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Expanded Universe Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1982

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Mar 1982
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ace Books (March 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441218881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441218882
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
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Product Description


"One of the grand masters of science fiction." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert A. Heinlein, four-time winner of the Hugo Award and recipient of three Retro Hugos, received the first Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement. His worldwide bestsellers have been translated into 22 languages and include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living, was recently published by Scribner and Pocket Books. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a Heinlein fan for just about as long as I've been an SF fan (somewhere around thirty-five years). But when I read this collection some twenty-odd years ago, it nearly turned me off to the old man altogether.
The fiction is pretty good (although even that isn't Heinlein's best). But to describe the nonfiction accurately, I'd have to use words that Amazon will remove from the review anyway.
For the most part, the pieces collected here represent a side of Heinlein I strongly dislike. Though I respect _Starship Troopers_, it's never going to be my favorite Heinlein novel no matter how many times we quibble over the precise definition of "fascism" -- and I'm not going to have much respect for the nonfiction in this collection.
Heinlein (who bought into the Korzybski/General Semantics fad pretty early on) spent a lot of years dismissing philosophers as tailchasers who derive their premises from their conclusions. But his own attempt at philosophy, as represented here in e.g. "The Pragmatics of Patriotism", is very nearly the worst writing on ethical philosophy I've ever seen.
Then, too, people who knew Heinlein report that despite his overall gentlemanly demeanor, he could be pretty churlish toward people who disagreed with him. Well, he's certainly unpleasant here; anybody who doesn't agree with him on the need for massive nuclear buildup is dismissed as a poltroon or a custard-head. Even in the unlikely event that I thought he were _right_, I wouldn't find this a very helpful approach.
Perhaps more surprisingly, his popular writings on _science_ aren't very good. Asimov's reputation as the "great explainer" is in no danger here.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
And it's not a coincidence; the two often go together. Heinlein was a brilliant writer of speculative fiction, but in real life he was kind of a jingoistic butthead -- hard-nosed, and (on some subjects) really really stupid.
In this collection you'll find some good fiction, but in the nonfiction essays you'll also learn what a lousy "philosopher" Heinlein was. For example, he defines ethical behavior as "behavior that tends toward survival" on the grounds that no sane moral philosopher defines it as "behavior that tends toward extinction." False dichotomy, anyone? Has any reason been given why ethical behavior should affect species survival one way or the other at all, let alone why it should be _defined_ as doing so?
He wasn't exactly humane, either. Samuel Johnson, the man who wrote that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," is described (apparently by way of dismissal) as a fat poltroon who was haunted all his life by a pathological (was Heinlein a psychiatrist?) fear of death. This doesn't exactly address Johnson's claim, but maybe it's enough for people who have sold their souls to the U.S. military. Anyway, even supposing Heinlein's claim were true, this isn't a very compassionate way to talk about people who are hounded by uncontrollable fears.
His essays on the Cold War and the former Soviet Union, including his rants about the need for a strong central government to keep building and threatening to use nuclear weapons, are just embarrassing today. Not content with objecting to the Soviet government (as any liberty-loving person would), he also pokes merciless fun at Russian culture and the Russian people (repeatedly referring to them as pigs and suggesting that the Russian language had to borrow words from English for anything more complicated than a turnip patch).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
For those readers of Heinlein who have limited themselves to his Future History stories, his Lazarus Long saga, or perhaps his early Juveniles, Expanded Universe presents an interesting alternate view of Heinlein's writing including many stories not featured in other anthologies and a number of his nonfiction pieces as well.
"Solution Unsatisfactory" tells of an alternate ending to World War II where the US develops an intensely radioactive dust with selective half-life rather than the atomic bomb; its use on Germany and its parallel discovery by the Soviet Union bring the world into a Cold War many times worse than what the world truly experienced. In short, the balance of terror doctrine was and will always be a "solution unsatisfactory."
"PRAVDA Means TRUTH" is a short nonfiction piece on the dangers of a state-run media and its influence on the lives of citizens, based on true-life experiences Heinlein and his wife had while traveling to Russia at the same time Francis Gary Powers' U2 was brought down. Similarly, "Inside Intourist" tells of the Heinlein's experiences with the Soviet tourism agency (through which all travel had to be arranged). Contrary to some reviewers' comments, Heinlein never condescends upon the people of Russia and its former republics; he merely explains the dangers the people face from their oppressive government. He in fact often discusses how nicely the actual people of Russia treated him and his wife on their trip.
Many other stories and nonfiction pieces (some dated by their survivalist Cold War era themes) are included; another of interest is "No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying," which tells the slightly fictionalized tale of courage and TB treatments (which Heinlein himself underwent) in the pre-WW2 Navy.
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