Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction
The Sixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein
The first published work by Robert Heinlein, originally as a serial in the pulps of the 1940s. Based on an outline by John Campbell, Heinlein took some of the edge off the overt racism in the outline. Keep in mind that was written in the 1940s and incidents such as the Rape of Nanking were know. It’s good Heinlein, not great Heinlein.
NPR has distilled the input they got for people’s top picks for SciFi & Fantasy down to 100 selections, and are asking people to pick their top ten. There is some utter dreck in the list, along with some of the true classics in the field.
Go vote, but if your choices don’t include Heinlein, Pournelle, Niven, or Farmer, just hang your head in shame.
OK, not really, since they are lumping fantasy in as well. So you have crap written by George R.R. Martin listed along really good SciFi. Ya, I am biased here. I am much more of a SciFi fan than a fantasy one, and perhaps GRRM may be able to be write decent Elf porn or whatever passes for mainstream fantasy these days, but his attempts at SciFi that I have read have been utter drek.
You can enter your top five books or series under comments for this NPR story on their quest for summer reading. Fair warning, you have to register to post.
The five I entered were:
- Space Viking – H. Beam Piper
- The Probability Broach – L. Neil Smith
- The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein
- To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer
- The Mote in God’s Eye – Dr. Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven
This list could change on any given day by one or two entries.
The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein
This novel is about four geniuses travelling through space and mutiple-dimensions in a flying car with its own AI. The travellers wander through multiple science fiction universes, including several of Heinlein’s own.
A fun ride for Heinlein fan, but I would not recommend this for someone reading their first Heinlein novel. If you haven’t read any thing by the Grandmaster of American Science Fiction, you are missing not just good adventure stories. As author Spider Robinson so aptly put it, “And I repeat: if there is anything that can divert the land of my birth from its current stampede into the Stone Age, it is the widespread dissemination of the thoughts and perceptions that Robert Heinlein has been selling as entertainment since 1939.”
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
One of his juveniles series, but a good read for all ages. A good solid adventure story of the type Heinlein was famous for. As author Spider Robinson so aptly put it, “And I repeat: if there is anything that can divert the land of my birth from its current stampede into the Stone Age, it is the widespread dissemination of the thoughts and perceptions that Robert Heinlein has been selling as entertainment since 1939.”
I would say that my position is not too far from that of Ayn Rand’s; 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. I’m sick of the way the government sticks its nose into everything now.
Robert A. Heinlein, as quoted by J. Neil Schulman in The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
Another classic by the Grandmaster of Science Fiction. Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars. Raised by Martians, he looks at Human society through a very different perspective than the rest of his species. Heinlein takes on sex and religion in a most irreverent fashion.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
The classic anti-war military SciFi book seen by many as an answer to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the Monday book pick from Feb. 9, 2009). Haldeman claims that isn’t how he wrote it, and Robert Heinlein thought it was a damn good good book. An opinion I share.
Another classic by the Grandmaster of Science Fiction, Robert A. Heinlein.