Heinlein would not win a Hugo?

Some Robert Heinlein fanboys are complaining on the interwebs that Robert Heinlein would not win a Hugo award today. It doesn’t occur to them that if Heinlein, who died of old age in 1988, was a man in the prime of his career today, he’d have been born two generations later. His world view would most likely be completely different, as would the books he would be writing. Quite possibly those conservatively-minded fanboys would not even like those books. And maybe they would be winning Hugos.

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4 Responses to Heinlein would not win a Hugo?

  1. I always find counterfactuals like this to be annoying, because they are predicated on so many unknowable assumptions. If Heinlein had been born later, he most likely would have been shaped by an entirely different set of circumstances — and even then, who can say they would have shaped him in the same way? Harry Harrison was shaped by his war experiences, and for him war was nothing but one giant racket where (as Crass once put it) the generals sip Bacardi while the privates feel the pain. Who’s to say the Heinlein of now wouldn’t be stridently disgusted by the military?

  2. John P. says:

    Quite right. Heinlein was a product of a 1900′s Bible Belt upbringing. In that context, his material is quite radical and very probably upset a lot of people one way and another. So his view of the world and his style would be very different.

    For example, Tim, I know one of the things you don’t like about Starship Troopers is the military based government he uses. However, remember that Heinlein saw soldiers return from both world wars. One of the common things you hear from demobbed servicemen is the feeling that society doesn’t understand them, doesn’t appreciate what they have done. Now if that disaffection had manifested itself in a political movement, then there were enough ex-servicemen across the globe that it could have carried forward into a political system where you can only participate if you have served in the military. From the perspective of the 195o’s, I can understand how it didn’t look that implausible that a future WW3 would end up that way. Unsettlingly, Heinlein picks the protagonists in that war as China vs Russia/UK/US. With the US moving its military balance towards the Pacific and the rise of China as a superpower, maybe he had more foresight than others back in those Cold War days.

  3. Tim Hall says:

    Actually, the bit that got me to throw Starship Troopers across the room in disgust (the only time I have ever done that with book) was when he got to the spanking fetish. Part of the “Violence is the solution to all problems” subtext of the book.

  4. John P. says:

    Spanking fetish??? Where the heck was that??? It’s been a few years since I last read it but I don’t remember anything like that. Are you sure you didn’t have some mucky magazine hidden inside it? (nudge nudge wink wink)

    Anyway, corporal punishment was common for a lot of the 20th century and nobody batted an eyelid about it. I even remember when I was 8 the headmaster visiting the classroom to apply his plimsole to the backside of the kid next to me. And before you ask, no, it wasn’t a private school. Like I’ve said before, what are you doing today that seems perfectly sensible & reasonable but will be judged by history as being outrageous & contemptible.

    If you are writing a book about war and the military then “violence as a solution” pretty much comes with the territory. Or playing an RPG if it comes to that. You were pretty quick to use the rocket launcher on Postman Pat weren’t you? (grin)

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