Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Five Favorite...

...Robert A. Heinlein novels are:

1. Starship Troopers. I'll call this one The Patriotism Book. Heinlein tied patriotism strongly to survival of the human species. His theory of patriotism can be found in an address he made to the US Naval Academy titled The Pragmatics of Patriotism, which can be found in the Heinlein collection Expanded Universe.

2. Tunnel In the Sky. The Survival book. A story beginning with survival by the individual, working up to survival by a small team, and finally survival at the village level. With more people it might have ended with survival at the national level, which is what Heinlein defined patriotism as. Funny how similar in theme this one is to Starship Troopers. It also features knives in a prominent role, and since I've been a knife nut all my life (even more so than a gun nut, actually) this book has much to do with my own attitudes toward survival in the wilderness.

3. Glory Road. The Sword book. Heinlein was a fencer while at the US Naval Academy, did pretty good at it. That knowledge he put to good use in Glory Road. Is there any fan of Heinlein's who doesn't want a "Lady Vivamus" of his/her very own?

4. Have Space Suit - - Will Travel. The Space Suit book. This one is fun in that it discusses the modern US education system, and how it cheats the typical student of a real education, usually with the student's full cooperation. Along the way is yet another tale of survival: survival against a hostile environment (the Moon), survival against an alien race (the Wormfaces), and, finally, survival of the human race, when judged by an interstellar government.

5. Expanded Universe. The Heinlein's Thoughts book. This is a varied collection of stories, essays, polemics, speeches and predictions, all with commentary included by Heinlein. Included are such gems as Heinlein's first story ("Life-Line"), the aforementioned The Pragmatics of Patriotism, other polemics such as Who Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?, and even a fantasy story (Over the Rainbow) in which the US's first black, female President puts us back on the gold standard, re-institutes the Pauper's Oath, throws open the borders and forces everyone to learn "Spanglish," among other achievements. I like to keep this one close beside me mainly for The Pragmatics of Patriotism. Supposedly, Heinlein specified that this book was to be published only within the United States, as he didn't believe in airing the country's dirty laundry in public.

Well, those are my five. What are yours?

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

Gotta go with:

Starship Troopers - Mr Dubois and Johnny Rico had a helluva lot to do with how I found myself an RA in the RVN in 1969. I have a skull earring with a bone for each tour.....

Door Into Summer - Although I'm allergic to cats, a re-do of some of my life has seemed like a good idea sometimes

Double Star - My first glimmering of the dirty game that politics is oftentimes.

Stranger in a Strange Land - Wanted to be Jubal in the worst way-the fact he burned his discharge when the one-world government disbanded the US forces also hit me in the mental solar plexus. I'll do it too, if I'm still alive.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Prof de la Paz built on the civics lessons I'd learned from a schoolteacher who also was a veteran. Also fits well with some of Sun T'zu's work.

Pity that the wonder I experienced reading his canon isn't shared by more of the younger generations.