Back to: Sitrep | Forward to: Taxonomy of story, or, why murder?

Dread of Heinleinism

Anent nothing: over on his other blog, noted SF critic James Nicoll asked, "I wonder if there's an essay on why discovering a writer of a certain age is setting out to write a Heinlein-style book fills me with dread."

What follows is my attempt at answering his question. If you're unfamiliar with (or uninterested in) the bizarre hold the literary legacy of Robert A. Heinlein holds on the imagination of more recent SF writers, you can safely skip this blog entry.

RAH was, for better or worse, one of the dominant figures of American SF between roughly 1945 and 1990 (he died in 1988 but the publishing pipeline drips very slowly). During his extended career (he first began publishing short fiction in the mid-1930s) he moved through a number of distinct phases. One that's particularly notable is the period from 1946 onwards when, with Scribners, he began publishing what today would be categorized as middle-grade SF novels (but were then more specifically boys adventure stories or childrens fiction): books such as Rocket Ship Galileo, Space Cadet, Red Planet, and Have Space Suit, Will Travel. There were in all roughly a dozen of these books published from 1947 to 1958, and as critic John Clute notes, they included some of the very best juvenile SF ever written (certainly at that point), and were free of many of the flaws that affected Heinlein's later works—they maintained a strong narrative drive, were relatively free from his tendency to lecture the reader (which could become overwhelming in his later adult novels), and were well-strutured as stories.

But most importantly, these were the go-to reading matter for the baby boom generation, kids born from 1945 onwards. It used to be said, somewhat snidely, that "the golden age of SF is 12"; if you were an American born in 1945 you'd have turned 12 in 1957, just in time to read Time for the Stars or Citizen of the Galaxy. And you might well have begun publishing your own SF novels in the mid-1970s—if your name was Spider Robinson, or John Varley, or Gregory Benford, for example.

Then a disturbing pattern begins to show up.

The pattern: a white male author, born in the Boomer generation (1945-1964), with some or all of the P7 traits (Pale Patriarchal Protestant Plutocratic Penis-People of Power) returns to the reading of their childhood and decides that what the Youth of Today need is more of the same. Only Famous Dead Guy is Dead and no longer around to write more of the good stuff. Whereupon they endeavour to copy Famous Dead Guy's methods but pay rather less attention to Famous Dead Guy's twisty mind-set. The result (and the cause of James's sinking feeling) is frequently an unironic pastiche that propagandizes an inherently conservative perception of Heinlein's value-set.

Sometimes this is a side-effect of the process. Spider Robinson, for example (born 1948) wrote Variable Star (published 2006) on the basis of an 8-page outline found in Heinlein's papers. (The result is a dutifully executed late-1940s Heinlein juvenile, designed to captivate 1940s boy scouts, published just in time for the Nintendo generation.) Sometimes it's deliberate: Greg Benford's Jupiter Project or John M. Ford's Growing Up Weightless are tales about teen-agers growing up in space colonies. And sometimes there's a sneaky dialog at work with Heinlein's own work—as many critics have noted (in particular Jo Walton) the state of contemporary SF exists in furious dialog with (and commentary upon) its own antecedents, and one prime example might be John Varley's Steel Beach (shortlisted for the Hugo, Locus, and Prometheus awards in 1993). (While the setting of Steel Beach is utterly non-Heinleinian, there's a very specifically Heinleinian sensibility to the meta-narrative, to the way the author's viewpoint illuminates the events of the story—and there's a specific hat-tip to Heinlein buried in the second half of the book that makes it explicit.) (Mind you, Steel Beach is anything but a Heinlein juvenile, as becomes clear from the very first line: "In five years, the penis will be obsolete," said the salesman.)

But here's the thing: as often as not, when you pick up a Heinlein tribute novel by a male boomer author, you're getting a classic example of the second artist effect.

Heinlein, when he wasn't cranking out 50K word short tie-in novels for the Boy Scouts of America, was actually trying to write about topics for which he (as a straight white male Californian who grew up from 1907-1930) had no developed vocabulary because such things simply weren't talked about in Polite Society. Unlike most of his peers, he at least tried to look outside the box he grew up in. (A naturist and member of the Free Love movement in the 1920s, he hung out with Thelemites back when they were beyond the pale, and was considered too politically subversive to be called up for active duty in the US Navy during WW2.) But when he tried to look too far outside his zone of enculturation, Heinlein often got things horribly wrong. Writing before second-wave feminism (never mind third- or fourth-), he ended up producing Podkayne of Mars. Trying to examine the systemic racism of mid-20th century US society without being plugged into the internal dialog of the civil rights movement resulted in the execrable Farnham's Freehold. But at least he was trying to engage, unlike many of his contemporaries (the cohort of authors fostered by John W. Campbell, SF editor extraordinaire and all-around horrible bigot). And sometimes he nailed his targets: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as an attack on colonialism, for example (alas, it has mostly been claimed by the libertarian right), "Starship Troopers" with its slyly embedded messages that racial integration is the future and women are allowed to be starship captains (think how subversive this was in the mid-to-late 1950s when he was writing it).

In contrast, Heinlein's boomer fans rarely seemed to notice that Heinlein was all about the inadmissible thought experiment, so their homages frequently came out as flat whitebread 1950s adventure yarns with blunt edges and not even the remotest whiff of edgy introspection, of consideration of the possibility that in the future things might be different (even if Heinlein's version of diversity ultimately faltered and fell short).

There are exceptions. Post-boomer cultural appropriation of Heinleinian tropes sometimes results in different outcomes. 1969-vintage John Scalzi is still a straight white male American, but at least he grew up after Martin Luther King, after Stonewall, after Vietnam. His Heinlein tributes aren't challenging, but neither are they reactionary: rather, they're positioned as gateway drugs intended to make reading fun for teenagers. And you can see some of the barest hints of the Heinleinian SF story skeleton in the most unexpected places, once you look for it: Nnedi Okorafor's Binti, winner of the 2016 Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella, is structurally absolutely of a kind with Heinlein's 1950s juveniles and pushes many of the same buttons, even though the society depicted in it would have been beyond Heinlein's wildest imagining (being about as far from white Calfornian male reality as you can get while still writing in the same language).

As for me, I will plead guilty to having committed Heinlein tribute-ism ... but with malice aforethought. I'm of mid-1960s vintage, on the cusp of Generation X: while Heinlein's juveniles were on the library shelves while I was growing up, so were Dangerous Visions, and his scouts-in-space sensibility felt curiously stale and airless to me. Which is why I wrote Saturn's Children as a late period Heinlein tribute, a story in dialogue with Friday. I ended up making it made it all about a diseased society and an abuse victim, and not remotely school library safe. Because the only way to win some games is not to play.

667 Comments

1:

I still love "Have Spacesuit will Travel" but I picked it up again lately... and Cliff's father is basically a precursor to Jubal Harshaw and his hippy secret agent libertarianism is kind of jarring on re-reading.

2:

Has anyone done a tribute/pastiche of the very early socialist, Universal Basic Income advocating Heinlein of Beyond This Horizon and For Us The Living?

3:

Why would we need it when we've got Kim Stanley Robinson?

(Who is another straight white male Californian, but also infinitely better than Heinlein as a political thinker ...)

4:

I'm glad I read Friday at an age when I was too young to understand what was going on in the opening scenes.

5:

No mention, yet of "Stranger in a Strange Land" .....
Or the real direct & present warning of a horrible American future, "Revolt in 2100".
The latter is much more likely as a possibility right now, than R.A>H's fantasy of (?)1940(?)
It would only take Pence to become POTUS, then find a really good excuse to declare a state of emergency & there you go, Nehemiah Scudder meets Gilead.
Because all the gun-nuts who go on about "Libruls" will support the christofascists until it's much too late.
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag & carrying the cross" ( or something like taht -apparently Sinclair Lewis didn't actually say quite that.

His later apparent fascination with incest is carefully unmentioned these days, isn't it?

P.S. I though R.A.H. was denied Navy service because of some medical condition?

6:

In fairness (to myself), Greg, I've mentioned that later fascination of his on this very forum.

As for your forebodings over the near future, I fear you're not that far wrong. Looking at the news from the US often reminds me of the north of Ireland on the eve of the 'late unpleasantness' in that place.

7:

I though R.A.H. was denied Navy service because of some medical condition?

He left the navy in the early 1930s, officially due to tuberculosis (although he'd suffered from persistent urinary tract infections and severe sea-sickness on smaller ships). He was apparently not recalled to duty in 1941/42 because of a letter he wrote in response to a newspaper editorial in the run-up to the 1938 election being deemed politically inflammatory by a senior naval officer in charge of the call-up (most inactive/retired officers were recalled to duty in the wake of Pearl Harbour: Heinlein volunteered but was turned down).

Source: my recollection of the William Patterson biography of Heinlein (actually Patterson's doctoral thesis, edited into readable form).

8:

though R.A.H. was denied Navy service because of some medical condition

Medical discharge in 1934 due to tuberculosis.

9:

While I am not disputing what you say, I found that far too often his (usually crude) propaganda tainted the story far too much. When I read Atlas Shrugged (yuck!), it reminded me considerably of what I disliked about Stranger in a Strange Land - though the latter contained far more good than bad. Also, at least one of his not-late juvenile books was at least as bad as his successors' - I can't remember which, but it was egregious neo-libertarian propaganda, inside the fiction - yes, it had a proper plot etc., but there was also the extremely nasty underlying message.

As you imply, that was and is still regrettably common among P7 people from the USA - often in the form of the USA's divine right/duty to impose its empire on everyone else - especially in MilSF. The British writers of the same period were as self-centred, but nothing like as extreme, deprecating of others or crude. What I am trying to say is that I don't find the difference between his successors and him as great as all that, though I agree that far too many have imitated his faults and not his merits.

10:

Such was his claim in letters and Expanded Universe; I’d be unsurprised to learn that a man of his time and amour propre chose such a claim over a potentially less savory truth where the difference made no odds, but I’d also be interested to see what evidence exists to the contrary. I didn’t know that Patterson’s biography existed; I’ll be interested to read it.

11:

I stopped reading Heinlein before Friday came out but the structure of Saturday's Child still seemed weirdly and historically familiar. Now I know why. Thanks for the back story and the Heinlein retrospective.

12:

So he was a civilian in the WW2 work then. According to Patterson:

"I have today [May 11, 1942] accepted a civil service appointment as a mechanical engineer at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Have notified 11th Naval dist. to stop retired pay."

Apparently someone in the Naval Discipline Section had a "down" on him and would not be budged. Patterson says this was never explained.

13:

His adult stuff seemed to vary wildly in quality (for me) and there always seemed to be something you ended up choking on in the later novels.
I Will Fear No Evil should have been a brave exploration of transgender thinking way ahead of society at the time. Instead the protagonist becomes a caricature of what a 'proper' woman could be (pretty sexually active ofc). It's not one I could read again.
Time Enough for Love has the incest thing and you know I can't remember much about Number of the Beast (or The Cat Who Walked Through Walls) apart from thinking it was senile wish fulfilment.
Which is to say, that while there may be gold worth mining in some of RAH's stuff, it should be approached with caution. You could just hit a gas pocket and blow up your 'tribute' story instead.

14:

Seems like a fair and balanced view of Heinlein. He was a complex guy, and there's lots of nuance.

What I took away from Heinlein during my first pass through his works (as a tween and early teen) was the notion that it was OK to be smart and competent, and that if you worked hard and applied your brains and learning, you could succeed despite the idiots who tried to stop you. Also that women could be smart, stubborn, competent, and equal to men, and that such women were the best ones to hang out with. (In fairness, I got a lot of that from Mom too, with no Freudian nonsense intended.) This became an essential part of who I am (or at least, who I try to be), and for that, I'll always be grateful.

On many levels, I've found his books aged well upon returning to them. Now, more than 40 years of "woke" later, I can see some of the creaky bits and flaws that younger me never noticed. But I can forgive him those flaws in most cases because the writing still flows beautifully, and I usually enjoy the characters and plots. Even when he lectures.* (Two notable exceptions: I execrated "Farnham's Freehold" even when I read it as a teen, and I've never been able to make it past the first 20% of "I Will Fear No Evil".) From my current perspective, I see the box he grew up in and laud him for at least recognizing the box and trying to look beyond it. That's also become a cherished part of who I am.

* Perhaps especially when he lectures. Like one of my teachers in high school, I grew an awful lot intellectually by asking and answering the question of why some of his theses left me uncomfortable or unconvinced. The Heinlein of "Starship Troopers" would probably enjoy that attitude; the later Heinlein might well have sneered at me. His letters and the biographies I've read suggest he was a perfect lamb if he liked you, but a nasty old bugger if he didn't.

In terms of his spiritual descendents, I agree with you about John Scalzi. He's taken the good bits of Heinlein and updated them to create a more sophisticated and mature version of Heinlein. He's a pleasure to read, both in fiction and in his blog. Criticizing various other authors for doing no more than pastiche Heinlein is fair enough, but to me, falls under Sturgeon's Law: the vast majority of writing is crap, whether objectively or subjectively. Doesn't matter whether you're trying to emulate Heinlein or not: bad writing is bad writing.

15:

The Patterson bio of Heinlein is, lamentably, not notably trust-worthy. For example, there's a vivid description of a massacre of civilians by Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima. Never happened; the Japanese moved most of the civilians off the island.

https://www.tor.com/2010/08/12/patterson-heinlein-biography-not-to-be-trusted-on-details/

Volume two has passages like "Both of them were apprehensive about going into Argentina, the last fascist state left over from WWII."

And this after Hartwell leaned on Patterson to remove the more speculative elements of the bio:

"In particular, Hartwell has this bizarre idea that any interiority at all -- any statement of an emotion or a thought on Heinlein's part -- must be cited or cut..."

16:

if you were an American boy (or girl) born in 1945 you'd have turned 12 in 1957

Why, yes, I am exactly that.

just in time to read Time for the Stars or Citizen of the Galaxy

And yes I did, though I'd been reading RAH well before that. Can't deny that he was formative to an important degree in those years.

17:

I stopped reading Heinlein before Friday came out but the structure of Saturday's Child still seemed weirdly and historically familiar.

I know that's a typo for Saturn's Children, but now I'm wondering what a Charles Stross tribute to Friday's Child or some other Georgette Heyer regency romance would look like.

18:

Source: my recollection of the William Patterson biography of Heinlein (actually Patterson's doctoral thesis, edited into readable form).

A quick search on Proquest doesn't show Patterson as having written a dissertation. Proquest doesn't pick everything up necessarily, but...

19:

John Clute makes some interesting, and controversial, claims about Heinlein in his review of "We, the Living," Heinlein's long unpublished first novel. I haven't read it since it came out, and it appeared in Clute's column for what was then the Sci-Fi Channel's site, which is now unavailable, so I want to be careful about discussing it. As I recall, anyway, Clute felt that Heinlein's original political views were different from what came out later, due to the influence of his more conservative wife Virginia, and that Heinlein was more of a well-rounded humanist writer before writing for markets like Astounding, under John W. Campbell, Jr. It is true that Heinlein was originally what Isaac Asimov described as a "flaming liberal," and that did change starting about the time of his marriage. For what it's worth, my own impression is that Heinlein sounded more relaxed, and less like an attitude, in his fantasy writing.

I read Heinlein while growing up in 1950s America, and what I got from reading him was quite different from what a reader would be likely to get today. Heinlein was born in 1907, in the Missouri Bible Belt. The amount of social and technological change he saw in his lifetime is difficult to imagine. His response to that was really characterized him for me. The 1950s often seem devoted to suppressing social change. Heinlein's writing played the role of the travel books in the Enlightenment. That is, by reading accounts of explorers who had been to remote parts of the world, readers could see that it was possible to be perfectly decent without Christianity, and that people with different cultures were leading reasonable lives. It opened the door to realizing that there was such a thing as culture to begin with, and that it was a contingent fact that you happened to grow up with the one you did, at a particular stage in its existence.

For me, that was what Heinlein had to say. It came out in a lot of sly ways. For example, Space Cadets was a perfectly standard juvenile, but at one point the male space cadets worry about their makeup. To some extent, it was oblique because of commercial constraints. He wanted to make the protagonist in one of his juveniles a person of color, for example, but his publisher said no. Under the circumstances, you get a little Aesopian, and work around censorship by telling stories that seem to be about something else. (Which isn't to say that he was trying to sneak in messages, as opposed to not wanting to be suppressed too much.)

When Stranger in a Strange Land came out, I felt it was over for Heinlein as a writer. He'd stopped telling stories and started to lecture full time, and the results were self-indulgent and not very pretty. That's roughly the way it did go, with exceptions. And a lot of the exceptions were of course problematic.

So, yeah, I think Charlie makes excellent points. At a certain time, reading Heinlein was a way of taking a step back from your culture, and culture in general. It's not obvious in 2018 how much that was the case. His mannerisms weren't really the point, or his political attitudes. You don't expect someone born in 1907 to be an oracle, as opposed to someone who was communicating the experience of learning from change. And it's certainly a strange exercise to imitate his style.

20:

Are you asking for Georgette Heyer with tentacles?

Because you're going to have to wait until I've chewed some more on Peter Pan vs. Withnail & I in the universe of the Laundry.

21:

But I think there is one spiritual descendant of Heinlein that shouldn't be forgotten: Lois Bujold (who indeed was born in 1949 and grew up on a diet of sf magazines). While Barrayar and Beta Colony are more inspired by Star Trek, there are lots of Heinleinian sensibilities in "Falling Free" and "Ethan of Athos", and "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen" also feels like someone looking at Heinlein's ideas on family and looking at them from a woman's perspective.

So while Scalzi updates Heinlein and makes him fun today, Bujold surpasses Heinlein by making his themes and issues relevant today.

22:

A quick search on Proquest doesn't show Patterson as having written a dissertation.

Source: conversation with David Hartwell (Patterson's — and my — editor.)

23:

Later apparent fascination? Check out the ending of Time for the Stars...

24:

Fred451 noted: "It is true that Heinlein was originally what Isaac Asimov described as a "flaming liberal," and that did change starting about the time of his marriage."

There is also a natural progression for (most?) people: When we're old enough to start developing agency, we start chafing against the constraints our culture imposes on us, and therefore tend to fall on the liberal* end of the spectrum. But as we get older, we start to recognize the reasons for and sometimes the merits of those constraints. We therefore slide towards the conservative end of the spectrum. Please note that this is a gross oversimplification** and YMMV, but it seems broadly accurate in my experience. So some of this evolution may have just been natural aging.

* Note that "liberal" and "conservative" are hot-button words and each has enormous variation in its definitions. Here, treat them as shortcuts for freedom/change and constraints/stability.

** For example, young children are arch conservatives and hate any changes in their regime until they develop a sense of agency, and then they start to look more favorably on rebellion.

That description undoubtedly lies at the source of the famous "If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain." (This has a complicated history, so attribution is problematic.) When this works, it seems to work well: the young liberals encourage progress, whereas the older conservatives encourage retention of things that work. (When it doesn't work, the liberals overthrow important useful things and the conservatives entrench things that shouldn't be defended.)

25:

Somewhat off-topic:

I read once that Heinlein considered all voluntary body modifications (e.g. cyborg) and genetic engineering of humans absolutely immoral, and moreover, so obviously immoral that he never bothered defending that position -- he just took it for granted. Was this actually true, and if so, why?

(When I read this, I realized that I do not recall any implants in any of Heinlein books, and while Friday is genetically engineered, she was created to be a slave, so her creators are very much immoral, even if she is not.)

26:

"He wanted to make the protagonist in one of his juveniles a person of color, for example, but his publisher said no."


Not at all coincidentally, I read 50 Andre Norton novels immediately after reviewing the Heinlein juveniles. One detail that jumped out at me was that where timid Heinlein would put in references to this character being Jewish without using the word Jew or hints that another character could perhaps be black, maybe, Norton had protagonists who explicitly not white, in books published in the 1950s.

27:

I haven’t read enough Heinlein to have much to say, other than repeat what I said here a few years ago: The more I learn about him the less desire I have to read him.
I also said about then that I would attempt reading “Friday”, in reference to “Saturn’s Children”, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Just makes me glad I grew up reading Bradbury and Clarke.

28:

Dunno if you consider this an implant, but "Baslim the Cripple" (Citizen of the Galaxy)has a false eye that's actually a camera.

29:

Because you're going to have to wait until I've chewed some more on Peter Pan vs. Withnail & I

Clap your hands if you believe in the finest wines known to man?

30:

Was it voluntary (replacing a normal eye with something better), or just a replacement for a lost eye?

31:
He wanted to make the protagonist in one of his juveniles a person of color, for example, but his publisher said no. Under the circumstances, you get a little Aesopian, and work around censorship by telling stories that seem to be about something else.
Rod Walker, the protagonist of Tunnel In The Sky is black, but is not described directly. Everyone expects him to pair up with Catherine Mshiyeni, a Zulu. The film crew at the end spray war paint on him and call him a savage.
32:

Don't read Friday. In hindsight, what must have been his attempt at playing "man of the world" just comes across as what the young people these days call "rape culture".

33:

Also, Manny - the protagonist of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - has multiple prosthetic arms, some customised for different engineering uses.

34:

31: I could not find unequivocal evidence Rod was black in TITS but there is evidence of interracial marriages (considered problematic by more than half of Americas into the 1990s) and the babies that show up suggest more than hand holding was going on.

35:

As long as it doesn't involve zombies...

Seriously, I like Georgette Heyer as an author; despite being mildly antediluvian in M/F relationships and very white bread (the Jewish moneylender in The Grand Sophy is a caricature) she's far and away better than what passes for Regency romance these days.

36:

Wasn't there also a plot element of a line marriage in TMisHM? I seem to recall a conservative attack on the lunar representative claiming they were a bigamist. (It's been a while since I read it so I may well be mis-remembering the plot.)

37:

No, you remember correctly. And line marriage members being of different color, no less!

38:

Georgette Heyer
NOT to be despised - she researched her backgrounds exceedingly well.
And wrote at least one very-historically-accurate tale, "The Spanish Bride" which turns out NOT to be fiction.
The wildly improbable tale of Captain Harry Smith of the Rifles & his schoolgirl bride Juana María de los Dolores de León really, actually happened ......

jojomojo @ 23 - thanks - I'd forgotten that one ... what a D. O. M. ( Like Harry SMith - now there's a tie in to make just about everything boggle! )

39:

Not to mention that "Johnny" in Starship Troopers is really named Juan Rico and speaks Tagalog at home, (though he lived in Buenos Aires before the Bugs attacked the city.)

40:

"The more I learn about him the less desire I have to read him."

The advice I give anyone who has tried Heinlein and bounced off is to try again with his pre-war stuff (any of his story collections, plus the novels Beyond This Horizon and Methuselah's Children, but definitely not Sixth Column). If that works for you, then (cautiously) venture forward in time and check out the novels published in the 1950's. Avoid anything written between 1959 and 1970 unless you really like the earlier stuff without reservation. And stay away from the post 1970 novels.

41:

It's also just wrong. A very large number of people move in the opposite direction, and a good many don't change at all. Yes, it's a common progression, possibly the most common, but it is NOT the only common one.

42:

A comparison from which I draw no strong conclusions, being a scholar of neither author: John Wyndham published Trouble With Lichen three years before Heinlein published Podkayne.
(And if you ever want to see how far Wyndham had to come to write Trouble, read his The Secret People.)

43:

I find myself getting more left-wing (or at least socialist) as I get older. Product of watching the safety net I had when I was young being eroded and seeing the effects on my nieces.

44:

"Not challenging"!!!!!!!

Yeah, okay, fair. "Old Man's War" and "Zoe's Tale," which I think of as my most Heinleinian books, are not meant to be formally or stylistically challenging; they are telling their stories in a very straightforward fashion.

I think the secret to telling a "Heinleinesque" story is to treat it as a mode, not a straightforward homage. When you treat it like a homage you inevitably end up doing a poor imitation, because you're not Heinlein and because it's not the 1950s. Treating it as a mode means you can factor in modern audiences and sensibilities while still benefiting from the stylistic aspects.

That's where I think a lot of Boomer (and later!) authors fall down: They're trying to BE Heinlein. That never works out. He's gone, and so is his particular moment.

45:

Maybe sort of true decades ago, but sixties conservatives look fairly liberal now, as the movement's gone round the bend.

46:

Heinlein's fascination with incest is extremely disturbing, but sometimes I wonder whether the point he was making really had more to do with genetics than incest specifically. I think his premise is that incest is taboo for very good reasons if your society doesn't have the ability to read the genetic codes of prospective parents.

But if your society does have the ability to read the genetic codes of prospective parents, then the ability to breed siblings or parents/children to reinforce a desirable characteristic becomes something you might rationally decide to do; the reasons for being "against" incest are statistically accurate rather than accurate in a specific case. In a specific case incest might be genetically desirable.

What Heinlein missed, very very, very badly IMHO, is that in this case, we desperately need to disengage the gears that connect incest to pedophilia, something which Heinlein definitely had trouble doing! (I mean really, the hero has sex with both his mother and his children? What the fuck was wrong with that dude? Frankly, the whole thing makes me a little ill!)

But imagine, for example, that you are a single Black or Jewish female and wish to have children. You know that you don't carry the gene for Tay-Saks/Sickle Cell Anemia because you have undergone genetic testing. Do you breed with someone outside your family, understanding the risk that you might bring those bad genes into your family line, or do you accept a sperm donation from a brother/uncle/father which you know to be bad-gene free?

Obviously, in a reality where Heinlein is not in charge, if you decide on this course of action, you use a doctor and a test-tube, you definitely don't have sex with your father/mother/children, (and if you fantasize about such things, please don't have children at all!)

And there may be other advantages to similar behaviors. Imagine two Lesbians who want to have children. If both have brothers, they can use the brothers as sperm donors, (your brother fertilizes your wife, in this case) which results in both women having a biological relationship with the children, which sorts out some of the custody issues later on, if the laws/courts have issues with granting custody to a non-biological relative.

Regardless, Heinlein definitely shoved a difficult issue up in our collective face, and what science fiction writer could hope for more?

47:

I wonder whether there's any evidence in Heinlein's letters about whether he was trolling us about the whole incest thing, and what his real motivations might have been.

48:

Greg,

I certainly don't despise Heyer (original comment was written out of genuine fondness for both her and our host's novels).

IMO, The Spanish Bride is one of Heyer's weaker novels, mainly because it isn't fictionalized enough. Large chunks are taken practically verbatim from Harry Smith's autobiography. The final section wherein Juana rushes to Waterloo and searches frantically for Harry's body on the battlefield is very moving, though.

49:

Robert Prior @ 43:

I find myself getting more left-wing (or at least socialist) as I get older. Product of watching the safety net I had when I was young being eroded and seeing the effects on my nieces.

It's not even that. I'm still in the same place politically as I was when I was first old enough to pay attention to elections. But the political spectrum has moved so far to the right, I find myself on the left just from standing still.

50:

Don't read Friday.

I don’t plan to. I spend too much time climbing Mt. Tsundoku as it is, and there’s always some new worth reading.


Glaurung @40:
The advice I give anyone who has tried Heinlein and bounced off is to try again with his pre-war stuff

I didn’t actually bounce off what I’ve read of him, I just never got around to reading more. In the years since I’ve read more about him and his books, which left me less than enthused to go back to him.
Though I think if I ever do try him again I’ll stick to his short stories. Hopefully they’ve aged better than Asimov’s.
I also have a slight soft spot for “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, since he destroys Colorado Springs in it, and I had just moved there when I read it at 15. (I’m almost tempted to mark his time here as the dividing line between his early period and later.)
And I first learned of Schrödinger’s Cat, and some basic Celestial Mechanics from “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls”. I also now wonder if I, and perhaps most people, misread “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

_________
And totally off-topic, but a thank you to Charlie for his tweet yesterday about the Think Outside keyboard, which prompted me to get mine out and give it another try with the iPad pro. It’s working just fine—typing this comment with it. I’m a little annoyed with myself now because I had tried it a couple months ago and it wouldn’t connect, shutting off when I attempted. I now think the rechargeable batteries I was using were not fully charged or have gone bad. And I’d gone and bought an inexpensive keyboard to use.

51:

Troutwaxer @ 46:

Heinlein's fascination with incest is extremely disturbing, but sometimes I wonder whether the point he was making really had more to do with genetics than incest specifically. I think his premise is that incest is taboo for very good reasons if your society doesn't have the ability to read the genetic codes of prospective parents.

If I remember correctly, in Heinlein's incest stories it was always an adult child initiating the incestuous relationship with a parent; always "consenting" adults.

52:

I'm not sure Lazarus' mother actually consented to have sex with her son. IIRC, she consented to have sex with Ted Bronson, then later learned that he was her son. YUCK!

53:

JamesPadraicR @ 50:

I don’t plan to. I spend too much time climbing Mt. Tsundoku as it is, and there’s always some new worth reading.

Cool. I learned something new today.

54:

"he first began publishing short fiction in the mid-1930s"

Pedantically and trivially: his first published story, "Lifeline," appeared in the August, 1939, issue of ASTOUNDING. I would call this "the late 1930s," at the very least; "at the end of the 1930s" might be better.

/pedantic trivia

55:

"William Patterson biography of Heinlein (actually Patterson's doctoral thesis, edited into readable form)."

This is incorrect, Charlie. Bill was an activist in the Heinlein Society from its beginning, and edited THE HEINLEIN JOURNAL for many years. Ginny Heinlein approved him as official biographer after withdrawing that authorization from Leon Stover. Bill worked from the beginning of the 1990s, if not earlier, on the book.

I read drafts from the 1990s through late 2000s, giving Bill hundreds of notes. I still have a computer file of a longer than the final book draft from the mid-2000s.

I'd known Bill very well since we worked together on the 1978 Worldcon, Iguanacon, in Phoenix, AZ, and kept in touch until his death.

I don't recall hearing about him getting a doctorate, or at any time taking classes, studying, or teaching; it's conceivable I missed it, but I'd be surprised. In any case, the book long preceded any academic connection, if there was one at all, which I very much doubt, since Bill was an autodidact with no interest in formal education, so far as I know.

I may be wrong, but I'd be interested in a pointer demonstrating so, if I am.

56:

I want to compare Heinlein to Harlan Ellison, who died recently.

I have never read anything by a woman who had anything good to say about Harlan. If half the population (the women) think someone is a creep, then he is probably a creep.

Creep he may be, but he was an important writer, to both the Genre, and to Mainstream Culture. The Genre, with "Dangerous Visions", and to Mainstream Culture with his scripts for "Star Trek" and his publication in "Playboy". Both pushed the Grenre out of the Ghetto. Playboy also published Vonnegut, another Genre writer.

To me, Heinlein's reputation was made in the Genre with his "Astounding" stories, "The Roads Must Roll" etc, published in the early '40s, and his future history stories. He appeared to the Mainstream with "Destination Moon". This movie placed spaceflight into the public consciousness​, and is a major reason we actually went to the moon. Wiley Ley's and Von Braun's later publications in the 50's continued this.

His adoption by the Libertarians as a Saint, along with Ayn Rand, is from their intellectual poverty. Their politics have no basis, other than selfishness and narcissism.

The Patterson bio is an attempt to sanctify Heinlein. It is non-factual, a requirement for Biography. I dumped my copy at Half Price Books, to free up shelf space.

57:

First comment, Jubal Harshaw was the Heinlein expy in SiaSL.

58:

Troutwaxer @ 52:

I'm not sure Lazarus' mother actually consented to have sex with her son. IIRC, she consented to have sex with Ted Bronson, then later learned that he was her son. YUCK!

Yeah, pretty much my reaction too. But they were both adults.

Pretty much everything Heinlein wrote after the middle of "Number of the Beast" just weirded me out. I've always thought his health problems in later years extended to "plumbing" that didn't work properly and the sex obsessions in his writing were unconscious compensation for what he'd lost in real life.

Although, as it turns out, looking back at his bibliography a couple of the novels I find least appealing precede "Number of the Beast" and a couple of novels I think were better works actually came after.

Still, for me, "Number of the Beast" is where he really lost it & the downward spiral began.

59:

At least most people don't end up writing tributes to the, uh, very interesting sexuality found in RAH's later books. They all blur together into one big blob of "Papa spank!" in my memory.

It was *really interesting* being a kid in the seventies and eighties picking up random new books by Heinlein because he was one of the Grand Masters of the Golden Age. I was *so* not ready for anything in stuff like "The Number Of The Beast" when it came out.

60:

I don't understand the Heinlein fandom, apart from the baleful influence of Campbell. There are so many better authors of his time, from Sturgeon to Van Vogt, Asimov and Cordwainer Smith.

As for his political stances, I suspect he was a troll more than someone with strongly held views. That doesn't make his borderline pedophile wish-fulfillment fantasies in books like Friday any less revolting.

61:

"His adoption by the Libertarians as a Saint, along with Ayn Rand, is from their intellectual poverty. Their politics have no basis, other than selfishness and narcissism."

