definition of Heinlein's Future History

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Ben Crowell

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Oct 19, 2006, 12:51:10 AM10/19/06
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Would anyone care to comment on whether Heinlein's Future History
story defines a clearly or not-so-clearly defined subset of his
fiction, and, if so, what belongs in it?

Some relevant links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Robert_A._Heinlein#ad-hoc.2C_but_internally-consistent

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_History

http://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/rahfaq.html#0401

My own take on it is:

- It's a category with very, very fuzzy edges.
- Heinlein freely hewed to it or deviated from it, depending on what
he felt would suit the particular story he was trying to tell.
- The stories that fit it most clearly are the ones he wrote the soonest
after he published the chart in 1941. As time went on, he deviated
from it more and more.
- The Past Through Tomorrow's table of contents is a fairly good
list of the stories that fit the future history framework best,
but there are many others with one foot in and one foot out.

An interesting case is Variable Star. It would be interesting to know,
e.g., whether all the Nehemiah Scudder references are pure Spider
Robinson additions, or whether there were links to the Future History in
Heinlein's original outline. The book is funny, because it was
originally planned as a juvenile, but Robinson carried it out as
an adult novel. The Heinlein juveniles often seem to use elements
of the Future History, but not all that consistently.

For the purposes of the Wikipedia articles, it would be helpful to
have references to print criticism or non-ephemeral online criticism
that would address these questions.

Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 19, 2006, 5:54:15 AM10/19/06
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In article <092dneq46LugmarY...@adelphia.com>,

Ben Crowell <"crowell06 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:
>Would anyone care to comment on whether Heinlein's Future History
>story defines a clearly or not-so-clearly defined subset of his
>fiction, and, if so, what belongs in it?
>
>An interesting case is Variable Star. It would be interesting to know,
>e.g., whether all the Nehemiah Scudder references are pure Spider
>Robinson additions, or whether there were links to the Future History in
>Heinlein's original outline. The book is funny, because it was
>originally planned as a juvenile, but Robinson carried it out as
>an adult novel. The Heinlein juveniles often seem to use elements
>of the Future History, but not all that consistently.

Robinson included connections to a lot of Heinlein novels, some
of which weren't future history--frex, _Between Planets_.

I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline.

>
>For the purposes of the Wikipedia articles, it would be helpful to
>have references to print criticism or non-ephemeral online criticism
>that would address these questions.
>


--
Nancy Lebovitz http://www.nancybuttons.com

http://nancylebov.livejournal.com
My two favorite colors are "Oooooh" and "SHINY!".

James Nicoll

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Oct 19, 2006, 10:11:41 AM10/19/06
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In article <eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com>,

Nancy Lebovitz <nan...@panix.com> wrote:
>In article <092dneq46LugmarY...@adelphia.com>,
>Ben Crowell <"crowell06 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:
>>Would anyone care to comment on whether Heinlein's Future History
>>story defines a clearly or not-so-clearly defined subset of his
>>fiction, and, if so, what belongs in it?
>>
>>An interesting case is Variable Star. It would be interesting to know,
>>e.g., whether all the Nehemiah Scudder references are pure Spider
>>Robinson additions, or whether there were links to the Future History in
>>Heinlein's original outline. The book is funny, because it was
>>originally planned as a juvenile, but Robinson carried it out as
>>an adult novel. The Heinlein juveniles often seem to use elements
>>of the Future History, but not all that consistently.
>
>Robinson included connections to a lot of Heinlein novels, some
>of which weren't future history--frex, _Between Planets_.
>
And current history, in the form of a rant about GWB.
--
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/
http://www.livejournal.com/users/james_nicoll
http://www.cafepress.com/jdnicoll (For all your "The problem with
defending the English language [...]" T-shirt, cup and tote-bag needs)

Bill Patterson

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Oct 19, 2006, 10:15:57 AM10/19/06
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Ben Crowell:

Well, Heinlein in the World as Myth books redefined the Future History
as a timeline (or bundle of related timelines) code-named "Leslie
LeCroix, which allows the "Future History" to be a hard-edged term and
yet nevertheless contain inconsistencies (i.e., any inconsistency
belongs to a closely-related timeline). Thus Maureen's experiences in
To Sail Beyond the Sunset are of the Future History even though there
are some minor inconsistencies with the other stories. Some of the
stories were not originally intended as FH at all (e.g., "Life-Line")
but were retconned by the author. Neither were the Post stories or
"The Menace from Earth" intended as FH -- but they fit into the general
conception of a possible future using the same general assumptions. In
incorporating them, Heinlein put an "inclusive" spin on the series.

