Patterson, Jr. Robert A. Heinlein in Dialogue with his Century. Volume 2. The Man Who Learned Better. Robert Anson Heinlein, with his vivid promotion of a human future in space and flouting of genre taboos, dominated American sf for the first three of the four decades covered in this biography. Yet Heinlein the genre writer is pushed to one side in this final volume of the late William H. Patterson here offers a dualportrait, Virginia Gerstenfield and Robert A. Heinlein as business and life partners, with a secondary focus on Cold-War politics.
Volume 1 ended with the marriage of VGH and RAH in , and this book stays squarely focused on the couple over forty years , detailing their extensive travels and hyperkinetic social life. I developed a theory about why it took Heinlein so long to write Stranger in a Strange Land : he kept getting called away to the party or roped in on some new vacation extravaganza—Japan, Alaska, Malaysia, Antarctica, China, Russia, Rio. Heinlein clearly came to see waltzing in Vienna as more fun than removing previously undetected dangling participles from galley proofs.
The biography sometimes moves beyond home, visitors, and travel. Heinlein always tussled with editors, and Patterson might have conceded that with thirteen years and a fine series of books to show, Dalgliesh worked with RAH more productively and for a longer period than any other editor ever had. One Heinlein letter suggests that it was not editorial conflict but the relentless annual deadline that got to him:.
More titles to consider
He was again provocative and controversial and apparently was re-energized. During the s and s the Heinleins also devoted much time to arduous home-improvement projects, another matter described in exhaustive detail. He and Ginny designed and built their own tiny, highly automated house in Colorado Springs; and years later when they moved to California, they built another high-tech home. Prosperous as the Heinleins came to be, the more serious surgeries and illnesses were a financial worry as they neared the limit on their supplemental insurance coverage.
The adult novels RAH turned to during the s are given a bare modicum of attention, with discussions ranging from a sentence to several pages. When Patterson does turn to genre sf, it is generally to belittle political views that fail to tally with his own. John W. RAH himself often disagreed with people and groups within sf, but he was more forbearing than Patterson.
Heinlein was furious. He was always very keen on keeping his private life private. As well as being a private man, Heinlein was also rather madly patriotic and could not abide with anyone speaking against his country, even natives. He told Asimov off for complaining about the food when they worked in the Navy shipyards and, much later, he fell out badly with Arthur C. Campbell, Jr. No one was messing with his brain.
He needed it. Many examples of his generosity are cited in the book. He gave money to Theodore Sturgeon when he was broke and also handed him a few plot ideas. He bought an electric typewriter for Philip K. Dick and loaned him money. He quietly supported the SFWA Science Fiction Writers of America through hard times, even though a few of the other authors were highly critical of his political views.
Later, a lot of it went on medical expenses. The above examples of how nice Heinlein was highlighted the main enigma about him.
- Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better.
- Questions - Studying Heinlein - The Every Day Novelist.
- Customer Reviews.
- Eponymously Yours, W. Skeffington Higgins — LiveJournal;
The latter books seem to advocate selfishness, greed, looking after number one, etc and to sneer at altruism as pure foolishness. Lazarus Long regards lesser mortals — nearly everyone — as stupid and deserving of their Darwinian fate: poverty, famine or death. But Robert A. He spent a lot of time and money on recruiting blood donors. He went out and campaigned for political causes he believed in, though they were usually right wing. As mentioned above, he was generous with his money. In real life, he was more like the teenage idealist in a Heinlein juvenile than he was like the sour old heroes of the later novels.
Get A Copy
That is to his credit. Heinlein always wanted his works to speak for him and avoided as much as possible any delving into his private life. Many squabbles with Shasta Publishing and Hollywood finance men over his share of the loot for the products. There are family visits, family squabbles and loads of world travel.
- Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better!
- The Petty Demon;
- Post navigation.
- sfadb : William H. Patterson, Jr. Awards.
- See a Problem?.
- Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: 1948-1988 The Man Who Learned Better.
As he became popular in the slicks and book publishing, Heinlein largely left hard-core SF fandom behind. These had to be cut considerably and slightly amended to make the instalments more fitting but getting paid twice for the same novel was a good gimmick. The adult novels were usually serialised in the top SF magazines of the day so they also paid off twice. Heinlein kept a large file of index cards on which he constantly made notes when he had an idea.
