Thursday, January 2, 2020

the other big names

I just posted my centenary piece on Isaac Asimov, and it occurred to me that I've now written, on occasion of death or centenary, on all four of the famous "big name" SF authors of that generation. So here's links to the rest:

Arthur C. Clarke.

Ray Bradbury.

My piece on Robert A. Heinlein is no longer online, so here it is:

Lots of people trying to do lucky things today, since it's 7/7/07. But I've read The Mimeo Man, so I remember that today is the centennial of Robert A. Heinlein's birth.

There's some kind of centennial conference on Heinlein going on in Kansas City, his home town, right now. I first heard of this some months ago when I saw an announcement that Dafydd ab Hugh would be there, which fact pretty much sums up why I'm not.

As a longtime science fiction reader, I ought to like Heinlein's work, but I don't. I find him a terminally hectoring author. He shares with Orson Scott Card, and just about nobody else, the unusual ability to make me disagree with almost anything he says, even if I previously agreed with it.

Still, he is of unmatched importance in the history of the field, and unlike some in his class (who reads Doc Smith now? I recently conversed with an established fan who'd never even heard of Smith) he's still easily in print, readable, and often read. So go ahead and celebrate, Heinlein fans. Me, I'll prefer to wait for L. Sprague de Camp's centennial on November 27th.

And to a commenter who wrote that Heinlein "taught me ways to think for myself," I responded:

I read Heinlein as saying, not "think for yourself," but "think like me." Or, more precisely, "Think for yourself. If you do, you'll think like me. If you don't think like me, you're not really thinking for yourself, because all truly independent thinkers think like me." YMMV, but this is what I mean by hectoring.

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