The Past Through Tomorrow's basic concept is to be an omnibus of Future
History stories; the mechanics of its assembly from 1948 through 1967
(i.e., editorial work) engendered some inconsistencies, and part of the
work I'm doing with the Virginia Edition (where the Future History
short stories will be collected in two ordinary-sized volumes) is
rectifying some of these inconsistencies, but its contents have to have
more native authority, because of this authorial vouloir dire, than
some of the contributors to the Wikipedia discussion seem to credit.

Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 19, 2006, 12:07:44 PM10/19/06
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In article <eh812t$hcr$1...@reader2.panix.com>,

James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>In article <eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
>Nancy Lebovitz <nan...@panix.com> wrote:
>>In article <092dneq46LugmarY...@adelphia.com>,
>>Ben Crowell <"crowell06 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:
>>>Would anyone care to comment on whether Heinlein's Future History
>>>story defines a clearly or not-so-clearly defined subset of his
>>>fiction, and, if so, what belongs in it?
>>>
>>>An interesting case is Variable Star. It would be interesting to know,
>>>e.g., whether all the Nehemiah Scudder references are pure Spider
>>>Robinson additions, or whether there were links to the Future History in
>>>Heinlein's original outline. The book is funny, because it was
>>>originally planned as a juvenile, but Robinson carried it out as
>>>an adult novel. The Heinlein juveniles often seem to use elements
>>>of the Future History, but not all that consistently.
>>
>>Robinson included connections to a lot of Heinlein novels, some
>>of which weren't future history--frex, _Between Planets_.
>>
> And current history, in the form of a rant about GWB.

Weirdly enough, while I hate a lot about the book, that didn't especially
bother me.

Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
especially-interesting action sequence at the end.

*Way* too much good is piled on the main character.

Mike Schilling

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Oct 19, 2006, 3:01:42 PM10/19/06
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"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:eh87sg$2po$1...@reader2.panix.com...

>
> Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
> spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
> the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
> matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
> especially-interesting action sequence at the end.
>
> *Way* too much good is piled on the main character.

In other words, it's a Spider Robinson novel.


Remus Shepherd

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Oct 19, 2006, 3:28:28 PM10/19/06
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Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> "Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
> > Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
> > spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
> > the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
> > matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
> > especially-interesting action sequence at the end.
> >
> > *Way* too much good is piled on the main character.

> In other words, it's a Spider Robinson novel.

But Heinlein invented the over-endowed main character, at least in
science fiction.

Remember in 'The Number of the Beast', the main character is presented
as your ordinary, average guy with seven doctorate degrees, an olympic
fencing medal, minor ESP and a magic interplanetary car.

... ...
Remus Shepherd <re...@panix.com>
Indefensible Positions -- a story of superheroic philosophy.
http://indepos.comicgenesis.com/

Will in New Haven

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Oct 19, 2006, 3:35:21 PM10/19/06
to

Remus Shepherd wrote:
> Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > "Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
> > > Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
> > > spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
> > > the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
> > > matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
> > > especially-interesting action sequence at the end.
> > >
> > > *Way* too much good is piled on the main character.
>
> > In other words, it's a Spider Robinson novel.
>
> But Heinlein invented the over-endowed main character, at least in
> science fiction.
>
> Remember in 'The Number of the Beast', the main character is presented
> as your ordinary, average guy with seven doctorate degrees, an olympic
> fencing medal, minor ESP and a magic interplanetary car.