Nah. Their basis also includes wilful ignorance of sociology, history, ecology, and most other 'soft' sciences, plus a large amount of self-delusion.

62:

I think the secret to telling a "Heinleinesque" story is to treat it as a mode, not a straightforward homage.

Yup, totally agree!

Of course, his mode worked on various levels. He could be very twisty, thematically speaking ...

63:

What Heinlein missed, very very, very badly ... the gears that connect incest to pedophilia.

My charitable interpretation is that Heinlein (who was childless) had no first-hand experience of or exposure to familial child abuse, and that paedophilia was simply Not Spoken Of in pre-1920s middle America.

He wasn't alone in this respect: I suspect much of Freud's theory of psychosexual development can be blamed on his inability to credit widespread paternal rape of female offspring among the upper classes in pre-WW1 Vienna.

Both of them were dangerously naive and proposed damagingly wrong theories as a result of either not crediting the stories of abuse victims or not hearing the stories in the first place. Minus points for blindness, maybe a a single positive point in recognition of them not being able to imagine such depravity being a Thing.

64:

Thanks for writing this-- Heinlein's good and bad points are both worthy of note.

I wonder whether he was moving away from libertarianism towards the end-- as I recall, in The Cat Who Walked through Walls, living on a space habitat owned by one organization was a bad deal.

Heinlein fandom may be shifting, or at least on a fan group I've been in for a while, people are much more accepting of a complex reading of "an armed society is a polite society". People used to take it straight as advocacy of guns and dueling, but in Beyond This Horizon, it's actually portrayed as something for people who don't have real work. It's not a polite society, it's a bullying society. I think Heinlein gave it a much more naive interpretation in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

65:

Keeping in mind that someone named Fazal Majid might be, or might not be American I should point out that that Heinlein is very much an American writer. He wanted a good American future for everyone, he wanted everyone to have a wise, older American mentor, and he believed in American guts and knowledge and pride... etc., and he didn't have anything more than a sailor's acquaintance with other cultures (at least until he was much older and could afford to spend time abroad.)

So if you're not American it might be that the cultural attractors which make Heinlein a particularly American writer don't attract you the way they attract those of us who hail from the U.S. or similar cultures. (I'd expect that someone from any other U.K. descended culture would also get at least part of the Heinlein's attractors, but probably not all of them.)

As to which of the writers you mention is better? That's a tough one. Better to consider all the writers from that period which have been forgotten... Heinlein is still well-above that cut. It's also worth considering that Heinlein did specifically write for Campbell's tastes so he could sell more stories, which might have been a society-affecting mistake in retrospect, but at the time was certainly a purely commercial decision, because at the time Campbell was editing Astounding nobody could have predicted Heinlein's staying power.

I should also note that I don't get Heinlein's attractiveness to American Conservatives. At the time the whole Puppies controversy was new I was tempted to make a T-Shirt with a puppy crying over copies of Starship Troopers and Tunnel in the Sky and the puppy would have a thought balloon which read "I like the Heinlein in my head better."

I did once meet a very pleasant and lovely Black teenager who'd been named "Dejah Thoris." I asked about it and she was definitely descended from fen. (She'd also just bought the latest Stross novel, whatever that was at the time. I gave her the address of the blog, but don't think she ever logged in.)

66:

I don't have a huge problem with Libertarians. The main failure modes of the philosophy seems to be an unwillingness to deal appropriately with bad actors and the lack of recognition that mainline U.S. Conservatives are Not Our Friends. Some of the Libertarian critiques of the Nanny State are reasonably well-founded - the idea that you shouldn't regulate stuff that you don't need to regulate is one from which both Conservatives and Liberals would do well to learn - but their willingness to be co-opted by the U.S. Right... I wouldn't be a Libertarian right now even if I believed every bit of their catechism!

67:

I don't have a huge problem with Libertarians.

I have a huge problem with them, at least since 2008, when they have drifted with increasing rapidity into the arms of the neo-Nazi revival. Turns out that if you scratch a libertarian you usually discover an angry white guy who's got his (and fuck you, keep your hands off my pile, see my gun? It's got your name on it, kike).

68:

I was astounded in reading Podkayne as an adult. The three main characters in the books are ego/id/superego and from an adult's perspective it's very hard to tell whether the protagonist is one person having a very bad day in terms of their id/ego/superego balance, or actually three separate individuals.

69:

Sheesh, Charlie, ya need a huge trout-slap for talking about being a "California writer" on Heinlein, both because you're assuming that the state that birthed Richard Nixon, propelled Reagan to power, and hosted the Hashbury district, the Humboldt Emerald Triangle, La-La Land, the Salinas Valley, Orange County, Bakersfield, and Malibu is all one homogeneous place. Area-wise, California's 60% bigger than the UK, after all.

Anyway, Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, served in the Navy from 1929-1934, was discharged due to tuberculosis, then moved to Los Angeles, where he got involved in socialist politics (he carried water for Upton Sinclair's failed gubernatorial bid). If you want to talk about his upbringing, it's Midwestern/Southern, not Angeleno of the Mulholland era.

That's the thing about Californians. While I've run into a few fourth and fifth generation Californians (almost invariably their families used to own ranches), most Californians have very shallow roots. Just because you live here doesn't mean you're from here.

As for other "Californian" writers, both Kim Stanley Robinson and Ray Bradbury were born in Waukegan, Illinois (both moved to California as children, as did I). Born and bred California writers are people like David Brin and Larry Niven.

70:

You put your finger on something that for me has always been in equal parts admirable, fascinating and frustrating about Heinlein: he was a pure creature of immediate pre-war America who for many years appeared to be attempting to bootstrap himself, from scratch, into a political and sexual radical of a form that we would recognize today.

It's completely unsurprising that he not only mostly failed at this but often failed in the most grating and mortifying way possible (Stranger in a Strange Land, passim) but I continue to be amazed by the attempt.

71:

Like I said, "I wouldn't be a Libertarian right now even if I believed every bit of their catechism!" Their very thoughtless rightward slide is very disappointing. I blame the Koch brothers.

72:

He wanted to be a political and sexual radical while bypassing every bit of the sixties! (Of course, he got his first wife when he "tried out" a friend's fiance and she married Heinlein instead. Maybe he was trying too hard?)

73:

As someone who would count as a WASP in the USA, upper-middle class etc. in the UK, I back you on that.

74:

Yeah, that was sort of the thing. As a political/philosophical theorist, he was so detached from any of the actual conversations going on about all of those topics at the time, he was practically an outsider artist.

Bits of the contemporary kink and polyamory scenes trace their origins back to Heinlein, but it's notable that those are the parts that seem to continuously exist in some tension with the larger gay rights movement that they're often subsumed under.

75:

I have never read anything by a woman who had anything good to say about Harlan. If half the population (the women) think someone is a creep, then he is probably a creep.

I have. I have a good friend, an New York writer now resident in Ireland, who considered Harlan one of her best friends. My personal opinion differs - I think he was a brilliant writer but a frequent dick-head.

76:

Can you be shunned and forcibly ejected from polite SF & F society for admitting you have only read ONE Heinlein novel, and gave up halfway through?

Asking for a friend.

77:

Think of Heinlein as a classic stage magician. He had the scantily clad girl move about the stage to misdirect you. Everything he did was slight of hand and misdirection. The novels from Number of the Beast onward were deliberate. They were there to cause debate and sow confusion so that people would be focusing on his books for the next century, and never on the man behind the curtain.

A lot of his bark was to protect himself in the 50s from the McCarthy Era witch hunt. He had to appear more rabidly right than anyone else so that his books would keep making money. Once that pattern was established, he had to maintain the facade.

Each book, story, has to be seen in the light of when it was published; as an aspirational text, a manual for resisting oppression, or simple misdirection. Some books did all three at once.

A simple example:

I read Farnham's Freehold in high school, during the 70s. Even I could see that the book was about how to set up resistance cells and fight the occupying force, in case the Soviets invaded, or a religious Theocracy took over. All the time travel racial stuff that people focus on was the misdirection.

78:

I'm in pretty much the same position. I've read SIASL, which was the one that people who only had one Heinlein book had, or so it seemed to me; I thought it was... OK, but didn't live up to the hype it attracted; and it got more weird, less enjoyable and more squicky as it progressed from beginning to end. Like you, I didn't "bounce", but neither did I feel inspired to seek out any more of his stuff; and while I have sometimes felt ignorant in SF-centred discussions where familiarity with Heinlein's oeuvre is often assumed common background knowledge, those same discussions have successively reinforced the impression that I wouldn't much enjoy filling that gap in my knowledge, and that the overall quality of the contents of my head would gain more from remaining in the position of "sorry, I don't know Heinlein, I'll sit this bit out". This present thread has already done its own bit of reinforcing :)

79:

I read Heinlein for the first time in my thirties a few years ago - and I totally understand why he is so much discussed. Even by today's standards his imagination is bold - the few books of his I've read have included an AI secretly orchestrating a revolution, veterans all over the world uniting and overthrowing their national governments, groups marriages, getting the post office to set up a station on the moon to sell souvenir moon stamps - all kinds of things. Many of which I have a negative view of, but it still makes me think about the levers that make society work and how they could be different. He puts the 'ideas' in the literature of ideas.
I haven't read any self-styled Heinlein-type books but IMO Neal Stephenson is the contemporary author who is most Heinlein-like. Or was, I'm not sure what happened with his latest book.

80:

Personally, as a middle aged white guy with a kid, I wouldn't mind a heinlein-esque juvie from you. Maybe the Incan warrior princess? ;)

81:

I am reminded of something I read on the back of a matchbox (probably) which has stuck in my head despite/because of me being too young to know what any of the terms meant when I read it:

"Scratch a liberal and you'll find a moderate
Scratch a moderate and you'll find a fascist
Scratch a fascist and you'll find yourself in hospital."

"Libertarian" is a term which I find confusing at least in part because it pretends to include elements from both ends of the scale, but in practice leans heavily towards the end that the root of the word suggests it should lean away from. It seems to work pretty well to at the very least treat its use as a warning sign, and I find that discussions that do use it almost always create less cognitive dissonance if I parse it as "fascist" or "fascist sympathiser" instead of as its root suggests.

82:

RP @ 43
ME TOO
[ Alternatively my political views are unchanged, just that everything else ( Overton WIndow, maybe ) is moving to the authoritarian Right....

83:

I would suggest that you read the Juveniles, plus Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers. You'll avoid the squick and get most of the good stuff. Also, his short stories are very good and very important to the genre, and they are generally devoid of squick. IIRC, Puppet Masters is also squick-free.

Re: Starship Troopers, the book is nothing like the movie. (Thank God!)

84:

Just in case it wasn't obvious, that way you can be part of the conversation while avoiding the squick. (In the war over Heinlein's legacy, there are only two kinds of combatants - the squick and the dead!)

85:

My views have shifted, even as the world has shifted the other way.

At university I was pretty opposed to unions, for example. In defence of my naive younger self, I hadn't realized just how many of the benefits I took for granted had been fought for and won by unions.

Ditto for a lot of other things. The more I studied history, the further 'left' I drifted.

86:

Thanks, I'll make a note of that.

87:

Most people become more conservative as they get older; however, they forget the full range of the chart. It goes as follows:

If you start as a radical Leftist you go to Leftist

If you start as a Leftist you go to Liberal

If you start as a Liberal you go to Conservative.

If you start as a Conservative you go to being a Reactionary Authoritarian

and if you start as a Reactionary Authoritarian you go to being a paranoid lunatic.

88:

How about a Heinlein-style story set in a British Boarding School where they teach magic in the Lovecraftian form. Naturally there is a wise old mentor who says things like, "Of course she likes you, but if you want to have a relationship, instead of just fooling around, you'll need to learn Enochian first," and "Boy, never summon anything bigger than your head."

And also, "When you get to be my age son, you only make love when the moon is full - it's a hazard of the profession!"

89:

Working title is The Cat Who Walked Through the Walls of Sleep.

90:

I too have had the sad experience of re-reading some Heinlein "classics" only to discover the Suck Fairy had got there first. On the other hand, though, let's not forget that Heinlein wasn't solely a novelist. Whatever the merits or otherwise of his book-length work, I still have a lot of time (and I suspect Charlie does too) for the author of "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag", "Solution Unsatisfactory", "The Man Who Sold the Moon", and "All You Zombies".

(BTW, if there's anyone who hasn't seen Predestination, the movie based on "All You Zombies", I urge you to remedy the omission. Possibly the best time travel movie ever.)

91:

When we're old enough to start developing agency, we start chafing against the constraints our culture imposes on us, and therefore tend to fall on the liberal* end of the spectrum. But as we get older, we start to recognize the reasons for and sometimes the merits of those constraints. We therefore slide towards the conservative end of the spectrum.

A less charitable interpretation is that once we start wanting to impose our own constraints on others and start gaining the social power to do so, we start to slide towards the conservative end of the spectrum.

92:

Hmmmm, not so sure about that.

It's nice to have a "if you're young and not liberal, you've got no heart, but if you're old and not conservative, you've got no brain" sentiment, but it's a lot more than that.

A couple of factors:
--Owning property tends to make you in favor of things that help you keep that property (especially now, in the era of million dollar mortgages).
--The political spectrum is horseshoe-shaped, not linear. The extreme right and left are closer to each other than they are to the moderates. The biggest example are the Soviets who have become right-wing authoritarians. This was also a trend in the Bush II Whitehouse, as some of the more rabid neocons had started off as Leninists in their college years (IIRC). Anyway, people at the ends of the spectrum can shift more radically than people in the middle.
--Education in a liberal university tends to make you less authoritarian. This isn't necessarily due to the teaching, but due to things like dorms and clubs exposing you to people who are different makes you realize that people can be different, and that's not a reason to kill them (this from Altemeyer's work).

So multiple directions, sadly, but still a big argument for the value of liberal education with kids living in dorms rather than with their families. This, incidentally, is one reason why liberal educations get attacked so harshly...

93:

The extreme right and left are closer to each other than they are to the moderates.

Both are True Believers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Believer

(I suspect both are also full of authoritarians.)

94:

I just now read that Jo Walton's rule is "No Heinlein over an inch think." which made me laugh, because it's probably a very good rule. I'd add a corollary, however, which is "Excepting anthologies, juveniles, and Starship Troopers.*"

* If you are Liberal you may well hate Starship Troopers, but in terms of the history of science fiction, Starship Troopers is the Trope Codifier for MilSF (plus it's a damn-good yarn.)

95:

I can probably swallow that - one of my long-term favourites is the Lensman series; the politics are pretty awful, but they are rattling good yarns.

96:

Most of us have severe problems discussing and considering incest rationally because it's one of the strongest taboo in our society. That Heinlein even have the guts to discuss such a topic makes him a greater SF writer not a worse one IMHO.

I havent read a lot of Heinlein, but at least in Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers I find him at his best when he beomes lecturing, not because I agree with him, but because he provokes me to think on my own and verbalize why I think he is wrong. Very few authors or lecturers can make me do that..

97:

Oh, God, please NO! Unless OGH has extensive personal experience of them. That was an incredibly common trope from Victorian times onwards, and almost all of them were dire. The modern books by those without such experience are even worse, and that most definitely includes the obvious culprit. The few exceptions include the Jennings books, Searle's books, Tom Brown's Schooldays and Stalky and Co., and all are outside the usual range of the trope. Nicholas Nickleby is probably another, but I can't abide Dickens's prose style. Hmm. Dotheboys Hall with tentacles :-)

98:

Yes. And then there are plenty of people who don't fit on the spectrum at all. My usual position in a political argument involving people from both left and right is being flamed (simultaneously) by both for being an extremist fanatic of the other. Sometimes together with being flamed by the middle-of-the-road liberals for being a dangerously radical anarchist.

Actually, most people who actually study the data, analyse it and think for themselves tend to diverge from that spectrum, because all of the left, right and compromising centre so clearly aren't doing so. But how far they diverge depends on the person.

99:

Plus SST spawned John Haldeman’s The Forever War. Which is kind of where we are right now.

100:

I never really understood the obsession with RAH. Andre Norton’s juveniles were IMHO much better written with a far greater sense of wonder and as a juvenile I sought them out first, while his adult novels were plodding and didactic (with some exceptions). I’d definitely fear for any child raised on a pure diet of Heinlein. However some of his short stories are absolutely cracker. The Unpleasant Profession, All You Zombies, A Crooked House. All that being said I did become an Engineer and Joined the Navy then ended up in Aerospace so maybe he had more of an influence than I’d like to admit...

101:

Plus SST spawned John Haldeman’s The Forever War.

Yes'n'no.

Joe had read Starship Troopers, so in that respect its existence set a precedent for subsequent MilSF—it's the type specimen for the field—but The Forever War was mostly about his own experiences as a conscript in Vietnam.

(Source: Joe, in a convention bar.)

102:

A N Other occasional RAH trop - what's "reality"
As in Jonathon Hoag & also Job & once or twice elsewhere ( All you Zombies, maybe? )

103:

Not to say that that conclusion hits you between the eyeballs! One could claim that the style was owed to Starship Troopers, but the content and message most definitely weren't - they are about as different as it is possible to be.

104:

Rereading Starship Troopers last year, the part where Rico decides that his home is now the army really reminded me of the end of 1984

105:

I’d kind of understood his book to be a riposte to the joyful militarism of SST in the form of a yeah well that’s nice but here’s how it really is being a conscripted grunt in the longest war.

106:

Obligatory website I like to visit every so often when spectrum conversations come up.

https://www.politicalcompass.org

In other news now off to re-read my favourite RAH - Glory Road with some trepidation!

107:

I was born in 1971, my older brother 1964, and I started SF from his book collection. So I accidentally read TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE at age 11, which was, well, not the best idea I had at that age or any age. I read other, more suitable Heinlein later in the 1980's. The "one inch" rule came to mind when I tried to read Cat who walked through walls and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Number of the Beast was okay at the time but I suspect it would not stand a re-read...

...I did try to re-read Glory Road recently. The first and second parts are all right, although the book's *point* seems to be Gordon's adventures at Jocko's place. And the post-Quest stuff on Star's homeworld is just bloody *tedious*.

108:

Interesting. Taking that I'm currently just to the left of Noam Chomsky (and about as libertarian).

I took it again, answering as I think I would have when I was at university, and I scored about the same as Nicola Sturgeon — which is 3 points to the right and 5 points more authoritarian than I am now.

(Current score -8.25 on the economic axis and -6.31 on the social axis, for reference.)

109:

I seem to remember a different short story relating to culture, incest and taboos.

Oh yes, Theodore Sturgeon - "If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?".

110:

I am a norwegian "leftist", which in US terms means somewhere to the left of flaming communist. And I don't mind Starship Troopers. Possibly because it (like most of the US) is so far from my experience of how things work that I can't see anyone taking it seriously as a description of a future (or present) anyone with brains and soul would want.

111:

The trouble is that they do :-( It isn't just the USA militarists, either, but their followers and supporters in the UK and (to a much lesser extent) some other nations. It interacts with the voluntary censorship that almost all of the USA and UK media use about the consequences of that militarism (and even the reasons for it). Consider the way that even people posting to this blog support the wars against Iraq, Syria and Libya.

112:

That site classifies me as moderately left (which is dubiously correct) and marginally libertarian (which definitely isn't) - my views are mostly orthogonal to that axis. But I couldn't find where those people you mention would have fallen.

113:

Almost all of the authors that have written such stories should be locked into a room with some very boring genetics and sociology lecturers until they can demonstrate that they have learnt something.

114:

If you take the test and click through to your personal certificate, it's illustrated with caricatures of various people, including those.

115:
But at least he was trying to engage, unlike many of his contemporaries (the cohort of authors fostered by John W. Campbell, SF editor extraordinaire and all-around horrible bigot).

One must honorably except Dr. Asimov, who did attempt to engage, at least, racism in his robot stories - the overt clue is people calling robots boy, but there's a lot of stuff in there.

116:

Also re the incest thing, this comes down to RAH's "twisty mind", to quote OGH.

The point of good SF is to set up a thought experiment of "what happens if...?" Marriage between people of other colours, or non-whites leading the group, or women leading the group, needn't be an issue if society can support it. A frequently-fatal adolescent test of adulthood needn't be an issue if the society buys into it. Self-aware AI needn't be an issue if it shows it's friendly. Test-tube babies needn't be an issue if they grow up properly. Abortion needn't be an issue if it's handled sensitively for the mother, for good reason. And incest needn't be taboo if issues of inbreeding and consent are dealt with.

How much "ick" is incest or other child abuse compared to test-tube babies or abortion? For us today, it's pretty clear. Back then though, check with any major Christian church. They totally cared about test-tube babies (born without a soul, apparently) and abortion (murder, apparently), but we're finding out now about how much they cared back then about child abuse. The answer is, they cared less than nothing - it wasn't just covered up, the perpetrators were actively allowed to continue. And back in the USA in the 1950s, it definitely isn't going too far to say that incest was socially accepted but cross-racial relationships were a near sentence of death.

RAH's thought experiments set us up to look at *why* those "ick" reactions take place - and by looking at our gut reaction, we can challenge and improve our own preconceptions.

117:

People used to take ["an armed society is a polite society"] straight as advocacy of guns and dueling, but in Beyond This Horizon, it's actually portrayed as something for people who don't have real work. It's not a polite society, it's a bullying society.

I don't think Heinlein saw it as bullying overall, despite the maltreatment of people who wear brassards showing they don't play. (Maybe he hadn't read the opening of Romeo and Juliet?) It's certainly not just for people who don't have real work; Felix is rich enough from past work to get by on casual game designing, but most of the other named characters, including a female surgeon, are armed and seem to have full-time work, and Felix is actively discouraged from taking the brassard.

One thing I haven't seen noted here: the libertarian commentaries I've seen on Heinlein ignore the fact that he was quite capable of private generosity (e.g. the genesis of Sturgeon's "And Now, the News..." and at least 2 other stories) and appears to have believed (at least for much of his life) in passing it forward, rather than the absolute individualism that claims to be supported by him.

A lot of the dark philosophy attributed to Nietzsche appears to be the result of his sister reworking his writing to her own bigoted aims. ISTM that something similar is happening in many readings of earlier Heinlein (leaving aside the increasing ... strangeness ... of his later work).

118:

"If a society accpts it" or "If a society buys into it"
Well there's a horrible US-exceptionalism example of that in front of us right now.
A N Other shooting has happened.
And the NRA says that the answer is suprise, suprise MORE GUNS.
Excuse me, they have been trying this erm, remedy" for what, 20, 40 years, at leat ( If not considerably longer ) and excuse me, but we can all see that it doesn't work ....
What does it take to change that? ( I realise that the US 2nd Amendment hos a serious hampering factor, but, even so... )
How long did it take for allegations of "witchcraft" to be discredited in "European" societies?
Approx 1580 - 1720? (ish ) But that was with much more primitive communication methods.
[ Yes, I know, "wir=tchcraft allegations in erm, "African" societies, exept that, IIRC demented christians ( christianity-forms ) are involved there. ]

119:

"Starship Troopers is the Trope Codifier for MilSF"

It is. It is also Codifier for the trope (or rather, absence of a trope), which stops me cold from almost all MilSF. My rule of thumb is: If a putatively futuristic war employs fewer robots than currently deployed in Afghanistan, I will not read it. Oh, and fully sentient robots which are just humans in metal skin, do not count.

120:

Agreed, mostly, but I do also think there is an element of sexual/power fantasy for Heinlein, kinda like "the "alpha male*" has excellent genes and can do no wrong, we must breed more like him..." kinda stuff, to the point where someone would have to be a Heinlein scholar to figure out how the power fantasies and the "scientific view of incest" came together, and which came first.

Whether this means he was a weirdo with a good scientific explanation or an expert troll, or both is something I can't fully parse.

But he was definitely a great science fiction writer, one of the very best, and his influence on the genre is enormous. Every 3-5 years I'll reread a couple of his books (even those more than one inch thick) and always find something new or strange. The bit in "Cat Who Walks Through Walls" where the protagonist finds out that Lazarus has provided his new foot and has manipulated an enormous part of his existence is amazing, definitely one of my favorite scenes in all of literature.

The simple fact about Heinlein is that his faults were as large as his virtues and we love him despite his faults.

* Note that the whole idea of the "alpha male" was based on now-discredited research.

121:

A N Other occasional RAH trop - what's "reality"
As in Jonathon Hoag & also Job & once or twice elsewhere ( All you Zombies, maybe? )

Nature-of-reality stuff crops up all throughout the Heinlein oeuvre, from "Beyond this Horizon" and "Waldo & Magic" through SiaSL and finally TNotB. Frequently it had elements of an afterlife -- I have the impression that RAH was not a fan of mortality.

122:

Elderly Cynic responded to my note about the cliched progression from liberal to conservative as we age: "It's also just wrong. A very large number of people move in the opposite direction, and a good many don't change at all. Yes, it's a common progression, possibly the most common, but it is NOT the only common one."

Nowhere did I say it's the only common one. Writing "(most?)" should have been a clear indication that I was not proposing this as a law of nature; rather, that clearly indicates that it's only a common pattern. You also apparently missed my "Please note that this is a gross oversimplification and YMMV". That would seem to support my suggestion that my intent was to suggest commonality and not a law of nature.

I don't object to being corrected when I get it wrong, which I do often enough to benefit greatly from such corrections. I do object to people critiquing what they *think* I said without actually paying attention to what I said.

123:

Half-agreed, I think, at most.

MilSF as we all know, ranges from wonderful to execrable, sometimes by the same author,* but I'd have to challenge your basis for making the reading decision because an author has only their current technology, plus whatever technology level their world-building creates for other reasons, plus the need to avoid creating a future world with an omnipotent technology... I suspect you're missing some good reads with your rule.

Certainly for Heinlein writing Starship Troopers in the late 1950s the man-in-a-suit idea was much more sensible in terms of technology than autonomous robots, and I suspect that "real" AI is going to turn out to be something like like fusion - always 20 years in the future - so expecting robots to rule the battlespace is not necessarily a good expectation, particularly if there is a security model involved which has not been both mathematically proven and carefully penetration-tested. I'll happily grant that we'll see more computer/robot support of our troops, but that's a different kettle of fish.

On the other hand, missiles in the Honorverse have always pushed my "suspense of disbelief" buttons. Am I really supposed to believe that missiles need an external controller after 2000 years of computer development, in a society where their version of a Raspberry Pi is probably a thousand times more powerful than 2018's most amazing supercomputer? (When the author was probably writing on a machine that was more powerful than the computer which put man on the moon?) So I can't disagree with you that much...

Really, a good story is about the people and how they cope. I'm just not that interested in the robots unless they're sophisticated enough to have their own POV.

* Y'all know who I'm talking about, right?

124:

P noted: "Most of us have severe problems discussing and considering incest rationally because it's one of the strongest taboo in our society. That Heinlein even have the guts to discuss such a topic makes him a greater SF writer not a worse one IMHO."

I think that's a crucial and neglected point: We must remember to distinguish between the author and what he's writing about. I don't recall reading anything in his biographies to suggest that Heinlein himself had an incest kink. And I admire him for daring to raise such a taboo subject and ask the risky question: "If both people are consenting adults who have equal agency/power, what's wrong with this?" To be clear, the notion of incest pushes my ick button too, but that's not a reason to assume Heinlein was advocating that lifestyle. As I noted previously in this thread, I think his great strength to teenage me was that he made me think hard, and never more so than when I disagreed with him. Most writers only aspire to obtaining that degree of engagement from their readers.

P also noted: "I havent read a lot of Heinlein, but at least in Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers I find him at his best when he beomes lecturing, not because I agree with him, but because he provokes me to think on my own and verbalize why I think he is wrong. Very few authors or lecturers can make me do that."

What I said. *G* But also, I feel obliged to correct one of the prevalent and wrong descriptions of "Starship Troopers", namely that it was exclusively pro-military. In fact, Heinlein explicitly notes that there are other forms of government service that are acceptable and laudable alternatives to serving in the military. That point seems generally to have been lost in the discussion of that novel.

Speculating without evidence here, since I again don't recall this from his biographies, but it seems likely Heinlein was familiar with the national service requirements of various Nordic governments (e.g., Finland also has required national service that includes both military and alternative forms of service). I rather like the notion that the privilege and rights obtained from being born into a country should carry a responsibility to do something to protect and preserve those privileges and rights. But the notion that rights come with responsibilities is deeply unpopular, and seems likely to have been even more unpopular when Heinlein was writing. Evidence pro or con welcomed.

125:

Heck with that noise, set your Lovecraftian school of magic in a modern, online school for homeschoolers in the rural US.

Actually, we're all showing our age. The youngsters 'round here can't even imagine owning a pocket knife, like all the boys had when I was going to school back in the...80s. And I can't imagine going to school with a box of matches like in the....60s. And so forth. Going into a modern school, past the metal detectors and all, is a bit like going into an airport or a major government facility--gotta disarm, and any acting up is punished harshly.

But getting back to the point, why go with a trope that's so old it's been pensioned off, died, and is trying not to reincarnate as a dog this time?

126:

yeah well that’s nice but here’s how it really is being a conscripted grunt in the longest war.

Not just that - I'd argue (from a position of ignorance) that it's about feeling isolated from a society that just doesn't understand, as a result of said wartime experiences (his book "1968", explicitly about the Vietnam war and its effects, was incredibly powerful when I first read it).

You could also argue that Paul Vorhoeven's film version of "Starship Troopers" was true to Heinlein's subversive spirit, if less successful in fooling 'the faithful'. He used so many visual cues to the Wehrmacht / SS, and similar over-the-top newsreel clips to his earlier "Robocop", that anyone with half a brain would be saying "hold on - are we really seeing the Good Guys in this story?". It's probably the reason why so many of 'the faithful' hate it - they were forced to question the "Heinlein in their head"...

Another (unmentioned) tribute might even be Judge Dredd - it's set in a brutal police state, where you're asked to identify with an utterly ruthless agent of the State. The laws are frequently absurd, the sentences excessive, the punishments severe. Again, you'd have to be a stranger to subtlety, to miss the satire.

127:

...If a putatively futuristic war employs fewer robots than currently deployed in Afghanistan, I will not read it....

What, zero? Because I'm not aware of anything more autonomous than an autopilot or a landmine (i.e. "victim-operated") actually being used in modern warfare... and calling a remotely-piloted vehicle a "robot" just seems a bit of a stretch.

128:

Patterson doesn't appear to have finished college, let alone go on to graduate school. From Mike Glyer's obit over at File770: "As a young man he attended Arizona State University for two years, majoring in history." Between that and the lack in Proquest, I don't think it was his dissertation.

129:

Weird question about Starship Troopers (1959): did it influence Iron Man (1963)? Or were the popular science magazines of the late 50s full of soldiers in mechanized armor, and both Jack Kirby and Heinlein ripped those off?

I read Starship Troopers fairly young, so I mostly remember the armaments, and the politics went sailing merrily over my head. Similarly, I read books like Friday as a clueless teen, so a lot of the text and subtext was lost on me. I was one of those clueless types who focused more on how hard it would be to make working hip and shoulder joints for a powered exoskeleton, rather than thinking about the politically provocative society that built the damned things. Guess I was a really late bloomer or something.

130:

Geoff Hart: While Heinlein claimed in Extended Universe that Federal Service was mostly non-military, the evidence within Starship Troopers itself points the other way. This claim is scrutinized minutely in this paper:

https://www.nitrosyncretic.com/pdfs/nature_of_fedsvc_1996.pdf

I'd look on the whole idea (earning the franchise through federal service) much more favorably if the "mostly non-military" thing were true, but the text doesn't seem to support that.

131:

Niggles, Charlie, but neatness counts. The baby boom didn't get rolling until after the end of the war--I was born in early 1945, and my school cohort was about 60% the size of my sister's (b. 1947). It was returning troops (starting in '46) that kicked off that demographic explosion. Which didn't have any effect on my reading habits--the first SF I read was Rocket Ship Galilleo, in 1955.

And, as has been pointed out, Heinlein was not a born-and-bred Californian, but a Missouri boy. (Not that California was hippie heaven in the early 20th century--read Jack Vance's memoir.) On the other hand, there's a long tradition of hayseeds from flyover country poking holes in their home culture and taking, say, George Bernard Shaw or Ambrose Bierce or H. L. Mencken as role models. (This hayseed caught whiffs of all those in RAH once he got enough reading behind him, circa 1960.)

But as someone who Vass Dere, Doncha Know, in the Fifties and Sixties, much of Heinlein's appeal was his ability to write a compelling story that often questioned certainties and assumptions and pieties large and small--while, to be sure, entirely buying into others (patriotism, military service). I recall arguing with Starship Troopers on reading the first paperback edition, while still enjoying the story-as-story--and the arguing was part of the fun.

BTW, I'm looking forward to Farah Mendlesohn's big book on Heinlein--the views of a not-a-Boomer, not-a-guy, not-a-yank, not-a-righty. . . .

