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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?

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.


>>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.


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