Not that RAH didn't use over-endowed, if you want to use that phrase,
characters but he did not invent them, in SF or otherwise. Doc Smith
would sometimes have more such characters on a page than in the whole
of #Beast, which was Heinlein's most over-the-top use of multiple O-E
characters. Olaf Stapleton had O-E characters and so did Edgar Rice
Burroughs. O-E characters were a staple of many Forties and Fifties SF
writers. Asimov didn't have many but the Mule qualifies.

Will in New Haven

Mike Schilling

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Oct 19, 2006, 3:39:01 PM10/19/06
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"Remus Shepherd" <re...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:eh8jks$3c2$1...@reader2.panix.com...

> Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> "Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>> > Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
>> > spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
>> > the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
>> > matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
>> > especially-interesting action sequence at the end.
>> >
>> > *Way* too much good is piled on the main character.
>
>> In other words, it's a Spider Robinson novel.
>
> But Heinlein invented the over-endowed main character, at least in
> science fiction.
>
> Remember in 'The Number of the Beast', the main character is presented
> as your ordinary, average guy with seven doctorate degrees, an olympic
> fencing medal, minor ESP and a magic interplanetary car.

TNotB is a special case. And obsessive puns were never a Heinlein fault.


Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 19, 2006, 5:55:23 PM10/19/06
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In article <eh8jks$3c2$1...@reader2.panix.com>,

Remus Shepherd <re...@panix.com> wrote:
>Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> "Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>> > Since I know someone will ask, here's some of what I hate: the way he
>> > spoils a vaguely tolerable pun sequence by obsessing about how cool
>> > the narrator and his fellow punsters are for being so clever. For that
>> > matter, the tone of congratulation for cleverness is rough on the not-
>> > especially-interesting action sequence at the end.
>> >
>> > *Way* too much good is piled on the main character.
>
>> In other words, it's a Spider Robinson novel.
>
> But Heinlein invented the over-endowed main character, at least in
>science fiction.
>
> Remember in 'The Number of the Beast', the main character is presented
>as your ordinary, average guy with seven doctorate degrees, an olympic
>fencing medal, minor ESP and a magic interplanetary car.

It's not so much that Joel(?) has excessive talents (his are high, but
mostly within the human range) as that he has wildly excessive good
fortune.

Walter Bushell

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Oct 19, 2006, 6:24:55 PM10/19/06
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In article <1161286521.8...@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com>,

"Will in New Haven" <bill....@taylorandfrancis.com> wrote:

> Remus Shepherd wrote:
> > Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > > "Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>

> Not that RAH didn't use over-endowed, if you want to use that phrase,
> characters but he did not invent them, in SF or otherwise. Doc Smith
> would sometimes have more such characters on a page than in the whole
> of #Beast, which was Heinlein's most over-the-top use of multiple O-E
> characters. Olaf Stapleton had O-E characters and so did Edgar Rice
> Burroughs. O-E characters were a staple of many Forties and Fifties SF
> writers. Asimov didn't have many but the Mule qualifies.
>
> Will in New Haven
> >
> > ... ...
> > Remus Shepherd <re...@panix.com>
> > Indefensible Positions -- a story of superheroic philosophy.
> > http://indepos.comicgenesis.com/

The mule was spectacularly under-endowed as a male character.

--
Divided we stand!

Lee K. Gleason

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Oct 19, 2006, 7:15:14 PM10/19/06
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"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com...

> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline.


I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline, turned into a novel by
someone besides the Heinlein uber-otaku, Spider Robinson. After reading the
Double Star inspired "Golden Globe", I wish Varley had taken a swing at
it...
--
Lee K. Gleason N5ZMR
Control-G Consultants
lgle...@houston.rr.com


Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 19, 2006, 7:32:12 PM10/19/06
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In article <6GTZg.1169$xF1...@tornado.texas.rr.com>,

Lee K. Gleason <lgle...@houston.rr.com> wrote:
>
>"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>news:eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com...
>> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline.
>
> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline, turned into a novel by
>someone besides the Heinlein uber-otaku, Spider Robinson. After reading the
>Double Star inspired "Golden Globe", I wish Varley had taken a swing at
>it...