132:

Troutwaxer @ 83:

Re: Starship Troopers, the book is nothing like the movie. (Thank God!)

Agreed. The movie is a travesty; an outright abomination.

133:

Ok, let me give you my take on Heinlein (and I grew up in the fifties and sixties).

I vaguely remember The Spaceship Under the Apple Trea, and Angry Red Planet, but the Real Thing was Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.

Dunno if everyone here knows this, but yes, the Philly Naval Yard, during the War... with RAH, and Asimov and Sprague De Camp working together.

First though, let me say this: in some ways, I see sf as the last, best gasp of that hope of a century ago, as tech was coming in, that the future *could* be better than the past, and we can make it so.

Nwo, his early stuff is that kind of idea, the future is an exciting and, in the end, better, and where it's not, we *can* fix it.

I'd never considered his needing to hide his radicalism in the McCarthy period, but that rings absolutely true - we know all about the Hollywood blacklist, on the large scale, and my own father on a personal note.

Let me also note that it was moderately well-known in fandom back in the day that Startship Troopers, the society was based on the Roman Republic (join the Legions, conquer the world, become a citizen with votes!).

Stranger, when it came out, was unique, and a way of the classic look at society from the outside. In fact, as I type, it's the opposite of the usual sf trope of our hero in an alien society.

I'll note that if he was involved in Thelema, there's no question where his knowledge of polyamory came from, in actual life, not hypothesis.

Moon is a Harsh Mistress was excellent. Farnham's Freehold, less (see my next post, about libertarians). I have felt, since at least the late seventies, that the crap between then and Friday was also when we *know* he had a brain tumor, and was more than self-indulgent. He Also built a house in the mountains, then Ginny, I think, couldn't live at that altitude, so they redid it down below, then he lost her.

Then came the surgery, and Friday. As others have noted, it's really three separate books, one being a takeoff on Podkayne Job was unmitigatedly good - him at his best.

134:

I read Rand's Anthem at 19. Then, back in the early nineties, a libertarian co-worked shoved Atlas Shrugged at me.

My opinion hadn't changed: if I wanted anything like those politics, I'd read Heinlein. Rand was a *terrible* writer. Anthem - straw characters, and the puppet strings were more visible than on the rocket ships in the old serials. Atlas Shrugged? A 60? 90? page speech, over the p/a, to his employees. As, who was it, Goldwyn? put it, if you've got a message, send it Western Union.

Libertarians? Yeah... the same co-worker who shoved Atlas Shrugged at me, I asked him one day, "so, your perfect libertarian world, how do we get there - do we take everything from everyone, and divvy it up equally, or do we start from here, with Bill Gates as a billionaire, and you and me as we are?"

His answer was that they were "still discussing it at the club".

Clearly, they'd agreed on the latter. And they're hypocrites, one and all, or they would have attacked Trump day and night, because he *constantly* breaks contracts - not paying people what he agreed to (I, personally, know someone who's father does industrial contracting, and was personally screwed by Trump).

And where are they standing up for a woman's right to choose? Or unions ("free association")?

In my experience, all of them grew up middle class, with money (and that includes a personal acquaintance of many years, ESR).

All they are is, "I've got mine, tough about you."

135:

Um, yeah. Unions. Like weekends off? Holidays? Thank unions.

I suppose I've gotten "more conservative". I'm now straight socialist, having, a couple times in my life, having the red card of the IWW....

And my answer to the usual is "if you're conservative at 40, then you've got money; if not, you're a socialist, or a fool."

136:

Not own a pocket knife, or maybe a Leatherman-style tool? You're hanging out with the wrong youngsters. My stepson's got one...why, yes, he is in college, and going for a degree in engineering. Why?

137:

Troutwaxer
I suspect that "real" AI is going to turn out to be something like like fusion - always 20 years in the future...
Like self-driving cars, you mean?
Money-sucking vapourware .......

Geoff Hart
In today's "western" society ( at least outside Russia ) - I wonder about LGBT incest.
Homosexual or lesbian incest - now there's a topic to get the various uptights even more exited ( hopefully to the point where their brains explodey )
But the notion that rights come with responsibilities is deeply unpopular,
Yeah tell that to the NRA, for starters.

Heteromeles @ 125
SHIT - unless I'm on an aircraft, or passing through a proper security screen ( when I hand it over & expect it back afterwards ) I carry a big "Swiss-Army" at almost all times - it's simply so useful ( I can get into any known drinks container, for a start! )

138:

I carry a big "Swiss-Army" at almost all times

Being of a certain age, from days when pocket knives were routine and unremarkable accessories rather than prima facie evidence of terrorist intent, I too am seldom without my Victorinox Spartan. It is a cliche for being a handy multitool, and rightly so.

https://www.swissarmy.com/us/en/Products/Swiss-Army-Knives/Medium-Pocket-Knives/Spartan/p/1.3603

139:

Troutwaxer @ 94:

If you are Liberal you may well hate Starship Troopers, but in terms of the history of science fiction, Starship Troopers is the Trope Codifier for MilSF (plus it's a damn-good yarn.)

I consider myself a liberal and I loved Starship Troopers. I've never accepted the canard that it's a homage to fascism. I still see it as an expression of the American idealism that came out of WWII. We stood up to the Nazis & made the world a better place. Starship Troopers represents a brief moment of high idealism (perhaps more imagined than real, but still unabashedly idealistic) before the rot of Corporatism set in.

Starship Troopers was one of the few science fiction books in the library where I went to Junior High. It was the first Heinlein book I read. Possibly when & where I discovered it had a major effect on how I relate to it. I was active in Scouting and in central North Carolina, that meant a lot of Camp-a-rees & overnight trips down to Ft. Bragg where the 82nd Airborne Division played host.

As a skinny, high-strung, space crazy 12 year old, the "starship" in the title had me hooked before I even opened the book. But even a naive kid like me, who actually believed all the good citizenship stuff they threw at us in school, could quickly parse that the book was really about those who volunteered to serve, and particularly about the paratroopers from WWII and after.

It is perhaps telling that the only other book I remember finding in that school library is Paul Brickhill's "Reach for the Sky.

140:

Re: Heinlein

Of the impression that Heinlein was the only SF author (I'm aware of) of his generation who foresaw the right-wing drift in USian thinking and associated it with lack of education wrt science and/or critical thinking. (His heroes were always better educated/smarter than his simpleton villains.) Even so, disappointed with his characters' inability to see the distinction between objectives/goals and mechanics/means*. Conflating these esp. wrt to politics seems pretty common among his generation.

* Apparently he turned very anti-socialism after visiting the USSR: he didn't grasp that what he was seeing was an authoritarian regime that used 'socialism' as a facade. Not sure if he ever visited the Nordic countries ...


Re: 'Aging makes people more conservative'

Tend to think that folks both tend toward (consolidate) whatever most rewarded them over the years as well as back away from whatever hurt them most against a backdrop of whatever the then-current social/familial environment allows as acceptable/tolerable for someone of their background.

In a mostly neutral social background, think the below happens:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mr-personality/201410/why-are-older-people-more-conservative

Excerpt:

'Interestingly, there is also compelling evidence for the idea that people become more exaggerated versions of themselves when they age. In that sense, people are just like wine: the good ones get better with age; the bad ones worse.'

Plus ...

Since no one mentioned it, I also think that there's also a culling process at work between youth and old age, as in: maybe the folks who fought for social causes tended to die younger while the self-absorbed gits just avoided anything that could potentially harm them, plus used the do-gooders to advance themselves.

141:

Since no one mentioned it, I also think that there's also a culling process at work between youth and old age, as in: maybe the folks who fought for social causes tended to die younger while the self-absorbed gits just avoided anything that could potentially harm them, plus used the do-gooders to advance themselves.

Not really. I've run into plenty of old activists. Indeed, most of the environmentalists I work with on planning issues are older than I am (and yes, this is a serious problem). Thing is, except in times of civil unrest, there are very few genuine activists, so their continued presence in low numbers doesn't register. The only thing that registers are those rare times when they mobilize armies to deal with some urgent problem. Thing is, most of those mobilized aren't in it for life, any more than soldiers are. They go back to their lives soon enough, and often too soon.

However, if you're a businessperson, your money (and power) tend to increase as you age, and this tends to give them disproportionately loud voices in the fray.

The real, missing demographic are the ordinary property owners, who *really* just want things to keep on going as they are. That's a kind of conservatism that isn't captured by political spectroscopy.

142:

MattS @ 105:

I’d kind of understood his book to be a riposte to the joyful militarism of SST in the form of a yeah well that’s nice but here’s how it really is being a conscripted grunt in the longest war.

Starship Troopers isn't about a draftee. Juan Rico is a volunteer. The Vietnam War was NOT World War 2 (or even Korea).

143:

Why? Because the "Boarding School Story" is not a trope. It is, strangely enough, a recognizable British form of children's literature. I just think it needs an upate. With a wise old (Necronomicon-crazed) American mentor from Kansas and horrors from beyond time and space. Since we're drawing from Heinlein, it would naturally be a military school.

The jacket blurb Charlie's aiming for here is "Robert Heinlein takes J.K. Rowling on a hot date. With tentacles!"

The setup would be a post-Brexit dystopia, but some smart U.K. physicist has invented a dimensional gateway. And now a lean, hungry Britain is aiming to rule to multiverse, and graduates from H'gw'rts become cadets on an interdimensional gunboat! "We'll show those Byakhee what for!"

144:

But as someone who Vass Dere, Doncha Know, in the Fifties and Sixties, much of Heinlein's appeal was his ability to write a compelling story that often questioned certainties and assumptions and pieties large and small--while, to be sure, entirely buying into others (patriotism, military service).

While not quite as venerable as you (I was born in late, not early 1945), I would agree with most of that. The juveniles and other works around that time did stretch the usual boundaries and stereotypes while still telling good stories.

As for (patriotism and military service), what I took away from Starship Troopers on first reading was more like (civic responsibility and civic duty). He did get pretty preachy about those, but the earlier version of me that read those recognized that and accepted it.

Plus, of course, there was all that all that exciting miltech.

145:

Speaking of inadmissable thought experiments, I just found out via Ol' Wikipedia, that "All You Zombies" was published in F&SF in 1959, after being rejected by Playboy. Not sure what that says about the sexual politics of the late 50s, unless you look at this as a pure thought experiment.

146:

Elderly Cynic @ 112:

That site classifies me as moderately left (which is dubiously correct) and marginally libertarian (which definitely isn't) - my views are mostly orthogonal to that axis. But I couldn't find where those people you mention would have fallen.

You're possibly more "libertarian" than you think, if you're comparing yourself to many self proclaimed, public "Libertarians". A lot of what passes for "libertarian" thought seems to be just plain old selfishness; "as long as I've got mine, screw the rest of you bastards".

Many self proclaimed "Libertarians" don't care about liberty for anyone but themselves. For them it's less about "liberty" than about "license" (aka licentiousness).

147:

The baby boom didn't get rolling until after the end of the war--I was born in early 1945, and my school cohort was about 60% the size of my sister's (b. 1947). It was returning troops (starting in '46) that kicked off that demographic explosion.

As long as we're niggling, the baby boom (in the US) started before the US entered the war — at least if we're talking about an increase in the birth rate. Look at when the rates start moving up here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Birth_Rates.svg

The general trend in birth rates is down — and the 'baby boom' about equals the 'baby bust' during the depression — almost as if people could now afford the kids they had wanted earlier. More obvious on a longer-term graph, you can find one here (scroll down to point 2):

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/modelhistory.php#flynn

148:
The youngsters 'round here can't even imagine owning a pocket knife, like all the boys had when I was going to school back in the...80s.

Most likely the reason the new MacGyver sucks compared to the old one... ;)

P.S. You can take my multitool from my cold, dead fingers...

149:

JBS noted: "I consider myself a liberal and I loved Starship Troopers. I've never accepted the canard that it's a homage to fascism."

Me too. This book is emphatically *not* an hommage to fascism. It is explicitly about the desirability of putting a simple price on a specific privilege: if you want to vote, you have to earn that right, and you have a variety of ways you can do so by making society a better place through your service. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

It's been a while since I read the book, but if memory serves you still retained most of your civil rights if you didn't perform national service; you just couldn't vote.

Also note that at the time of the story, the POV assumption is that humanity is facing a threat to its continued existence. In that context, military service was (as it still generally is) a noble thing: being willing to sacrifice your life in the hope that by doing so, you'll preserve many other lives. I have a great deal of respect from the armed forces personnel I've known personally; they were all intimately aware that they could, at any time, be called upon to risk their life for the good of others. (OTOH, I'm Canadian, and we primarily do peacekeeping. Americans may have a more jaundiced view of things.)

In any event, the society described in Starship Trooper is not any form of fascism I'm familiar with.

150:

Trottelreiner "P.S. You can take my multitool from my cold, dead fingers..."

That would be the TSA. I'm happy to encourage you. I carry a Leatherman in my backpack for hiking, a large Swiss Army in my pocket for daily use, and a teeny TSA-approved pliers/screwdriver/scissors tool for when I'm flying. And I have a reminder note to put the damned things in my checked baggage whenever I'm flying. After carrying the Swiss Army knife for more than 30 years, I'd hate to lose it.

151:

Re: 'I've run into plenty of old activists.'

Have met a few folks that I tend to think of as idealists: they're not the stereotypical up-in-arms 'activists' that get news coverage -- they just get things done that (whaddyaknow!) help their communities. That said, would still like to see some longitudinal data (like maybe from NZ) to confirm either way.

Your point makes me wonder how these old activists differed from their contemporaries including what support system did they access that allowed them to hold onto their youthful ideals.

152:

Nearly twenty years ago, I reviewed The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein, which includes "They," "'All You Zombies–'," and "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag." My conclusion then was, "Probably the best reason for the existence of this volume is to juxtapose three of Heinlein’s most striking nightmare visions. . . . Fantasy, after all, is the back door to the mind, and tracing the connections that link these stories to each other and to the rest of his work reveals a good bit of what made Heinlein tick." After a careful reading of the Patterson biography (which, whatever its limitations, I find useful and illuminating), I still think so.

153:

Err, the first one was quite popular at our student dorm's video club. With at least 25% of the members[1] having read the book and indicating there were few similarities.

Let's not talk about SST 2 and 3...

[1] OK, one out of four. We later increased it to 50% when he lent me the book.

154:

Troutwaxer @ 123:

On the other hand, missiles in the Honorverse have always pushed my "suspense of disbelief" buttons. Am I really supposed to believe that missiles need an external controller after 2000 years of computer development, in a society where their version of a Raspberry Pi is probably a thousand times more powerful than 2018's most amazing supercomputer? (When the author was probably writing on a machine that was more powerful than the computer which put man on the moon?) So I can't disagree with you that much...

The way I see it, missile technology in the "Honorverse" follows the trope of two equally matched computer adversaries. Both computers respond with absolute "logic" and neither can gain the upper hand. The first to make a mistake will win (by doing something unpredictable), but because they're computers they can't make mistakes, so you get stalemate.

The human "controller" isn't smarter than the computer, he/she introduces the illogical action that breaks the stalemate.

155:

That would be the TSA.

I few years ago my mother flew to England and upgraded her ticket to first class using travel points.

Security confiscated her embroidery scissors (blades about 1/2 inch long) because they could be used as a weapon. Meal service in first class came with steel steak knives…

156:
I'm happy to encourage you

Well, thanks for the advice...

As for putting my SAK into checked baggage, similar here, IIRC my brother lost his Victorinox at Rome Fiumencino in the early Zeroes. I don't want to follow his lead.

157:

If you want to go faster through TSA and have one of those airport-safe multitools, it's good practice to fan the thing out so that the x-ray can see all the attachments. Otherwise, they have to fiddle with it to make sure it doesn't have a knife blade inside.

Note, I lost a TSA-compliant multitool at the local county fair, because the security clown thought it was too dangerous due to the inch long (and blunt) nail file. This is a fair that sells a wide range of kitchen knives and other tools...Anyway, we could go on with examples of CRIS syndrome in security theater pretty much indefinitely. I like having tools in my pockets, and I always feel a little naked having to leave them behind. Silly of me, I know.

158:

Re: 'All You Zombies', incest, etc.

Don't recall reading this story, so looked up the plot on Wikipedia. Interesting - the ultimate incest. Guess no one knew about cloning back then.

Do recall reading 'Methuselah's Children': Lazarus Long, Howard Foundation/eugenics experiment whose only objective was extending human lifespan. Amazingly, it turns out that this group managed to avoid producing any super long-lived villains!

Any idea what the reaction was among reviewers/readers when these books first came out? Did they recoil or did they think this eugenics idea made sense? Ask because I think that that generation had a clear understanding of the relatedness of European nobility who were often first/second cousins therefore by some standards committing 'incest' but at the same time there was still a lot of racism/ethocentricity. Sorta begs the question what would you be willing to do in order to maintain or improve the species: a) marry your sib to z) marry completely outside your race.

Cloning/gene splicing does not completely free us from answering this question.

159:

Also bear in mind that Political Compass is UK in origin which might tend to an older, wider and possibly less unpleasant definition of Libertarian than observation of the current state of the US might suggest.

160:

Trottelreiner @ 152:

Err, the first one was quite popular at our student dorm's video club. With at least 25% of the members[1] having read the book and indicating there were few similarities.

I think what most angers me about the film is that having decided to overemphasize the "militarism", he then proceeds to get all of the military aspects WRONG.

161:

The IWW lol its "a club" as a DGS of connect (now part of prospect said to me in the bar at conference once) not sure that ye old Trade unionism cosplay is the way to go here brother.


BTW Charlie any plans for a reprint of the laundry service T shirts - always wanted one for prospect Main conference.

162:

In any event, the society described in Starship Trooper is not any form of fascism I'm familiar with.

Go back, and reread the first chapter (I just did). Then ask yourself what kind of society would regard it as acceptable to:

  • Mount a "smash & destroy" mission on an obviously non-military target (a city).

  • Drop a kiloton or two nuke on "public buildings - maybe a temple" because it was "just the kind of target" he was looking for.

  • Deliberately target a waterworks, so as to render the city uninhabitable

  • Encounter a congregation in a church, and throw a bomb into it (albeit "I'm a thirty-second bomb! I'm a twenty-nine second bomb!").

  • Those aren't the tactics of a civilised army - they're the tactics of the SS.

    163:

    Entryism or less sympathetically subversion given what has come out.

    Maybe the CBI and IOD should have taken a leaf out of the way unions worked with the secret service in the 50's and sped less time obsessing about H&S activists on building sites.

    Dropping " Ross and Norris McWhirter" would have been a good idea - sucks for Roy Castle's TV show but cant make an omelette.

    164:

    Aside from those comparing directly to the source there is a school of thought that considers the film a minor classic, an explicitly over the top silly satire.

    https://www.empireonline.com/movies/starship-troopers/review/

    It's also worth noting it received Oscar and Hugo noms and 2 Saturn wins.

    165:

    Question
    Do people still want a piece on railways?
    I'm about to send Charlie part1 as a tester ( Companies & cockups )
    Part 2, if wanted - will be about STEAM.

    166:

    I think what most angers me about the film is that having decided to overemphasize the "militarism", he then proceeds to get all of the military aspects WRONG.

    Remember that the director, Paul Vorhoeven, will have a rather different attitude towards militarism and militaries than you or I.

    He grew up in occupied Holland; from the link, "The Verhoeven house was near a German military base with V1 and V2-rocket launchers, which was repeatedly bombed by Allied forces. Their neighbours' house was hit and Verhoeven's parents were almost killed when bombs fell on a street crossing. From this period, Verhoeven mentioned in interviews, he remembers images of violence, burning houses, dead bodies on the street, and continuous danger."

    No living American has seen that in America. Ask yourself whether 9/11 had an effect on your view of terrorism (until then, many Americans in Boston and New York viewed the Provisional IRA as something worth funding), then consider how you would make a movie about "freedom fighters".

    It's a satire on militarism, in the same way that the original Robocop was a satire on capitalism. You shouldn't expect accuracy - you should expect to react strongly to seeing Neil Patrick Harris in an SS uniform (AIUI he "got" the satire and the visual references; Casper Van Dien... didn't, and played it straight).

    "Verhoeven stated in 1997 that the first scene of the film — an advertisement for the Mobile Infantry — was adapted shot-for-shot from a scene in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935)"

    167:

    I think the phrase you're looking for is "Shock and Awe." I wouldn't be so bold as to limit those tactics to the Nazis.

    Also, I'm waiting for your critique of Old Man's War, which does this, not just ad nauseum, but as the "normal" way alien species deal with each other...

    168:

    Emphatically yes to both.

    169:

    I'd never heard of Ayn Rand until I read Matt Ruff's excellent "Sewer, Gas, and Electric". Ecoterrorists, the location of a pub in Disneyland, AI, and mutant sharks in the New York sewers...

    Eventually, I saw a copy of "Atlas Shrugged" in a bookshop, and a brief glance showed it to be as awful as billed. Surreal. It's a bit like seeing Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein"[1] before you see the original ;)

    [1] That's Fronkenshteen!

    170:

    On a more general note: Heinlein wrote stuff from the POV of his present. For example, Starship Troopers was nuclear powered WWII American paratroopers. I don't think the US Space Force, if it ever gets off the ground, will have a HALO main battle groups, just to delicately point out that what we think of as normal has changed just a bit since then.

    Sort of wheeling back to the original topic, Heinlein's secret sauce was his storytelling, not his settings. I think the problem is that (as with Lovecraft) people appropriate his settings, thinking that the set and setting are the drug. Excuse me, the secret sauce.* And they're not. They're just there to make the trip more important. Were Heinlein young and writing today, he wouldn't be writing starship troopers or even (arguably) "--All You Zombies.--" He'd probably be writing video game scripts, but still, what's the secret sauce? Is it just his skill at telling stories and preaching at people?

    One thing Heinlein failed at: The Church of All Worlds is a lot smaller than the Church of Scientology. Not sure what that says about either author, really, but there you have it.

    *I'm reading Michael Pollan's How To Change Your Mind right now.

    171:

    Where do I find the exam Q&A? :)

    Sure - could be interesting. Any discussion re: canal vs. rail systems in the UK? (Imagine if canals won and their tech kept getting improved: all sorts of interesting differences in one's daily commute.)

    172:

    I'm waiting for your critique of Old Man's War, which does this, not just ad nauseum

    Beg to differ. Consider that the alien General Gau makes a great effort to avoid conflict and civilian death, in contrast to several human Generals (see "Zoe's Tale" / "The Last Colony"). I'd suggest that the Old Man's War series is less subversive than RAH; he never asks us to agree with, or attempts to justify, the deliberate killing of civilians (but I wouldn't want to put words into his mouth, if he's reading).

    Referring to "shock and awe" is all very well, but you'd be surprised at the efforts made in 1991 / 2003 to avoid civilian casualties - in complete contrast to "Starship Troopers". They weren't successful, but they were trying - e.g. pointing a shoulder-mounted camera at a tank in an environment where nearby soldiers are pointing shoulder-mounted anti-tank weapons at them (they look similar enough when viewed from the front), is not going to increase your life expectancy - a Reuters stringer in Baghdad died that way, AIUI.

    Consider also that RAH was an adult in the era of Guernica, the bombing of Warsaw / Paris / Brussels, the Blitz on London, Coventry, Govan, Liverpool, Portsmouth; and then the retaliatory strikes that burned Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo. Attitudes change. In those days, bombing opposition cities was seen as advantageous by the Axis[1]; and a case of "sow the wind, reap the whirlwind" by the Allies.


    [1] Not always, though - consider Pearl Harbour; the entire might of the IJN goes to war with the USA - and causes only 49 civilian deaths. That compares quite well with the NATO / Coalition bombings of Baghdad or Belgrade.

    173:

    Those aren't the tactics of a civilised army - they're the tactics of the SS.

    Bomber Harris and Curtis LeMay would beg to differ. See also Sherman and, going back a longer way, Cato the Elder (Carthago Delenda Est, attrib.)

    It's a lot of work, a lot of expense to do that sort of a job on a population centre or other non-overt military operation but if the population is supporting the military by providing them with food and materiel and, if the war goes on long enough, new recruits then they're going to get worked over by the professionals. If nothing else the thinking is that if you've got an Arclight strike force flying cabrank ovals then anything below it is a legitimate target.

    174:

    consider Pearl Harbour; the entire might of the IJN goes to war with the USA

    It wasn't the entire might of the IJN, not by a long chalk -- there were several other totally separate IJN operations that happened at the same time or close to it such as the invasion of the Philippines. It did require nearly all of the IJN's carriers though.

    The total number of aircraft attacks on the Harbor was about 400 or so, all quite lightly armed by today's standards -- two squadrons from a modern nuclear carrier could probably carry and deliver the same amount of ordnance in terms of explosive power in a single strike. It succeeded beyond its capabilities because the targets were stationary at anchor and there was no real air or ground-based defensive operations in place when the attack actually came.

    175:

    Count me as another liberal fan of Starship Troopers. I read it as a thought experiment about how in a democracy do you ensure that voters have a "stake" in society and won't wreck things by voting for panem et circenses. I don't agree with RAH's solution in the book, and I am not convinced that he particularly thought it would work either. I also see it as an examination of the proper relationship between the military and civil society. (I don't think there's any doubt in ST that the military answers to civilian control, albeit that all the civilians in control are themselves veterans.) I thought it put forward a good balance between left-wing distrust of the military and right-wing fetishism of it.

    But if Heinlein actually thought the Roman Republic was his model, he was dead wrong. The Legions were already Roman citizens - that was the qualification. It wasn't until Augustus formalized the Auxiliaries in the early days of the Principate that the military became a route to citizenship. And by then, being a Roman citizen no longer gave any meaningful participation in the political process.

    176:

    Robert Prior noted: "Security confiscated her embroidery scissors (blades about 1/2 inch long) because they could be used as a weapon. Meal service in first class came with steel steak knives…"

    Yup; same deal for me when I flew to India on KLM/Air France. (We had enough points to upgrade to first class.) Let's not even mention the stainless steel knitting needles I frequently see on planes. I guess the logic is that the 1% have no reason to take down a plane once they're on it but might need to defend themselves against the passengers in steerage class?

    Heteromeles suggested fanning out the multitool's various tools so that they're clear to TSA folk. On the logic that full disclosure is less scary than surprises, I always go one better and hand them the tool, show them the pointy bits, and ask them to clear it with their supervisor. It's worked fine thus far.

    Martin rejected my suggestion that the Starship Trooper society is not fascist: "Go back, and reread the first chapter (I just did). Then ask yourself what kind of society would regard it as acceptable to: ..."

    I see I may have been unclear; I was speaking of the human society, not the Bugs. You could certainly argue that the Bugs are fascists, but given that we have no direct knowledge of what they're thinking, it's a weak argument.

    But if you mean that you believe the human society was fascist, you should first define your terms. Describing the humans as no different from the SS suggests you mean "Nazi", "authoritarian", or "immoral", not fascist. The usual non-Mussolini definition involves a philosophy that exalts the race or nation above the individual. You could argue that this applies to Starship Trooper's human society, but I don't buy it. Isn't the whole ethos of *any* military organization based on the belief that self-sacrifice by individuals is often required to protect society? Does that make any military inherently fascist? I don't think so.

    My copy of the book is far too buried for me to excavate it in a reasonable length of time. I therefore cannot confirm my belief that the human society (i.e., its military) truly believed that the existential threat was real. The war may, in reality, have been a cynical justification for expansionism (i.e. provoke the Bugs into all-out warfare so we can exterminate them and claim their assets), but (i) my memory is that they really believed the Bugs would exterminate us and (ii) expansionism is not fascism.

    Whether or not you agree with Humanity's responses and choice of tactics, it's hard to see this as a "fascist" response: it's a military response to what was perceived as a clear-cut military problem, and I doubt any society would respond differently to the nuking of Buenos Aires (i.e., proof that they're out to exterminate us). That attack may have been a response to earlier provocation by the humans; I don't recall who started the war, but have a sense it was the humans and that it was a misunderstanding rather than cynical realpolitik. The examples you provided are no different from how the British treated colonial subjects throughout the world, how the Japanese treated the Chinese during their invasion of China, or how Americans treated the Japanese during World War II. While you can legitimately object to such tactics on ethical grounds, and I'd agree with you, it's hard to believe that you could legitimately describe the very different societies of these three examples as all being about fascism.

    177:
    ...decided to overemphasize the "militarism", he then proceeds to get all of the military aspects WRONG.

    Which indicates it got a central aspect of militarism right, it's a piss poor way of running an actual military.

    Imagine your local "tactical stuff" mall ninja reading the book; now imagine him writing a movie script. Verhoeven's SST is a parody on that movie.

    The first rule to appreciate the movie is to forget about comparing it to the book. After that, it gets quite entertaining. Though in the case of the German translation, that might have something to do with the propaganda skits spoken by the same guy who did a German show about road safety:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Hoegen

    178:

    Wonderful when read alongside 'Forever War' I think.

    179:

    Disagree. First off, I referred to Old Man's War the book, not the series. Nice dodge to go to the later books, but that's kind of not the point. We don't have a sequel to Starship Troopers, so this is inapt.

    Also, operations that take out infrastructure (which does make people's lives harder and adds considerably to the death toll of the extreme non-coms who require power to keep their life support working), are not commensurate with operations where you're photographed not killing civilians. Probably I'm wrong, but I seem to recall that the Shock and Awe attack was aimed at disabling Iraq, which really means killing people indirectly, rather than firebombing them (as in Tokyo) because they don't have the precision needed to target manufacturing and avoid civilians.

    So let's get back to the original point, shall we? About Old Man's War, the book?

    180:

    SST is also about what later on became "cybernetics", there is a long talk about "negative feedback" in the beginning. There seems to be a similar theme in another story, "Waldo", though I haven't read it:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldo_(short_story)

    As for today, using current technological developments to write stories with juvenile protagonists might be funb, but as OGH noted, writing near-future sF is no fun...

    181:

    Go back, and reread the first chapter (I just did). Then ask yourself what kind of society would regard it as acceptable to:

    Mount a "smash & destroy" mission on an obviously non-military target (a city).

    [Other examples]

    Why, that would be almost any society between 4000 BCE and now. Check the Pentateuch for Biblical examples. Or the Albigensian Crusade. As another responder has responded, WWII examples abound.

    Heinlein was writing in that context.

    Things today are perhaps slightly better, but not much. Back in the day, I worked with a USAF colonel who had been a tageteer for SAC, and he said that the mantra regarding civilian targets was "neither target nor avoid." I.e., don't nuke cities just because they're cities, but if there's a tank plant there, don't worry about the civilians.

    182:

    Waldo's, um, yeah, about cybernetics, sort of the way the Shetterly et al's Borderlands series was about technology.

    Anyway, it's simple to write near future SF: it's called writing a thriller, and you flog it in a different part of the bookshop.

    183:

    My eyes lit up at the thought of a boarding school romp.
    I did my A levels at a military ran boarding college, somewhere in the Midlands. Sadly, no centuries old buildings, secret passages, sunken ballrooms and ghosts-that was the old site. My intake were the first on a brand new, built down to a price on a PFI contract, soulless modernist campus. It was falling to bits as soon as we moved in, the wall in my second year room would visibly move every time the corridor door slammed shut. The rugby pitches turned out to be the old buildings on the site bulldozed flat, then topped with a few inches of soil and turf. Very soon, big lumps of brick started poking through, causing some quite nasty injuries. 2 years of afternoons of teenagers walking in a line across each pitch, feeling for rubble with their boot studs then digging it up, they finally dug it all out and fixed it.

    Our CCF had SA80 A2's too, yet we weren't allowed windows that opened properly. We had PT Corps senior NCO's in charge of our fitness and PT, as well as a pastoral officer who stopped a bellringing group going to the local church because no one had done a risk assessment.

    We had incredibly tight security, which often broke and left us locked out our boarding houses. Half the teachers were both borderline sectionable and yet phenomenally good-I still say it was the best academic education I've ever had. One maths teacher is exactly who came into my mind when I first read about Angleton.

    I can imagine all too well how a government run wizards college would turn out.

    RE Greg at 164-Yes please!

    184:

    I am an 'ordinary property owner', and I don't.

    185:

    As I and Heteromeles said, it was dire when it was alive, it has been exhumed once, and stank to high heaven when it was. For Cthluhlu's sake, don't try to resurrect it yet again!

    186:

    It's a terror attack, and as such an example of state terrorism, yes. But the tactics implied in the book, e.g. going for "soft targets", are quite similar to the one used e.g. by the Contras in Nicaragua and backed by the US:

    https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-8011570.html

    Though comparing SST to Reaganite policy also indicates SST is somewhat off.

    The main problem is the violence is directed against non-combatants, though that one got swapped under quite fast historically. By the standard of the day, the military in SST was even somewhat restrained if you thin about the French shelling of Algerians immediately after WWII and other niceties while writing that.