Furthermore, he seems to have spent almost as much time cutting the first draft for publication as he did writing it. Of course, the time taken to write a work is no reflection of quality, for by now he had become a master of his art. The adult books of the fifties still had to be mostly about plot and characters.
That won a Hugo and his course was set. Thereafter, the books were more about his views than about plots and character. It should be noted that as Heinlein is an intelligent, witty writer and the books are very charming and readable. After the fact, people may argue about its worth but no one doubts its importance. The comparison is apt, too, because, like that popular beat combo, Heinlein was at the top of the field and had sufficient clout with the men in suits to experiment.
They could be sure that any Heinlein book would sell. There is a theory, backed up by information here, that with the later works, especially the very latest, he was not interested in melodrama and the usual stuff of adventure but more in ideas and social satire. The main thing lacking in this authorised biography is any definite opinion by the author about his subject.
The general tone is reverent, which is okay, but many biographies are extended essays which put forward a particular point of view. Sometimes the biographer may not like his subject. On the other hand, there are plenty of opinions about Heinlein and his work out there and the facts assembled here are useful in their own right. Jan 16, Joshua Buhs rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , science-fiction , biography.
Only for those who want to know every time that Robert Heinlein farted, and that each bit of flatulence smelled like roses. This is a very bad book. It is also very long, but I don't want to spend much time on the review. The only thing that kept it from getting a single star was that Patterson clearly did a lot of research. He was diligent going through Heinlein's archives, and knows everything that Heinlein ever wrote down.
Unfortunately, all that work is marred by a lack of curiosity, a terribl Only for those who want to know every time that Robert Heinlein farted, and that each bit of flatulence smelled like roses. Unfortunately, all that work is marred by a lack of curiosity, a terrible writing style, and all kinds of special pleadings. As Jeet Heer already made clear in his review of the book for the New Republic, Patterson is extremely naive about Heinlein's political development. Rather then seeing that he indeed moved rightward in his views--the man who ran for office int he s on Upton Sinclair's ticket became associated with the Birch Society, for goodness sake--Patterson insists that Heinlein had not changed any of his principles, but the country, all of it, had moved so far left that Heinlein just ended up on the right.
And all the people who saw the changes in him, and often broke with him--or didn't champion his causes strongly enough--were weak. Pinkos, as RAH called them in letters: definitely the word of choice for liberals. What is clear is that RAH developed a common affliction among older white men: know-everything-itis. He spent 11 days in New Zealand, which proved to him that socialism could not work. He went to a magazine stand and so it only stocked three copies of Scientific American or Popular Science, I don't remember which , and decided that meant the next generation was going to hell in a hand basket.
Patterson's credulity exposes an incredible lack of curiosity of things beyond what Heinlein thought. There are all the things he hated, all the people who did him wrong--everyone did him wrong--and Patterson is not interested in any of their motivations. The clearest example of this is also silly. When Heinlein moved to an area near Watsonville, California, he supposedly saw a wolf near his home. Patterson reports this as interesting, but nothing more.
ROBERT A. HEINLEIN by William H. Patterson Jr. | Kirkus Reviews
Never mind that the last confirmed wolf sighting in California occurred in the s. Probably he saw a coyote. The book is overly long--near a thousand pages, if you include the first volume--and Patterson leaves no detail unrecorded. But the style is frustrating no end. He'll hit on a topic, build a little steam, and then drop it as he takes up the next event in RAH's daily life, a cold or a dentist appointment or what have you, then come back to it pages and pages later.
He barely touches on the stories Heinlein put out, often not even recapitulating his novels. Which were, of course, masterpieces to the very end. Even though they weren't properly recognized. As evidence of this, Patterson points out that one of RAH's novels was only nominated for a Nebula aware, but didn't win. Reading a book, one gets a sense of the author--not who they are really, but their persona.