_Steel Beach_ had some competently handled Heinlein influence, too.

Mike Schilling

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Oct 19, 2006, 7:39:29 PM10/19/06
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"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:eh91ts$59$1...@reader2.panix.com...

> In article <6GTZg.1169$xF1...@tornado.texas.rr.com>,
> Lee K. Gleason <lgle...@houston.rr.com> wrote:
>>
>>"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>>news:eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com...
>>> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline.
>>
>> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline, turned into a novel by
>>someone besides the Heinlein uber-otaku, Spider Robinson. After reading
>>the
>>Double Star inspired "Golden Globe", I wish Varley had taken a swing at
>>it...
>
> _Steel Beach_ had some competently handled Heinlein influence, too.

_Red Thunder_ had more RAH handled with less competence.


Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 19, 2006, 8:39:07 PM10/19/06
to
In article <R0UZg.12544$TV3....@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com>,

Mike Schilling <mscotts...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>news:eh91ts$59$1...@reader2.panix.com...
>> In article <6GTZg.1169$xF1...@tornado.texas.rr.com>,
>> Lee K. Gleason <lgle...@houston.rr.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>"Nancy Lebovitz" <nan...@panix.com> wrote in message
>>>news:eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com...
>>>> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline.
>>>
>>> I'd very much like to see Heinlein's outline, turned into a novel by
>>>someone besides the Heinlein uber-otaku, Spider Robinson. After reading
>>>the
>>>Double Star inspired "Golden Globe", I wish Varley had taken a swing at
>>>it...
>>
>> _Steel Beach_ had some competently handled Heinlein influence, too.
>
>_Red Thunder_ had more RAH handled with less competence.

Agreed.

Ben Crowell

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Oct 20, 2006, 12:23:39 AM10/20/06
to
Thanks for your informative reply. Do you mind if I quote it in full on
the RAH article's discussion page on Wikipedia?

Bill Patterson wrote:
> The Past Through Tomorrow's basic concept is to be an omnibus of Future
> History stories; the mechanics of its assembly from 1948 through 1967
> (i.e., editorial work) engendered some inconsistencies, and part of the
> work I'm doing with the Virginia Edition (where the Future History
> short stories will be collected in two ordinary-sized volumes) is
> rectifying some of these inconsistencies, but its contents have to have
> more native authority, because of this authorial vouloir dire, than
> some of the contributors to the Wikipedia discussion seem to credit.

It seems to me that in almost all of the cases where a story seems to
lie on the fuzzy boundary between FH and non-FH, the story is a novel.
Since only short stories could be included in The Past Through Tomorrow,
it doesn't help us to categorize them. It is interesting, however, to
know that Heinlein had control over what went into the anthology. It's
also an interesting point you raise about some of the stories in
TPTT not being strongly tied to FH; I'd been visualizing the fuzzy
boundary as lying completely outside TPTT, whereas maybe the fuzz
slops over into TPTT.

William December Starr

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Oct 20, 2006, 7:31:59 AM10/20/06
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In article <eh812t$hcr$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) said:

[ re VARIABLE STAR ]

> In article <eh7i06$7h4$1...@reader2.panix.com>,
> Nancy Lebovitz <nan...@panix.com> wrote:
>

>> [Spider] Robinson included connections to a lot of Heinlein


>> novels, some of which weren't future history--frex, _Between
>> Planets_.
>
> And current history, in the form of a rant about GWB.

Oh goody. Maybe we can get him and Dan Simmons to co-write something...

--
William December Starr <wds...@panix.com>

Bill Patterson

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Oct 20, 2006, 11:07:54 AM10/20/06
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On Oct 19, 9:23 pm, Ben Crowell <"crowell06 at

lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:
> Thanks for your informative reply. Do you mind if I quote it in full on
> the RAH article's discussion page on Wikipedia?