    But if you look at the US CARVER matrix,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CARVER_matrix

    the Israeli Dahiya doctrine,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahiya_doctrine

    the underlieing thinking is not that far off from some actual militaries.

    187:

    A lot of the historical attacks by militaries on civilian populations were due to logistics and finance. The civilians had the food and wealth needed to supply and fund an army on the move so they had to be attacked and looted, or the army would starve and suffer mass desertions or mutiny from an inability to pay the troops.

    Targeted destruction of civilian centres without looting, taking slaves etc.? Hmmm, maybe the Mongols started it but they were mainly after the wealth of the conquered nations and cities themselves plus a subservient population. The slaughters were an example to others, surrender immediately when called upon or die to the last dog in the city when it was taken.

    The idea of smashing a nation into mush, conquering it but not for loot or slaves but for political purposes (do what I tell you or I will kill all of you) is a very new concept, historically speaking.

    188:

    Things today are perhaps slightly better, but not much. Back in the day, I worked with a USAF colonel who had been a tageteer for SAC, and he said that the mantra regarding civilian targets was "neither target nor avoid." I.e., don't nuke cities just because they're cities, but if there's a tank plant there, don't worry about the civilians.

    I read somewhere, it may have been Schlosser's Command and Control that the US ran out of things that they could conceivably target in the USSR but still had nukes to allocate, so they targeted every post office in Greater Moscow.

    Which makes me wonder, how stuff gets taken off targeting lists. I live less than a mile from a former GM truck plant, which I'm sure was targeted for an all-out exchange by the Soviets as they'd rightly consider it capable of being used to produce military vehicles. The plant closed in 1995 and was razed and now (finally after decades of procrastination and site remediation) the site is being used for apartments. But did the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation ever get that memo? And if they did, did the targeting officer decide yes, I should detarget that site, or did he decide hmm, might be a sneaky Yankee ruse, I'll leave it be.

    Mind you, about a mile further down the Hudson is the first crossing of the river north of Manhattan. I'm sure that's still targeted so we'd be toast anyway.

    189:

    Sadly, no centuries old buildings, secret passages, sunken ballrooms and ghosts-that was the old site.

    Ahhhh, Welbeck. Note: Phil isn't joking...

    My own experience of a military boarding school was in Dunblane - from age 9, through to leaving for university at 17. By what I've heard since, it was rather better run than its sister establishment in Dover (no longer a military school, now an Academy).

    Note to other readers: the key difference is that Welbeck (like the Army Foundation College in Harrogate) is designed for those committing to a career in the Armed Forces; QVS and DoYRMS (and King's School in Rinteln) were boarding schools for service children, that happened to be run by MoD rather than the Department for Education.

    In my era from the mid-1970s, we had an assortment of Gentlemen (in the truest sense) as staff. My chemistry and first PE teacher were Bomber Command aircrew; the Chaplain and Modern Studies teachers were ex-RN; my primary teacher was ex-SAS; the Adjutant was a Commando; the school's Commandant had a very crunchy background with the Gurkhas (an MC at Cassino), the Para Brigade, intelligence, and Operation CLARET. They had seen the worst that the world had to offer; and afterwards decided that they would become teachers of children.

    Nevertheless, having been taught by a staff who far exceeded RAH's fictional schoolteacher "Mr. Dubois" in wartime experience, I never encountered any of the "civic virtue" tone described in the book; they encouraged all of us to do as well as we could, but certainly without any push to join up (almost the opposite) - the fact that a lot of us joined the Services was more to do with mild institutionalisation and staying in our comfort zone...

    ;) Regarding fiction, I suspect St.Trinians was closer to my experience than Hogwarts ;)

    190:

    I suspect St.Trinians was closer to my experience than Hogwarts

    You mean the short pleated skirts you had to wear as the school uniform?

    191:

    SFR @ 170
    Several texts have already been written on the subject. ( Including, I think at least one PhD thesis )
    One author I would remmend,who was both a a railway & canal freak was the late L T C Rolt ( "Tom Rolt" ) - almost anything by him is worth a read.
    He also did three authoritative biographies of "Great Enginners": Geo & Robt Spephenson / I K Brunel / T Telford

    Nojay @ 172
    Pentateuch, yes well the religious jsutification for genocide of all males & married women & the organised rape of all remaining females: Numbers 31, v 7 - 18. Yuck.

    192:

    The idea of smashing a nation into mush, conquering it but not for loot or slaves but for political purposes (do what I tell you or I will kill all of you) is a very new concept, historically speaking.
    Oh, really?
    Albigensian Crusade 1209-29
    Siege & massacre at Beziers, 1209
    Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
    Modern idomatic translation: Kill them all, let god sort'em out .....

    Come to that - 3rd Punic war erm ... eradication of Carthage -146 CE

    193:

    The number of nukes on both sides is way down compared to even the 1980s post-SALT and there's a question about the capabilities and reliability of the Russian Federation's launch fleet so targeting has been revamped a lot, on both sides. Crystal Springs Dam in California, for example, probably doesn't have a lot of warheads targetted at it any more...

    Someone both Charlie and I knew from a mailing list That Must Not Be Named was escorting a Russian general on a trip around California a while back and they happened to mention Crystal Springs. The General interrupted.

    "I know Crystal Springs. I know it very well."

    "Ah. So you've visited here before."

    "No, this is my first time in California. My job was selecting
    targets for our missile forces. In the old days."

    "I see."

    "I allocated several warheads to Crystal Springs. More
    than five."

    "That seems like a lot of missiles to attack a reservoir."

    "It's the geography. No, the geology, geology. We hope
    the first warhead will destroy the reservoir, and San Francisco
    will have no water. But the second one, and the third, and
    the fourth, and so on. We could get lucky. The San Andreas
    Fault runs through Crystal Springs."

    "You could trigger an earthquake."

    "Yes, a big one. If we are lucky."

    The General may just have been messing with his guide though.

    The British independent deterrent based on the Trident missiles on our patrol SSBN consists of maybe twenty or so warheads on any given deployment (two per missile but not all 16 launch tubes are filled at any given time). It is believed by some that all twenty warheads are aimed at Moscow, at 200kT yield each that is really bouncing the rubble.

    194:

    You mean the short pleated skirts you had to wear as the school uniform?

    Shhh, don't tell everyone.

    PS around these here parts, they're known as kilts.

    195:

    In your case the high heels, seamed black stockings and suspenders were a personal statement, yes?

    196:

    As it happens, I just reread Friday, with mixed feelings. But I feel that I have to note that Friday itself is "all about a diseased society and an abuse victim," and indeed makes this quite explicit: There is a passage in the middle where Kettle Belly Baldwin assigns Friday to identify the diagnostic signs of a sick culture with obvious application to her own, and Friday and the other APs all show a deep bitterness over what has been done to them. In fact, one of the most disturbing things about the novel was the rules of sexual conduct that Friday was compelled to adopt as part of her upbringing as a legally nonhuman slave—which are remarkably close to the rules that Heinlein presented sympathetically as enlightened in other works at least back to Stranger; I wondered if he was having second thoughts or if he didn't realize what he was suggesting.

    Heinlein published exactly twelve juveniles, from Rocket Ship Galileo to Have Space Suit—Will Travel; the thirteenth, Starship Troopers, was bounced by Scribners, and while Heinlein was angry over the way it was done, I can't help feeling that the decision was justified; it's really hard to see any interesting conflict in ST, such as there is, for example, in Space Cadet, where Matt Dodson considers resigning rather than serving in a peacekeeping force that might nuke Des Moines for the good of humanity. (I don't count Podkayne of Mars, which RAH himself described as a "cadet novel" aimed at a late teens/early twenties audience on what he described as a European model; in any case it wasn't part of his series of boys' books and was the worse for that.) While Rocket Ship Galileo is a bit of a lesser work, I still think the whole body of work is Heinlein at his best.

    What struck me about Spider Robinson's attempt to contribute to it was that the story outline of the manuscript he found very closely fits the story of Time for the Stars, with its juxtaposition of relativity and telepathic communication; it could be turned into the same story simply by making the telepath the central character. I've wondered ever since I read the Robinson version if that's what actually happened, and what Robinson worked with was a previous draft from which RAH salvaged the outline of Time for the Stars. The timing would fit, if you look at when Time for the Stars was published. But it's a bit surprising that an RAH geek like Robinson wouldn't have seen the parallels.

    198:

    Yes I did mean remotely controlled robots. Such as this:

    https://www.army-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/09/1l-image-65.jpg

    and this:

    http://techsob.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Reaper.jpg

    MilSF very rarely has anything like either one. And I guess I have a very low SOD threshold for that.

    One (arguably) MilSF book which did not break my SOD was "A Boy and his Tank" by Leo Frankowski. The eponymous Boy lies in a VR bath with direct neural connections to all his weapons, processing them much faster than "real time". While his Tank mostly operates on its own (Boy only decides "fire/no fire"), he also controls a fleet of about 50 drones, which are as much extensions of his consciousness as are his fingers or toes. In a very real sense, that drone swarm is Boy's spread-out cyborg body, giving him an operational awareness in three dimensions and from multiple perspectives. Moreover, because every private (such as Boy) has the firepower and the information processing capacity of a 20th century armored battalion, there is no need for an extended chain of command -- the army is structured much like a modern "flat organization"; the next rank above Boy is a Colonel.

    Why aren't there more books like that?

    BTW, regarding my comment about "fully sentient robots which are just humans in metal skin" -- the Tank certainly acts like it is sentient, but Frankowski is very coy about whether Tank's AI is self-aware or just a very good imitation. When the Boy asks the Tank directly "Are you conscious?", the Tank says something like "If I were conscious, I would say yes. If I were just programmed to appear conscious, I would still say yes. What do you expect me to say?"

    199:

    Why? Because they suck donkey's balls...

    EC pretty much nails it with his comments - and also his (exhaustive) list of the only decent examples - note that all those examples are all some way outside the main cluster, in different directions: Jennings (kids' books) were written by a headmaster, of an unusually insightful and understanding type (Mr Carter is the Author Expy); Searle - "advanced, forthright, signifficant"; Tom Brown's Schooldays - first of the kind, the one from which everyone else cribbed the idea and usually executed it really horribly; Stalky & Co - execrated at the time by the types of the authors of the horrible executions, mainly for being their diametric opposite. (Its characters, in turn, execrate the type specimen of the horrible executors: Eric, or Little by Little - do not attempt to read this without (a) a sick bucket and (b) clearing the room of pencils, screwdrivers and any other object you may otherwise be tempted to ram up your nostrils and attempt to lobotomise yourself with.)

    If you want to do that kind of school idea, it would be much better to set it in something modelled on Grange Hill, the TV series about a London comprehensive, particularly the early seasons, when a lot of parents wouldn't let their kids watch it in case it was a "bad influence". Stalky & Co got a similar parental reaction when it was published - but in both cases the kids themselves loved it. And the comprehensive is far more closely related to the readership's own experience these days.

    200:

    It may interest you to know that I sometimes call Land Rovers (real ones) "bottle openers" - the reason being that the roof gutter is exactly the right shape and size for getting the caps off beer bottles, as a bunch of us were delighted to discover one night when our plans to carry on drinking while walking 3 miles home from the pub were frustrated by the lack of any more conventional tool.

    201:

    MilSF very rarely has anything like either one.

    Well, the EOD "wheelbarrow" is hardly widespread (you can probably count the number in a Brigade area on the fingers of one hand) and an armed UAV is a fairly constant theme in most of the MilSF I've seen, from Niven onwards.

    Moreover, because every private (such as Boy) has the firepower and the information processing capacity of a 20th century armored battalion, there is no need for an extended chain of command... Why aren't there more books like that?

    Because you've just described a superhero novel, and you'll really have to suspend disbelief.

    Tactics and equipment aren't what drive an army. Logistics and people do. You can have all the current awareness you want, but a lot of the "intelligence" stuff is an analysis of what the enemy might do, what they're trying to make you think they're doing, and what they're really doing - not just what they're doing right now based on a single set of sensors. That's not easily programmed (unless it's coded in Handwavium++)

    Claiming something has "the firepower of a 20thC armoured battalion" is hyperbole - can it cover a frontage of several kilometers of undulating ground, where much of it is out of line of sight? Camouflage itself while still observing? Control its drones without giving away its position through RF emissions? Check what's going on in that forest just over there? Can it check what's inside a house, an apartment block, a factory?

    Does it have the mobility resources to bridge gaps (say, a ten-meter steep-sided river)? An armoured battlegroup has sappers. Can its drones check whether the ground, or a particular bridge will support it? What about countermobility - knocking down trees, digging ditches, preparing roads and bridges for demolition?

    Consider maintenance. How is any battle damage to the drones, repaired? What happens if the tank throws a track - is Boy going to be able to break track and sort it out, all on his own?

    Consider replenishment - "firepower" is nothing without reloads. Artillery ammunition comes in a 50kg (ish) for each 155mm shell; rocket artillery weighs even more. Want a battery fire mission of five rounds per gun? That's a ton and a half of ammunition for a minute or two of firing, thanks. That tank may have 50 drones, but does it have 50 trucks ferrying ammunition forward from a base area? How does it keep its main supply route open, repair any damage to it, protect it against sabotage? Who loads, protects, unloads its ammunition trucks? Who directs any refugees or civilian traffic, treats any wounded in the absence of a central authority, attempts to recreate some form of civil authority?

    Tanks (or Mobile Infantry, for that matter) are only part of it all...

    202:

    That's the same argument that Gavin Maxwell used in relation to his partiality to young boys: whether it was damaging to them or not was a function of how the culture they were a part of regarded it. He never went anywhere near any of the young lads he took on as domestic staff and otter-keepers in Scotland, but part of the reason for his trips to the Middle East was to be able to indulge himself without causing harm among cultures where it was commonplace.

    (Horrible feeling of playing "taboo bingo" with that post.)

    203:

    The new Varley eight worlds novel arrived this evening at my house
    Any early reviews, I have a big to read pile and would love to prioritize
    Thanks

    204:

    Actually, most of your points about logistics are addressed in that particular novel. So is your point about camouflage/terrain -- at one point Boy (and Tank) totally walk into trap, and are saved by pure luck.

    205:

    Speaking as "one of the kids these days" (who lives in a rural area to boot), I can confirm the statement that very few kids are running around with knives. In elementary school, the teachers and EA`s would have spewed pea soup and crawled on the ceiling (and that`s only MILD hyperbole, given they banned spinning around in a circle on us in Grade 6) if they caught us with knives. In high school, it was considerably relaxed thanks to shop classes. Any enforcement went out the window, but to the best of my knowledge no one carried knives except the shop kids, the drug dealers, and the creepy violent ones. (There was one who kept pulling a knife on kids- no punishment. Not sure he was even reported to admin, though given I reported kids for making jokes about the Holocaust several times with no punishment I seriously doubt anything would have happened.)

    207:

    Whitroth @ 132: He Also built a house in the mountains, then Ginny, I think, couldn't live at that altitude, so they redid it down below, then he lost her. Huh? Ginny outlived him by 15 years.

    Heteromeles @ 169: One thing Heinlein failed at: The Church of All Worlds is a lot smaller than the Church of Scientology. Not sure what that says about either author, really, but there you have it. Not a failure. Hubbard was a conscious fraud; Heinlein described something for plot purposes, without intending it to become a Thing.

    208:

    The real, missing demographic are the ordinary property owners, who *really* just want things to keep on going as they are.

    Yep. I read your comments about interacting with the various local councils where you live with interest. Now that I'm doing more of it in my city the biggest feeling seems to be:

    "I bought my house/condo/land/whatever and it is the duty of elected officials to keep the surrounding things they way they are forever. Or until I die."

    "Oh, yes I do know that I didn't buy those other things but what is your point?"

    209:

    As for putting my SAK into checked baggage, similar here, IIRC my brother lost his Victorinox at Rome Fiumencino in the early Zeroes. I don't want to follow his lead.

    FYI/PSA

    At many airports, at least in the US, there is a small kiosk where you can mail your "oops" to yourself. Not cheap but maybe better than tossing something in the trash.

    Last time I got held up my son (late 20s) had lent me his SLR camera and my carry on got pulled for manual inspection. As the guy was poking around I asked what he was looking for. He said a corkscrew looking thing. After a moment I suggested the camera bag. And there it was. My son still can't explain why he needed a wine corkscrew with his camera.

    210:

    I think what most angers me about the film

    Am I the only one who doesn't think of the movie as an expensive comic book?

    211:

    Pearl Harbour; the entire might of the IJN goes to war with the USA - and causes only 49 civilian deaths.

    Pearl Harbor and the other bases were very much separated from the civilian areas of the island. In most cases by tall hills and/or small mountains in addition to actual distance.

    212:

    Great Ghu! You didn't think I was serious, did you?

    213:

    # 193-4
    School Skirts ....
    Yes y'all know about the recent heatwave, where some boys wanted to go back to shorts - but the scholl said "NO" but, probably jokingly said ..."but you can wear skirts"
    Which backfired spectacularly, because, of course, they did.
    Also ... "St Trinians" - I think it was the last film ( "The great St Trinians Train Robbery" - largely filmed at the Longmoor military railway, now closed ) where the slant was more modern & the Vth & Vith formers were definitely portrayed as dangerously sexual & they were also opening a betting-shop to fleece the village locals ...
    Oh dearie dearie me A wonderful period piece!

    214:

    AI in MilSF?
    The various "Bolo" stories by Keith Laumer ... ?

    Rex Gulch @ 202 - "Irontown Blues" ??
    Didn't know about that - will have to get it.

    215:

    Happened round here a few years ago. Uniform rules banned shorts but one of the affected pupils spotted the school rules for uniform didn't include gender based language.

    216:

    Yep, when I looked round whilst applying it was on the old Abbey site-it really was every school from every boarding novel ever written. Then spent the first year in said cardboard campus hearing all manner of tales from our seniors. They had loads of photos of the place, particularly the bits they weren't meant to go.
    My favourite being the Narnia cupboard. One dorm had a mysterious locked door, which no one had ever got through. My seniors, realising they'd be the last to ever get through, thought laterally. Next to the door was a wardrobe, and the wall was stud/plaster. Back out the wardrobe, smash a hole through, and they were in. They found a box of soap, and a cutaway poster of an SLR rifle-someone had a photo of a lad holding that, they gave it him for generally being sound.
    Eventually, someone heard that a housemaster had been getting wind of the vandalised cupboard and wall. Cue a load of teenagers on bicycles wobbling home from the local DIY store, carrying an enormous lump of plasterboard and some paint.

    217:

    Also the"skinnys" are notably humanoid and human like - yet are allies of the "bugs" the seemingly alien (like ALIEN alien) beings mankind cannot communicate with. So think about that

    Also the Raid to capture an interrogate a bug mind the mind DIES during the interrogation - we have a word for that kind of interrogation.

    then there is the brutality of the military discipline - and civilian code of law, and the fact we know the society was taken over by military veterans in a coup.

    218:
    There is a small kiosk where you can mail your "oops" to yourself.

    IIRC sadly not in this case, and I haven't seen anything like that in Germany, Italy or France till now, though I'll keep looking. I have been thinking about mailing stuff instead of taking it by plane myself sometimes for weight reasons actually...

    Apparently they store the stuff somewhere, but we never got it back, might be them being sloppy, might be my family being somewhat on the dizzy side when not workaholic, whatever.

    Also, we were already late for the plane at this point, and my brother preparing to sprint to the queue while the guy with the gun shows up makes for strange memories. Sometimes I really wonder why I'm the only one with a MPh prescription in this family...

    A few years ago we had a problem with a cheap Chinese bolt cutter (still working, BTW) I needed to remove some makeshift installations on the last day, I thought it was in checked baggage, apparently not. Checking our baggage for explosives was fun, I remember my mother using some NO donors as antihypertensives at the time, luckily nothing showed up, and we could pass with the cutter.

    This year, I had a a glass with about 100ml of sea water to conservate some things I found while snorkeling. I was prepared to remove the water, but apparently I didn't show up on the x-ray...


    219:

    I read somewhere, it may have been Schlosser's Command and Control that the US ran out of things that they could conceivably target in the USSR but still had nukes to allocate, so they targeted every post office in Greater Moscow.

    The same colonel mentioned above said that at the time (mid-1970s, I think) they had 70-some DGZs(*) in the Moscow area. Several were important enough to merit targeting with multiple weapons and a few were hard enough to rate W/B53s fused for surface burst.

    (*) Designated Ground Zero, aka aim point.

    220:

    Hm, my memory was this story being the origin of the term "waldo" for remote manipulators. Reading the summary on wiki, I see your point.

    Though going by the same summary, let's go with the story of Waldo using a human sized waldo to build a smaller waldo to build a smaller waldo, till he has a waldo capable of working on microscopic scales[1].

    We could easily write a similar story about somebody sing a 3D printer to create a smaller 3D printer to e.g. print organs in the end. Problem is, it's happening even today, so there is a good change of this story becoming obsolete really fast. In Heinlein's time, cutting edge tech trickled down much slower.

    [1] We'll not talk about the fun physical phenomena, e.g. friction, scaling up differently would have in this scenario.

    221:

    Which makes me wonder, how stuff gets taken off targeting lists.

    In the US, the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff in Omaha, supported by DIA, has a continuous process of matching new and existing target requirements against available weapons. I'd suppose Russia has something similar because they also have resource limitations.

    On JSTPS, see http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a195083.pdf

    222:

    The idea of smashing a nation into mush, conquering it but not for loot or slaves but for political purposes (do what I tell you or I will kill all of you) is a very new concept, historically speaking.

    Check out Numbers 31, Deuteronomy 2:24-35, Deuteronomy 3:1-7, Joshua 6:20-21 etc. Whether the events described actually happened or not, the notion of military annihilation of cities and nations seems to have been part of the culture 3,000 years ago.

    223:

    Nojay opined: "The idea of smashing a nation into mush, conquering it but not for loot or slaves but for political purposes (do what I tell you or I will kill all of you) is a very new concept, historically speaking."

    No, sadly it's older than the hills. Only 3 terse examples: Old Testament invasions of what is now the holy land? "Carthago delenda est"? European invasion of North and South America and subsequent efforts to completely eradicate indigenous peoples?

    To the sociopathic mind, of which there have always been a great many in politics, it's a tossup between whether it's better to defeat and enslave/subjugate a rival civilization or to eradicate them entirely and move your buddies in so they can frolic amidst the ruins. Historical examples of both solutions abound.

    Martin reminds us of the importance of logistics. Yes, very. One of the serious problems with early tank warfare (e.g., WWII) was the risk of outrunning your fuel supply and being stranded, but that's only a modern example of an ancient problem. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the key reasons for NATO's choice of 9 mm ammunition based on a tradeoff between how many bullets a soldier can carry (lighter and smaller = more) and bullets heavy enough to hit sufficiently hard?

    Martin also pointed out the problem of a single highly advanced vehicle controlling a large area of the front. Apart from being a single source of failure, logistics (resupply) is a significant issue. Keith Laumer handwaved this a bit in his "Bolo" series of stories, in which a single dreadnaught could accomplish this. I recall really enjoying the stories, but being a bit dubious about the infinite supply of ammunition.

    Veering to a different topic that's been raised, namely airport security theater, Allen Steele has a wonderful story about the year he won the Hugo award. He's a great storyteller, so it's well worth buying him a beer and asking him to tell it. Short version, paraphrased from memory: The convention organizers, being wise folk, realized that nobody who won would voluntarily be separated from their trophy; the phrase "pry it from my cold, dead hands" comes to mind. So they notified security staff at all the local airports that one or more crazed authors would wander by bearing their trophy, in the hope this warning would avert panic. Fast forward to Allen's departure date, and he passes his Hugo-containing bag through the scanner -- and the one person in the whole security force who hadn't gotten the memo sees what is clearly an RPG being carried on board, and hits the panic button. When the dust settles, things are explained, there is much amusement, and the trophy is passed around and admired -- and then Allen walks through the scanner, having completely forgotten the Swiss Army Knife in his pocket. *G*

    224:

    ...my carry on got pulled for manual inspection...

    I used to compete in smallbore target rifle, and so I got quite familiar with taking firearms on an airliner (as hold baggage, obviously; only on aircraft where the hold is inaccessible from the passenger compartment; and with less than 1.5kg of ammunition, in a sealed metal container, in a different bag to the rifle). Remember to stick the Leatherman in the rifle case, and you can't go wrong.

    There were some experiences worth mention (or not, feel free to ignore)...

    Flying back to Edinburgh from Heathrow with a teammate; we'd arrived at check-in together, and they put both rifles' tags on my ticket. We got as far as sitting in our seats on the aircraft, when my name got called to identify myself; I then had to run all the way back from the gate, to baggage X-ray, because they wanted to check inside her rifle case. They X-ray all gun cases to check for ammunition, and her rifle triggered their interest - fortunately she hadn't locked it, and there wasn't any ammunition inside. Then the embarrassment of running back onto a plane, as the obvious cause of a quarter of an hour delay, and having to face the entire passenger compartment as I walked back down the aisle :(

    Having the spotting scope in my hand luggage wiped and sniffed for explosive residue. And explaining in advance that the scope had just spent the previous two weeks (not to mention a few years before that) sitting on a sheltered firing point, six inches from the breech of my rifle, and that it might well show traces of unburnt powder from the thousands of rounds of ammunition that I'd fired... (the sensor didn't even blink, thankfully)

    Being asked to take the rifle out of its case while still standing in the check-in line at Munich Airport, by two curious BundesGrenschutz blokes on an armed patrol - it turned out they just wanted to peek at some of the fancy kit that was obviously travelling around. The other passengers were either uninterested (Germans) or slightly shocked, but refusing to admit it (Brits)...

    225:

    The tragedy is that most 'western' countries learnt that it was a catastrophic strategy following the disaster of WWII, but the lesson has gradually been lost on us. That also applies to the social and political compact between 'left' and 'right' in the UK.

    In both cases, in the UK, it is not the simplistic issue that most modern lefties think - Old Labour (and bloody Whitehall) prepared the ground and sowed the seed for both the shameless exploitation of 'developing' countries and the Thatcherite destruction, in almost all respects. The effect on our collaboration in the destruction of such much of the 'Arab' world is less direct, but I believe that it is also a consequence.

    226:

    The new Varley eight worlds novel arrived this evening at my house
    Any early reviews, I have a big to read pile and would love to prioritize

    Alas!

    My (our) editor sent me an early copy, and I have to say, I put it down nearly halfway through and thought, "is it him or is it me?"

    (I think it's him, but I could be wrong.)

    "Irontown Blues" is, moreover, the really overdue book that I wanted to read so badly that I rolled my own not-an-Eight-Worlds novel ("Glasshouse"); I ought to love it. But I don't. The weird narrative viewpoint(s) are part of that (one of the narrators is a translation of the interior monologue of an uplifted IQ-50 cyborg dog: the other is the dog's PTSD-afflicted human). But something about the ... tone? Feel? ... of what he's done with the setting was off-putting. The intervening decades have not been kind to his world-building chops and what was shiny and startlingly innovative in the mid-1970s now feels tarnished and stale to me.

    227:

    No, sadly it's older than the hills. Only 3 terse examples: Old Testament invasions of what is now the holy land? "Carthago delenda est"? European invasion of North and South America and subsequent efforts to completely eradicate indigenous peoples?

    "Carthago Delenda Est" was an outlier, as I mentioned before. The invasions of North and South America were looting sprees (silver, spices, gold, slaves etc.) followed by taking the land and staying there, as were most of the Old Testament invasions, massacres and genocides -- the Israelites were taken as slaves by the Egyptians, the Jewish peoples killed nearly everyone, raped the younger female survivors and took the land and stayed there. Ditto for Europeans in Africa and India, the Mongol incursions into Siberia and eastern Europe, the Crusades (to a lesser extent, perhaps) and so on.

    The odd sort of wars more recently are where, say, the Allies smashed their way into Germany and bombed Japan into rubble during WWII but didn't take slaves, rob the civilians of their food supplies and portable wealth and generally act like Old Testament warriors or the Conquistadores or the American Manifest Destiny types who did in fact make efforts to completely eradicate the indigenous peoples rather than enslaving them or using them as cheap labour. Instead once the defeated nations of Germany and Japan said they would do as they're told by the winners that was it. Odd.

    228:
    To the sociopathic mind, of which there have always been a great many in politics, it's a tossup between whether it's better to defeat and enslave/subjugate a rival civilization or to eradicate them entirely and move your buddies in so they can frolic amidst the ruins.

    That would be a war of extermination, where historically the usual scenario was only explicitly killing the male part of the population and enslaving (and raping) the female part.

    What we're talking about in relation to Heinlein is more akin to the state terrorism used e.g. by the Assyrians:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_the_Neo-Assyrian_Empire#Dealing_with_rebels

    The chronology of the events putativly described in the Pentateuch overlaps with the Late Bronze Age collapse, there was no large migration from Egypt at the time, and actually Palestine was subject to Egyptian rule at the time. There is a hypothesis of Deut. et al. describing a revolt of marginalised farmers and pastoralists, if so, you just have to look at things like the massacre of Hue and the niceties of the Khmer Rouge to realize things get ugly fast in a, err, revolutionary war.

    Also note the earliest forms of the Pentateuch were likely actually written[1] at the time of the Neo-Assyrians, so they might be influenced by Assyrian tactics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herem_(war_or_property)

    And this tactics also took their toll on the Assyrians:
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-assyrian-soldiers-were-haunted-war-too-180954022/

    Also note using generous term when people surrendered quickly and massacring them if they put up a long struggle even if clearly defeated was quite common e.g. in siege warfare. Mongol warfare is similar in this regard, though problem might be propaganda, the survivors talk about "they torture and massacre you to" and forgot about the "except if you surrender".

    [1] Though some of the texts are possibly notably older, e.g. the Song of the Sea. Not that the actual events might bear close resemblance to what's written down. For a somewhat better documented example example in an Indian context, see the Battle of the Ten Kings, which is more like Afghan tribal warfare. But it eerily maps to the Mahabharata...

    229:

    Since we're drawing from Heinlein, it would naturally be a military school.

    See my @188... There's only really one of those in the UK, and while the MoD run it, it's not really "military" (in the USA trope sense of an obsession with shouting, saluting, smart uniforms, badges, and ranks). Ours was just a school with an unusual set of uniforms, a ceremonial aspect that required an understanding of foot drill, and a bunch of kids who (as the children of NCOs) lacked any form of idealistic fervour, and truly understood how to skive with style.

    If you want the British boarding school trope, you'd be more likely to get your Heinleinian Intense Belief setup from a religious establishment. You know, where the teachers are nuns or monks. Unfortunately, monks, priests, and nuns are currently in the news for mistreating their students, and it might distract from the aim of the story.

    Or you could set it at something like RMA Sandhurst, once described as a minor public school where the Cadet Force has got seriously out of hand ;)

    PS I noticed that RAH described the military-coup-by-veterans as starting in Aberdeen (in Scotland). It's not exactly a Garrison town...

    230:

    NATO's choice of 9 mm ammunition based on a tradeoff between how many bullets a soldier can carry (lighter and smaller = more) and bullets heavy enough to hit sufficiently hard?

    5.56 mm ammo, but yes.

    231:

    On Starship Troopers:

    It's a long time since I last re-read it and my memory is hazy (and I have no inclination to re-read it again) but I seem to recall a scene later on when Johnny Rico is on leave on a planet with a low level of background radiation, and there's some musing/speculation about evolution lagging if humans live there too long, and how humanity would then lose the race for cosmic survival with the other aggressive alien species they're fighting, oh noes.

    And if you read it at the right angle and squint, it looks startlingly like the kind of shit the authors of Generalplan Ost would have told themselves to justify it, only with Bugs and Skinnies rather than Jews and Slavs.

    There's a really nasty genocidal streak just below the surface in "Starship Troopers", and as Martin notes, it shows up in the very opening chapter if you look at what our hero protagonist does.

    232:

    There's a military centre in the US in a place called Aberdeen -- the phrase "Aberdeen Proving Ground" springs immediately to mind. Google Google...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberdeen_Proving_Ground

    Big military testing area in Maryland, likely to employ a lot of vets and ex-service people in the locale.

    233:

    Did you or anyone you know in competitive shooting ever have to travel through Northern Irish airport security prior to, say, the mid-90's?

    I have plenty of experience of the simultaneously very experienced (through painful lessons) and extremely paranoid (army checkpoint a mile from the airport on the only approach road, *everyone* searched/all baggage x-rayed on entering the building) NI airport security of that era, and would genuinely like to know if it was even possible to travel with such luggage?

    (Although, I did once manage to accidentally smuggle a pocket of illegal fireworks into the airport around 1989 ...)

    234:

    I've noticed that if a book is difficult and I'm really tired or recovering from being tired, that the book becomes too much effort very, very quickly. Since you're still coping with at least one crisis, and probably close to fitting the medical description of exhaustion, I'd suggest that you put it away and build up your mental resources for a six months or so, then try it again.

