04/08/22 – Engaging Shields

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, April 8, 2022.




Are they locking OUT their enemies, or are they locking THEMSELVES IN with their enemy. πŸ˜‰


    1. Discar

      Normally, it’s genocide to take someone’s children and educate them to your own values (see the “Indian Reeducation” centers). But does it still count when the assholes give you their own children and tell you to do it?

  1. Pete Rogan

    Huh. And here I was looking forward to “Captain” Livvie crushing a Strib house for once. Oh, well.

    Livvie and his morally-deficient officers have enough bad karma stored up to make their comeuppance memorable, and largely self-inflicted.

    I’m reminded of the scene in “Watchmen” when, after throwing boiling grease into the face of the convict boasting of knifing Rorschach for the fame of it and getting dragged away by the guards, Rorschach yells at the rioting prisoners, “You don’t get it. None of you get it. I’M not locked up in here with YOU. YOU’RE locked up in here with ME!”

    Think I’ll pause the lemonade and go read some more Frank Miller. Could come in handy for next week, way things are going now.

    1. rws

      And a top secret book with the future plot. Hopefully. Helps keep stuff straight.

      There are a number of popular artists and authors that we all wish had done better in that respect. Some died, some broke continuity.

      1. Pete Rogan

        Wouldn’t worry about it. Daniel DeFoe had Robinson Crusoe strip down to swim to his wrecked ship, only to have him there fill his pockets with hardtack. Did you notice? Robert Heinlein wrote in several parallel universes that were near-matches to each other, and then made fun of that in “Number of the Beast”‘s final chapter where characters first meet each other in a parallel dimension. HBO hired two encyclopedists to help George R.R. Martin keep straight all the names, characters, history, beasts and other facts in his novel series that became “Game of Thrones.” Not sure whether that helped Martin to write better.

        Now, Edgar Rice Burroughs kept extensive notes and maps for all his book series, from “A Princess of Mars” to “Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle” to “Carson of Venus.” They’re fun to look through, but they make you realize that Burroughs tended to simplify his storylines over time until they became almost identical. How many times did Tarzan find two lost cities at war with each other from time immemorial? Roman, Greek, Aztec — the background changes but it’s still the same interventionist story. And let’s not forget Philip Jose Farmer’s “Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life” where he details the incongruities, mistakes, and clumsy expositions of Kenneth Robeson’s (neΓ© Lester Dent’s) eighty-odd tales. It’s proof that there’s fun in mistakes. Did you know Doc Savage’s office is on the Empire State Building’s observation deck? Does it matter now?

        And then there’s Christopher Tolkien, who spent more than fifty years trying to make coherent sense of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien’s, inconsistencies and errors in his books, only to find that his father had written variants of events he had written without bothering to designate which he considered ‘canon’ and which were not. Oh, and that Tom Bombadil was based on a toy the Tolkien children had and found endearing. Does this diminish the character, or the story of “The Lord of the Rings”?

        Consistency is a bugaboo that can get in the way of telling a story. Having to keep things the same between tales when a new idea intrudes and demands telling can harm the whole storytelling process. It can be distracting, so I try to be careful with my telling, but it ain’t the whole story. Not at all.

        1. Meran

          I’ve decided the differences seen in story variations were because of POV… different characters in stories would see events differently based on their own experiences. There is rarely only one account of an event.

        2. rws

          Heinlein actually wrote two novels that were word for word identical for the first few chapters. “Number of the Beast”, and “Pursuit of the Pankera”.

          In one, they end up in Barsoom, in the other, they end up in Doc Smith’s Lensmen universe.

          1. Pete Rogan

            Heinlein was a more gifted writer than we know. Until Paul Verhoeven made the film, nobody had ever considered that “Starship Troopers” was a parody of modern American militarism — in 1959. “Revolt in 2100” is a blistering critique of know-nothing Christianism destroying the United States fully sixty years before Trump’s election. He also anticipated widespread solar power use and rooms where the lights come on when you walk in. In many ways we are living in Robert Heinlein times. I have yet to read “The Pursuit of the Pankera” but I know when I do I will find another deep and revealing parody for only the discerning cognoscenti — of which I hope to be one.