>.It seems to me that in almost all of the cases where a story seems to


> lie on the fuzzy boundary between FH and non-FH, the story is a novel.
> Since only short stories could be included in The Past Through Tomorrow,
> it doesn't help us to categorize them. It is interesting, however, to
> know that Heinlein had control over what went into the anthology. It's
> also an interesting point you raise about some of the stories in
> TPTT not being strongly tied to FH; I'd been visualizing the fuzzy
> boundary as lying completely outside TPTT, whereas maybe the fuzz
> slops over into TPTT.

Please feel free to quote anything you wish. I tried to participate in
the wiki group some years ago but found the interface frustratingly
difficult and had to give it up for lack of time.

While the aspect of discussion of the points was very attractive, the
sheer inertia of working by committee was sometimes daunting.

Oh, yes, the most famous incident of "fuzziness" (to be charitable) is
the inclusion of "We Also Walk Dogs" in I think it was Green Hills, and
therefore into PTT; Heinlein originally intended to write the rest of
the "Stories Never Written" which would have filled out the volume, but
Korshak pissed him off, and the restrictive deal for "The Man Who Sold
the Moon" cost him so much in the way of secondary sales, that he was
thereafter reluctant to put in the extra work. OTOH, the utterly
necessary "'Let There Be Light'" (though included in TMWSTM) was
omitted from PTT. There isn't any clear documentation of the process
by which it was omitted, but apparently Damon Knight started the ball
rolling with the comment the story was weak; Peter Israel at Putnam's
agreed.

There is a very silly and counterfactual notion running around orphan
in sf fandom that Heinlein had a great deal of "clout" with his
editors. Fact is, he didn't, and he didn't even make use of the clout
he might have had, to force decisions, because he saved his influence
for picking his battles. In this case, I think it simply didn't matter
enough to him to make an issue of it. In the case of PTT he certainly
had "input," but nothing like control. The concept dominated, but
apparently not enough to prevent editorial fiddling, to which Heinlein
took a somewhat fatalistic attitude, citing the anecdote about the
movie producers and the tomato juice.

Mike Schilling

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Oct 20, 2006, 1:14:58 PM10/20/06
to

"Bill Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1161356874....@i3g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...


> There is a very silly and counterfactual notion running around orphan
> in sf fandom that Heinlein had a great deal of "clout" with his
> editors. Fact is, he didn't, and he didn't even make use of the clout
> he might have had, to force decisions, because he saved his influence
> for picking his battles. In this case, I think it simply didn't matter
> enough to him to make an issue of it. In the case of PTT he certainly
> had "input," but nothing like control. The concept dominated, but
> apparently not enough to prevent editorial fiddling, to which Heinlein
> took a somewhat fatalistic attitude, citing the anecdote about the
> movie producers and the tomato juice.

Which goes ....?


Jon Schild

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Oct 20, 2006, 3:44:39 PM10/20/06
to

The book _The Past Through Tomorrow_ was a major disappointment to me. I
had purchased and read most of the original Heinlein paperbacks with the
cnart in them. They were not inconsistent. There was an occasional
addition, and there were some stories that were never written. Heinlein
discussed these in an explanatory note in _Revolt in 2100_, and gave a
brief description of what would have been in each. TPTT claimed to be
the future history series, but it left out some of the stories that
should have been there, added some that should not have been (like "The
Menace from Earth", one of Heinlein's worst ever in my opinion.) It also
claimed in the forward that the original chart was included, but in fact
it was not. If you are re-doing it, please get some first edition
paperbacks and stick to what RAH said was in that series, not what some
publisher decided would be "better." And include the note on stories
never written.

Mike Schilling

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Oct 20, 2006, 4:46:35 PM10/20/06
to

"Jon Schild" <j...@aros.net> wrote in message
news:85f8$453918fc$42dbd96e$10...@aros.net...

>
> The book _The Past Through Tomorrow_ was a major disappointment to me. I
> had purchased and read most of the original Heinlein paperbacks with the
> cnart in them. They were not inconsistent. There was an occasional
> addition, and there were some stories that were never written. Heinlein
> discussed these in an explanatory note in _Revolt in 2100_, and gave a
> brief description of what would have been in each. TPTT claimed to be the
> future history series, but it left out some of the stories that should
> have been there, added some that should not have been (like "The Menace
> from Earth", one of Heinlein's worst ever in my opinion.)