    I bounced hard off an N.K. Jemisen book that way once, and that particular stream of human consciousness was much simpler than trying to understand the interior monologue/sensorium of a cyborg dog, alternating with a human with PTSD.

    235:

    Re: 'No, sadly it's older than the hills ...'

    Yes - but non-combatant deaths are climbing and greatly outnumber combatant deaths. And thanks to all-eyes-on-BrExit, this fact is being conveniently pushed aside from public view and discussion, therefore likely to continue to rise. Probably the same thing is happening in the US where all eyes there are on OO-OO and folk are ignoring weapons sales data. (Compare that to Canada which got flack when Trudeau cancelled delivery of military helicopter$$ after Duterte publicly stated these helicopters were specifically going to be used to wipe out drug dealers and various anti-gov't folk.)

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/08/civilian-deaths-from-airstrikes-almost-double-year

    Crazy numbers': civilian deaths from airstrikes almost double in a year'

    'British involvement under scrutiny after study identifies 42% rise in number of civilians killed by explosives'


    https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2017/11/29/america-sold-nearly-42b-in-weapons-to-foreign-countries-in-2017/

    'America sold nearly $42B in weapons to foreign countries in 2017'

    'U.S. defense companies sold $41.93 billion worth of weapons to foreign partners and allies in fiscal 2017, an almost 20 percent increase over 2016 figures.

    Of that total, $32.02 billion came through Foreign Military Sales, $6.04 billion was through Foreign Military Financing and $3.87 billion in cases funded through other Defense Department authorities, according to a Wednesday announcement from the State Department.

    Regionally, sales made through FMS and FMF totaled roughly $22 billion for Central Asia/Near East; $7.96 billion to the Indo-Pacific; $7.3 billion to Europe; $641.6 million to the Western Hemisphere; and $248.6 million to Africa.

    This number represents actual sales agreed to with customers, as opposed to notifications to Congress by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which also set a record in FY17.'


    Back to SF/Heinlein ...

    Kinda odd, but the movie 'Patton' keeps coming to mind when I think of some RAH stories which brings up this observation/complaint. In the movie, Patton states that he had read/studied Rommel's strategies before facing him in the desert. Don't recall whether any species (in RAH or Scalzi's stories) bothered to first study the other species' strategies and tactics before going to war with them. Seems pretty stupid/arrogant not to unless their idea of warfare was to completely obliterate the enemy with no plans to salvage anything on that planet's surface.

    The underlying thinking seems to be: 'Well, the universe is vast, so complete destruction of a planet/sentient species is no biggee.' However, that's the same type of thinking that's created large environmental messes in various parts of our world. The universe may in fact be vast, but does this necessarily mean that any part of it can be destroyed without any consequence.


    236:

    GH @ 221
    but being a bit dubious about the infinite supply of ammunition.
    Yeah, during the Normandy landings in 1944, HMS Warspite ran herswlf out of 15-inch ammo TWICE in shelling strongpoints etc ( Somewhere there's an account of a VERY unhappy Nazi troop-&-lorry concentration, several miles inland being on the reciving end of presents from said ship )

    Nojay @ 226
    Actually, excepting the 30 years war almost all "European" wars since then have been fought according to "rules" which include the no-rape-&-pillage rule. There are military reasons for this, of course, as well ass "civilised" ( enlightenment ) ones.

    237:

    "I wonder if there's an essay on why discovering a writer of a certain age is setting out to write a Heinlein-style book fills me with dread."

    I sorta feel like I should respond to this. My own reaction to a book with "Writes like a young Robert Heinlein" or something similar on the cover is simply to ignore it as marketing hype... I'll read a few pages of the book, see if I like it, consider the sub-genre and whether I want to read it... the Heinlein reference on the cover means nothing more to me than a blurb reading "I really enjoyed this book."

    238:

    "Ours was just a school with an unusual set of uniforms, etc. ..."

    Unless the prep/public school system improved out of all recognition between the 1960s and 1970s, no, it wasn't. It was a very good one (and I am not talking about its academic aspect), and exceptionally good compared with the schools of the eras in which the school story trope was common. I went to three, from the ages of 7 to 18, and my relatives and close friends went to another dozen or more. But let that aspect pass.

    My point is that the school story trope was UNBELIEVABLY bad literature. It almost always carried a 'message' and sometimes was flagrant polemic - usually 'improving', meaning reinforcing the prejudices of the upper-middle and upper classes of the day, but also for the benefits of the class system, that of the prep/public school system etc. And they were almost all appallingly written, too. What a lot of people miss is that the unspeakably bad "Eric" wasn't exceptionally bad - it was far more typical than is commonly realised. I have read very few girls' school stories, but the ones I have read were no better.

    Milton succeeded in writing polemic that was also good fiction (fantasy, too, no less), but how many lesser lights have?

    239:

    Yeah, for me the most significant part of a cover blurb is the bit that says {$person|$publication|$website} rather than the blurb itself.

    This is not always a Good Thing because I know that some entities' tastes are almost polar opposites to my own.

    I do write reviews (under my IRL name) on Large River, and you'll normally find me talking about (lack of) characterisation, whether the author shows me stuff or just tells me about it...

    240:
    I read once that Heinlein considered all voluntary body modifications (e.g. cyborg) and genetic engineering of humans absolutely immoral, and moreover, so obviously immoral that he never bothered defending that position -- he just took it for granted. Was this actually true, and if so, why?

    Beyond This Horizon predated the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment by a couple of years, but anticipated that something like "genetic engineering" would be possible and would be applied by humans to themselves.

    The whole Lazarus Long saga from Methusalah's Children on deals with a giant selective breeding experiment on humans.

    I didn't detect any moral judgement on the topic of intentional modification of human genetic diversity in any of his writing. Beyond This Horizon does assume that people would be smart enough to keep a reservoir of wild-type humans in case the whole engineered-superman thing doesn't work out, but that was in his younger, more optimistic period.

    As for implants... I don't know how much a thing that concept was when Heinlein was active. People who don't remember a time before the early '70s maybe don't have a real appreciation of how big and clunky electronic devices used to be. Up into the '60s, it was almost universally assumed that every scientist or engineer would be using a slide rule basically into the forever future. There probably were some stories featuring artificial hearts, but putting devices into people's bodies to augment them feels like an 80s-and-later notion to me. The Caiden novel Cyborg (which gave rise to the Six Million Dollar Man on TV) basically introduced that word into English in 1972. And now that I think of it, an earlier story than that featuring a electromechanically-augmented person was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Though again, as with Baslim's camera eye, Manny's interchangeable arms were prostheses adopted after an injury, not modifications for their own sake.

    241:

    IIRC he talked about population pressure driving space exploration in the same chapter as the one about the non-mutagenic planet[1]. Let's just say IMHO reading too much Malthus makes for a similar effect Chesterton noticed concerning eugenicists, "they have discovered how to combine the hardening of the heart with a sympathetic softening of the head."

    What irritated me somewhat more was Rico talking about bein able to settle moral questions arithmetically or with a proof[2]. Though there is talk about the subjectivity of values, even "market value"; marginal revolution, anyone?

    [1] In practice, the planet has plenty of molecular free oxygen, so oxidative damage alone would make for plenty of mutations. We might also talk about mutator genes. And the idea of evolution driven by mutations being somewhat problematic:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutationism

    but see

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutationism

    [2] Actually, arithmetics is for engineers, and actual proofs are quite different.

    242:
    I don't object to being corrected when I get it wrong, which I do often enough to benefit greatly from such corrections. I do object to people critiquing what they *think* I said without actually paying attention to what I said.

    Dude. What you said was

    There is also a natural progression for (most?) people: When we're old enough to start developing agency, we start chafing against the constraints our culture imposes on us, and therefore tend to fall on the liberal* end of the spectrum. But as we get older, we start to recognize the reasons for and sometimes the merits of those constraints. We therefore slide towards the conservative end of the spectrum. Please note that this is a gross oversimplification** and YMMV, but it seems broadly accurate in my experience. So some of this evolution may have just been natural aging.

    Elderly Cynic was not alone in reading that as a snotty remark by a conservative who is smugly convinced that his is the only attitude appropriate to a grown up person. Your penultimate sentence does not mitigate the insult of "... as we get older, we start to recognize... We therefore slide towards the conservative end of the spectrum." And it is an insult, make no mistake.

    243:

    Oh, we never not gonna go phone
    'Cause mother isn't home

    We could still have the Marines to defend us! Except if they were taxed to support great-auntie, perhaps. The Solomons Campaign was abandoned as make-believe, why write equiv-tec fantasies about it? When Rock'n'Roll resorted to the helicopter what happened to the car?

    There was a sense of incredulity in the First World War that they had volunteers from the slums, however it didn't allow the first staff officer to jump over the uncanny valley. To limit their emotional responses they are given only four years to live, I am not a man at all 'Dying for the right cause is the most human thing you can do.' Communism experimented with the notion that you should die for communist society. Originally only landowners were allowed to defend themselves, there was no military route to society, unless you wanted to win fame as a mercenary.

    If you just want videos of you and your fit last day of school buddies fighting the ants and skinnies the military is best though. It is difficult to filter out fat people using only money.

    244:

    Actually, excepting the 30 years war almost all "European" wars since then have been fought according to "rules" which include the no-rape-&-pillage rule.

    Errrr.... no. Certainly not if you assume that the vast majority of "European Warfare" (in terms of soldiers involved, battles, and deaths) happened 1941-45, in the landscape between Berlin and Moscow. To reiterate a point made in the Sitrep thread, the sheer scale of the horror endured by the USSR dwarfs pretty much everything else before or since. The Great Patriotic War was an existential struggle, mostly fought without quarter. Take a peek at the survival rates of German PoW, and how long it took the last ones to return home.

    Are you suggesting that the same German troops who were rounding up civilians in order to murder them, or enslaving locals to work on German-owned farms, made the effort not to steal their valuables? Or later on; you might want to consider what happened to German women between the Red Army crossing into Germany, and for a few weeks after VE-Day.

    Since then, consider the Balkan Wars of the 1990s - again, "European". Again, no quarter (think of Omarska, Anhici, Srebrenica)...

    245:

    Actually, excepting the 30 years war almost all "European" wars since then have been fought according to "rules" which include the no-rape-&-pillage rule. There are military reasons for this, of course, as well ass "civilised" ( enlightenment ) ones.

    Wow. That's not even remotely true. Martin has already pointed out the issue with WWII, so I'll just note that the French Army of the Napoleonic Era pillaged its way across Europe with that pillage being a designed part of its logistics chain.

    246:

    Elderly Cynic was not alone in reading that as a snotty remark by a conservative who is smugly convinced that his is the only attitude appropriate to a grown up person.

    ...while you view it as an insult, I'd suggest two things:

    1) Geoff was careful to qualify his statement at nearly every stage, probably mindful of giving insult to the woke: "(most?)", "tend to", "this is a gross oversimplification", "YMMV", "seems broadly accurate". IMHO, these don't come across as "smugly convinced", and more than counterbalance his comment of "natural progression".

    2) It's not a unique observation. I've noticed (across a hopefully broad set of friends over the years) something similar - that many of the louder "social rebels" swung further right than their contemporaries. I can see a couple of failure modes with this line of reasoning (i.e. their transition is more observable, just because they were more noticeable and vocal in their non-conservative youth).

    3) Have you considered that your social circle, in which you observe little of any such behaviour, might not be representative? i.e. that you're operating in a mature, sensible, social bubble; while Geoff is operating in a more conservative bubble?

    I hope that these comments, in contrast, aren't a source of offence to you personally...

    247:

    The intervening decades have not been kind to his (Varley's) world-building chops and what was shiny and startlingly innovative in the mid-1970s now feels tarnished and stale to me.

    Would it have felt shiny and innovative in the 1970s? Wondering if his writing has changed, or if it's the world changing while he has stayed mostly the same?

    248:

    Oh, Ghu (purple be His Name), RAH and JKR on a hot date, with tentacles? Even elevenicles? PLEASE! I want to read that....

    249:

    You realize what this means, right? Y'all know I'm trying to get published....

    A tall, slim man, with a pencil-thin mustache, walks into a bar. Over in a boot, he sees a well-dressed blond, with a e-cig in a long holder. He walks over to her, and asks, "It was you who sent for me?"

    250:

    Not in *my* checked baggage (and I've only been forced to check my bag three times in the last 18 years). The first time I flew after 9/11, I put it in my bag and checked it. On the flight home, I found stolen out of my bag an unopened bottle of rum, that was to be a present... and my Wenger that I bought in 1979. I was *truly* pissed. The airline paid for a replacement.

    I can't get that model again - they don't make it - so I'm not taking chances.

    251:

    I gave up on the MarySueVerse, er, Honorverse, after about the sixth book or so. It had become Mary Sue, and I was really annoyed at him making Rboespierre a completely cardboard villain, and one drawn with crayons by a 6 yr old.

    But the missiles, come *on*, it's Honor Hornblower vs. the French, and if you had better control, you couldn't have broadsides against the enemy.

    252:

    Sorry, you don't know what you're talking about. As I said, as the last comment, at the panel at Worldcon about sf and unions, it's clear that trade unions *failed*, because they could be played against each other and broken. The Wobblies are an *industrial* union, and that's what we need, such that *everyone* should join at a site... meaning contractors and subcontractors, as well. Which, of course, would destroy one of the main reasons for outsourcing (the ability to prevent unions from forming).

    With an industrial union, if you go on strike, the whole site strikes, from the secretaries to the sysadmins.

    253:

    You have to ask? You have to ask question 2?

    I think I can I think I canIthinkIcan.....

    254:

    Ah - if you hadn't brought up the Bolos, I was going to.

    Ever play Steve Jackson Games' OGRE?

    255:

    Sorry, that should have been "over in a booth"

    256:

    This is getting bad...

    "A small tentacle came out of her drink."

    257:

    But the missiles, come *on*, it's Honor Hornblower vs. the French...

    If you want ships of wood and crews of iron, you could do far worse than J.A. Sutherland's "Alexis Carew" series... with added references to Dunkirk, and the spirit of HMS Glowworm, HMS Jervis Bay, and HMS Rawalpindi...

    Out of curiosity, how was the recent film "Dunkirk" received in the USA? Or did it sink without trace?

    258:

    Trottelreiner @ 176:

    The first rule to appreciate the movie is to forget about comparing it to the book.

    Fine. The movie still SUCKS! Any way you look at it, it's a travesty and an abomination. It's not even good satire.

    Whether you liked the book or not, the movie was and is a piece of shit! Showgirls was a better movie.

    259:

    The movie still SUCKS!

    What, even with the chance to see the Kurgan channeling R. Lee Ermey?

    Showgirls was a better movie.

    Ooooh, that's harsh

    :)

    260:

    That would be Horatio Hornblower, if you please, and I rather liked that CS Forster series.

    But yes, the people who introduced me to the Honorverse were quite cheerful about it being a genderswapped Horatio Hornblower in space, with the technology being set up specifically for ships of the 3-D line (a wall), broadsides against the enemy, and a good monarchy versus an evil something-or-other.

    These were the same people who thought EE Smith's Lensmen was engineer wish-fulfillment fantasy (as in stuff actually worked the first time, and you could turn a solar system into a vacuum tube with the star as the cathode and the enemy fleet as the anode) and enjoyed it as a break from their real engineering jobs (where Murphy's Law ruled).

    I actually enjoyed the Honorverse series as brain candy until my father died while reading one of the books. After that, I couldn't stand to read them any more. Life happens.

    261:

    I think Heinlein was a visionary author who never entirely broke free of his conservative Missouri upbringing. Hence, for instance, If This Goes On…, which accurately predicted the rise of the religious right. He also had some mild sexual kinks, fairly visible in Tramp Royale, which showed through in his writing. He apparently very much regretted not fathering children.

    I rank as an expression of his vision that Stranger in a Strange Land became a bible of the sexual revolution, and that its flaws have turned out to be the flaws of the revolution itself. Now that it appears we may crash back into a neo-Victorian world of misogyny and sexual hypocrisy (consider Mike Pence), we would do well to consider both Heinlein's virtues and flaws.

    He was, I think, a more decent man than always came through in his writing.

    His imitators, I think, have mostly missed the vision – it is not something that can easily be copied, if it can be copied at all – and reproduced his quirks. Frank Lloyd Wright famously said that he would rather be emulated than imitated, and I think perhaps that also applies to Heinlein.

    Then again, what does a big black bird know?

    262:

    (And it occurs to me that James Blish's short story A Work of Art exactly prefigures my conclusion. Hunh. Sour Bill was a great critic and deserves more respect than he gets these days.)

    263:

    Now, THAT I can relate to :-) But remember what OGH said about humour w.r.t. Trunk and Disorderly? And, of course, JKR is litigious ....

    264:

    Oh, one more thought – some of Heinlein's failings, like those of many other sf authors of his time, are those of an autodidact. He comes out with unstudied ideas about people and society (this is clear in his letters, and his characters seem to share them) and seems to believe they are new and brilliant insights. In this, I think, his vision misled him. It is not enough to have vision, one must also have discipline to make it make a difference.

    265:

    Geoff Hart @ 221:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the key reasons for NATO's choice of 9 mm ammunition based on a tradeoff between how many bullets a soldier can carry (lighter and smaller = more) and bullets heavy enough to hit sufficiently hard?

    That's probably why European Armies chose 9mm to begin with, but that was already established before NATO standardized their ammunition logistics. When NATO started out, all the national armies had their own calibers. Standardization is about how many bullets the logistics chain can make available.

    Takes a lot more effort if you have to supply several different calibers.

    Standardizing on 9mm meant that all NATO militaries could use each other's ammunition. Simplified problems with supply. The system didn't have to supply but one type of bullet. The U.S. gave up .45 ACP even though it had superior stopping power. Doesn't matter what side arm you carry. If it uses 9mm NATO ammunition, it doesn't matter where the ammunition came from. If you run out of French bullets, you can use English bullets or American bullets. They all fit in the chamber the same.

    266:

    Please don't take that wrong: After my ...late... wife dropped dead, I think it was, I read her collection of Hornblower, and I consider it very good. It's Weber's reinterpretation that I came to dislike.

    267:

    I'll just note that the French Army of the Napoleonic Era pillaged its way across Europe with that pillage being a designed part of its logistics chain.

    See also Francisco Goya's The Disasters of War, graphically documenting events circa 1808-16.

    268:
    The movie still SUCKS!

    Hell, this is the movie that gave us Doggie Howser (or Barney Stimpson) in a Sturmbannführer mantle[1]. And the nickname for a guy in my KULT RPG session, "brainbug, because you have a feeling of your brain sucked out when he talks to you"[2].

    Any way you look at it, it's a travesty and an abomination.

    Actually, I agree. But for me, it's the entertaining kind of travesty and abomination.

    [1] You know you're in deep trouble when one of your colleagues in the student council shows up similarly dressed. And we actually namechecked SST when describing it.

    [2] Err, yes, I know I might have a similar effect at times...

    269:

    Everybody has their own taste, so what's the problem?

    My only caveat (to the world in general, not to you) is to not assume that the Honorverse looks much like Horatio Hornblower, and to tar Hornblower by association. The latter (for the two of you who don't know) is straight-up military fiction set in the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars, and written by a mainstream author. Even though Honor Harrington and Horatio Hornblower deliberately have the same initials, they're very different people and get more different as their respective series progress.

    To be fair to David Weber, "genderswapped Hornblower in space" is a heck of an elevator pitch, and it worked out just fine for him too.

    270:

    Thanks, I ended up it reading last night, it’s a fairly short book
    Slight would be my faint praise, didn’t ever really get engaged with it at all
    Having reread A Night in the Lonesome October recently, I think Zelazny did dog narrators better
    If anyone else wants to read it, go ahead it’s perfectly pleasant, but the electricity and strangeness of the earlier novels is gone, and as Charlie said, that may be me more than Varley.....

    271:

    Martin, thanks for the reality check on what I wrote. I did my best to clarify that my description was speculative and descriptive of a common but not ubiquitous trend, with obvious exceptions. The response by two participants reminds me that no matter how carefully one writes, some people will deliberately misinterpret one's words to support their prior agenda or beliefs about the writer's character.

    SFreader noted: "Yes - but non-combatant deaths are climbing and greatly outnumber combatant deaths. And thanks to all-eyes-on-BrExit, this fact is being conveniently pushed aside from public view and discussion, therefore likely to continue to rise."

    Agree with you 100%, and it's partially due to the greatly increased destructive power of modern weapons and partially due to a state change in how war is pursued: it no longer occurs in a context where the warriors separate themselves from the civilians before having at each other. For those who dislike a careful reading of what I write: This is only one opinion, not a claim for some universal law. The idea of this historical change is described by Michael Glover in "The Velvet Glove: the decline and fall of moderation in war". More recent thoughts on this are provided in John Mueller's "The remnants of war". I recall disagreeing with some things these authors wrote, but their arguments generally struck me as plausible if one allowed for the possibility of exceptions in various contexts.

    Aardvark, for what it's worth, I'm very much a left-leaning Canadian liberal (i.e., a socialist). That's not just my opinion; it's the verdict of a couple very conservative (card-carrying Conservative) friends who have grown more conservative as they aged, and with whom I respectfully agree to disagree on a great many issues.

    But that wasn't the context for my reply. I was responding to and rejecting the contention that deliberate efforts to eliminate a rival civilization by slaughtering its civilians were a relatively new phenom. The modern trend of increased civilian casualties is not the result of a deliberate policy to wipe out civilians, other than in examples such as Stalin in Russia and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It's been called "collateral damage" for a reason: it's not the primary goal, but is considered by governments to be an often acceptable cost or pursuing warfare as a solution to some problem.

    On the Honor Harrington novels: before I burned out on them, I enjoyed the stories because I believe in the concept of noble self-sacrifics to defend one's home and family and way of life. Obviously, Weber deliberately stacked the deck in such a way that the Republic of Manticore was purely virtuous and Haven et al. were anything but. That's probably why I eventually burned out on the series.

    In terms of Weber's take on military technology, I agree with previous posters that this was very much a Horatio Hornblower hommage and the approach clearly works from a storytelling perspective. But it's worth noting that the point of Weber's choices was to make for a compelling story, not to predict what space warfare will be like in a couple hundred years. Weber clearly defines his "what ifs" and plays rigorously fair within the scope of those assumptions. In terms of robotics, a more realistic scenario might be purely AI-based warfare. But where's the fun (the human heroism) in that approach?

    272:

    There's your conflict. J.K. Rowling is litigious. H.P. was famously Open Source with his creations. H.P. is a hideous negative poster-boy for Intersectionality, while J.K. Rowling is a modern woman and (I'd guess) very much a feminist. The conflicts between them should be obvious, leading to Hogwarts style magic vs. Cthulhu, but J.K. Rowling has a dark secret; Her Patronus is a dead ringer for Robert Heinlein...

    273:

    I wonder if we could sell an anthology? If nothing else, we could all post our bits at Fanfiction.net or something...

    274:

    The modern trend of increased civilian casualties is not the result of a deliberate policy to wipe out civilians, other than in examples such as Stalin in Russia and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia

    Uh, and the Nazis in the USSR, and the Germans in East Africa with the Herero, and the strategic bombing campaigns in both Europe and Japan during WWII, and (thankfully never used) the targeting of cities by all sides with nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and the Rwandan genocide, and I could probably think of a couple more examples. Civilians have and still are regularly targeted in massive ways during wars; to think otherwise is ahistorical.

    Further, there is no "modern trend in increased civilian casualties." The number of dead civilians in wars has been trending *down* for a century, not up.

    it no longer occurs in a context where the warriors separate themselves from the civilians before having at each other

    That separation has never actually happened, at least in the modern era.

    275:

    re: https://www.politicalcompass.org

    Interesting test.

    Turns out that I find myself slightly to the right of Pjotr Kropotkin (-9.38 left, -8.46 "libertarian" (although that word feels wrong to me)).

    I'm 50, by the way, and don't think that I've become more conservative over the years. I'd rather say that my development went into the other direction.

    276:

    re: "an armed society is a polite society"

    I think that's flat out wrong. An armed society is a society that is governed by fear. The timidity caused by fear may superficially look like (and therefore be mistaken for) politeness. But it's just a result of terror (which is the latin word for "fear").

    277:

    This is ALL YOUR FAULT, TW. I've just taken a little time from work, and am closing in on an entire first page of a short, with Ms. R and Mr. Anson....

    278:

    Ooh, err, missus! May I look?

    279:

    New MacGyver does have a swiss army knife*. The show sucks because;

    1. We saw the best tricks in Original Brand MacGyver and the new one doesn't have anything as good;
    2. Having Google in front of you means you can come up with interesting facts almost as quickly as MacGyver so he doesn't seem as brilliant;
    3. (Perhaps more me than anything else) Going around the world robbing, spying and kidnapping for unaccountable intelligence agencies is not quite as much pure fun escapism as it used to be;
    4. (Even more me) The show really wants us to be in love with the characters rather than watching every other episode because the viewer is in a house with the Sky watching the TV for various reasons on Sunday and there's not a lot else on that's suitable in that timeslot.

    I mean it has improvised gadgets, fistfights, explosions, car chases; it's not terrible but I don't miss it when it stops.

    * At one point given to a monkey in exchange for a bomb

    280:

    Um, no, I have to disagree.

    What you see in Starship Troopers is a bug hunt, not a genocide. It's what we do to ants, not to people.

    This is one of the things that Orson Scott Card and Joe Haldeman got right: their bug hunts ended with the bugs and the humans coming to understand each other as sentient beings. Starship Troopers ends in media res, like a propaganda film.

    And yes, dehumanizing the enemy is a standard, probably necessary, part of warfare, at least post-Iliad. The comparison is that damned picture going around Facebook of the huge pyramid of bison skulls. It's part of the story of how the US killed millions of bison in an effort to starve the Plains Indians into submission. Note that we didn't go out to physically exterminate the Plains Indians, even though we probably could have. That's the difference between a war and a bug hunt.

    281:

    So have I. HP Lovecraft and J.K. Rowling meet in one of the special bars ordinary readers can't see, and it escalates from there...

    282:

    The merits, or otherwise, of boarding school literature are exactly what make it so ripe for a send up. A lot of my reading growing up were, a tad embarrassingly now, Enid Blytons various improbable boarding school books, Jill Murphys Worst Witch, then of course the magical speccy git. It's quite a sizeable part of childrens literature.

    As Martin says, his experience and mine are very different, not just in years but in motivation.
    Welbeck is for kids who, at age 15 (when you start applying), decide they want to commit most of the next decade of their lives to military service, and as officers. 2 years of A levels at the college, 3 years at Uni, year of officer training then a minimum service commitment of, I think, 2 years. So, with regard to Martin at 227,a setup far closer to the Heinlein character you mention, and chock full of kids very motivated and committed to a concept they sometimes don't quite understand. Dubious ritual magic would drop in so naturally, I'm honestly trying to remember if we actually did it or not.

    (In my case, I rapidly realised I was crap at anything military or physical. When I started, I genuinely thought Sandhurst was a university, and had no idea what an officer actually did. After 2 years failing at PT, coasting through A levels and generally skiving and dicking about, I buggered off and did an apprenticeship. I remain convinced that they took on a few utter spanners on the basis that they'd either be stratospherically awesome or give everyone else someone to feel superior to, and that I was one of them. It was bloody brilliant though).

    283:

    Pasquinade @ 241
    Communism experimented with the notion that you should die for communist society.
    NO - COPIED the notion from the christians, what a suprise ...

    Whitroth @ 250
    No - or not necessarily
    Back in the 1970's my employer crapped on people, so the union, after voting, got all the international secretaries to strike ( & paid them their equivalent wages ) - which meant no internal or significant external international comms ... in a big multinational that NEEDED reguilar comms between Rochester NY & the rest of the planet, including Harrow & Hemel Hempstead ...
    The company backed down really quickly ...

    MSB @ 274
    YES

    284:

    So let's get back to the original point, shall we? About Old Man's War, the book?

    Right, one quick reread or “Old Man’s War”... and I still disagree.

    RAH creates an unquestioning protagonist in Rico, who (in the first chapter) deliberately targets people without reference to whether they are non-combatants. The nearest to this scene in OMW is the battle with the Whaidians (“Smash and Dash” aimed at industrial infrastructure) - but by contrast, all of the individual killings are of other, armed, combatants; and the need to avoid civilian casualties is explicitly mentioned (although the impossibility of succeeding is noted). Other than the Whaidians, all of the battles describe combatant v combatant (even the Godzilla sequence). While the fate of the murderous strikers is brutal, it’s arguably culture-fair for the primary audience, i.e. the USA [1]

    Rico doesn’t appear to question the morality of the war, or it’s conduct; Perry does, breaking down after a year of it; and there is a sequence discussing the utility of force, the need for restraint when doing so (“too easy to use”), and multiple examples of the need to see the “others” perspective.

    So no, I don’t see the Mobile Infantry as comparable to the CDF infantry... perhaps it’s the advantage of fifty years progress in the art form ;)

    [1] To (most?many) Europeans, abortion is perfectly justifiable as a woman’s right to choose; while the death penalty is unacceptable, because the State should not itself commit murder. Meanwhile, to (most?many) USAians, the death penalty is perfectly justifiable as society’s right to self-defence; while abortion is unacceptable behaviour towards the defenceless. Each side doesn’t tend to “get” the other at an emotional level...

    285:

    That’s no difference at all.

    286:

    My books are currently in storage, but I believe that Juan has been told prior to the action in the first chapter that this is a quick raid meant to cause the Skinnies to come to the negotiating table or withdraw from the war. IIRC, the idea was not to do massive, genocidal damage, but to show the Skinnies that humans could hurt them if they really wanted to, so it is specifically not genocidal. There was in fact a deliberate decision to leave most of the Skinnies on the planet alive to talk about how bad things could get if the humans felt like dishing out some real hurt!

    Whether this is "good strategy" or not isn't something I feel competent to comment on, but the battle in the first chapter is definitely not genocidal in terms of its strategic intent (as I understood the text.)

    287:

    Expanding on that a little.

    It's part of the story of how the US killed millions of bison in an effort to starve the Plains Indians into submission. Note that we didn't go out to physically exterminate the Plains Indians, even though we probably could have.

    Some may not consider Ethnic Cleansing synonymous with Genocide, but it seems to be a distinction without a difference when you’re on the receiving end.
    Whether murdering the men and boys, raping the women and claiming any resulting children as your own, as in Bosnia, or stealing children and putting them in orphanages to be raised outside of their culture as with Native America/Australians, etc.— wiping out a culture or a gene pool, the result is the same.

    288:

    I remain convinced that they took on a few utter spanners on the basis that...

    Don’t put yourself down; the Selection Board is a very effective, and terrifyingly fair, tool for selecting potential - but tricky, because you’re trying to use the assessment of a 16-year-old as a predictor of performance at 22 or even 25 years old (Welbexians don’t AIUI have to appear before the Regular Commissioning Board). I spent my last few years in the reserves at an officer training unit, in charge of early leadership training, and doing a certain amount of selection (mostly self-selection at that stage, to be honest). All of it is probability - but it has suspiciously good outcome rate compared to other approaches. Not perfect, but what is?

    I was certainly not seen as “prime material” at 18 years old - I’d joined the UOTC because they had the only Pipe Band at university, and they paid me to play... I surprised some (including myself), and got a decent ego boost, when I started to do well at the technical performance tests, a year or two in...[1]

    Anyway, when posted back to the UOTC as a Company Commander, now as a 35-year-old parent of a newborn, I was able to indulge my biases - humility lessons for the arrogant, confidence-building for the shy, reality checks for those inside a bubble...

    [1] I was never the classical model of an infantry officer. Not heroic in stature, not square-jawed in appearance, and a scrawny computer science graduate / bookish SFF geek (hint: don’t do your Platoon Commanders’ Battle Course at 67kg/150lb, the load carrying hurts). I was never going to succeed at leadership-by-awesomeness, leadership-by-fear, or even leadership-by-musclepower; I had to rely on low cunning, fast thinking, humour, cardio fitness, and good basic skills...

    289:

    I had just assumed that some people got more right-wing with age because it was a form of dementia presenting as an inability to manage subtle or nuanced political ideas.

    290:

    Okay, this part bugs* me too:

    Heteromeles @278: And yes, dehumanizing the enemy is a standard, probably necessary, part of warfare, at least post-Iliad.

    But I’m too tired/irritated to give a coherent response at the moment.

    *argh, no pun intended.

    291:

    Here we go. Found the first chapter online:

    "One more word -This is just a raid, not a battle. It's a demonstration of firepower and frightfulness. Our mission is to let the enemy know that we could have destroyed their city -- but didn't -- but that they aren't
    safe even though we refrain from total bombing. You'll take no prisoners. You'll
    kill only when you can't help it. But the entire area we hit is to be smashed. I don't
    want to see any of you loafers back aboard here with unexpended bombs. Get
    me?"

