Dueling Heinlein Bio Reviews

I’m not a super Heinlein fan. I didn’t read more than a couple of his juvenile novels or short stories in my teens and twenties.

Looking at my notes, I see it’s been almost seven years since I’ve read any. While I’ve read a fair amount of Heinlein, I haven’t read all of him though it’s another reading project I hope to complete some day.

As I have mentioned before, I am a perverse and contrarian reader. Tell me, as my high school friend Doug did, that I have to read Heinlein (and Roger Zelazny and Samuel R. Delany) is a good way to push me in the opposite direction. As it turns out, I did read two Heinlein novels in high school: Starship Trooperswhich I liked, and Stranger in a Strange Land, which I found very tedious even in the short version.

For a mercifully short and coherent sense of what the youngsters today whine about regarding Heinlein, I refer you to episode 185 of the Coode Street Podcast.

I do, though, feel a little kinship with would-be students of science fiction being told they have  to read any author.  However, really, to know something of English language science fiction and its history, you should read at least some Heinlein short fiction.

The second volume of William H. Patterson’s Heinlein bio (I will not read any bios of Heinlein until I actually read all of Heinlein) is reviewed by Jeet Heer at the New Republic. I suspect Heinlein was, as he claims, a bit of a solipsist. Generally, though, I’m more sympathetic to the Steve Sailer review and rebuttal to Heer.

I was rather unkind to Jake Arnott’s The House of Rumour when I reviewed it. In retrospect, it seems a better — and certainly more memorable — book than I thought. Amongst other actual literary figures, Robert Heinlein makes an appearance in it.

And, if you want to follow up my advice on reading Heinlein short fiction, here are my reviews of some of the stories in his Future History series:


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