuslah;s Children
or a collection of his short stories, probably The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag or The Menace From Earth.



Hell yes! I can’t believe I left that off my list of favorite Heinleins.


Just so we’re clear on terminology, Heinlein only considered the three stories I listed “stinkeroos”. From what I read, he actually liked Puddin’ and considered writing a Puddin’ novel, but never got around to it. I’m not saying that you should like it or not, just that the specific term “stinkeroo” generally only refers to those three stories that Heinlein himself hated.

There are only three and a half restored Heinleins, and I think the restored version is invariably the better (I’m also pretty sure that, except for Podkayne, the restored versions are the only ones available nowdays):

Stranger In A Strange Land had a bunch cut out, mostly character bits that I thought added to the work

Red Planet had some pro-gun/pro-freedom vaguely libertarian stuff cut because Heinlein’s editor was a moron (she also objected to Willis, because he was “phallic”(?!) )

Puppet Masters had some horrifically graphic sex-n-violence scenes cut. The restored version isn’t for the squeamish (there’s a scene of two “ridden” people, a man and a woman, being forced to “cock-fight” to the death. There’s also a scene where the slugs discover the joys of sex-n-drugs…brrrr.

Podkayne of Mars (if I recall correctly) was published in a trade-paperback edition that has Heinlein’s original ending (she dies), the rewritten ending (she lives) and a third, compromise ending that the guy who edited the book patched together from the first two (she’ll probably live, but she’s badly damaged). Only the trade paperback has all three endings. The publisher (Baen) let the readers vote on which would be the “offical” ending and the paperback only contains that. I don’t remember which one was chosen.

Oh, and the short-story “Let There Be Light” (the second story in the Future History series) has been excised from all editions of all of Heinlein’s books (Heinlein thought the slang was dated: I disagree, but I’m not sure if that’s the reason it’s been removed). It’s never been in The Past Through Tomorrow, and it hasn’t been available in The Man Who Sold The Moon since about 1975. Look in used bookstores for the Signet edition with a yellow cover and a cover price around $1.50 or less. And check the table of contents! It’s a great story about how the Douglas-Martin sunscreens were invented and has a very “Nick and Nora Charles” feel to the main characters.

One of the Stinkeroos (“Beyond Doubt”) was allowed to be reprinted in an Fredrik Pohl anthology right after it came out, and the anthology’s not too hard to find. The anthology’s called Beyond the End of Time and it’s often available on (I just looked, there are a bunch of 'em at the moment). “My Object All Sublime” I got from eBay, and “Pied Piper” I got from . He’s very, VERY slow, but extremely well priced.

If you folks want, I can give a short (HA!) synopsis of the three stinkeroos.


I loved The Practice Effect. It had a very UNKNOWN WORLDS sort of feel. I liked Startide Rising but didn’t love it. I was bored with the Dolphin-human politics but I loved the glimpses we got of what was going on in the rest of the universe. The Uplift War on the other hand, I felt was Brin’s masterpiece. I loved the story, I loved the characters. Couldn’t have been better.


Another enthusiastic endorsement for Bujold; I got hooked on the universe w/ Shards on honor, when Miles, etc. were just a gleam in Aral’s and Cordelia’s eyes. Call me weird, I’m really, really interested in Mark turns out. Miles “settling down”–as much as he CAN–is fine and logical but I hope the whole thing doesn’t get too domesticated. Frankly I’d hoped for an interim account of Aral and Cordelia colonizing Sergyar.

I’m at best a dabbler/roamer in SF and fantasy. But a few that have caught my erratic interst…

Hey, Poly, have you checked out the Samaria trilogy by Sharon Shinn? I caught it when my library horrendously miscataloged the first title in the 800’s as “religious fiction”–can anyone say Janet Oke?–read the jacket blurbs and tried it out. Interesting stuff. One caveat…




…actual, flying angels that still resemble adulatory paintings, i.e. attractive humanoids with spiffy extra powers, no matter how well those powers are explained? That’s when my absorption in the religious lore blended w/ science (social and hard) falters a bit. Human flight by wing means supporting muscle structure reminiscent of a pigeon rather than handsome folks with designer feathers.
I’m also hopelessly addicted to the Sharon Lee/Steve Miller Liaden series. Got the chap books, have the originals in very tattered paperback (and the shiny, new 1 volume reissue) and it’s thoroughly great reading. Space opera, sure, but damned fine fun.