Paterson's persona is unfortunate. One gets the overwhelming sense of a teenage boy furiously tucking in his shirt, shouting "Well, actually! Nobody in the book does right by Heinlein all the time--though he is right all the time--and even his beloved wife Ginny forces on him some indulgences. No one has ever loved--is capable of loving--Robert Heinlein as much as William H. Oct 06, Chris rated it liked it. This one has less editorial about how heroic Heinlein was. Patterson still explains several times that Heinlein's almost unique perspective was right, and people who disagreed with him were wrong or incapable of understanding reality.
There is also some appreciation for Virginia's largely unheralded contribution to the canon. Next I need to read the criticism of Patterson's criticism -- which is remarkably uncritical This one has less editorial about how heroic Heinlein was. Next I need to read the criticism of Patterson's criticism -- which is remarkably uncritical of Heinlein, but sharply critical of his critics as Heinlein was.
Unfortunately much of the detail in the book is buried in the footnotes, among thousands of notes which only point researchers to the sources of various comments. I wanted to read all the detail, but never are which interview tape with Virginia Heinlein any fact was mentioned on. Additionally the footnotes worked very badly in both the Kindle and iBooks editions -- even worse in the Kindle edition, so I got a credit for the first book and rebought from the iBookstore, because Apple's footnotes were less broken.
So I kept jumping back to the footnotes, reading a bunch of commentary on text I hadn't ready yet, making a mental note of how far I had gotten, then jumping back into the maintext and trying to remember how far I'd gotten in the footnotes while continuing. Unfortunately tapping the footnotes often paged forward or backward rather than jumping into the footnotes section, and tapping to return to the maintext was even worse.
I averaged about 4 taps to return to the maintext, and several times slid off the page and had to return to the correct footnote page, only to retry that's 10 failed taps, 10 recovery taps, and 1 eventual successful tap, just to get back out of the freaking footnotes. This is a problem with an electronic edition, but if I were reading on paper I would have needed to keep 2 bookmarks in the book and still flip back and forth frequently. Feb 07, Al Lock rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , american-history. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has read any of Robert A.
Heinlein's work. The author has done a fantastic job in capturing this strong willed individual in all his strengths and flaws. This biography of Robert A. Heinlein covers the last forty years of his life and his second marriage. We get a glimpse of both his professional and personal life as well as some background on the stories he wrote during his lifetime. There are over pages of endnotes and appendixes as well as copies of letters by his wife after his death.
Dec 20, Bill Yancey rated it really liked it. Nice to see how and when Heinlein got some of his ideas. The man was a genius, and misunderstood by the media. Mar 08, Rafeeq O. The second volume of William H. Patterson's Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century is an enjoyable and informative read for anyone with an interest in Heinlein, and especially those who have read the first volume.
I confess that I probably enjoyed the first volume over this one just a hair more, but I believe this is simply a natural product of the material. The details of Heinlein's early period, after all--his naval career, his marriage to Eleanor Curry and then to Leslyn MacDonald, his early political ideas, his entry into the pulps--are less known to most of us than the later period, and for me, at least, they make perhaps the fractionally better read. Aug 16, Jerry-Book rated it it was ok Shelves: science-fiction.
This book is the second volume of Patterson's biography of Heinlein. He certainly presents every detail about Heinlein's life. The book is ultimately disappointing since like the first volume it lacks any critical analysis of Heinlein or his work.
Why did Heinlein the early left leaning libertarian politician end up as a member of the John Birch Society and a backer of Barry Goldwater? Was it the influence of his Republican third wife? The author does no more than recite the book sales of these later books and provides no analysis. The author does explain why Heinlein was a backer of Ronald Reagon's Star Wars defense plan and why that led to a conflict with Arthur C.
Like Asimov's autobiography which I compare this to one certainly learns a lot about publishing short stories and novels. There was an interesting note about Heinlein's help in critiquing Pournelle's and Niven's The Mote in God's Eye which turned the book into a success. Sep 20, Gene rated it liked it. Not as interesting as the first volume, but not as bad as some of the reviews I've read would have you believe.
Some of the reviews were critical of how 'worshipful' Patterson is of Heinlein. I saw quite a bit of respect rendered in both volumes, but not a lot of worship. The biggest criticism I would render is most everything is shown from Heinlein's side of the matter and people in opposition to him are default wrong. Relationships are more complicated than that, and they certainly were in Hei Not as interesting as the first volume, but not as bad as some of the reviews I've read would have you believe. Relationships are more complicated than that, and they certainly were in Heinlein's life.