Which stories (other than "Let There be Light") were left out? Nothing
else in _Off the Main Sequence_ seemed FH-ish to me.


Bill Patterson

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Oct 20, 2006, 8:13:18 PM10/20/06
to

Mike Schilling wrote:

> Which goes ....?

Short version: two movie producers dying of thirst in the desert, a
tyro and an old pro. They find a cache of cans of tomato juice and
scrabble to open one; the old pro won't let the tyro drink until they
piss in it "to improve the flavor."

Bill Patterson

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Oct 20, 2006, 8:20:20 PM10/20/06
to
Jon Schild wrote:
> The book _The Past Through Tomorrow_ was a major disappointment to me. I
> had purchased and read most of the original Heinlein paperbacks with the
> cnart in them. They were not inconsistent. There was an occasional
> addition, and there were some stories that were never written. Heinlein
> discussed these in an explanatory note in _Revolt in 2100_, and gave a
> brief description of what would have been in each. TPTT claimed to be
> the future history series, but it left out some of the stories that
> should have been there, added some that should not have been (like "The
> Menace from Earth", one of Heinlein's worst ever in my opinion.) It also
> claimed in the forward that the original chart was included, but in fact
> it was not. If you are re-doing it, please get some first edition
> paperbacks and stick to what RAH said was in that series, not what some
> publisher decided would be "better." And include the note on stories
> never written.

Probably we'll use both charts -- the 1940 and 1950 versions, and I do
plan to include the "Concerning Stories Never Written." With 2 vols
and not including Methuselah's Children (which will have its own
separate volume though it's only 55,000 words), there is room for it.
I'd like to include the introductions written by Campbell and Kuttner,
but we may not be able to include anything in which copyright is
shared.

Problem is, Heinlein never made a definitive list of what is and is not
in the Future History, so I have to go by indications -- i.e.,
including the Post stories means he has an "inclusive" sense of what
belongs, so "The Menace from Earth" will almost asuredly stay in, as
well as stories like "Life-Line" that were not written as FH but were
retconned.

Mike Schilling

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Oct 20, 2006, 8:25:25 PM10/20/06
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"Bill Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1161389597.9...@k70g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

Thanks. (I'd always heard that joke as involving soup).


Bill Patterson

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Oct 21, 2006, 1:32:49 PM10/21/06
to

Mike Schilling

>Thanks.  (I'd always heard that joke as involving soup).

This was the only version I'd ever heard, and Heinlein told it
repeatedly. But I can imagine it would work with lots of things --
beer, for example.

David Harmon

unread,
Oct 21, 2006, 8:15:22 PM10/21/06
to
On 21 Oct 2006 10:32:49 -0700 in rec.arts.sf.written, "Bill
Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote,

>This was the only version I'd ever heard, and Heinlein told it
>repeatedly.

Including:

"You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets
frustrated. After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor
much better, so he buys it."
-- Jubal Harshaw


dwight...@gmail.com

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Oct 21, 2006, 8:54:30 PM10/21/06
to

Ah, that explains why TnotB was such a great book. Confound those
arbitrary editorial decisions!

lal_truckee

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Oct 22, 2006, 2:42:40 AM10/22/06
to
Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
>
> It's not so much that Joel(?) has excessive talents (his are high, but
> mostly within the human range) as that he has wildly excessive good
> fortune.

Teela gene presents early?

Nancy Lebovitz

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Oct 22, 2006, 6:32:23 AM10/22/06
to
In article <ApE_g.347$s6....@newssvr11.news.prodigy.com>,

That would explain it, except that Joel could easily clobber Teela at
roulette.

Robert Hutchinson

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Oct 25, 2006, 12:45:06 AM10/25/06
to

Now, wait--with beer, is the "it" that's working the joke, or the
improvement of the flavor? Because I could definitely see it being the
latter.