    292:

    Had you, a reader, happened to pass the big roadhouse on State Highway 50, southwest of Emporia, Kansas, you would not have noticed it. Those inside, the authors - by which I mean beings like myself, the creators and sustainers of reality - have carefully edited the sight of their meeting place from mere readers such as yourself.

    The roadhouse was one of those sacred bars, and by “sacred” I mean that the outfit was a magical tavern involving at least one gate between the worlds. You’ve doubtless heard of some of these: The White Horse Tavern in New York, the Muthiaga Club in Nairobi, or Chatsubo in Tokyo. There are others you’ve never heard of, like Roadhouse Octavia in New Pasadena, The Fritz Libre Bar and Grill in Old Lankhmar, or Ramsey’s Revelation on Severnford Road in Brichester. And let’s not forget the Old Victorian place on Mars, near Mons Olympus, where I make my home.

    Having said all this, I have some bad news for you. Callahan’s isn’t real. Sorry.

    The other reality is that all the bars connect to each other once you get inside. An author who is so inclined can enter via an invisible door inside the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, meet a friend at The White Hart, then exit via K’tlk’k Carters in Ulthar and walk along the onyx-inlaid Esplanade that wanders above – Lord that man could be wordy - the obsidian cliffs north of the warehouse district. The effect is of one gigantic bar, with lots of different rooms, lots of bartenders, and a thousand kinds of liquor. Just make sure you pay up before leaving the room you’re in and everything will be fine.

    It was the week after Worldcon – normally I would have spent my time with Ike, Arthur and Ted, holding forth on the winners and losers of the last year in publishing, but I wanted a break, so my wife and I looked up Samuel, who took us look up auld acquaintance in the form of James Allen White, a once-well-known author and publisher from Emporia… Truth be told, we were avoiding our housemate, Howard, who’d done nothing but complain since N.K. Jemisin won her third Hugo in a row. So we crossed from Dino’s to Heinolds’ First and Last Chance to The Boar’s Head, where Old Bill gave us the wink, then crossed into the Kansas Roadhouse built on the now-forgotten-and-faded reputation of James Allen White.

    We’d just gotten our drinks and gotten settled when Howard walked in, arm in arm with Edgar, both of them drunk to the gills. Fortunately they didn’t notice us and settled in two of the three remaining bar stools. That was when she walked in.

    Something to explain here. Everyone I’ve mentioned so far is dead, but I’m an old man, and so are my friends, but living authors can also join us here. She - I’ll drop the italics – was one of those tall, leggy, very blond British women. She had a fantastic face with a long, straight nose and very mobile and expressive lips. “Is that-” asked my wife, then stopped talking, because the beautiful British woman had sat down on the stool next to a very drunk and dishevelled Edgar.

    “I’m Jo,” she said.

    I don't quite have the character voice right yet, but this is where it's going.

    293:

    There is a small kiosk where you can mail your "oops" to yourself.

    IIRC sadly not in this case, and I haven't seen anything like that in Germany, Italy or France till now, though I'll keep looking.

    Apparently what I've seen is US only. RDU and DFW are the 2 airports I visit monthly or more often and they are both on the list of locations in the US. I just saw one next to TSA pre-check line at DFW terminal D this morning.

    Sorry.

    http://www.airportmailers.com/airportlist.php

    294:

    sitting on a sheltered firing point, six inches from the breech of my rifle, and that it might well show traces of unburnt powder from the thousands of rounds of ammunition that I'd fired...

    Back before he turned 18 my son carried a bunch of bottle rockets and firecrackers in a not very expensive soft sided duffel bag like suitcase. Some broke apart and power got spread around. It took him maturing a bit before he got why I blew my stack. As he had made the bag unusable for air travel. And maybe anything put into the bag and later packed in another bag.

    295:

    Instead once the defeated nations of Germany and Japan said they would do as they're told by the winners that was it. Odd.

    "once" ... "that was it"

    Well after 5 or 10 years for many. 30 or 40 for some.

    And on a related note, this is a great read.

    http://www.leesandlin.com/articles/LosingTheWar.htm

    296:

    Takes a lot more effort if you have to supply several different calibers.

    I think Ken Burns Civil War documentary series said the Union Quartermaster Corp had to deal with over 1500 munition types.

    297:

    I don't think the folk on the thread who are putting the boot into"Eric, or little by little" (It's here - http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks13/1306661h.html) are quite fair.
    "the unspeakably bad "Eric""
    "Eric, or Little by Little - do not attempt to read this without (a) a sick bucket and (b) clearing the room of pencils, screwdrivers and any other object you may otherwise be tempted to ram up your nostrils and attempt to lobotomise yourself with."
    Well, yes; but that's not all. Apart from a fine peroration on the evils of masturbation that has its own kinship with Lovecraft -

    ""Let me tell you," said Russell solemnly; "my father (he is dead now, you know, Eric), when I was sent to school, warned me of this kind of thing. I had been brought up in utter ignorance of such coarse knowledge as is forced upon one here, and with my reminiscences of home, I could not bear even that much of it which it was impossible to avoid. But the very first time such talk was begun in my dormitory, I spoke out. What I said I don't know, but I felt as if I was trampling on a slimy poisonous adder, and, at any rate, I showed such pain and distress that the fellows dropped it at the time. Since then I have absolutely refused to stay in the room if ever such talk is begun. So it never is now, and I do think the fellows are very glad of it themselves."

    "Well," said Montagu, "I don't profess to look on it from the religious ground, you know, but I thought it blackguardly, and in bad taste, and said so. The fellow who began it threatened to kick me for a conceited little fool, but he didn't; and they hardly ever venture on that line now."

    "It is more than blackguardly, it is deadly," answered Russell; "my father said it was the most fatal curse which could ever become rife in a public school."

    "Why do masters never give us any help or advice on these matters?" asked Eric thoughtfully.

    "In sermons they do. Don't you remember Rowlands's sermon not two weeks ago on Kibroth-Hattaavah? But I for one think them quite right not to speak to us privately on such subjects, unless we invite confidence. Besides, they cannot know that any boys talk in this way. After all, it is only a very few of the worst who ever do."

    They got up and walked home, but from day to day Eric put off performing the duty which Russell had advised, viz.—a private request to Ball to abstain from his offensive communications, and an endeavour to enlist Duncan into his wishes.

    One evening they were telling each other stories in Number 7. Ball's turn came, and in his story the vile element again appeared. For a while Eric said nothing, but as the strain grew worse, he made a faint remonstrance.

    "Shut up there, Williams," said Attlay, "and don't spoil the story."

    "Very well. It's your own fault, and I shall shut my ears."

    He did for a time, but a general laugh awoke him. He pretended to be asleep, but he listened. Iniquity of this kind was utterly new to him; his curiosity was awakened; he no longer feigned indifference, and the poison of evil communication flowed deep into his veins.

    Oh, young boys, if your eyes ever read these pages, pause and beware. The knowledge of evil is ruin, and the continuance in it is moral death. That little matter—that beginning of evil—it will be like the snowflake detached by the breath of air from the mountain-top, which, as it rushes down, gains size and strength and impetus, till it has swollen to the mighty and irresistible avalanche that overwhelms garden and field and village in a chaos of undistinguishable death.

    Kibroth-Hattaavah! Many and many a young Englishman has perished there! Many and many a happy English boy, the jewel of his mother's heart—brave and beautiful and strong—lies buried there. Very pale their shadows rise before us— the shadows of our young brothers who have sinned and suffered. From the sea and the sod, from foreign graves and English churchyards, they start up and throng around us in the paleness of their fall. May every schoolboy who reads this page be warned by the waving of their wasted hands, from that burning marle of passion where they found nothing but shame and ruin, polluted affections, and an early grave."

    - apart, as I say, from that, Dean Farrar had that particularly Victorian ability to LittleNell the most cynical reader to helpless tears; a wonderful technical control of manipulating human emotion. Kipling put Eric to the torch because he recognised it as a worthy adversary.

    298:

    I have always, permanently avoided all ( every single one ) of "schoiol stories" - simply because, after having tried about three pages of one ( "Jennings" I think ) as even to me at that age, the whole thing was lying propaganda. ( Ditto the vile "William books, incidentally )
    So, of course, I will normally read ( & have read ) anything by Kipling, but I've never read any of the Stalky books, for obvious reasons.
    NOW someone tells me that they are subversion - bit late, isn't it?

    299:

    "once" ... "that was it"

    Well after 5 or 10 years for many. 30 or 40 for some.

    The B-17s and the Lancasters stopped their tick-tock aerial deliveries to Hamburg and Dresden, the third plutonium core on route to Tinian Field for assembly into a Fat Man device was turned back at San Diego, the mass slaughter and destruction stopped pretty much immediately once the Germans and the Japanese had agreed they had lost and would stop opposing the Allies.

    300:

    What, not even St. Custard's?

    as any fule kno, skool captane Grabber do well at Space Marines! he drop on skinnys, shout "Cave!" go BLAT BLAT BLAT and Fotherington-Thomas he sa hello blue suns hello green sky then he blub at site of dead aliens. Gillibrand sa his pater will send extra grenades for him chiz chiz still GRAVES hav bad time he try to kane alien and they chop his hed.

    There's been an excellent Radio 4 series on dissent over the last three mornings (mirroring the current "I object" exhibition at the British Museum, AIUI), and Ronald Searle fits into that theme perfectly...

    301:

    Yes, you made a mistake with Stalky and Co., but why do you say it is too late? It is an amusing read for an adult, as much as a child.

    The Jennings books were excessively (you might say revoltingly) eulogistic, true, but the thing that sets them apart is that they were NOT written as propaganda, but as stories. I found them too saccharine, but won't damn them in the way that I damn most of the trope.

    302:

    The Second Slaveowners' Treasonous Revolt documentary series said the Union Quartermaster Corp had to deal with over 1500 munition types.

    See, this is what you get when you write the "right to arm bears" into your constitution! ;-)

    303:

    {shudder} That was one of the very few times my Mum said "You won't like this" and was correct!

    304:

    I was about to offer up The Complete Molesworth for Greg's edification; he's of the right age and nationality to Get It, I think.

    305:

    Yep. I totally get the dislocation thing. My war was the first Gulf War and while we sure weren’t slugging through paddy fields taking fire you do find that when you come back there’s this wall of incomprehension that you just can’t surmount. I think that unless you’ve the talents of expression and the will you generally just stop bothering, I did. Likewise it’s tough to reintegrate into society after you be lived with people who you are so intimately reliant on, you spend years looking for that band of brothers relationship only to realize finally that CIVLANT does not work that way. I reckon if we summoned up the ghosts of the glorious ninth legion they’d probably say the same thing.

    306:

    I had completely forgotten that it was written by Willans, not Searle! Oops. I found it almost ureadable, as with Feersum Endjinn, because I do not read phonetically. But it is one of the VERY few works to capture the mindset of a boy of that age - yes, it's brilliant.

    307:

    See, this is what you get when you write the "right to arm bears" into your constitution! ;-)

    Not just them... AIUI, a WW2 German Division had some vast range of different tyre sizes to support, because there was little or no standardisation for their vehicles. Apparently, it wasn't unknown for "action on flat tyre" to be "abandon vehicle, consider it a write-off".

    See, this is what you get when you concentrate on selecting for tall and blond, then getting Hugo Boss to design your uniforms...

    308:

    Implausible, as you say it, at that era. Tyres always had tubes, and you fixed flats by the roadside; they almost certainly also carried spares. That might well have been the action on a FAILED tyre once they had used up their spares.

    309:

    True! My headcanon is now that GRIMES, the Mad Maths Master is simply Charlie's Angleton learning how to be human. I know that it's a generation or two late, but: headcanon!

    Also, re: the many comments on Starship Troopers the book / movie, a quote I ran into on Twitter the other day is apposite: 'Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.' — John le Carré

    310:

    My headcanon is now that GRIMES, the Mad Maths Master is simply Charlie's Angleton learning how to be human.

    This takes on a totally different meaning if you substitute "GRIMES, Elon Musk's girlfriend and fellow Rocko's Basilisk believer" for "GRIMES, the Mad Maths Master".

    311:

    Less plausible even; not only would the tyres almost certainly have been used with inner tubes, but one tube size actually does fit several tyre sizes. (based on having had mates who were tyre fitters)

    312:
    See, this is what you get when you concentrate on selecting for tall and blond, then getting Hugo Boss to design your uniforms...

    Minor quibble, Eastern European[1] models in Boss uniforms were the Waffen-SS, the division might have been Wehrmacht, which was likely slightly less gaga...

    I'm no WWII buff, but the problem with many different spare parts and like might stem from the WWII Germans looting vehicles like WH4K Orks:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_vehicles_used_by_Nazi_Germany_in_World_War_II

    [1] Err, personal association with blond and tall models.

    313:

    See, this is what you get when you write the "right to arm bears" into your constitution!

    And when you only have a hammer as a tool all the world appears to be full of nails.

    I'm sure the constitution is also why the US military has such an issue with dozens of radio frequencies and modulation formats. Such that there have been multiple failed attempts to rationalize and/or make a radio to handle them all.

    I'm sure the UK and other countries of the time had different munitions as you moved from town to town and area to area.

    Most fiefdoms are not based on occupation of dirt.

    315:

    I suspect that there were more than a few total failures of tyres on military vehicles used in war than typical on civilian roads.

    Local windage is a problem of human nature. B-24s and B-17s from different factories had issues of commonality at the time. Engineers at each plant didn't see a problem with implementing their own improvements.

    Ford's attempt to create a "world car", the Focus or Fusion I think resulted in them taking a car initially designed and made in Europe and winding up with a car built in the US that had only a few gaskets in common with the one being made in Europe.

    In the US (and I suspect the rest of the world) we have just plain old wayyyyy too many tire sizes these days. IMNERHO 40+ years ago if you blew out a tire your local service station almost always had a replacement "on the rack". These day, dream on.

    I wonder how much is due to NIH and how much to getting another 0.4 mpg out of a car design. And how much is about marketing? Why does a Honda Civic for sale in the US have 3 different tire/wheel sizes as options?

    316:

    And then, you go through Wikipedia, and your first association with Musk's mother

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maye_Musk

    is Futurama...

    https://theinfosphere.org/Mom

    Sadly I have no idea how to exploit that one. Maybe she dated Minsky once?

    317:

    In the US (and I suspect the rest of the world) we have just plain old wayyyyy too many tire sizes these days. IMNERHO 40+ years ago if you blew out a tire your local service station almost always had a replacement "on the rack". These day, dream on.

    It's been a problem for thirty years and more, internationally speaking. My brother imported a BMW from South Africa when he returned from living there for twenty years or so (basically he filled up a 20-foot container with that car, another car and a lot of house goods, furniture etc.)

    When he came to get new tyres for the BMW he discovered the wheels were metric but all the affordable tyres on the British market were an Imperial-measurement standard and wouldn't fit those wheels. The two solutions, import metric-fit tyres specially from Germany or change the wheels over to British-standard rims were equally expensive.

    318:

    I presume that said BMW had Michelin TRX on it? If so, then I'd suggest that the issue was Michelin trying to lock in a customer base by breaking from standard wheel sizes and failing to achieve the sort of customer base or interest from other tyre manufacturers that their head rush needed.

    319:

    And it seems like usually, two idiots, one idea...

    https://imgur.com/zkcr5Bc

    320:

    The diesel-hydraulic locomotives of BR(WR) were intended by design to allow different makes of engine and transmission to be mixed-and-matched freely, with mounting points, shaft flanges etc. in standard positions; but when they were built, in batches at different works, each works managed to find some idiosyncrasy of the components it was using that had not been thought about and standardised, and built around that in such a way as to make it a big pain to mix and match. Which is one reason the intended unit-replacement overhaul procedure never worked and the project was discontinued.

    (If Greg does "steam developments that didn't happen" I might do similar for IC locos?)

    Tyres... yes, it's just as bad here; marketing (spit) reasons causing the widespread introduction of low-profile tyres was when the rot really set in. Where there used to be only two dimensions to match, now there are three. The third used to just be the same for everything; now it's different for everything, for no reason, and to make matters worse the value which used to be universal is now rather rare, which is a right arseache if your car is from the era of universality.

    Metric tyre sizes are a pretty rare problem with cars - they seemed to stop doing it pretty quickly as not being able to get the tyres put people off the cars - but they are a huge problem with bicycles. Once upon a time bicycles were a cheap method of getting from A to B; now they are a tool for extracting stupid amounts of money from idiots who could get a motorcycle or even a small car for less, and in the transition every flaming component has been changed to a more expensive version of incompatible dimensions. This includes tyres, and where once nearly all tyres were 26", now they're not any number of inches and 26" tyres are far too difficult to get.

    321:

    Eh, it's sigismund the mad maths master. GRIMES is the headmaster.

    322:

    I'll try to remember tonight. I emailed it to myself at my "real" email, and I POP-3 and delete from my hosting provider when I get home.

    323:

    Back to Beyond This Horizon: Good point about some people having real work on earth, but it's stated that the dueling system isn't permitted in the laboratories on Pluto(?) because there's real work.

    It might be that people are less disposable there.

    Starship Troopers: I'd say it isn't Fascist because it was quite possible to have no interest in the military until the sneak attack.

    What do people here make of the rule that people don't get their vote until they're done with their service? There's no explanation in the book for why it's done that way rather than people getting their vote after two years.

    The thing I find unsavory isn't in the book itself, it's the number of fans who are fascinated with the idea of restricting the franchise.

    What fascinates me is the idea of soldiers being allowed to refuse a mission. They lose their chance at ever getting a vote, I think, but there's no other punishment. Anyone want to discuss it? How do you think it would play out in the real world? It might not make sense for most of the military-- the M.I. are unusual in having well-defined missions rather than being on campaigns.

    Yes, Johnny Rico gets on my nerves for being pretty passive. On the other hand, Heinlein might get some credit for writing about relatively ordinary people.

    I'm a libertarian, and much of what I see about libertarians coming from the left strikes me as fantasies. I grant that there's an unsavory right-wing element among libertarians, but I'm not convinced it's typical.

    For an example of decent libertarianism: https://reason.com/blog/2018/08/30/birtherism-becomes-official-border-polic

    It seems to me that the left and libertarians could form an alliance to at least oppose the war on drugs, and there are some people working on it, but when I float the idea, it seems like there's too much hatred cultivated on both sides for a large alliance to be possible.

    324:

    About "physically exterminating the Plains indians", missed the bit about smallpox blankets? And in some cases, yes it was, "kill 'em all": "the only good Indian is a dead Indian", the Trail of Tears, and the battle of Wounded Knee.

    325:

    But the companies has solved *that*: we don't got no secretaries any more, they're all "administrative assistants", who are now listed as "management"*, and can't join a union. And they've outsourced (why do you *think* there's so much outsourcing - contractors can't join a union)?

    Oh, and in the US, they've laws and regulations about "sympathy strikes". I've been to the NLRB website a few years ago, and found the rules for computer professionals making it almost impossible to form/join a union.

    # Oh, and computer folks are all listed as "management", even when the only thing we manage are computers.

    326:

    What you had to rely on, as a leader.

    Never been in the military (I came of age during 'Nam, and yes, I was one of the many in the streets, and I have my own version of Alice's Restaurant, 12 min, two part harmony an' feelin'), but even I know that in actual war zones, there are two kinds of new lieutenants: ones who pay attention to their sergeants... and dead. and maybe taking part or all of their command to Valhalla with them.

    327:

    In a way, that hurts.

    It's been a long time since I started saying, when I'm at a con, that it's nice to be back in my home town. My home town is a lot os 10' square twisty passages, er, hotel hallway, with different decor in different wings, and different entrances that open out to different cities... but no matter which wing I'm in, I'm home, with my family of choice.

    If there were such a thing as an afterlife, I'd be behind the bar at the Consuite Up There....

    328:

    Charlie, that was... grime(s)inal.

    329:

    Her maiden name was Haldeman? A distant relation of Joe's?

    330:

    (ureadable, the state of a volume after you umount it)

    (Wreck a new car, Nan; dull dist aisle a 4 fog roughy?)

    In my first couple of years at school I deliberately wrote like Bascule. I refused to use the standard English spellings, which I knew perfectly well, on the grounds that they were silly, which used to drive the teachers nuts - I suspect all the more so because they couldn't really argue with my reason - but did induce one of them to introduce me to the grate n. molesworth...

    Capture the mindset of a lad that age... yes, it does, but alongside some rather more adult things which went completely over my head at the time (eg. "for the ushual amout", "lucky i got 'em back from the pornbrokers hem-hem" in molesworth's CRIB TO REEL THORTS accompanying GRIMES's speech). Another book I first read at that age that does the same thing is 101 Dalmatians ("Let them eat coke"; the TV game show "What's My Crime?"; the winning contestant's crime being to have stolen several thousand bath plugs from hotels, which meant zilch to me then but I think is genius now). Disney completely flattened that story, and did even worse by the sequel by promoting their own alternative sequels in place of the real one which it appears most people don't even know exists.

    331:

    Er, no. Even in the UK, sizes of 20", 24", 26" and 28" were all common (and not the same as in any country that had not been part of the empire), and did not always measure that number of inches! There were a zillion other older sizes and ones in other countries. Things have changed to the point where vastly the most common sizes (in most of the world) are 622mm and 559mm (equivalent to 28" and 26", because they are measured differently). Yes, there are many other current sizes (generally best avoided), but there used to be even more!

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

    332:

    "What fascinates me is the idea of soldiers being allowed to refuse a mission. They lose their chance at ever getting a vote, I think, but there's no other punishment. ... It might not make sense for most of the military..."

    That made me laugh, because there is a connection to the Stalky & Co sub-discussion... In 1918, the real-life Stalky (General Lionel Dunsterville) was given command of the "Dunsterforce" military expedition to Baku, which was supposed to organise its defence to make sure the Germans/Turks didn't get hold of it before the war ended. It was a somewhat barmy expedition because he was given plenty of officers and vehicles, but no troops. They figured he would be able to recruit troops from the locals, which failed dismally because none of them were interested, but there were units from several different national armies also hanging about, and he ended up using Fourth Doctor style methods to try and get them to cooperate and form some sort of coherent fighting force.

    He said the absolutely most useless ones were the ones from newly-post-revolution Russia. Companies from other nations, when ordered to charge, by and large would, although with some of them it was more of a saunter. The Russians, on the other hand, would form an impromptu soviet, sit down and talk about the order for four hours, then hold a vote on it, and vote to run away.

    333:

    Yes, and I'll simply point out that there are descendants of the survivors of the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee, and the rest. The thing about genocide is that there are two ways to kill the people--killing them genetically (physical death) and killing them culturally. The buffalo hunt was the latter. Didn't work either, for which we should be thankful. The whole pow-wow complex is a nationwide outgrowth of Plains Indians celebrations. Most tribes didn't have them before the 20th Century, but it unites them now.*

    Anyway, getting back to a bug hunt versus a human war, and the dehumanization of the enemy. There are a couple of issues here. One is that you really need to look at what exterminators do before you think that they're gentler to alien species than soldiers would be. They're bug hunters, and the weapons they used are banned from use on humans by international treaty (not that it doesn't happen). War with aliens in something like Starship Troopers gets treated as exterminators going after termites, not as humans going after other humans wearing rubber foreheads and rubber prostheses.

    As for the dehumanization of the human enemy, well, I'll break the censors on this account if I print out the full versions of various words, but I'd simply refer to g**ks, ch*nks, sl*nts, j*ps, n*ps, kr**ts, sand n*ggers, r*dsk*ns, and so forth, from America's last wars. You can see some examples here. Portraying someone as inhumanly evil is a standard tactic for making it easier for soldiers to kill them.

    Note that I'm not saying that any of this is right, I'm simply pointing out that there are different ways of dealing with violence, both in real life and in MilSF.

    *I only get annoyed with that picture because I was stupid enough to share it on facebook, and I've gotten enough antianthropic breast beating of the "we're so evil, we should all die," kind that I kicked back. The bison are starting to come back, so are the Plains Tribes, and I'd rather not moor them in that damned past when they've both got so many problems now and so much potential for the future.

    334:

    I too avoided Stalky for much the same reasons until I encountered a Stalky tale in an anthology of Kipling stories and was thoroughly enjoying it before I realised it even was a Stalky tale; after this I read the rest of them, and am glad I did. Basically they are fictionalised autobiography with the colour knob turned up, like quite a lot of his stuff is.

    335:

    Starship Troopers: I'd say it isn't Fascist

    Well,there was was that unfortunate quote,

    "the franchise is force, naked and raw, the Power of the Rods and the Ax. Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force."

    Overall, I'm more favorably inclined to SST than a lot of people, but there are many things in it that should give one pause. On genocide, although the raid in Chapter 1 was in no way that, in other places it appears that the Terran Federation was quite willing to slag the Bugs' home planet and likely did so once it developed planet busters ("nova bombs").

    336:

    Governments have a reasonably complete monopoly on the use of force in a region. They get that by having the most access to violence. Now, it's not just violence which gives control, there's also custom.

    However, I think Heinlein is describing all governments rather than something which distinguishes fascist governments.

    On the other hand, there is the Rods and Axe....

    At this point, I'm uncertain, though the ST government doesn't seem to have the kind of centralized control I'd expect from a fascist government.

    Johnny's political passivity might fit in somewhere. On one hand, I expect a fascist society to demand enthusiasm. On the other, Heinlein generally says that taking politics seriously is a crucial part of being an adult.

    337:

    Total disagreed with my suggestion that the modern trend of increased civilian casualties is not the result of a deliberate policy to wipe out civilians, providing examples: "Uh, and the Nazis in the USSR, and the Germans in East Africa with the Herero, and the strategic bombing campaigns in both Europe and Japan during WWII, and (thankfully never used) the targeting of cities by all sides with nuclear weapons during the Cold War"

    Good point. I lapsed into North American/Euro-centric logic, and by modern I suspect I incorrectly had "since I was born" at the back of my mind. I partially retract the statement on that basis. I think it's possible to come up with both examples and counterexamples, and don't know offhand which would account for the majority of cases.

    My understanding of nuclear weapons is that they are primarily intended as tools to (i) scare the enemy enough that they don't even think of starting a fight with you and (ii) take out targets and infrastructure that would be prohibitively difficult to take out with conventional arms. That is, the goal is not primiarly to exterminate civilian populations; that is considered a possibly acceptable side-effect. But it could be plausibly argued, as you suggest, that nukes are intended primarily as weapons of genocide. I would note, however, that they have never been used that way. The only two nukes that have been used were in Japan, and at least in the case of Hiroshima, they were aimed primarily at a plausible military target. Nagasaki may not have been as significant a military target; I don't know its history as well.

    Total: "Further, there is no "modern trend in increased civilian casualties." The number of dead civilians in wars has been trending *down* for a century, not up."

    Have to disagree with you on this one. World War II set a new record for civilian fatalities in absolute numbers (>50 million), though possibly not as a % of the population. For Korea, the total is ca. 800K civilian deaths, which is also high by historical standards. Ditto for Vietnam at ca. 2 million civilian deaths. Can't comment on recent African wars; they're outside my knowledge base, but Google suggests more than 1 million in the Rwandan genocide.

    Total: "That separation [of warriors from civilians] has never actually happened, at least in the modern era."

    Depends on how you define "modern" (what date) and "warfare", I suppose. And what examples one cherrypicks to support the argument. Before World War I, warfare largely separated the opposing armies from the civilians, which is something that disappeared with World War II. Please note that this is a gross oversimplification, with many counterexamples possible, siege warfare being a notable exception. For the notion of the historical trend towards increasing civilian casualties, I refer you to the two books I cited earlier. Like any academic works, I'm certain there are subsequent academic critiques and disagreements. But I found their arguments persuasive overall.

    338:

    It's possible that Heinlein was referring the ancient Roman symbol rather than Italian fascism, but who knows?

    Fascism is miserably hard to define: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2018/08/dread-of-heinleinism.html

    Perhaps it would be better to look at the ideas in Starship Troopers and whether they were good or bad rather than trying to figure whether they're fascist.

    340:

    "E Pluribus Unum" is a direct outgrowth of the old Roman Republic's ideals. Lincoln's statue in Washington has his hands resting on fasces for that reason, the unifier of the nation but only after 750,000 people were dead.

    The Nazis and Mussolini corrupted the ideal and made the word Fascism evil (a bit like the swastika which is, to this day, a religious symbol in India and Japan) but what they did wasn't unifying the way the original concept was supposed to be, it was divisive. I try very hard not to use the term "fascism" to describe a lot of not-very-nice political thinking for that reason.

    341:

    The Nagasaki bomb went off right over the Mitsubishi military plant. Because they missed. It was supposed to go off over the centre of the city, but clouds got in the way of aiming it. So it was great for the plausibility of the claim that it was an attack on a military target, but that target wasn't actually what they were trying to hit.

    The nukes were in one sense an extension of the fire-bombing campaign, which was being so successful that the nuke people had to beg the fire-bomb people to leave them a handful of targets un-bombed so they could see what a nuke did on an untouched target. The fire-bombing in turn originated because the Japanese practice of giving workers producing smaller components a machine and a bag of bits and having them do the job at home, so the "factory" and the "city" occupied the same physical space, provided an excuse for bombing profligately and indiscriminately as bombing methods of the time tended to be; it was found that Japanese construction methods burned really well, and Japanese anti-aircraft defences couldn't do anything about it. The result was that the strategy shifted to extermination, whatever they said it was in public. The message the nukes sent was hey, look, we can exterminate a whole city now in an instant with just one bomb, how d'you like them potatoes? - and the intent was to send it both to Japan, for immediate effect, and to Stalin, for future reference.

    Re separation, surely a major difference between modern armies and previous ones is that modern armies are often rich enough to eat food provided by their home nation, instead of relying on pinching it off peasants as they pass. Time was when for the civilians along their route there was basically no difference between friendly and enemy troops; whichever they were they would nick all your shit at sword-point and eat your goat.

    342:

    What fascinates me is the idea of soldiers being allowed to refuse a mission. They lose their chance at ever getting a vote, I think, but there's no other punishment. Anyone want to discuss it? How do you think it would play out in the real world? It might not make sense for most of the military-- the M.I. are unusual in having well-defined missions rather than being on campaigns.

    I think it's the idea of "citizen-soldiers" that permeates the SST story. The soldiers fight and are trained and under military discipline while they serve but they are primarily citizens and are thus entitled under society's rules to change their mind, especially if they come to the belief that what they are doing is immoral or it is otherwise untenable for them to continue in service. I think it's unlikely that many would refuse to fight immediately before a mission, it's going to be more like the situation in "Space Cadet" where one of the cadets resigns immediately after graduating.

    The voting franchise is gained after but not during service so that someone who signs up for Federal Service (and they cannot be refused entry into Federal Service for other than psychological reasons e.g. not able to comprehend the oath) can't vote once then immediately resign.

    343:

    The nukes were in one sense an extension of the fire-bombing campaign,

    Yeah. See http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2018/01/19/purely-military-target/

    Although the apologetic explanation is that there was, really, pinkie-swear, a military target there, the nukes were aimed at cities.

    344:

    Nagasaki may not have been as significant a military target; I don't know its history as well.

    It was a major shipbuilding and ship repair facility as well as a ferry port and it still is to this day. It was on the Kyushu coast that had been designated for the initial landings for the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands (the Japanese knew that this was where the invasion was going to happen, there was not going to be any way of deceiving the enemy as with Operation Overlord). Nagasaki was going to get smashed before the invasion, by conventional bombing if not another atomic bomb. In fact Nagasaki was not the primary target, that was a city north-east of Nagasaki called Kokura which housed the Koishikawa Arsenal military production complex which is why it was on the target list at all (it was the alternate target of the Hiroshima bomb). Kokura would probably have been the recipient of the next atomic bombing if the war had continued for a few more days.

    345:

    Martin @ 298 & Charlie, later
    Excuse me but Searle & Willans classic is NOT a “School Story” – its both a classic as already stated & a complete antithesis to all the others & YES of course I have copy – in my bog-side reading collection of humorous trifles.

    Pigeon @ 318
    Ah the “Westerns” – which were quite good - & the “Warships” – which were crap & the “Other Warships” which weren’t even good enough to be crap ….
    I won’t mention the Hymeks if you won’t!

    WHitroth @ 323
    That was THEN – as you say, it’s changed now, but that major international corporation went very spectacularly bust, some years ago ….

    346:

    Response:


    That is, the goal is not primarily to exterminate civilian populations

    No, both the USSR and the US war plans during the Cold War explicitly targeted civilian populations -- so-called “counter value” targets.

    The only two nukes that have been used were in Japan, and at least in the case of Hiroshima, they were aimed primarily at a plausible military target

    No, they weren’t -- well, perhaps in the sense that the targeting points may have been military. But the goal, like all the fire bombings of Japanese city, was to destroy the city and kill civilians. The United States had actually spared five Japanese cities from the conventional firebombing because those raids were doing such a good job of killing civilians that they didn’t want to waste the nukes on an already incinerated target. The nuclear bombs didn’t even kill the most Japanese civilians -- that was the firebombing of Tokyo in March 1945.

