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20 Things You Might Not Know About Robert A. Heinlein, Part 3: His Eccentric Education

The continuation of a 4-part series exploring the life and work of one of the grandmasters of science fiction.

by
Sarah Hoyt

Bio

March 8, 2014 - 8:00 am
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Robert A. Heinlein_1973_Time Enough For Love

Click Here for Part I: “His Maculate Origin”

Click Here for Part 2: “His Preposterous Heritage”

11. Heinlein was married three times.

His first wife was named Elinor Curry. Not much is known about her, and their marriage lasted only about a year. Before leaving the Navy, Heinlein married Leslyn MacDonald. She was intelligent, well read and very liberal. Their marriage was ultimately unsuccessful, but it lasted for well over a decade. He was married to his third wife, Virginia, (nee Gerstenfeld), until he died in 1988.

It is believed many of his early heroines resemble Leslyn. Perhaps so, but perhaps Heinlein just liked multi-competent females. Having been privileged to speak to the third Mrs. Heinlein, I can attest she was intimidatingly intelligent and well read, and that I found her echo in many of his female characters. So much for everyone who claims that his women are men with breasts. (Whether he had a male’s naïve view of female sexuality is a wholly different matter. To a certain extent, try as we might, we are all prisoners of that space behind our eyes, and no matter how much talented individuals try to escape it, they’re prone to believing what others wish them to believe.)

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All Comments   (17)
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The first SF story I tried to get published I destroyed as well.

I think it was pretty good, far better than much I have read before and since.

BUT - shortly after it was rejected by Analog magazine, at work I was handed a classified message that stated that all information about the weapons system I had invented for my story was classified S E C R E T. And furthermore, the fact that it was classified was itself classified. I had no idea that such a thing was being considered, but it had seemed logical to me.

So I am glad Analog did not publish it. Given the job I had at the location I had at the time, no one would have ever believed I had invented it by sheer coincidence.

And to date, to my knowledge, that concept has still not been declassified - although at least one SF novel has been written about it - and so I still ain't talking.

In fact, I better go right now and make sure that story was indeed destroyed.....
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
John Campbell would be proud of you. Modern science fiction came THAT close to being snuffed out in its infancy. I don't think it would have worked out nearly so well with Mr. Campbell sitting in Leavenworth for who knows how long.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are a science fiction author? Any suggestions on a good book of yours to start with? Unfortunately, except for Bujold, I've never read a female author whose stories I could enjoy, but I'm always willing to try. (Bujold is about the only one with a male protagonist, also.) I'm not familiar with internet distribution channels.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Go to the Baen Books website - www.baen.com. Go to the "Read Baen" tab on the left, then the "Free Library" link. Filter by Sarah Hoyt.

She has a short story there, "Dog's Body" and one of her novels, "Draw One in the Dark".

No, Sarah is not Lois Bujold - nor is she Andre Norton - but I think you will probably like her work.

By the way, if you want more good contemporary female authors, check out the "16xx" series while you are at Baen - this "shared" alternative history series has produced several very enjoyable works by the "distaff" side of the profession.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see this is based on the most famous Heinlein novel (never read it), Stranger in a Strange Land, about which one of Heinlein's characters says, "Some people will do anything for money". No idea if it was a reflection of author's viewpoint.

Personally, I find his later writing off-putting compared to his earlier stuff - and the later stuff really represents him. (Who says censorship is bad for art? Ask Shakespeare.) There is one place at the end of one of the later ones where the illogic of the philosophy is apparent - he tries to combine his belief in sexual free-for-all with the Laura Schlesinger-like philosophy of Podykane of Mars - it doesn't work in this Universe.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sigh. You need to read some of his other work, also. Besides "Stranger in a Strange Land" - you might just learn something new about him (or at least his fiction).

RAH noted two truths - 1) That sex, in evolutionary terms, is for the continuance of the species, period. 2) That, for some weird evolutionary reason, the genus Homo, species Sapiens (as the classification was in his day, it is different now) is the ONLY one where the female derives pleasure from the sexual act. The ways in which this affects human behavior, in both good ways and bad, fascinated him.

As for "sexual free-for-all" - you have not actually read what was said, you have read what you expected to see. Sex is not a "free" thing in the Heinlein writings - it comes with all of the real responsibilities, just none of the unreal ones imposed by artificial means.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sigh? I thought I was clear that I read a lot, if not most, of his stuff, and was comparing the earlier to the later. Stranger... was one of the one's I didn't read (except for the first part).
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Quote from Lazerous Long: "Free tail is inevitably the most expensive kind."
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since we have Spider Robinson mentioned above , there's another example of the benefits of economic censorship. I loved the Callahan's Bar series (he wasn't the first to do that, BTW) until he basically started defending child molesters - combined with a cheap shot at the Catholic Church, no less! I should have seen it coming when he recommended reading pornography in his Heinlein appreciation.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow. Now *that* is a writing group.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reading "Citizen of the Galaxy" on a small chunk of grass in a cornfield.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, what happened to "His Scandalous Career"?
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Have Space Suit, Will Travel"
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being a kid in the 60s, reading "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" on a warm summer night. One of those memories that stuck.
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Robert Pearson has a photo posted at his Heinlein blog featuring many members from the Manana Literary Society including-

Leslyn Heinlein- Front Row,1st on right

Robert Heinlein- Middle Row, 9th from right
Jack Williamson- Middle Row, 6th from right
Ray Bradbury- Middle Row, 5th from right

Edmond Hamilton- Top Row, 5th from right

http://heinleincommentary.blogspot.com/2013/11/robert-and-leslyn-photo.html
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for putting together this series, I'm really enjoying it. I thought Grumbles from the Grave, which sits on my personal 'inspiration and reference' shelf provided all one needed to know about RH. Clearly there is much more.

Could you elaborate a little on what you mean by 'naive take on female sexuality'?
23 weeks ago
23 weeks ago Link To Comment
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