From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes"
Subject: Re: (urth) Gray, Wolfe, Heinlein Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 20:39:41 -0700 I wrote and Deacon Mushrat responded: >>Like every SF/F writer from the 1950s on, Moorcock uses (consciously or >>not) rhetorical techniques and moves invented or improved by Heinlein to >>establish the nature of his discursive pseudo-realities. > >? >_Every_ SF/F writer? >Ballard? >LeGuin? >Burroughs? >etc.? Yes, yes, yes, sort of, and yes. I say "sort of" for Burroughs because he's writing outside the SF genre, using tropes from the SF/F toolbox ... In fact, his SF owes more to Edgar Rice Burroughs than to modern SF, but even he uses the strategic- deployment-of-details riffs Heinlein pioneered (especially, but not solely, in NOVA EXPRESS). Of the three you mention, Le Guin is actually the easiest to demonstrate the point for; read the first few pages of THE DISPOSSESSED. The technique used there, to establish the border and contrast between two worlds, is pure Heinlein; what's pure Le Guin is the repurposing of that technique to put the two societies in a meaningful [juxta|op]position. Ballard is the toughest one, because so much of his SF is in a deliberate rejection of Campbell-Heinlein SF/F; of the New Worlds "movement" that, in the late '60s, sought to radically recreate the storytelling style of SF, Ballard is perhaps the only one who succeeded to any significant degree. (The next candidate would be Aldiss, but even work like BAREFOOT IN THE HEAD and CRYPTOZOIC depend heavily on the use of Campbell-Heinlein rhetorical devices and deployments.) Some years ago I suggested in a review that THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION, CRASH, etc., are what happens if you write "hard SF," but do your speculating in abnormal psychology instead of physics or chemistry. The result is an SF where the alienation takes place at the level of character rather than landscape; this work does not use much-or-any of the rhetorical devices developed under Campbell, by Heinlein and the others, and required a raft of new techniques. But if you go and (re-)read his earlier novels -- his "cozy catastrophe" quartet and a number of short stories -- you find a lot of those techniques in play. Played by a writer rather than a storyteller, to be sure; played in ways and in ranges Heinlein could never on his best days have come near; but those same techniques. Enough. >>These are classic, aren't they ... Up there with "five minutes of >>squelching noise." >..not to mention having one of his supposedly 'sexually liberated' >characters declare, in 'Stranger in a Strange Land', "[n]ine times out of >ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault." (p. 281, NEL pbk, 1976) Which isn't about sex at all (as the feminist movement spent many years informing us), but is nonetheless boneheaded. >...presumably Mr. Heinlein has never been raped himself...I dareUnforsay he >would feel quite differently about the matter if so...but at least I now >understand why Charles Manson adapted the book as his bible...he even >called his son Michael Valentine Manson... > >(ducks to avoid return fire from water-brethren...) Unfortunately for your understanding, the whole business about Manson basing his religion on STRANGER turns out to be a sort of STFnal urban legend; he had never even read the book before going to jail. Oh well, it's a good story anyway. --Blattid _________________________________________________________________ The new MSN 8: smart spam protection and 2 months FREE* http://join.msn.com/?page=features/junkmail --