    World War II set a new record for civilian fatalities in absolute numbers (>50 million), though possibly not as a % of the population. For Korea, the total is ca. 800K civilian deaths, which is also high by historical standards. Ditto for Vietnam at ca. 2 million civilian deaths.

    I’ll note that your own statement above undercuts your original point about “modern trend in increased civilian casualties.” If WWII set a new record then it’s hardly been increasing since then, has it?

    But in any case, the number of civilian casualties in World War I has been estimated at around 10 million; World War II around 50 million. Korea was then about 2 million + and Vietnam about the same. Since then, the number of civilian casualties has gone down to the degree that the Rwandan genocide at 1 million is an outlier. If you want me to adjust my statement to be that “after a burst in the first half of the 20th century that peaked in World War II, civilian fatalities have dropped steadily over the last 3/4s of a century (1945-present).

    Before World War I, warfare largely separated the opposing armies from the civilians, which is something that disappeared with World War II.

    It really didn’t. Not in Europe and not in the Empires. European civilians were slaughtered quite regularly by the armies throughout the Westphalian period, notably in the French wars of independence, and the Napoleonic wars. Global civilians were slaughtered quite regularly by their own armies and by conquering European armies, in India, and China, and Africa. Just to pull one example out, about 30 million Chinese, mostly civilians, died in the mid-19th Taiping Rebellion. These aren’t exceptions, these are regular occurrences.

    I refer you to the two books I cited earlier

    I’m a Ph.D in military history, so I do have some idea what I’m talking about.

    347:

    Plus the USAAF found that they couldn't hit dick from high altitude in their shiny B-29s so it was fill the bomb bays up with incendiaries and go in at low level boys. That brilliant idea courtesy of Curtis Le May. Anyone interested in the Allied bombing campaigns in Europe and Asia and the question of their legality should read A.C. Graylings Among the Dead Cities, recommend it.

    348:

    RE Western hydraulic drive diesels, the East Lancs railway were running a hymek round with an engine out a Western for a bit a few years ago.
    I seem to recall that the North British built Warships, like many early diesels, did get sorted eventually. By the time they had, though, their small numbers and bad reputation had sealed their fate. Pity the one at Barry didn't survive

    349:

    You've got to remember the situation: the Japanese were prepping their citizens to die in the millions defending against the US invasion, under the notion that the US would negotiate a peace rather than pay the butcher's bill of up to a million US dead and 5-7 million Japanese dead to take down the empire.

    It might have worked too. Polls before the nukes dropped indicated that 25% or so of US citizens did not support the US invading Japan. All the Japanese had to do was let the bloodbath happen, and they thought that would save the emperor.

    So instead of sending hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to kill millions of Japanese, Wilson chose to kill hundreds of thousands of Japanese with single bombs, to demonstrate that the US could destroy the Japanese without invading and without them being able to stop the US, and thus they had the choices of surrender or destruction. This was aided by the US dropping leaflets with the list of which cities would be destroyed.

    Yes, it was a bluff, but no one knew how many atomic bombs the US had, and it certainly looked real after we destroyed two cities.

    It's also worth considering that the fire bombing and target bombing had by that point caused far more casualties than the atomic bombs did, as well as destroying all the major infrastructure (bridges, railroads, ports, etc.) needed for the Japanese to feed themselves, and they still wouldn't surrender. Indeed, the culture that "Japanese die rather than surrender" was so embedded in the leadership that there was an attempted coup against the emperor when he broadcast the Japanese surrender. There's a lesson there both about fascism and about establishing a culture where underlings assassinate their leaders if they show less than total devotion to their underlings' ideology.

    So yes, it was hellish, but I still think that Wilson made the right decision. The sick part is that he had to do it. That's a demonstration of the problems with fascism.

    350:

    The message the nukes sent was hey, look, we can exterminate a whole city now in an instant with just one bomb, how d'you like them potatoes?

    Tokyo and Osaka and Yokohama had already been fucked over by 19th-century technology incendiary and freefall iron-cased bombs and the B-29 factories were running full-tilt -- Boeing built 300 B-29s in October 1945, a full month after the war ended because they couldn't shut the production lines down fast enough. The "message" of the atomic bomb was lost on the Japanese government who were more worried about the upcoming invasion of the Home Islands and latterly the entry of the soviet Union into the war against Japan with the invasion of Manchuria by a million Soviet soldiers. Nukes are impressive, sure but if you want to send a message use Western Union, as they say.

    - and the intent was to send it both to Japan, for immediate effect,

    There was no effect. The War Cabinet discussed the news about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and decided to keep fighting, no surrender. The news of the Manchurian invasion then came in (it started on August 8th, three months to the day after V-E Day as Stalin had promised the West at Yalta) and they started to waver knowing they were going to lose the last large coherent militiary force they still had left, the Emperor gave them coverage and surrender was decided on.

    and to Stalin, for future reference.

    Who immediately started/accelerated his own nuclear weapons program with the knowledge that they could actually be built and the Soviets detonated their first test device in 1949 leading to a multi-trillion dollar arms race for the US people to pay for out of their own pockets. Not really joined-up thinking there, smart fella.

    351:

    Could it be that politics is a spectrum, and even the usual anarchist-authoritarian + communist-capitalist axes don't capture more than a thin slice through the possibilities?

    These days I find green-brown is at least as informative as communist-capitalist, but it's the anarchist-authoritarian one that scares me.

    352:

    One problem is that a common failure state of anarchy seems to be authoritarianism, not democracy. I guess the notion is that if people are too stupid or insufficiently disciplined to collectively solve problems, then only those who care get to do the work, and that favors authoritarianism.

    353:

    Not true: the Japanese knew exactly what they'd been hit by within a day of Hiroshima. Along with the Nazis, they'd experimented with nuclear physics, and they did determine that it was a nuclear blast very quickly.

    The rest is similarly questionable, but I don't see the point in attacking it point by point. The Japanese were out of touch with their Manchurian forces by that point, and the nukes convinced them to surrender, because they nullified their strategy for defending their homeland.

    The history of the fall of the Japanese Empire is told in exhaustive detail in Richard Frank's Downfall, and it's really worth reading it. The parallels between 1920s Japan and what the US is going through today are really worth paying attention to.

    354:
    The timidity caused by fear may superficially look like (and therefore be mistaken for) politeness.

    It's, err, complicated. You might define "politeness" as "trying not to offend others". Which might have different explanations, empathy for others, fear of repercussions, idealized self control, keeping a code of honor etc. Where repercussions might be violence, but also negative reactions of the offended party or society at large. As for the US:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_honor_(Southern_United_States)

    Personally, I find it somewhat funny that the same people talking about "politeness" are upset they can't use some N-words anymore because of politene^w, err, "political correctness"...

    355:

    The "message" of the atomic bomb was lost

    Yeah, no. The best concise examination of the decision to surrender was written by a Japanese historian, Sadao Asada, in 1998, in his article "The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan's Decision to Surrender: A Reconsideration." His main conclusion? "In the end, it was the atomic bomb, closely followed by the Soviet Union's entry into the war, that compelled Japan to surrender."

    There's been an ungodly historiographical fight over the atomic bombs almost since they were dropped, and it shows no signs of ending, so I'm not going to try and summarize the whole thing.

    356:

    As mentioned, it's not genocidal, but it's still problematic with the Geneva convention:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-combatant

    Actually, it's somewhat similar to a punitive expedition,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punitive_expedition

    and if you look at the list, it's quite clear most of these occured with "them foregn non-white bastards to be colonized an civilized by us".

    Another thing is, we know little about the Skinnies ethology and politics; in real life, with HSS, an attack like the one by the MI might just foster support; see Pearl Harbour and US attitudes to war.

    But then, I like reading Heinlein, but every other page I have to vent my frustration him being "one of the most intelligent idiots I know". The original idiot in question being the Marxist father of a friend, just to show it's little to do with politics...

    357:

    I actually finished a rough draft last night, but I will have to go over and over it again so I can get the voice of the main character right.

    What is it you do that has you in hotels all the time?

    358:

    It's also important to remember that when you're worldbuilding it's important to make sure your society has faults. Unless you're trying to create a political polemic, this is essential. So perhaps Heinlein said to himself, what are the vices likely to be produced by the history of my society? Maybe it goes harsher on childhood discipline than it should? Maybe it's got a militaristic obsession? Maybe there are kinds of service that don't lead to political power which should lead to political power, such as being a teacher or a social worker? Etc.

    As and you're thinking about this, remember Heinlein's interest in difficult thought experiments...

    359:

    You're assuming that both the humans and the Skinnies had signed some kind of treaty prohibiting certain kinds of attacks; one or the other side may have refused for any of multiple reasons. In fact, it's an assumption that humans even knew about the Skinnies before going to war with the bugs; we simply don't know the backstory.

    As for the other issue, we don't know whether the strategy was a good one or not for much the same reasons as above. I suspect that Heinlein was imagining a scenario where the Skinnies had refused to negotiate, complaining that the humans were weak, but I'm really just speculating.

    I think that the Bugs and Skinnies each represent a certain kind of opponent. The Skinnies can be reasoned with and are not so morally and ideologically defective that humans can't make a deal with them. The Bugs are a different kind of enemy, the kind that is lost to reason (as your species sees it); you don't even try to negotiate with them until you have seized them by the throat.

    I'm not a big fan of MilSF, but one of the things that the Starfire books do quite intelligently is provide different kinds of aliens, some of which can be negotiated with, other of which have badly damaged societies, others of which are xenophobic in ways that require their annihilation if your own species wishes to survive.

    360:

    A slender man, of medium height, thinning hair, and a pencil-thin mustache, walked into the bar. Off in a corner, he saw an attractive blonde woman, in a long blue dress, open trench coat, and wide-brimmed hat. She had a drink in front of her, and an e-cig in a long holder in her mouth. He walked over to the booth, and said, "Ms. R? You asked to see me?"

    "Hello, Mr. Anson. Please sit down." He sat. She began, "I have a small problem..." when the tip of a small tentacle rose out of her drink. He noticed.

    "Is that part of the problem?"

    "It is. Some, ahhh, students of my work have managed to steal a copy I had of some parts of a book from the British Museum" She saw him raise an eyebrow. "This is one which is under strict controls, and limited access. Some friends managed to get me access. In afterthought, it was perhaps not wise of me to photograph some of the pages."
    ****************
    Note that I haven't decided if I want to go retro, in which case it would be that he sees a dame in the corner... oh, wait, she was knighted, wasn't she... so she is a Dame....

    361:

    "...saw a Dame in the corner..." would be a nice pun.

    I use gmail, so you can probably guess my email address if you want to send me the whole thing.

    362:

    a common failure state of anarchy seems to be authoritarianism, not democracy.

    I hadn't realised that such an objection was possible, but ok. What endpoint would you like on the "most free" end of the freedom spectrum? Dictatorship of the majority? Individualistic statism?

    To me, "anarchism" a shorthand for something like "maximum personal freedom as that is compatible with the freedom of others" and at the other end of the spectrum place "as complete control over as much of the population as can be accomplished". I think it's a useful way to analyse governments.

    This gets back to some of the discussion about whether Heinlein used incest as a taboo to be played with or was revealing his own obsession. What the audience takes from what he wrote isn't necessarily related to what he meant... often we're seeing an 'ick' reaction rather than a reasoned response. Ditto the US "anarchism is hell" reaction.

    FWIW I was more repulsed by his comfort with rape than by any liking for incest in his writing (the contrast between demands for consent-based politics and complete disregard for consent-based sex did my head in).

    363:

    I kind of agree that kids are conservative but I think the examples above are generally more accurately reactionary. Conservative IMO is more "don't break that, what if we can't fix it?" which is where you get common ground with conservationists. I recall being something of an ecofascist as a child, very "we should make rules to stop this, and kill people who break them (both for deterrence and because they've shown they can't live in the world as it is... they want to kill us all)".

    I went through a liberal phase of "no harm no foul" but while I still agree with that, I see a lot more foul as being a lot more obvious now. I don't think you can claim to be homo sapiens sapiens *and* not want to slow global warming, for example, any more than you can claim that smoking is harmless or a seven year old can consent to sex. But we see all of that and more done by world leaders...

    Now that I'm 50 I'm back to being more like the young conservative me, in the "we only have one planet, don't fuck it up (you morons, geez, get offa my lawn)". I think the major change is that I'm more aware that other people (IMO) grossly overvalue human life - they'd rather have an extra billion starving children than a sustainable society. I'm not specifically pointing at the pope here, more at all the "without economic growth society will collapse" idiots who are stuck in a far less reality-based cult than the pope is.

    364:

    I wrote that before I found this gem BTW

    The prime minister of Samoa has called climate change an “existential threat ... for all our Pacific family” and said that any world leader who denied climate change’s existence should be taken to a mental hospital.

    In a searing speech delivered on Thursday night during a visit to Sydney, Tuilaepa Sailele berated leaders who fail to take climate change seriously, singling out Australia, as well as India, China and the US, which he said were the “three countries that are responsible for all this disaster”.

    365:

    There's been an ungodly historiographical fight over the atomic bombs almost since they were dropped, and it shows no signs of ending

    Anytime I have a discussion on this with the no excuse for ever dropping them the people they seem to think that the Joint Chiefs and Truman had a real time status board with sat feeds or some such.

    In 1945 information was late, incomplete, and many times conflicting until analyzed later. And maybe still conflicting.

    366:

    I missed seeing this entry posted, so have ~300 comments to catch up on... getting there... I went to dig out my copy of Heinlein's "Take Back Your Government" - non-fiction written in 1946 but not published until 1992. Unfortunately couldn't find it. I haven't read in 20 years so would be interested in seeing anyone's comments on it, tying in with his post-war but pre-1970 work. Also, considering comments are now post 300, whether any of the groundroots organisation stuff I remember it talking about still holds up today in electorate/city/precinct politics.

    367:

    "Surrendur of Japan" & the "legitimacy" of using the nukes.
    Peopl forget ... yes they really were that utterly mad & I'm sorry to say that using the nukes probably did "svae lives" in the end.
    David L @ 363 - yes - "perfect information - only possible with hindsight - sometimes, maybe. ... SO Nojay @ 348 - NOT perfect information was there ...

    Yeah, Heteroimeles @ 347: there was an attempted coup against the emperor when he broadcast the Japanese surrender. There's a lesson there both about fascism and about establishing a culture where underlings assassinate their leaders if they show less than total devotion to their underlings' ideology.

    Moz @ 349
    it's the anarchist-authoritarian one that scares me
    ME TOO
    The rsignation of Frank Field is a straw in the wind. Just when an old left-wing tory/Lem-o-Crat like me starts to wonder about the Labour party [ see NOTE below ] this insanity happens, because of the Momentium semi-anarchist/semi-communist/definitely-authoritarian loonies come crawling out of the woodwork.
    Actually the (almost) guaranteed failure mode of anarchy is authoritarianism!

    Moz @ 362
    How long before others start following his lead?
    Soon I hope.
    Meanwile .....
    This is depressingly accurate

    { NOTE: My local MP, for whom I vote, is Labour - in this country you vote for the CANDIDATE - something some corbynite slime on this morning's "Today" programme denied by implication, by speaking of voting for "The Prty" when referring to Mr FIeld, oops. But she, with a mjority of 20 000+ is under attack, because she is not ideologically pure.
    It's beginning to look as if both the tories & Labour are going to tear themseleves apart at this rate.
    Meanwhile, by chance ( I've had a rdiculous crop surplus in some areas this year ) I've become peripherally involved with a food bank charity, & it's both pitiful & disgusting to see the people queuing up for food they can't afford. And I'm both angry & helpless, not a good feeling.

    368:

    "So yes, it was hellish, but I still think that Wilson made the right decision. The sick part is that he had to do it. That's a demonstration of the problems with fascism."

    Agreed. It was clear that, unless the Japanese warlords were negated as a political force, they would have rearmed and started again - I read that, in the negotiations before Hiroshima, they were still playing hard-ball about retaining the naval fleet - WWIII before 1970, with nukes on all sides. As you say, the estimates were that an invasion would have been bloody, and might have cost the USA and British empire more lives than the rest of the war put together.

    369:

    I like it! No, she isn't a Dame in the UK, though she might be one in France! She is a Companion of Honour, though, which is rather more prestigious :-)

    370:

    Its not an official service but most UK airports have both a Stationery store (usually WH Smiths or an indepen and a post box tucked away where you can achieve the same thing. Heathrow apparently even has a post office in terminal 3.

    371:

    The "Reconsideration" article has attracted a lot of fire from historians over the past twenty years or so as more details of the events that led up to the announcement of the surrender have been revealed. The new thing that's crept out of the history books, at least in the West is the actual existence of the Manchurian invasion, the largest land battle in history which was neglected by historians as a reason for the surrender decision because it was overshadowed by the partial destruction of two cities by a new wonder weapon, the atomic bomb.

    The A-bomb wasn't actually that effective as a "city killer" compared to, say, the Tokyo or Hamburg firestorm. It melted concrete at the hypocentre, the point directly under the explosion but its singular blast attenuated quite rapidly as it propagated with a lot of the initial energy going vertically upwards whereas iron bombs and incendiaries expended their energy at or under ground level.

    Stone and concrete buildings in Hiroshima more than a kilometre from the hypocentre were practically undamaged, timber buildings two kilometres away were untouched. The underground structures were undamaged even in the blast area, water and gas pipes left untouched unlike the case when ground-penetrating bombs intended to burst such structures, break into air raid bunkers etc. were used on Osaka and Tokyo. The Hiroshima authorities had trams running on repaired tracks less than a kilometre from the hypocentre within three or four days of Fat Man being dropped on the city centre. Three days after the initial bombing the Hamburg firestorm, a real "city killer" was still burning strongly.

    372:

    Its still pretty simple - using ETRTO/ISO number pretty much solves most of the problems. But by volume it comes down to traditional mountain bike tires 26" and traditional road bike tyres 700c. 29er MTB's which now seem to be a bit of a flash in the pan were just wider 700c tyres, and many 700c/29er tyres are interchangeable if your bike has enough clearance.

    20" is also fairly common due to legacy economies of scale from the BMX era, and it being good for kids bikes.

    Interesting/useless fact - if it wasn't for a very short supply of fat 700c tyres from Nokia (yes that Nokia used to be a tyre company) when the modern mountain bike was being born in California we would probably all be using the same tyre diameter on our bikes - road or mountain.

    373:

    Sorry, but that's just wrong. Traditional (pre-MTB) bicycle tyres would be 26x1.375 or 27x1.25 beaded, or 27x1.0 tubular.

    374:

    I didn't know that (about the Nokia aspect). 20" is also common on recumbents, which are currently very small but probably increasing. However, as an example of how many odd sizes there are, and old ones still in use, look at the tyre counts for each size in:

    https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/tyres-tubes/?geoc=US

    375:

    I had a look at your MP's Wikipedia page, Greg, (Stella Creasy, right) and I can see why she's so down on Corbyn since he's not a New Labour supporter and too left-wing for her tastes. Pity he keeps on being re-elected leader by substantial majorities of actual Labour Party members.

    376:

    What bit is wrong? The Nokia bit or something else? The Nokia bit is well described here, I can point you to a forum where some of the original players describe it too.

    http://mombatbicycles.com/MOMBAT/BikeHistoryPages/29er.html

    If anyone has time to spare the alternate history of what a UK developed mountain bike could have been ie one actually designed for mud and rain rather than hardpack and sun - Google Cleland Highpath.

    377:

    He also forgot the 28x1.5/1.625 size, which was extremely common, though probably not in the USA.

    378:

    Its not quite as simple as Greg suggests either. There a multiple factors at work here.

    Labour has been skewed by the influx of Momentum members as noted. So you now have a more traditionally left leaning skew at the membership level than since the 1980's with a faction that leans hard left with Corbyn either in control or riding the tiger just as Cameron attempted to ride the UKipper tiger.

    The MP's the Parliamentary Labour Party are still mostly centrist in nature having climbed the greasy pole during the Blair/Brown years.

    You have anti-semitic stirring against Labour by a number of parties - many of which have vested interests in there not being a coherent opposition whilst the Brexit car crash is in motion, plus what appears to be Corbyn being a stubborn old goat with clear Palestinian sympathies.
    Plus the muddle factor of anti-semitism, anti-zionism and anti-Israelism (is that a thing?) all being deliberately conflated. The 3 missing definitions that they missed out all look distinctly anti-israeli rather anti-semitic to me. Full disclosure I am truly ignorant on the finer points and will defer to anyone who can explain it to me :) who can at least detail what their own biases are first

    Then you have a core of 4 brexiteers in the Labour PLP of whom Frank Field is one and Kate Hoey is another all whom rely on the votes of Brexiteer constituents to stay elected - at least when the referendum was conducted. I haven't looked at the MP's history enough to understand how personally they are anti-EU although Field certainly seems to be.

    Add in the fact that those 4 prevented a Government loss in a key brexit vote recently - which some people believe would have caused a general election - I personally believe it just would have added to the current cluster fuck.

    So in short lots of factors with lots of potentially total chaotic (in the mathematical sense) results from their interaction.

    Full disclosure all written from the point of view of a male cis wasp - uk version which is to say the p is silent, rightward leaning in my youth (80's) and centrist (Lemo-cratic as Greg would call it) remainer today.

    379:

    Not come across 27" myself Sheldon appears to indicate its an old British size. Most 28's equate to 700c.

    The TL;DR measured in inches = Batshit insane. Measured in mm = some hope of sanity. Example my german folding bicycle has 18" wheels, a Brompton has 16" wheels, the actual difference measured at the rim diameter is 6mm or 0.23in.

    I would still contend that the tyres on "standard" mtb and road BSO's (bike shaped objects) rolling out of far eastern factories easily dominate today by volume, with a caveat that there is possibly a wacky Chinese standard on a billion get-arounds that I've never heard of.

    Thus should probably endeth the diversion on bike tyres :)

    380:

    Not quite, for those bored with it :-) The 1950s-1960s situation, when Raleigh was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world and dominated the old empire, was that 16"/20"/24" were for children's bicycles, 26"x1.3/8" for utility ones, 27x1.1/4"" for road racers and 28x1.5/8" for roadsters. 1.1/2" was also used in 26" and 28". The 26" and 28" were Westwood rims, the 27" Endrick, and I don't know about the others. The basic sizing wasn't batshit insane, but I agree that it wasn't exactly flexible and that made it completely fall apart when the situation changed. I agree that it is now totally unsuitable, and would be batshit demented if proposed today.

    381:

    Having grown up in a solidly Labour-supporting working-class town where two short planks would win the Election handily if it wore a Labour Party rosette I know there's a lot of racism and anti-Semitism running around in the general pool of Labour voters. I sort-of hoped we'd be growing out of it by now but the Brexit vote for Leave in predominantly Labour areas showed it's not all gone away.

    382:

    I am reminded of the Bike magazine (that's motorbike, not penny-farthing derivatives) annual awards one year where the winning nomination for Numpty of the Year went to the guy who tried to put a 16-inch tyre on a 17-inch rim. The fact he apparently succeeded garnered him yet another award.

    383:

    My suspicion is that many of these -ism's reside on planes that are orthogonal to the Left-Right plane political parties are on - effectively meaning that the number of anti-semites in each partly merely reflects the distribution of anti-semites across the general population as a whole.

    384:

    Labour and the unions generally have high-minded ideals of not being racist or sexist or anti-Semitic or anti-gay etc. The voters are something else but they're reliable dedicated voters for Labour ideals like the NHS and decent pay and working conditions and the like so calling them out on their attitudes and telling them to sling their hook gleans Labour a permanent position as Her Majesty's Opposition (if they're lucky). Ditto for Brexit -- UKIP's 3.9 million votes in the 2015 General election all didn't come from disaffected Tories hence Corbyn's attitude to the Referendum result since he doesn't want to lose those votes in the next election.

    385:

    I'd be prepared to bet that the majority of pneumatic tyre bicycles manufactured pre-date metric wheels.

    Oh and I had a Puch, and knew someone with an Eddy Merckx, that both had 27"x1.25" clinchers ex factory, so claims that it's "an obscure British size" don't seem to stand up against an examination of Austrian and Belgian manufactured machines.

    386:
    You're assuming that both the humans and the Skinnies had signed some kind of treaty prohibiting certain kinds of attacks;

    Err, I don't. But the Geneva Convention is somewhat binding even when dealing with non-signatories, when the other party breaks it you're allowed to do reprisals, but even then attacks on civilians are theoretically a no-go. In practive, it might differ, of course, bombing Cambodia, anyone...

    Which might explain why some of us with a background in actual military (Martin) have a very bad feeling about this, AFAIK the Geneva Conventions get hammered into you in RL "moral philosophy" lessons.

    Of course, you could easily explain non-citizen human rights away with "no rights without responsibility", but then, you have to admit Heinlein openly says his little experiment doesn't protect human rights in non-citizens.

    (Actually, there is a some impetus for citizens to keep the world of SST in a state of constant war, most soldiers don't graduate because their service never ends, only a few select citizens get promoted, to replicate the current regime.)

    Of course, we could argue the skinnies are not human, though then animal law would apply. Though then, maybe that one only applies to LUCA descendents...

    Of course, we could also speculate Skinny society has no distinction between civilians and soldiers, and the attack at the beginning of SST is on a warrior culture.

    Sadly, Rico never asks about it (he's not the sharpest tool in the shed and gets told thus when applying), though personally I think a society that actually punishes thinking about your orders (you don't become a citizen if you object) is somewhat "morally and ideologically defective". It's my personal opinion, of course, but cultural relativism is for pussies, even if I'm the only member of the culture doing the judgment. ;)

    ...we don't know whether the strategy was a good one or not for much the same reasons as above.

    It's heavily implied it worked, because the Skinnies switched sides. As mentioned, IRL this would likely backfire. Please note one problem I have with Heinlein is, err, let's say he's somewhat compartmentalized, I once read "Free Men", which indicates he understands the dynamics of guerilla warfare, and why people might shut up in the face of violence trying to make them do something. But I have a feeling he has some problems applying that one to the other side. Of course, that's all too human.

    The Skinnies can be reasoned with and are not so morally and ideologically defective that humans can't make a deal with them.

    Err, there is so much wrong with this part of the sentence I don't know where to start, sorry.

    In the meantime, why do you assume the Bugs or Skinnies have anything like "moral" or "ideology"? For all we know, they might be totally instinct driven, like Watt's scramblers. And as hinted at, the "defective moral and ideology", e.g. culture might be the same one Heinlein glorifies in "Free Men".

    the kind that is lost to reason (as your species sees it);

    Err, that's better, but please note it might not just be species but also culture. Honour societies are quite logical in certain circumstances, e.g. weak central authority, still, quite a few WASPs would say they are not reasonable...

    ...some of which can be negotiated with, other of which have badly damaged societies, others of which are xenophobic in ways that require their annihilation if your own species wishes to survive.

    Err, biologist here, who somewhat took Darwin's comment about bees to heart:

    "If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering."

    You might want to read Blindsight about a clearly intelligent alien that can not be reasoned with, coexistence might be easy if we just stayed quiet.

    BTW, personal experience, if in the course of a courtship display you feel tempted to quote "How do you say 'We come in peace' when the very words are an act of war?", you better forget about this particcular courtship.

    387:

    I think you've got the timeline reversed. The reconsideration was an issue of the 80s and 90s. In 1995 and onwards, records that had been sealed for 50 years after the war became available on both the Japanese and American sides, so that historians got to see the documents from the Truman Whitehouse and the Japanese Imperial command. It's also when some of my favorite weirdness from WWII, like the Ghost Army and NAPKO, got really uncovered (actually, NAPKO was first described in the 1970s, but the actual documents only popped up in the 1990s or later).

    Manchuria is important to current politics, but it wasn't important to Japan's decision to surrender. What was more important was the USSR entering the war and invading the Sakhalin Islands in preparation for invading Hokkaido.

    The reason Manchuria wasn't important was that by that point, none of the ports in western Japan were functional. They'd all be bombed and mined into uselessness by the US. Soldiers wouldn't be coming back from the Manchurian retreat to defend Japan until those ports got fixed, and given the level of bombardment, that wasn't going to happen in time to deal with the invasion.

    As I noted above, the game changer was that the nuclear bombs convinced Japan that their defense plan for the islands was useless, because the US could stand off and destroy their cities and their emperor without losing anyone. It was a bluff, because the US only had one more bomb in production, but it worked, and it did paradoxically limit the amount of bloodshed.

    (Un)fortunately, this lesson seems to have percolated through US air superiority doctrine to this day, while the failure of the firebombing, bridge and rail destruction, etc. to force a surrender did not. To make this clear, I'm not sure how much of the argument for the separate US Air Force is predicated on the success of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rather than on the consequences of bombing raids on Germany and Japan. Hopefully some air boffin will straighten me out on that.

    388:

    When I took up bicycles without coaster hubs, 27" was what you could get in the U.S., unless you wished to deal with sew ups. The Michelin Elan showed up in the mid 70s in either 27X1" or 700X25C. BTW, the 27" referred to the (Very) approximate diameter. In the U.S., there were two sizes of 20", 24" and 26" fat tires, Schwinn had patented "Balloon" tires, and the rest of the industry had to use a different, smaller, size. The Schwinn sizes had their width in fractions while what became the standard had the width in decimal, "2 1/8" vs 2.125". I believe American MTBs went with the non-Schwinn size for the better selection of tires and rims. (And few bicycle nerds at Apple, my Mac is flagging every instance of "Scwinn" as a misspelling!).

    389:

    Small nit, Hiroshima received "Little boy", Nagasaki got the "Fat man" (and "the "Thin man" was never built).
    I believe it was Jerry Pournelle who claimed that the U.S. DOD went decades without having to mint "Purple Heart" medals, wounded service people during the unpleasantness in Korea & Viet Nam got medals that weren't needed because Japan surrendered.

    390:

    The Western coast of Japan wasn't (and still isn't) heavily populated and there aren't that many large ports compared to the Pacific coast (Tokyo Bay/Chiba/Yokohama/Yokosuka and Aomori in the north and Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kure and Kobe in Kansai, just off the top of my head). The only large port I can think of on the coast facing Korea and Russia is Niigata which, I believe, was never actually bombed at all during WWII. The north-western coastal cities were out of reach of B-29 bombing until quite late in the war but most of Japan's industry and population lay and still lies on the Pacific side of the country and it received the most attention from bombing planners. I doubt much of the Manchurian occupation force could make its way back to mainland Japan before the invasion and as far as I know it was not planned to attempt this.

    As an aside the big problem for Naval operations around the coasts was mining, the Allies spread sea-mines with a fine and generous hand which caused a problem later on after the war. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces started off as a minesweeping military to make the fishing grounds needed to feed the post-war population safe at the cost of quite a number of JMSDF lives. The JMSDF Museum is worth a visit if you're ever in Kure, by the way. You can't miss it, there's a submarine in the car park outside.

    The Japanese-held part of the Sakhalin Islands were invaded by Russian forces a day or two after the War Cabinet agreed to surrender and three days after the main Manchurian offensive started. The Soviet ability to launch an opposed maritime invasion of Hokkaido from the Sakhalin Islands was doubtful, they didn't have the necessary Naval assets and military skills and the southern ports of the island were quite underdeveloped. The Manchurian offensive ran out of supplies and materiel quite quickly despite the massive pre-planning and logistics of the run-up due to the scale of the operation and that would have further put a crimp on such an operation. The threat was always going to be there, of course.

    As for standing off and destroying the cities, American B-29 bombers were already doing that more thoroughly than the pinprick atomic bombs could. Even after Tokyo and Yokohama and Osaka were levelled with cumulative death tolls vastly exceeding the two nuclear bombings the War Cabinet had decided to fight on. They knew Hiroshima's centre was destroyed by an atomic device, followed by the reports from Nagasaki which indicated the same thing had happened there and they had decided to fight on by the 10th of August, accepting Japans' destruction as a nation rather than surrender. By then they also knew about the Manchurian offensive and they had a good idea it wasn't going to go well for them.

    The "attempted coup" against the Emperor was nothing of the sort -- a small group of idealistic junior Army officers tried to prevent the broadcast of the Emperor's recorded message[1] to the Japanese people announcing the surrender but failed. There were a number of military actions carried out after the surrender, effectively suicide missions which mostly came to naught.

    [1] The Japanese Imperial Household spoke an odd variant of regular Japanese unique to their closeted situation. The Emperor's speech as recorded was pretty much incomprehensible to the ordinary listeners who had never heard the voice of the Emperor before.

    391:

    You're right. My understanding, though, is that the US had severed all the major inter-island rail links and mined every major Japanese harbor in the summer of 1945, and that the backbone of the interisland rail lines was more a western than eastern thing. In any case, the major transit points for Korea are in the southeast, and those were effectively trashed well before the bomb.

