I Will Fear No Criticism Dept. (Genji Press)

I Will Fear No Criticism Dept.


Me not being a Heinlein fan, I found this essay provocative, but ultimately I couldn't swallow it:

Locus Online Perspectives » The Joke Is on Us: The Two Careers of Robert A. Heinlein

... it is not only in the juveniles that one can observe Heinlein’s efforts in the late 1950s to revisit old haunts in a humorous fashion; for 1959 also brought the publication of the story “`All You Zombies –,’” wherein Heinlein returns to the theme of multiple versions of oneself interacting by means of time travel, first effected in “By His Bootstraps,” but adds a sex-change operation to further complicate matters and transforms a thought-provoking exploration of the implications of being a “self-made man” into a fun-filled sexual romp.

I don't know about you, but "fun-filled sexual romp" is the last set of adjectives I would use to describe a story that comes closer to the existential horror of Philip K. Dick than almost anything else Heinlein wrote. You might as well call Hellraiser a comedy of manners.

See, I like the idea that Heinlein was testing his audience and seeing how far he could get away with "being Heinlein", as it were. (The essayist is spot-on in that the number one character in any of his works is the author himself.) But even that doesn't go halfway towards explaining nonsense like The Number of the Beast.

I also agree that a lot of the military-libertarian SF that sprung up in Heinlein's wake can't be pinned exclusively on him. Why do that when you can just blame the very living authors responsible for such dreck?


Tags: criticism Robert A. Heinlein science fiction


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