--
Robert Hutchinson

Derek Lyons

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Oct 25, 2006, 1:57:11 AM10/25/06
to
"Bill Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote:

>There is a very silly and counterfactual notion running around orphan
>in sf fandom that Heinlein had a great deal of "clout" with his
>editors. Fact is, he didn't, and he didn't even make use of the clout
>he might have had, to force decisions, because he saved his influence
>for picking his battles. In this case, I think it simply didn't matter
>enough to him to make an issue of it. In the case of PTT he certainly
>had "input," but nothing like control. The concept dominated, but
>apparently not enough to prevent editorial fiddling, to which Heinlein
>took a somewhat fatalistic attitude, citing the anecdote about the
>movie producers and the tomato juice.

Then he suffered from a continuous run of lousy editors in his later
works.

D.
--
Touch-twice life. Eat. Drink. Laugh.

-Resolved: To be more temperate in my postings.
Oct 5th, 2004 JDL

Bill Patterson

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Oct 25, 2006, 10:40:05 AM10/25/06
to
fairwa...@gmail.com (Derek Lyons) wrote:
>Then he suffered from a continuous run of lousy editors in his later
> works.

Well, he had a succession of what I would regard as mediocre editors in
his later works, but I don't think that's what you meant. To reply
more specifically to what I think you meant: Heinlein was doing
something you don't like, but that doesn't mean the editing was bad. A
good edit that assists a project you aren't interested in is still a
good edit.

Will in New Haven

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Oct 25, 2006, 11:00:02 AM10/25/06
to

Please, Bill, you aren't asserting that not everyone agrees that the
whole second half of Heinlein's career was a waste of paper are you?
Please be careful or you will be treading on that dangerous ground
where one is disagreeing with a universal truth.

Everyone knows that thse huge numbers of copies sold of such books as
<Friday> and <The Number of the Beast> were bought in protest, as a
subtle plot to drown the author in money. That it was, some of, the
readers and critics who were the victims of the oft-cited brain eater
is not very flattering to those readers.

Will in New Haven

Derek Lyons

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Oct 25, 2006, 1:47:09 PM10/25/06
to
"Bill Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote:

No, what you think I meant isn't what I meant. Heinlein's later works
were increasingly poorly written - which means either a bad writer
without editorial supervision, or a poorly written book without
significant editorial supervision. I don't see much of a third
choice.

To Will in New Haven;

Selling a lot of copies of something means that it is popular - not
that it is good. For example - see the later works by Tom Clancy,
with each suceeding novel they got thicker and murkier, _but they
continued to sell_. This results in a situation where niether author
nor publisher is inclined to tinker with a formula that seems to
'work'.

Will in New Haven

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Oct 25, 2006, 2:37:26 PM10/25/06
to

Derek Lyons wrote:
> "Bill Patterson" <WHPat...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >fairwa...@gmail.com (Derek Lyons) wrote:
> >>Then he suffered from a continuous run of lousy editors in his later
> >> works.
> >
> >Well, he had a succession of what I would regard as mediocre editors in
> >his later works, but I don't think that's what you meant. To reply
> >more specifically to what I think you meant: Heinlein was doing
> >something you don't like, but that doesn't mean the editing was bad. A
> >good edit that assists a project you aren't interested in is still a
> >good edit.
>
> No, what you think I meant isn't what I meant. Heinlein's later works
> were increasingly poorly written -

This is your premise. It is not self-evident. The fact that I don't
agree with it doesn't mean it is wrong and I am _not_ slanging you for
not saying "in my opinion" or some such humble jargon, but the rest of
your logic stands or falls on this and I don't agree with it.

. which means either a bad writer


> without editorial supervision, or a poorly written book without
> significant editorial supervision. I don't see much of a third
> choice.

That your premise is wrong. If you are going to say that your premise
is a truth that cannot be debated, you have made a wonderful argument.
Otherwise, you have siimply elaborated on your opinion.