And one of my first but enduring loves, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man. Intelligent exrapolations about possible applications of ESP–and killer witty writing–still blows McCaffrey et. al. right out of the damned water.


I really think you’ll love her stuff. It’s fun, exciting and thoght-provoking. And she’s so damned good that she’s the only writer almost tie Heinlein for number of winners in the “Best Novel” catagory of the Hugo Awards (he has four, she has three.)

Let me also second Lynn’s Vernor Vinge recommendation: A Fire Across The Deep is possibly the best space-opera I’ve ever read and the ideas! Niven at his peak maybe had more ideas, but Vinge comes close and has a depth of characterization that Niven never managed. (He also has a hysterically dead-on accurate future version of the USENET in it.)

He was also one of the first writers to try to deal with the internet. He has a (very hard to find, but allegedly coming back into print) book called “True Names and Other Dangers” which deals with a souped up internet and compares being a hacker who’s Real Life name is discovered to being a wizard who’s True Name is discovered. And what to do about it. If you ever see it, grab it, it’s rare and great!

Well…ok…maybe there’a a [sub]little[/sub] bit of gloating. But I’m still sorry if I sound like I’m gloating.


Poly, the first time I wandered into MSPIMS I developed a sudden, inexplicable craving for Irish coffee…and I hate coffee and whiskey alike. It was because I felt that I had just walked through that cracked oaken door into Callahan’s Place. We know about pain here, and we know about joy, and we’re real tolerant of rannygazoo. I’ve never seen so many empathetic, sympathetic people anywhere but the pages of Spider’s stories. (I’ll stop before I get too maudlin.)

That implies that I’m a Robinson fan, but I can’t pick any of the three title authors as a favorite–they’re all contenders. It depends so much on mood:

Niven is my favorite when I’m being a hardheaded engineer–his stories are so damn plausible that I can accept them even when I’m in full-bore skeptic mode. (Did anyone else think “droud” when they heard about the orgasm-inducing “back pain reliever”?) I find it hard to pick a favorite (I love Known Space), but there’s a soft spot in my heart for “The Soft Weapon” and all the Gil the Arm stories. His Dream Park collaborations led me to join the real IFGS, and the good times and craziness that come with the membership.

Heinlein is for when I want engaging characters, a solid story, and (usually) a happy ending–all supported by a solid backbone of philosophy. I, too, wax nostalgic over Have Space Suit, Will Travel; it was the very first novel I ever read, some 23 years ago. I have to give The Moon is a Harsh Mistress the top novel spot as an adult, though–a desperate struggle to survive, led by the one being with nothing to lose but his friends. I came close to tears over Mike. The last verse from Noisy in “The Green Hills of Earth” still gives me goosebumps when I think of it.

Robinson, much like this Board, is for when I need my faith in human nature restored. I enjoy a lot of his work, but the Callahan’s place stories are central–they’re Robinson doing what he does best. I agree that he stunted Jake’s character with that revelation, though. He was rising above his pain, and becoming something almost magnificent…now he’s only well. Could he have done what he did in Callahan’s Secret without his pain? I don’t think I can pick a favorite short story–although “Fivesight” and “The Guy With the Eyes” spring to mind first–but my favorite novel is Lady Slings the Booze. What dyed-in-the-wool punster could resist that title? :smiley:

Someone not mentioned so far is H. Beam Piper. His TerroHuman Future History had some wonderful stories in it, including the Little Fuzzy novels. And his Paratime/Lord Kalvan stories are wonderful alternate history. The Little Fuzzy novels have recently been reissued in a trade paperback and I believe the Paratime/Lord Kalvan stories are also being re-released soon. Look them up, they are worth the time.

As for Heinlein, Have Spacesuit is my favorite.

Yes, Lynn! I just reread A Deepness in the Sky
a couple of weeks ago. It was better than the first time.

Another writer I’m fond of is Iain M. Banks. His Culture novels are amazing. If you like Vinge, you’ll probably like Banks.

I’ve always been partial to Niven’s Ringworld. And his Beowulf Schaefer (sp?) stories.

As for Heinlein, I read everything I could find by him a long time ago, and many times since. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress remains my favorite, although I do have fond memories of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel – I found it (in the big folks section!) of the little one room library in my little home village when I was 10. It hooked me.


Balance: Well said.

Have you ever read Zenna Henderson’s “People” stories? They’re the only other books besides Robinson’s that I read when I’m in the mood you described.