[LMB] Heinlein

alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca
Sun Oct 3 01:30:10 BST 2021

Re Heinlein not understanding women: he was married to two strong women, 
Leslyn and Virginia, and from all accounts his marriage to Virginia was 
long-lasting and happy. Of course, one doesn't know how much marriage 
partners actually understand each other but Heinlein certainly wasn't an 
incel, either, and as has been mentioned he strongly supported women in 
professions and as equal contributors to society.

As for his characters I didn't think much of Podkayne (tho I rather liked 
Girdie FitzSnuggly); I loathed everyone in Farnham's Freehold; The Number 
of the Beast's characters were all cardboard if not worse; I definitely 
did not warm to Friday or even consider her believable.

Last year, I got the audiobook of _I Will Fear No Evil_ from the library 
and returned it after getting to the point that the main character wakes 
up after the transplant. I realized I loathed *everyone* in it -- Johann 
Sebastian Smith most for being a selfish asshole, Jake as his enabler, but 
Eunice only slightly less for constantly manipulating others.

When this book came out in 1970, it was the first Heinlein book I was 
actually waiting for, having read all his previous books after they'd been 
out for a while. I had read and reread everything I could find of his, I 
loved it all (some like FF and Sixth Column and Beyond This Horizon less, 
admittedly). I was frankly a bit shocked and not quite happy with this one 
(my parents were a bit shocked at the book itself). Then when it was 
followed by _The Number of the Beast_ I never completely trusted a 
Heinlein book again, although I kept hoping.

On the other hand, I loved Star in Glory Road; all the female characters 
in juveniles like Time for the Stars and Red Planet and the Rolling 
Stones; Wyoh and Hazel in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; the characters in 
his short stories like We Also Walk Dogs -- and I would contend that these 
are fully-fleshed and individual characters.

I certainly wouldn't describe Heinlein's books as perfect when it comes to 
female characters -- one of his best books is _Double Star_ and the female 
character in that story just begs to be given a bigger role and more 
agency and the story would have been better for it -- but at the same time 
I think he did better than most male authors of that era (SF and non-SF).


Alayne McGregor
alayne at twobikes.ottawa.on.ca

What we need is a tough new kind of feminism with no illusions. ... We
need a kind of feminism that aims not just to assimilate into the
institutions that men have created over the centuries, but to infiltrate
and subvert them. -- Barbara Ehrenreich

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