Communion Of Dreams

A complex man.
May 31, 2010, 10:48 am
Filed under: Heinlein, MetaFilter, Robert A. Heinlein, Science Fiction, Society, Violence

I’ve written about Robert A. Heinlein a fair amount, or referenced his work. It’s safe to say that he has had a significant impact on me and my thinking. Though many people have a superficial knowledge of him and his work, based on one or two novels, I think that an honest assessment of him as a writer has to be that he was a complex man who changed a lot over the course of his life. Not all of those phases were particularly attractive – there are times when he can only be described as being a right cranky old bastard. But sometimes for very good reason.

Here’s one slice of him I hadn’t seen before, and I think it gives some further insight into Starship Troopers. It’s a letter he wrote to a friend and young fan in January 1945, following the death of that man’s brother in the war. An excerpt:

Forry, you have sought my advice on matters which worried you in the past. You have not sought my advice in this matter, but I am going to presume on our old friendship to offer you some. I know that you are solemn in your intention to see to it that Alden’s sacrifice does not become meaningless. I am unable to believe that fan activity and fan publications can have anything to do with such intent. I have read the fan publications you have sent me and, with rare exceptions, I find myself utterly disgusted with the way the active fans have met the trial of this war. By the fan mags I learn that many of these persons, who are readily self-congratulatory on their superiority to ordinary people—so many, many of these “fans” have done nothing whatsoever to help out. Many of them are neither in the army nor in war work. Many have found this a golden opportunity to make money during a war boom—by writing, by commercial photography, through the movies, or by other worthless activities—worthless when compared with what your brother Alden was doing. These bastards let your brother die, Forry, and did not lift a hand to help him. I mean that literally. The war in Europe would have been over if all the slackers in this country had been trying to help out—would have been over before the date on which your brother died. The slackers are collectively and individually personally responsible for the death of Alden. And a large percent of fans are among those slackers. Alden’s blood is on their hands.

Today seemed to be the appropriate day to share this.

Jim Downey

(Via MeFi.)

1 Comment so far
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well said….now to go and ponder past times.

Comment by Cliff Galbraith

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