What is your favorite book? (Robert A Heinlein)

j d worthington

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On Number of the Beast -- I'd say it's among Heinlein's weakest works; though some of his early work (such as Sixth Column which, I understand, was written more to John W. Campbell's specifications than Heinlein's own preferences) are a bit further down. Nonetheless, I find there are things I like about Beast; the often self-parodic humor in it (reflected in part by the fact that quite a few character names are actually Heinleinian pseudonyms or anagrams of such, as well as various portions of the novel where he sends himself up no little), some of the concepts and the way they are handled I enjoyed, etc. (On the names aspect mentioned above, see Leon Stover's Robert A. Heinlein; one of the few very positive critical reviews of Heinlein; unfortunately given to serious flaws. But there is an appendix in there, as I recall, which goes into this aspect of Number of the Beast.)

It's been quite a long time since I read the book (going on 20 years now), so perhaps I should revisit it before giving an opinion; but while I agree that it has its tedious aspects, I enjoyed the book overall. Still, I'd agree that it's one of his lesser works....
 

engelbach

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The Puppet Masters has always been my favorite. It's the best work of its kind about pods taking over humanity. Unfortunately, the Donald Sutherland film of it completely missed its ironic tone and the sense of horror that was done so well in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers films.

Adventure stories such as Starship Troopers and Have Spaceship, Will Travel were written for a juvenile audience, primarily to make money. But even as a juvenile I found them thin on the wit that made his adult early work so compelling.

His time travel stuff is especially engaging. The Door Into Summer is a wonderful novel replete with clever paradoxes. And the best time travel paradox tale of all time is his short story All You Zombies, in which by means of time travel and changing identities every character in the story is the same person.

In later life Heinlein grew soft and lost his edge. Stranger in a Strange Land fit in with the social movements of its time, became very popular, and made him a lot of money, but in my opinion it's mush.
 

j d worthington

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Other than the sci-fi novel I just wrote, I would say my favorite sci-fi novel would have to be: "TIME AND AND AGAIN," by Jack Finney...He also wrote the great sci-fi novel: "INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS."
Query, though: What is your favorite Heinlein book (assuming you have one, of course)...
 

pyan

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Starship Troopers.

And for those that have heard it dismissed as fascist warmongering, I suggest you read this. :p
 

Liz Pf

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Add me to the list of Moon is a Harsh Mistress fans ... it was the first Heinlein I read (sneaking into my parent's bedroom to read my dad's copy while he was at work), and still my favorite.

I also like Job and Friday, as plot-driven novels.

I also lie to read some of RAH's less well written books -- not because they are good reads, because they aren't, but for the ideas and concepts RAH talks about in them. I place Number of the Beast... and To Sail Beyond the Sunset here. As entertainment, they stink, but as a collection of short essays on human nature, politics, and philosophy, they are interesting.

I am not a fan of Stranger ... but I did find the unedited version a better read. The restored material helped me understand the motivations of the characters -- without it, I found they often acted in irrational ways.

--Liz
professional polymath and errant Heinlein quote t-shirt designer
 

j d worthington

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You know, I think that's the thing about Heinlein. In some ways, he's like David Lindsay; very uneven even within the same book. He can be alternately brilliant and atrocious within the same work... yet there's enough of genuine artistic worth there to make even his failures worth reading because you do come away a little richer even from those than if you'd never read them. And for me, I find that the "richer" can actually be quite a bit... often because he and I are almost diametrically opposed on our views on many (but by no means all) things, so he sometimes frustrates and irritates me into thinking my position through more stringently... and this, to me, is always a good thing....
 

Urlik

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difficult choice
I enjoy rereading all of them (even NOTB although it is weaker towards the end)
I suppose it would have to be Time Enough for Love, Glory Road, Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in no particular order and rereading based on current mood and how long ago I last read them

although there is one book that I read a long time ago and lost :(
they were all living on a colony ship that had been in space for several generations.
I really enjoyed it but I have no clue as to its title.
 

j d worthington

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... there is one book that I read a long time ago and lost :(
they were all living on a colony ship that had been in space for several generations.
I really enjoyed it but I have no clue as to its title.
Orphans of the Sky, comprised of "Universe" and "Common Sense"....
 

j d worthington

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Can anyone tell me why so few of his juveniles are mentioned here?
Just a thought: it might well be because they are his juveniles... they were intended for younger audiences originally, and are often set aside because of that. Though, frankly, his juveniles often leave other books of the type far behind, as Heinlein always had a healthy respect for younger readers, feeling they could handle much more complex issues than they were given credit for; and the best of his juveniles certainly are very good books.

Perhaps it's because there is a certain callowness to the characters, as befits a juvenile character, and therefore a certain lack of sophistication in some of the lead characters, a lack of strong complexity and a tendency toward more "black-and-white" thinking.

That said, several of his juveniles remain among my personal favorites: Red Planet, Between Planets, Farmer in the Sky, Tunnel in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy, Starman Jones, The Rolling Stones... and even Starship Troopers, though much of it goes against the grain with me philosophically.
 

TTBRAHWTMG

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Every Heinlein is a great read. My sentimental favourite is Moon Is A Harsh Mistress...definately one of his stronger works, but my favourite only because it was my first.
I was backpacking Europe in 1993, staying in hostels. I had just visited Stonehenge and had found a hostel in Salisbury to crash for the night. The hostel had a little library, just a couple of book shelves. I started milling through the books and noticed that one looked pretty darn old, and had names and dates filling the inside covers. The dates spanned from 67 all the way through to 90 and there were LOTS of them. I figured there must be something special about this book.
If you haven't read Heinlein, I suggest you think hard before picking one up. Make sure your prepared to sacrifice most of your spare time for several years. You might read one and avoid the trap I fell into...depends which one you pick up...but don't count on it.
I read that book in one sitting. I had to have more. Within a couple of years I had read most of his popular books. Within a couple more I had found them all. Then I found myself craving still more. I read Grumbles, Interview, For Us the Living, etc. I was finally done!
Then you find yourself rereading. Then you find yourself chasing side tracks..."What did he just say about Lot? That can't be right." and your reading the Bible. "What the hell is Barsoom?" and your reading Edgar Burroughs. "What is Gray Lensman?" and your reading EE Smith. "What was he saying about epistemology?" and your reading Korzybski. "Who is Methuselah?" and your back to the Bible again. It's endless.
It's been 14 yrs. I travel alot for work, and comb every city's used book stores for Heinlein. I now have them all, have reread most, and will keep rereading them...but Moon Is A Harsh Mistress took my virginity, and will always be special to me.
I travelled Europe for almost a year back in 1993. I saw amazing things, met some life long friends, and have so many memories. Finding Heinlein, though, was the single biggest life changing event that happened to me on that trip!
 

TTBRAHWTMG

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Woops...I double posted and don't know how to delete. Rookies!
 
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j d worthington

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You're welcome.:)

Yes, Heinlein took after his mentor, Mark Twain, with his tall tales and social commentary, and I think that's why his work continues to do so well... the science may be off now, but (save for incidentals) the societal things really haven't changed that much at base....
 

ValerieJLong

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Sorry for reviving this old thread.

Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers - okay, belong on top. What about "Expanded Universe"? I travelled from Germany to the US to buy it.
 

pyan

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No need to apologise, VJL: the great thing about this site is that there's always a thread worth reviving, especially as many members will have joined since it was last on the radar, and would like to contribute...

Welcome to the Chrons, BTW...:D
 
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