The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana Paperback – Feb 1 1999
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Helps put the great masters work and life in context, to see the magnitude and beauty of Heinleins accomplishments. -- Stephan Kinsella, GEnie Science Fiction and Fantasy RoundTable
The interview with RAH is the crown jewel of the book. Worth reading, worth rereading, worth keeping to read again." -- Darryl Kenning, Reading For Pleasure
This is the longest interview Robert ever gave. Should be on the shelves of everyone interested in science fiction. -- Virginia Heinlein, editor, Grumbles from the Grave
From the Publisher
Our Dutch Uncle
Foreword by Brad Linaweaver
"He is in our heads." So writes J. Neil Schulman about his hero, Robert A. Heinlein. My friend of thirty years, Bill Ritch, has used the same phrase as long as Ive known him. But just who is the "our?" Do Neil and Bill mean the community of science fiction professionals? Do they mean the fans? I think not.
The "our" refers to an area where two special interests meet: science fiction and libertarianism. For science fiction enthusiasts who are not libertarians (the majority), Heinlein is an important figure in the field and an influence on many writers. For libertarians who are not science fiction readers (the majority), Heinlein is an interesting footnote in the literature of liberty. But for those of us who combine these two passions and have optimism in the future, Robert Anson Heinlein is God.
We have needed this book for a very long time. As Mrs. Heinlein says in her endorsement, this interview will appeal both to readers of science fiction and to libertarians. But for those of us who burn for technological marvels and want freedom to enjoy them instead of being slaves to a technocratic Big Brother, Heinlein created the blueprint that may get us to a better world. Not Utopia, because he taught us that
The Robert A. Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana such a dream truly is nowhere. A better world, on the other hand, is not impossible. It is simply hard to achieve.
When he died, the larger world paid attention to his impact on us; yes, on those of us who take The Moon is a Harsh Mistress seriously! As I wrote in New Libertarian, the Associated Press mentioned his libertarianism.
The science fiction press did its best to ignore the same thing. I was annoyed at the time. Now I see that the SF world was trying to do him a favor by ignoring his politics. They gave him a vacation from their usual slanders and libels.
Now with the Hollywood blockbuster of Starship Troopers, the SF community is back to normal; back to calling Heinlein a fascist. And what of his defenders? They know full well that the limited government model of liberty is every bit as objectionable to todays totalitarians as is any anarchy. Those who call Heinlein a fascist know that they are lying. Those who deny Heinleins libertarianism from the other direction know they are lying, too.
In this, the best interview with Heinlein, Neil Schulman inspired the following comment from his hero: "I would say that my position is not too far from that of Ayn Rand; that I would like to see government reduced to no more than internal police and courts, external armed forces with the other matters handled otherwise. Im sick of the way the government sticks its nose into everything, now." Also: "The justification for free enterprise is that its free."
There is only one kind of mentality in this sorry world that describes such expressions of American individualism as fascist: the Marxist mind. That this discredited mode of thought dominates science fiction criticism is no surprise. It still holds sway in New York and Hollywood. It may be finished in Moscow but its doing fine at Harvard and Yale.
That is why we need this book. Robert A. Heinlein is our Dutch Uncle. Maybe the American family is falling apart for lack of decent father figures but at least we still have the voice of one sane man who tells us to be the best we can be and expects even more than an Army recruitment ad. (Besides, hes Navy!)
The United States of America beat its greatest enemies of the century. Heinlein was there in the fight against fascism (and its virulent mutant form of Nazism) as well as in the 75-year-long struggle against Soviet Communism. We defeated these monsters and now our reward seems to be domestic tyranny at the hands of our worst elements, true parasites of the soul.
Naturally such people cannot stand the work of Robert A. Heinlein. Naturally they accuse the man of propagating what is actually their own evils.
The trouble for them is that Heinlein wont go away. They cant let him go away. The kind of totalitarian who gravitates to the arts needs to steal from somewhere even from our Dutch Uncle, who was a superb entertainer. But they make sure to leave out his philosophy.
Buy multiple copies! Tell your friends! This one book will answer for all time what Heinleins positions really were.
The answers are not good for the enemies of freedom.
December 27, 1998See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
the writer , this is the transcript of an interview , so you are reading ( hearing , if you will allow ) the actual words , emphasis , and sentence structure of RAH. I own ( almost ) everything he ever wrote , started with " Have Space Suit - Will Travel " at age 10 , followed by " Stranger in
a Strange Land " at age 11 ( quite a transition for those that know the books ) , and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interview.
The book is rife with typos and is printed in a typeface big enough to qualify for a "Large Print Edition," stamp. ... I should have realized the amateur quality of the publication from the cover photo: a snapshot taken in dim light without a flash. The publisher couldn't even make the effort to color-correct the picture.
Most of the content is Schulman name-dropping and pushing a Libertarian agenda. Not that Libertarianism is a bad thing, it's just Schulman harps on it relentlessly. The foreword by Brad Linaweaver, another flaming Libertarian, intimates that Schulman is a master author, only reined in by Organized Media because of his hard-hitting, challenging, Libertarian-based efforts. If the work in this book is any indication of Schulman's other writing, it isn't a Libertarian stance that's holding him back, it's talent.
The Q&A interview between Schulman and RAH show, to an embarrassingly degree, how shallow Schulman's questions were. Many read like something Comic Book Guy from "The Simpson's" would ask. Granted, Schulman was in his early 20s when he conducted the interview, but most of the interview devolves down to political discussions with a tolerant old man showing a vertically-educated young turk how to think beyond his narrow outlook.
Sadly, you won't get much insight into RAH's thoughts on writing or his creative process; Schulman's too busy asking RAH what he thinks life will be like in a 24th Century inhabited by Lazarus Long.
Spend your money on RAH's own works and you'll get a much better idea of what the man was like and what he thought.
In the decades since, it has become much more common to label Heinlein as a libertarian. But back in that part of the 20th century, Heinlein risked a lot by admitting to being a libertarian (rather than a conservative, which light readers might have assumed). He lost support on the Right and gained little on the Left from the admission. In light of that, The Heinlein Interview is an historical record of a shift -- not only in Heinlein's politics, but that of the American nation.
Heinlein has given interviews before and since on the subject of writing, or what his favorite book is, or whether America should go back to the Moon. But this was the first (and, as far as I've seen, the most in-depth) discussion Heinlein has ever allowed in print concerning his very deeply held political beliefs. This should be a boon to biographers and the curious alike.
The rest of the book consists of miscellaneous exchanges (the "Heinleiniana" of the title) between Heinlein and J. Neil Schulman, an award-winning author in his own right (Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza are two very good novels). It's interesting to read along as the callow Schulman grows into a mature writer and thinker under the tutelage of the patient and understanding Obi-Wan Heinlein.
I liked reading this. Anyone interested in Heinlein who can approach the work and the man without preconceived notions will come away seeing him through new(er) eyes. People who hate Heinlein will learn that he knew exactly why they hated him and that he accepted their enmity with enormous pride.
When the ephemeral writers of the 20th century fade away because they wrote about ephemeral, negative things, Heinlein will be remembered and elevated because he wrote about values eternal and mankind triumphant. He truly was the dean of science fiction and -- quite likely -- of American literature.