Robert was a person of strong opinions his whole life and much of what he said went against the grain with many. Most who have an opinion on Heinlein and his life will be very pro or very anti with not many occupying the middle ground. Because I was at least aware of the broad outlines of the last half of his life, this came over more as a recitation of a time line.
Oh, he's interested in this or that-Farnham's Freehold or Glory Road are on his agenda now.
The most surprising fact I found in this volume was he had been tinkering and doing many new starts of Stranger since I would call the book worthwhile to read, but I got more bang for my buck with volume one. His life wasn't so settled, and he wasn't such an Icon, so it was more interesting reading. I'm somewhat torn about giving this book four stars as I gave the same rating to the first volume and this concluding book does not work as well as the initial one.
Patterson's unquestioning admiration of Heinlein, and his wife who was a major source for this authorized biography, is much more evident than in the first volume and his seemingly complete inability to acknowledge that Heinlein might have been gasp! At times it is impossib I'm somewhat torn about giving this book four stars as I gave the same rating to the first volume and this concluding book does not work as well as the initial one.
At times it is impossible to separate the opinions of the author from those of his subject. There is also a strong whiff of stories untold regarding Heinlein's relationships outside of his marriage that would have provided a more well rounded picture of the man as well as informed the quite limited discussions of his work. Ultimately, however, this is an important book, giving us the first thoroughly researched biography of a towering figure in science fiction and the weaknesses of the book are outweighed by the thoroughness of the research and the wealth of detail about his life and times.
Like much of Heinlein's own work, whether you end up loving it or hating it, you should still have read it. Oct 20, Mark Palmer rated it really liked it. A life long Heinlein fan, I picked up the second volume of Patterson's biography first. I wasn't sure I wanted to wade through his early years first - rather I wanted to get at him during his prime years. Patterson's biography is well researched and detailed. This is not light reading and some may be turned off by some of the mundane day to day details of Heinlein's life.
But the book gave me some better insight behind the books and RAH's politics of the day. The downside for me is that Patterson A life long Heinlein fan, I picked up the second volume of Patterson's biography first. The downside for me is that Patterson is working almost exclusively off of archival material. Heinlein's contemporaries are gone as well. Most of the interviews came from authors who are still around Niven, Pournelle for instance that he came in contact with only later in his career.
And this is sprinkled throughout, sometimes in a phrase or two and sometimes at far, far greater length. Patterson Jr. Nor does he feel the need to actually look into what happened. And again: who asked him? As fascinated as we all are with the revolution, why on earth does it belong in a Heinlein bio that is already bloated in two volumes? However, Patterson expands upon this at length and adds his own feelings about it without citing a single political position that would support it. So what would a responsible biographer do here? At most, a responsible biographer merely says that this is how Heinlein felt.
Patterson does not. He takes it as given that everything, everything Heinlein felt must be right. Even in non-political issues or inter-field political issues , this leads the biography to be a lesser work than it could have been. For example, in writing about a falling-out with Ben Bova over an Alexei Panshin review of Expanded Universe , Patterson does not apparently contact Dr. Bova for any memories he has of this incident. Last I saw or heard, Dr. Bova was alive and well, and his perspective could at least be noted.
Everything else gets a rubber stamp—not only does Heinlein apparently learn better, he never fails to learn better. And the worst of it is, some of this stuff is going to get attributed to Heinlein. Some of this stuff is going to get attributed to Heinlein by the people who think he could do no wrong, and some of it is going to get attributed to Heinlein by the people who think he could do no right, and especially it will be attributed to Heinlein by people who think that he is a symbol of everything right-wing about America today, whether they personally love it or hate it, whether he actually said or thought any such thing.
He could have written a real biography. With the first volume, it almost looked like he was going to. And instead this. It has immensely detailed information about what Heinlein wrote when, which drafts were called what and how they developed. In places there are the sketched outlines of a touching portrait of how a married couple can work together as a team for the benefit of the career of one of them. Even some figure skaters? That was twenty years ago. No one has any excuse for still thinking that figure skaters are all sweetness and light. How did you find the patience to even read this book?