My own opinion is that he became a very ambitious and experimental
writer whose long-term project probably failed. Not an inferior writer
to his young self but a superior writer (to his younger self) who set
himself a more difficult (set of) task(s)

>
> To Will in New Haven;
>
> Selling a lot of copies of something means that it is popular - not
> that it is good. For example - see the later works by Tom Clancy,
> with each suceeding novel they got thicker and murkier, _but they
> continued to sell_. This results in a situation where niether author
> nor publisher is inclined to tinker with a formula that seems to
> 'work'.

Selling a lot of copies is not proof of merit; having a great many
detractors in fandom is not a proof of lack of merit. If you want to
say that the "weight" of fen and fen critics is greater than the weight
of the average reader, i will say that this is not totally untrue.
Although my own weight will not diminish.

However, two can argue from authortiy as well as one. Poul Anderson,
and I can find the cites to back this up, did not think that late
Heinlein was badly done. If you want to argue from the authority of
various critics and authors, I will just settle for the one. I could
find more but I am not trying to prove anythng positive. I am simply
stating that your premise up there <pointing> is, at best, debatable.

Maybe you are used to talking with people for whom the decline in the
late Heinlein is a given. There are many who disagree.

Will in New Haven

--

Bill Patterson

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Oct 27, 2006, 9:51:48 PM10/27/06
to
On Oct 25, 10:47 am, fairwa...@gmail.com (Derek Lyons) wrote:
>No, what you think I meant isn't what I meant.  Heinlein's later works
> were increasingly poorly written - which means either a bad writer
> without editorial supervision, or a poorly written book without
> significant editorial supervision.  I don't see much of a third
> choice.

Well, there's always the tertium quid that your basic idea is wrong.
The fact this does not even occur to you as a third possibility,
suggests to me there may be something to it.

Without attempting the argument, I would note that your hidden
assumption that editorial supervision is necessarily and unequivocally
a good thing is somewhat questionable.

One quick example off the top of my head -- not the obvious one about
the raft of editors who wanted to cut the last 100 pages of Glory Road.
And not the other obvious one about the Doubleday editors who wanted
Stranger cut to 125,000 words or the Putnam's editor who wasn't too
sure about the sex and religion in the book . . .

The editorial readers at Putnam's made two notes about the submission
manuscript of I Will Fear No Evil. (1) The 108,000 word version he had
submitted sagged in the middle and needed tightening up, and (2) They
didn't understand what was going on at the end.

Now, it seems to me that the first criticism is quite valid. You can
see, for example, where there are three essentially identical instances
where Joan Eunice winds up kissing one of the men who have been serving
her -- the details slip my mind. There is no particular storytelling
function served by having this incident repeated three times, and
collapsing them together would tighten up the story, eliminate some of
the most repetitive of the interior debate, and would generally be a
Good Thing. Since Heinlein thought it would probably need an
additional 25,000 words cut when he submitted it, this is a very likely
candidate for revision to editoral feedback, if he had been up to doing
it.

But the second criticism would destroy one of the book's best features.
The ambiguity of what is going on allows -- requires (though very many
readers simply take whatever default position they came up with in the
reading) -- the reader to step outside the flow of the narrative and
make a decision about what it is he's observing and what it means. So
there's a kind of forced multiple perspective going on: the narrative
and the reader's experience of the narrative in multiple readings.

Now you can take varying positions about whether this kind of head game
is a good thing or not a good thing, but having it there as a
deliberately planned feature of the project means he was trying for a
richer, imaginatively more subtle relationship with the reader than any
clear and unambiguous this-happened-then-that-happened could give.

And the important thing to remember is that when you are making
esthetic judgments about the goodness or badness of a particular
technique or device, you are talking more about yourself than you are
about the book. The book simply occasions the debate and the
conclusion.

And at any rate it's because the highly questionable (2) came bundled
together with the unexceptionable (1) that Ginny Heinlein turned down a
more than doubled advance (at a time when they were desperately in need
of money -- RAH had nearly died and three months of hospitalization
without insurance will put a hole in anyone's exchequer) -- because the
editors didn't understand the book and could therefore not be trusted
to cut it intelligently.

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