            But I maintain his greatest written work is one not released to the public: His Last WIll & Testament. In it, he gave permission for his widow, Ginny, to sell the movie rights to his books. He was badly scorched by the way George Pal had rewritten his “Destination Moon” to make it ‘Hollywood’ in 1950, and never allowed another book of his to be filmed for the remainder of his life. With him not there to be disgusted, he figured movie rights sales would keep Ginny in as comfortable a life as she could wish. Disney purchased the rights to the movie version of “The Star Beast,” and I’m waiting to see how they deal with it. It’s really not like anything they’ve done before, and yet it is. He also released several posthumous books. including “Grumbles From The Grave” — but not “For Us, the Living” which was a manuscript he had discarded and instructed that it be burned, which it wasn’t. By the time it was found, Ginny had died and there was no one left but his publisher to carry out his last wishes — which were perfunctorily ignored.

            I have to say that, of the many Heinlein books not yet auctioned off for film rights, the one I’d like to see made into a movie is one of his darkest: “Farnham’s Freehold.” More angry than his other adult works, “Farnham’s” is a sarcastic screed against American racism, in a format I daresay no one can stand to touch: An involuntary trip to a future where Blacks are in charge, and whites enslaved and… Well, I won’t upset anybody here. If you’ve read the “Mandingo” novels and imagined the races reversed, you’ll have some idea. I can’t see it made into a movie for a century or more, which is a pity. At some point Heinlein will be considered the equal of Jonathan Swift in terms of sheer audacious parody and satire, along with the notation that he was sadly not recognized for this during his life or for some time after it. We’ll need to be a more mature society to recognize this gift in him. For now, we’re going to have to deal with people who treat “Starship Troopers” as a pro-fascist screed and wouldn’t know what to make of “Farnham’s Freehold” at all.

            In the meantime, I dare anybody who reads the opening of “Revolt in 2100” to identify the ‘pariah’ stoned by boys in front of the Prophet’s Palace. You might not recognize him, but you should. You really should.

  2. tlhonmey

    I never found Heinlein’s satire to be all that difficult to uncover. Just about everyone I’ve met who thinks Starship Troopers is pro-fascist has, you know, never actually read the book… Which, by all accounts, includes Mr. Verhoeven.

    A lot of the really good science fiction authors get that though. James P. Hogan, for example, gets derided as being anti-evolution, anti-vax, an AIDS denier, etc. Not because he actually believed any such things, but merely because he had the audacity to point out that the mainstream narrative often has some holes in it and the people who notice them are usually not irrational freaks.

    Heinlein’s genius was that he could consistently write a story which was at once entertaining and thought provoking. He presented views on morals and theology and politics wildly at odds with the mainstream not because he thought the reader should agree, but because he thought nobody can truly be secure in their beliefs unless they question them regularly and go through the effort of once again proving to themselves that what they believe is correct.

    I can’t say as I’ve necessarily *liked* all of his books. But I would say that all the ones I’ve read have probably made me a better person at some level.

    1. Pete Rogan

      I agree. Knowing that the forthcoming “Job: A Comedy of Justice” was based on James Branch Cabell’s “Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice” I read the latter book first — and found Heinlein’s attempt to repeat it shabby and undistinguished. It was a major disappointment and a reminder that even Jove nods. I was reminded that Heinlein was never quite himself after his stroke on the beach in Tahiti, even after successful treatment of his carotid plaque.

      But his books did demand a considerable amount of attention and a thorough backgrounding in many subjects to be fully appreciated, from orbital mechanics to play-by-mail chess. It’s an example I have tried to follow, because I care a good deal about hard science and backgrounding to make my work believable and even, when called upon, provable. Not too many people have even a theoretical knowledge of the transformation of an entire agricultural biome from dextro- to levo-rotary lifeforms, but I’ve littered enough knowledge to make people wonder if we could do it in practice. When “The Gnomes of Lumiere d’Aube” hits the shelves, check it out. I’m anticipating lots of querulous and even disapproving notes, which tell me I’m doing my job.

      We are better people because somebody made us think about things we didn’t think of before, or how they fit into our lives. Heinlein did that with the majority of his works. I try to do a little of the same when I ask people what percentage of petroleum in the United States gets turned into plastic every year. You wouldn’t believe how many people have no idea at all. Teachable moment.

      1. Meran

        James Branch Cabell is one of my all time faves! I have at least 5 of his books in my library, and yes, have read them. And you say there’s a movie coming out????

        Heinlein, at least all the earlier stuff, was great in many ways. As a woman though, the later stuff is just too offensive to read (headlights pointing up perkily? All women really want, no, NEED to be pregnant?? Geez.)

        I absorbed most of his work at a young age and yes, saw the very progressive science. And still look for it to be implemented.

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