    And I would disagree about the attempted coup. It was a coup attempt, by a small number of officers, and it failed because (surprise!) it was expected and squelched as it started. There had been similar actions (against ministers, rather than the emperor) since the 1930s, so there was nothing weird about this. The critical point was that a coup was attempted at all. Certainly most of the Japanese commoners weren't interested in fighting on, as witnessed by the lack of guerrilla action against the American occupation forces.

    AFAIK, there were also battles after the surrender, predominantly in Manchuria where they hadn't gotten word that the emperor had surrendered.

    392:

    Hiroshima was a major rail hub between the north and the west across into Kyushu as well as housing the Kansai area Army Headquarters. In the end Little Boy did little to damage the rail network through and around the city and I don't think it even had much effect on the Army operations. The targetting was chosen to be easy to find rather than strategic, a highly-visible intersection of rivers in the city centre. Hiroshima rail station was (and still is) a couple of km from the targetting point and wasn't damaged much.

    After-the-surrender attacks included an aerial assault by a group of die-hard Army pilots on an American photo-recon mission collecting bomb damage info on the 18th of August which resulted in a number of American deaths, the last Allied combat deaths recorded I believe. The Soviets continued to fight their way down the Korean peninsula for some time after the official surrender to the Allies was announced but they ran out of fuel and materiel about half-way down and stopped there, hence the post-war partition.

    393:

    According to records released since, after about a month's hiatus, the US could have produced between 3 & 4 A-bombs per month, from approx 15th September. A very real threat.

    394:

    You're missing a couple important things. The first is that there is considerable human history prior to the war with the Bugs/Skinnies, including the unification of Earth's nations. Whether anything like a Geneva Convention exists in that future is an open question (though I'd guess probably not.) Essentially, what you're doing is judging a future situation by the standards of the past. Also, note that Skinnies and Bugs aren't human, so the question of whether standards meant to apply to wars between human nations apply to aliens (with whom we are at war) is an open one.

    I suspect that following the Bug/Skinny War the survivors will get together and work out a legal structure governing warfare between species, but in the fiction as written, that simply hasn't happened yet, and humans don't know what "moral" war looks like from the POV of any alien society.

    Essentially, human society in that future has no legal obligation to either the Bugs or Skinnies, and it's still trying to figure out what the moral issues might be. Meanwhile, if the unified Earth has gone a hundred years without warfare between nations, the Geneva Conventions are a dead issue; something known only to historians.

    And note that human society is proceeding with care in terms of its moral obligations; actions are taken which (rightly or wrongly from a strategic point of view) are meant to lead to successful negotiations with the Skinnies - so we don't have to kill them - and at the end of the book Johnny is getting ready to occupy Klentathu rather than use a nova bomb, which would probably be both cheaper and easier. I get that people don't like Heinlein for a variety of reasons, but you aren't entitled to your own facts; you need to argue from the textual evidence, not bring in extraneous issues from current history.

    Assuming Heinlein is a logical writer, the Skinnies saw the humans as weak and refused to negotiate any kind of truce or treaty. However, once humans began raiding Skinny worlds the Skinnies were forced into a re-evaluation and eventually concluded that Humans were better allies, perhaps due to higher level of biological/social commonality.

    One of the things we don't have, and I strongly suspect this is deliberate, is the backstory to Starship Troopers. Heinlein is clearly exploring issues about what makes a citizen and how chains of command should work. Reading Starship Troopers intelligently is very much a matter of noting what Heinlein doesn't do, and considering whether these absences are a matter of accident or design.

    The problem here is that your whole argument is based on multiple assumptions which are unsupported by the text. Bringing in issues like the Geneva Convention shows how badly you're missing the point, because given the history Heinlein discusses, the Geneva Convention probably hasn't existed for a hundred years, (and we might or might not be able to apply it intelligently to aliens.)

    395:

    I will note that in the aftermath of WWII, many militaries, including the US, have in their codes that it is the duty of a member of the armed forces to refuse an illegal order.

    And so we hope that if the (new name for him) Malignant Carcinoma orders a nuke launch, they refuse.

    396:

    Ah yes, who ran, IIRC, in the primaries in '64, and everyone on the left referred to him as "Bombs Away with Curtis LeMay".

    397:

    Cons, of course. Was at Worldcon two weeks ago, so I was in three hotels that weekend, and the convention ctr; next con is the end of Sept, the local con, and, unusually for me, instead of working consuite, I'm working in the Green Room.

    398:

    Sorry, I *am* an USan, and missed the distinction. Pheaux, though, there goes a perfectly good pun.

    399:

    Nancy Lebovitz @ 323:

    What do people here make of the rule that people don't get their vote until they're done with their service? There's no explanation in the book for why it's done that way rather than people getting their vote after two years.

    It's in there. After the crash of western civilization (I think Heinlein calls it the troubles), it was veterans who banded together to re-establish order & bring back civilization. They decided that going forward full citizenship rights should be restricted to those who demonstrate commitment to society by self-sacrifice.

    It's not just "two years" service. That's an average duration enlistment in "peace time", but the actual "term" of service is "for the duration".

    The thing I find unsavory isn't in the book itself, it's the number of fans who are fascinated with the idea of restricting the franchise.

    It's not just people who dislike the book who don't understand it. Too many don't understand the mechanism of restriction. They think they will be among the enfranchised without recognizing the responsibility for service that precedes enfranchisement.

    What fascinates me is the idea of soldiers being allowed to refuse a mission. They lose their chance at ever getting a vote, I think, but there's no other punishment. Anyone want to discuss it? How do you think it would play out in the real world? It might not make sense for most of the military-- the M.I. are unusual in having well-defined missions rather than being on campaigns.

    The M.I. are based on World War 2 paratroopers. They trained for long periods before being on mission. The Airborne were light infantry who were intended to capture a landing ground or bridgehead and hold it until relieved, before returning to base to begin training for the next mission. When the military used them for campaigns they usually got chewed up even worse than they did on mission.

    The Army in WW2 was primarily made up of draftees, but being a paratrooper was voluntary. You could quit at any time up until they started loading you onto the aircraft. If you did quit, you'd be returned to your original unit to finish your enlistment. In Starship Troopers, there are no draftees, so there's no "original unit" for you to return to.

    OTOH, the Federation couldn't MAKE someone quit. There's a scene where Johnny Rico encounters someone he'd met who washed out of M.I. training during basic, but refused discharge. The service had to find him another job so he could complete his service. When Johnny Rico encounters him he's a Navy cook on the Starship Rico is assigned to.

    I grant that there's an unsavory right-wing element among libertarians, but I'm not convinced it's typical.

    It's typical. The vast majority of "libertarians" don't accept any concept of "common good" or "general welfare". For them it's all about their "rights" while accepting no responsibilities. They imagine themselves to be the "makers" when they are in fact "takers" in the extreme.

    400:

    Essentially, human society in that future has no legal obligation to either the Bugs or Skinnies, and it's still trying to figure out what the moral issues might be. Meanwhile, if the unified Earth has gone a hundred years without warfare between nations, the Geneva Conventions are a dead issue; something known only to historians.

    I'm fairly sure that Johnny Rico notes that to be eligible for officer training in the MI one needs to be a combat veteran. Either combat between humans continues or they have fought other aliens. If there is no legal framework they are rather lax about forming one.

    I note that this requires a continuing supply of veterans to maintain an officer corps, and therefore a continuing need for combat missions.

    401:

    Nojay @ 340:

    The Nazis and Mussolini corrupted the ideal and made the word Fascism evil (a bit like the swastika which is, to this day, a religious symbol in India and Japan) but what they did wasn't unifying the way the original concept was supposed to be, it was divisive. I try very hard not to use the term "fascism" to describe a lot of not-very-nice political thinking for that reason.

    I wouldn't call someone a fascist just because I disagree with his/her politics.

    OTOH, if someone is a fascist, and spouts fascist clap-trap, there's no reason to NOT call them on it. There's no reason for not calling a spade a spade.

    402:

    I suspect that following the Bug/Skinny War the survivors will get together and work out a legal structure governing warfare between species, but in the fiction as written, that simply hasn't happened yet, and humans don't know what "moral" war looks like from the POV of any alien society.

    Unless Earth has been pacifying rebellious colonies or something, there must have been other wars. Johnny meets that disabled chap when enlisting, for example, and his civics teacher was also wounded (IIRC) and a colonel when he retired.

    The fact that other wars aren't mentioned doesn't mean they weren't happening. Johnny isn't a news junkie, and tends to take the way things are as a given without questioning them much. So a small Banana War or punitive raid on the Frontier that he wasn't part of wouldn't necessarily have registered.

    I always assumed that the MI were SF Marines, with all that implied for being sent in to be a diplomatic stick.

    403:

    Please note that a year or more ago, Godwin, of Godwin's Law, publicly made the statement that it's not a breach of Godwin's Law to call someone a Nazi if they, in fact, *are* a Nazi.

    404:

    gordycoale @ 370:

    Its not an official service but most UK airports have both a Stationery store (usually WH Smiths or an indepen and a post box tucked away where you can achieve the same thing. Heathrow apparently even has a post office in terminal 3.

    But is it something you have access to BEFORE you have to pass through security where they're going to confiscate your "oops"?

    405:

    Neil W @ 400:

    I'm fairly sure that Johnny Rico notes that to be eligible for officer training in the MI one needs to be a combat veteran. Either combat between humans continues or they have fought other aliens. If there is no legal framework they are rather lax about forming one.

    I'm not sure actual combat experience is required; just that there was no path through the likes of the service academies. If I remember, one of the three "3rd lieutenants" in Johnny Rico's group had gone into officer school straight out of M.I. basic. There is an implication that in times of peace Federal Service is made more difficult specifically to maintain a high level of commitment among those serving. To me, that means there had to be a way for troopers to get experience from other than combat. The Federation couldn't just go starting wars willy-nilly to ensure a pool of "combat" veterans to supply Officer School.

    I guess I'm going to have to find another copy of Starship Troopers & start annotating it.

    406:

    Robert Prior @ 402:

    I always assumed that the MI were SF Marines, with all that implied for being sent in to be a diplomatic stick. "

    The M.I. modeled on the paratroopers of WW2 and on the way the Airborne Divisions were organized as a strategic rapidly deployable strike force in the post-Korean War period of the 1950s; with a little bit of the nascent U.S. Army Special Forces added in.

    407:

    whitroth @ 403:

    Please note that a year or more ago, Godwin, of Godwin's Law, publicly made the statement that it's not a breach of Godwin's Law to call someone a Nazi if they, in fact, *are* a Nazi.

    That's always been inherent in Godwin's Law, although most people who try to invoke it don't actually know what it says.

    "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1"

    It has been taken to mean that whoever first makes the comparison to Hitler HAS LOST THE ARGUMENT, but many have abused it to censor discussion of The Holocaust, antisemitism and totalitarianism in general and that's what Godwin was referring to.

    Like I wrote, if someone really IS a fascist (or a nazi), there is no reason why you can't call them on it. And anyone who tries to beat you up with Godwin's Law is full of shit.

    [PS: Mods - if this is a duplicate please delete. I apparently timed out while responding.]

    408:

    Getting back to the original topic, I wonder how the youth of today would do with, say, Star Beast, Red Planet, or some of the other stories we haven't mentioned to this point? I'm not bringing up Methuselah's Children and company, because we get bombarded with billion dollar enterprises built around metahumans and mutants all the time now, so the (secret breeding experiment) resulting in (superhumans) is kinda old hat.

    Now, if Heinlein had written some Hogben stories, *that* might have been interesting...

    409:

    "Thin man"

    That's an interesting bit of technical history. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin_Man_(nuclear_bomb)

    I suspect that, with further development, mostly meaning getting highly pure "supergrade" Pu239, it might have been made to work. But by that time, boosted implosion designs would have made it pointless.

    410:

    I tried to introduce my son to the Heinlein Juveniles. I'd planned to start him on Space Cadet, because he was a big military history fan at the time. Unfortunately the effort was botched by a third party who took all dozen Heinlein juveniles and told my son "These are for you!" without introducing them.

    I was very upset. For reasons.

    411:

    Perhaps there were minor colonial wars, but in the whole book nobody mentions any aliens other than Bugs or Skinnies, so the existence of another intelligent race is not supported by the text. As far as we know, Bugs and Skinnies are the only aliens humanity has met.

    As to whether humans had fought a major war... there's mention in the book of how First Klendathu was a horrible loss for the humans, which would not be surprising if there were no high-ranking generals/admirals currently alive who had fought in a large-scale battle. I can't say I have text evidence, but the issue is heavily implied and the issue of what happens when your generals' knowledge of battle is mainly theoretical is something Heinlein would have been very familiar with.

    412:

    Right. If you're ever in So Cal let me know. I'm in Riverside county.

    413:

    The politics in Smith's Lensman series became somewhat more comprehensible to me when I realized that, basically, what the Arisians were doing was providing a real, certified supply of philosopher kings. Handing all your government over to them, once you've become convinced the guarantee is valid, only makes sense, and would of course work out excellently -- since they're incorruptible and really bright and so forth, but also quite sympathetic to people not Lensmen.

    414:

    So, is Herr Drumpf ( Apparently really was his grendfather's name - nasty immigrant, oops! ) an Eddorian, or an Eddorian stooge?
    [ I would go for the latter, with Pence as the real deal .... ]

    415:

    Second thoughts ...
    A few years back I saw another performance of Die Zauberföte, which was set about 20 or 30 years before the actual opera was written.
    Sarastro really was a true 18thC Philosopher-King figure & the Queen of the Night wasn't eradicated or dropped through a trapdoor, as is all-too-often done ... she was simply banished from the light & knowledge of the enlightenment ... and staggered off the stage.
    [ Oh yes, MZB wre-wrote a very good re-take of that story: "Night's Daughter" ]

    416:

    Arisians? Suppose once you join the military you are no longer blanked by the world media and realise that the security forces targeted Buenos Aires, Operation Bright Pebble Horizon. Britain was an alternative, however it would take more work to politicise the theme there. Plus the British have no Borges, only the Turner Prize, it would take good cop bad cop mind to imagine you could make sufficient narrative from that. Or was it the Goat Prize?

    The defeat of the skinnies is finely crafted to both sedate and maintain the European deathwish, military technology being no longer capable of supplying the right kind of war. War does remain on Earth however its destruction is indicated by unlikely road schemes, called the Chappaquiddick effect after the extraordinary results of the weaponisation of international finance.

    Lens of the philosopher king? Lying! Lying hardly describes it. The Boys From Buenos Aires a readable Heinlein tribute?

    417:

    There's not much in the book except when it directly impacts the protagonist. I think this is a case where the old archaeology maxim "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is a good thing to keep in mind.

    Especially as the US (Heinlein's country, which he was proud of and used as a model) had a habit of military action going back to its inception:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations

    Anyway, when I first read it I assumed that the MI and the rest of the military had seen action frequently enough that combat veterans weren't that unusual. I think the book supports that reading as well as your's.

    418:

    There's not much in the book except when it directly impacts the protagonist. I think this is a case where the old archaeology maxim "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is a good thing to keep in mind.

    That's pretty much how I feel. I'm not arguing for a particular view of Heinlein. As far as I'm concerned it's completely fine to dislike Heinlein, and I know I'm more forgiving of problematic issues than other people, and I don't expect the artists I enjoy to be perfect individuals. But it bothers me that people are making arguments that the text doesn't support. I come to this blog because of the large supply of intelligent, reality-based people, and I'm feeling a little annoyed by the whole thing.

    That being said, if there were alien allies in the backstory or previous wars with aliens, it would be a gigantic omission if Heinlein didn't discuss them in the text, and unlike in archaeology, we won't find another "Starship Troopers" site to go digging in. We do what inspired Heinlein to write the book (arms control talks between the U.S. and the Soviets,) there are letters he wrote which might illuminate the text, and those things are valid evidence if someone wants to argue from them.

    419:

    The M.I. modeled on the paratroopers of WW2

    Do you have a cite for that? I'm pretty sure that the MI were modeled on WWII marines and their operations on the amphibious landings of the Pacific War.

    420:

    I'd guess a combination of the two, as they seem to share the characteristics of each.

    421:

    Troutwaxer @ 411:

    As to whether humans had fought a major war... there's mention in the book of how First Klendathu was a horrible loss for the humans, which would not be surprising if there were no high-ranking generals/admirals currently alive who had fought in a large-scale battle. I can't say I have text evidence, but the issue is heavily implied and the issue of what happens when your generals' knowledge of battle is mainly theoretical is something Heinlein would have been very familiar with.

    I really do need to get another copy of the book for reference.

    I'm pretty sure that Klendathu was an earth colony overrun by a bug invasion. It was lost because the Federation wasn't ready for war the way the bugs fought it. I equate it with the Battle of France in 1940 where the French and the BEF weren't prepared for the blitzkrieg. Going back to Klendathu is equivalent to the Normandy Invasion.

    422:

    Per the Starship Troopers Wiki, Klendathu was the home planet of the Bugs.

    423:

    Total @ 419:

    “The M.I. modeled on the paratroopers of WW2”

    Do you have a cite for that? I'm pretty sure that the MI were modeled on WWII marines and their operations on the amphibious landings of the Pacific War.

    Take the description of the first action in the book. The drop on the "skinnies". Rendezvous & rally are inherently airborne tactics. You hit the drop zone, concentrate your forces and move on to the objective. If for some reason you miss the drop zone, you head for the Rally Point to link up with other troopers before moving on to the objective.

    A Marine raid wouldn't have resulted in troopers being scattered all over the landscape. They arrive on the beaches in waves riding in AMTRAKs and LCIs.

    Consider the airborne operations during the invasions of Sicily and Normandy; consider the USMC landings on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. Which "delivery method" is closer to what Heinlein describes in Starship Troopers.

    Plus, in the original publication in Fantasy & Science Fiction, the title was "Starship Soldier", not "Starship Marine".

    424:

    Troutwaxer @ 422:

    Per the Starship Troopers Wiki, Klendathu was the home planet of the Bugs.

    Starship Troopers MOVIE Wiki.

    425:

    The obvious twentieth century examples of anarchism failing were in the Russian and Spanish civil wars. In both cases the anarchist experiment was rubbed out by the Communists, who were able to secure the support of a broad political front . Authoritarianism won, but not because it was a failure state for anarchism. It was a comfort blanket for people threatened by loss of power over others.

    426:

    Also per regular Wikipedia, and Klendathu being the Bug's homeworld is also my memory of the book. Unfortunately, my books are currently in storage, so I can't find the original text.

    427:

    Also according to the text, I've just checked with my copy.

    "First Battle of Klendathu" or Operation Bughouse was Rico's first drop after passing out of training. The nuking of Buenos Aires happened whilst his ship was on the way. It was a complete cluster-fuck :-)

    428:

    The Starship Troopers Wiki claims that Henlein's inspiration came from a newspaper advertisement calling for the unilateral suspension of nuclear testing. If the specific inspiration is important, is the only authentic Heinleinism set in the fifties? What seems to have annoyed him was the notion that civilians could impose their values on the military, without regard to the defence of the body politic.

    Heinlein has his soldiers retire as policemen. Napoleon used ex-soldiers as policemen because they were used to living in foreign territory. Perhaps the ex-troopers from the future are assumed to diffuse Earth's will to fight the xenos a la Grandmaison by simply existing, hence preventing Ivy League expressways and alien ownership of Earth's strategic economic resources.

    429:

    Pasquinade
    If you are correct ( I am horribly afraid you are ) then R A H needed his head examined.
    civilian control of the military is central to having a relatively free & democratic society.
    He seemed to have a bliond spot about that, though. That the SUVIVAL OF HUMANITY was more important than the USA.
    He notoriously had a flaming row with A C C over the same issue, later.
    Actually, US vital commercial interests were strongly instrumental in stopping atmospheric testing.
    Kodak ( & I believe other film-makers from elsewhere ) told the US guvmint that decent photography would become impossible if they went on with showering that much inonising material around ... what's more they woouldn't be getting theor nice film made specially for aerial reconnasiance any more, either ...
    Which got their attention, as they say.

    430:

    Authoritarianism won... It was a comfort blanket for people threatened by loss of power over others.

    Authoritarians emerge and succeed in every political system (Stalin and Franco both had willing helpers); and most people have little authority in life to lose; so I have to ask whether that is a broad enough explanation.

    I agree with “comfort blanket”, but might it have been that they were better at portraying themselves as “reassurance, and a tolerable amount of horror” (i.e. it only affects other people), rather than “uncertainty over losing what little you have”. You can’t “control” a population without its consent; Franco died in his sleep, not up against a wall (like Ceaucescu or Gaddafi).

    431:

    Soldiers retiring as policemen... not a great idea, I’d suggest.

    Firstly, it’s a volunteer army, and an apparently American approach to recruit training (“you have to break them before you can rebuild them”). Strong emphasis on discipline (floggings? really?) and an exposure to a brutal war. Upon leaving a disciplinarian Army, they have the option to go on to other careers.

    Which of the veterans will find a career in a comfort zone of uniform / rank / authority - and are they the ones you want there? How well do you think such a police force would conform to a culture of Peelian principles, and “policing by consent”?

    I would suggest that those who enjoy uniforms a little too much, are exactly the people you don’t want in your police. That way lies the US culture of “cops versus civilians”, not the less confrontational approach I see in Police Scotland, or even the Met. I know several police officers as friends - none are authoritarian.

    If you look back at the U.K., policing in the 1950s and 60s (with an influx of WW2 veterans) is not a beacon of enlightened behaviour; we see the improvements regarding corruption, racism start in the 1970s as the WW2 veterans retire. Still a way to go, but that appears (to me, I may well be wrong) when it started

    432:

    I thought I’d be closer to the centre than I scored; they reckon I’m aligned almost exactly to Bernie Sanders on their scale...

    433:

    Martin @ 430
    Stalin dies naturally, too ... but his terror was so great that it took 2 (3?) years for the relief to make itself known. See also "Cancer Ward by Solzhenitsyn ) the cover atr for my copy is brilliant: A slightly-darker, muddier red background that the correct soviet flag, & a real hammer & sickle ... with rust on all the metal surfaces & woodworm in the handles.
    If the terror is great enough, most people will cow down (No that's not a typo ) - see also "resistance" to Jap occupation by civilians in the ex-French colonies & Thailand ... the brutality & excess was such that almost all resistance ceased, just like CCCP 1936-8. And then the "Doctor's Plot" after WWII.

    Just (re) taken the "political compass" test - it would seem that I have moved both leftwards & more libertarian (!)
    Economic Left/Right -4.63 / Social Lib/Authoritarian -6.26
    Is it me, or have the tests changed?

    434:

    I don't think they have changed, or changed much. It may just be the range of values has become more binary. If something is (in your view) unarguably true, you have no choice but to "strongly agree" - because it is a measure of your perception of the truthfulness of the statement, not your feelings about it. But I also noticed I've shifted from a few years ago (now nearly all the way left, most of the way down). Acceptance of reality is polarising?

    435:

    Yes, I keep referring people to that book. We really have no understanding of just how nuts and out of touch the Japanese government was at that time.

    There are still questions we don't have good sources for, but with the 1995 declassification of almost all the radio traffic, we have a far deeper understanding of what they were thinking.

    Also, if the war had gone on so much as another month, there would have been mass starvation in Japan. As it was, it was a very near thing, and things got very bad there.

    I think bombing cities is a war crime, as it happened, in the case of Japan, the atom bomb prevented a far worse tragedy from happening (which the Allies had no idea of).

    436:

    Damian & others
    Yet, when I encounter "Momentum" I get labelled a reactionary quasi-fascist who cannot see the true ways of Marx's "teachings" .....
    And some Brexiteers ( Who conveniently ignor the fact that Corbyn is on their side ) label me some sort of commie!
    It's the Authoritarian / libertarian ( note the lower-case in the latter ) split that confuses a lot of more simple-minded people ( I think )

    437:

    Actually, your over-the-top attacks on everyone with views to the left of, let's say, Churchill makes me sympathetic to them. His faults may be many, but he is NOT an extreme left-winger and I am not sure if he is even Old Labour (though McDonnell is), and he is the only major personage in the UK standing up against the campaign of dehumanising the Palestinians.

    438:

    “The M.I. modeled on the paratroopers of WW2”
    Do you have a cite for that? I'm pretty sure that the MI were modeled on WWII marines and their operations on the amphibious landings of the Pacific War.
    Take the description of the first action in the book.

    I was more hoping from a cite external to the book -- Heinlein talking about his inspiration.

    The drop on the "skinnies". Rendezvous & rally are inherently airborne tactics. You hit the drop zone, concentrate your forces and move on to the objective. If for some reason you miss the drop zone, you head for the Rally Point to link up with other troopers before moving on to the objective.

    Fair enough, and that does have echoes of airborne stuff. But there’s a lot of other stuff that sounds more like the Marines. E.g, the emphasis on how everyone fights is a clear imitation of the Marine “every man a rifleman,” the campaigns are modeled on the Pacific War amphibious landings (the tunnel defenses of the bugs, their ‘fanaticism’), the Rodger Young is named after a Pacific War hero, the life on the spacecraft is much more like ship life (ie living long periods aboard a ship in close quarters) rather than what the airborne would have experienced; the MI are heavily long-service professionals, which is much more like the Marine divisions of the early-mid Pacific War than any of the airborne divisions; the service that carries them around is the Space Navy.

    A Marine raid wouldn't have resulted in troopers being scattered all over the landscape.

    I’m not thinking of Marine raids, but of the regular Marine amphibious landings, and, yes, they did get scattered all over the place. The Amtraks and landing crafts often got scattered by the currents, by unexpected sandbars, and so on. Once ashore, the men on them often got scattered as they moved onto the beach. It wasn’t quite as drastic as the airborne at, eg, Normandy, but it could be substantial.

    Consider the airborne operations during the invasions of Sicily and Normandy; consider the USMC landings on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. Which "delivery method" is closer to what Heinlein describes in Starship Troopers.

    Eh. A force being inserted onto hostile territory? Could read either way.

    I don’t doubt that Heinlein used some of the tropes of airborne landings because of the space to ground component of it, but the whole situation reads much more of the Marine Infantry (MI!) that fought their way through the Pacific.

    Did Heinlein ever specify?

    439:

    EC @ 437
    Given that I consistently vote for my local Social Democrat in the Labour Party ( Ms Creasey ) you are all too obvously takling complete bollocks.
    Never mind.
    You obviously don't agree with Frank Field, either - another old Labour person I have time for.
    [ Look - Corbyn hasn't had a new idea or thought of anything new since about 1973 - that is the real problem. ]

    440:

    Cormac @ 427:

    Also according to the text, I've just checked with my copy.
    "First Battle of Klendathu" or Operation Bughouse was Rico's first drop after passing out of training. The nuking of Buenos Aires happened whilst his ship was on the way. It was a complete cluster-fuck :-)

    We agree the battle was not a success for the Federation. The question is whose world was it BEFORE the war started? Was the planet "Klendathu" the bug's home world or an earth colony world the bugs had taken over?

    And on the question of where does the Federation get officers from if they only take those with combat experience into OCS, I think that applied only to the MI. If I remember, didn't Johnnie's sometime high-school girlfriend qualify to become an officer trainee in the Navy directly out of the testing process of enlistment?

    Also:

    “The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one "The Third Space War" (or the fourth), or whether "The First Interstellar War" fits it better. We just call it “The Bug War." Everything up to then and still later were "incidents," "patrols," or "police actions." However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an "incident" as you are if you buy it in a declared war...”

    I guess by the time Johnnie enlisted there had already been sufficient combat to refresh the pool of qualified candidates.

    441:

    Frank Field is very pro-Brexit and wants tighter curbs on immigration and no Freedom of Movement, an EU "red line". Corbyn's refusal to state outright that Brexit is an unalloyed good deal for Britain is probably a major reason Frank Field resigned the Party Whip.

    Oh, and he's also a fan of Margaret Thatcher.

    442:

    I seem to recall that Rico only did one "hot" parachute-style in the book, the Skinny raid. The rest of the times he went to fight he went down in a landing ship to an already-secured area. I may be wrong on this though.

    443:

    Greg Tingey @ 429:

    Pasquinade
    If you are correct ( I am horribly afraid you are ) then R A H needed his head examined.
    civilian control of the military is central to having a relatively free & democratic society.

    I'm pretty sure the military in Starship Troopers are controlled by the "civilian" government of the Federation.

    The only real difference between the goverment in Starship Troopers and the real world modern democracys that existed when Heinlein wrote the book is who gets to vote and how they are selected (i.e. self selected by performing a term of service).

    I think the real lesson of Starship Troopers is civic duty - that "rights" come with "responsibilities"; something that too many still don't understand.

    444:

    ...he is the only major personage in the UK standing up against the campaign of dehumanising the Palestinians.

    I suspect that others may disagree on that point. George Galloway for one, Keith Vaz for another. https://www.lfpme.org/

    My problem is that Corbyn spends a lot of time sharing platforms with “freedom fighters”, and a lot of time avoiding any criticism of their position (or his support for their fight for freedom). It’s fine to be an democratic anti-colonialist, I can actually respect that. However, his actions speak far louder than his words; he chose to stand on platforms with Gerry Adams too (and we’re not talking “support Troops Out”, we’re talking “refuse to condemn the Armed Struggle”). He wasn’t facilitating negotiations, he was offering them a platform.

    So; by hanging around with terrorists and attending memorial services in their memory[1], he’s either stunningly naive and lacking in good judgement, or he genuinely believes that violent struggle is the answer. Neither is an attractive in a party leader, and anyone claiming that it’s all a right-wing plot to discredit him is similarly either delusional or supportive [2].

    [1] Let’s not pretend that at the time Corbyn was supporting him, that Adams wasn’t on the Army Council...

    [2] No-one made Corbyn share platforms with these people; he cannot claim that he did not know who they were or what they represented. Just because the right wing criticises it, doesn’t excuse the behaviour.

    445:

    JBS notes: "I think the real lesson of Starship Troopers is civic duty - that "rights" come with "responsibilities"; something that too many still don't understand."

    If I had to boil it down to one statement, I'd pretty much say what you said.

    Delivering this point in the outer form of a war story is very clever as an authorial trick: it persuades you to sit still and listen to a lecture you might walk out on otherwise. That fits with my sense that most Heinlein stories have some component of lecture to them, though it's more overt in some stories (e.g., the last quarter or so of "Glory Road", most of his later books) than in others.

    446:

    Martin @ 432:

    I thought I’d be closer to the centre than I scored; they reckon I’m aligned almost exactly to Bernie Sanders on their scale...

    Economic Left/Right: -7.13; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.67

    Puts me in the lower left quadrant, somewhere south of Ghandi. I do have some quibbles with the "test" because more than half of the time my answer doesn't fit within the framework of "Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree". There's no way to factor in "sometimes, but not always" or "maybe yes, maybe no, it depends on the circumstances".

    “I’d always support my country, whether it was right or wrong”

    But what actually does "support my country" mean? Yeah, I support my country, but I won't blindly follow idiots over a cliff and I'll fight to make my country what it SHOULD BE. If I think my country is wrong, support means doing everything I can to change it back to being "right" again.

    447:

    Elderly Cynic @ 437:

    Actually, your over-the-top attacks on everyone with views to the left of ...

    You might want to take a good look in the mirror & try to examine you're own biases.

    449:

    "...he is the only major personage in the UK standing up against the campaign of dehumanising the Palestinians.

    I suspect that others may disagree on that point. George Galloway for one, Keith Vaz for another."

    And those count as MAJOR personages? Oh, dear. Galloway is a left-wing Farage, and Vaz is no longer the influence he once was, which wasn't huge.

    450:

    You should take another look at Churchill, and compare with New Labour - it's dispiriting.

    451:

    It's actually one of the two ways in which I align politically with Heinlein - that's also in Moore's "Utopia". The other is "Specialisation is for insects" :-)

    452:

    I mostly agree with you but with the one caveat it's perfectly ok and human to look back on things you did a few years or more ago and regret them without actually admitting that regret publically. He certainly wouldn't be the first politician to do so and it would tie in with his general inability to compromise which is both a strength and terrifying liability.

    Look at how both his failure to be the pro-EU opposition and accept a couple of fairly meaningless anti-antisemitic statements is costing the Labour party a real shot a government.

    453:

    I like it! Refreshingly surreal. Incidentally, it's Clemens.

    454:

    Thanks. I'll fix the spelling.

    455:

    Martin @ 44
    Yes
    I have had this problem - I think a Two-State solution is necessary, but also that "Bennie" is a really nasty piece of work - & I still get called a Zionist apologist ... you can't win, can you?
    As for Corby - stunningly naive IMHO, like the Labour leader before Attlee ( Lansbury ) who said that nice Mr Hitler wasn't anything to worry about ....
    Your note [2] also applies to one of my real hates ... the revolting crawler-to-fascists ... one S Coe. He did not have to sit on a committee & cosy up to Jaun A Samaranch ( member of the Spanish Fascist Grand COuncil ) ... but he di, of his own volition. [ Note the absence of title, since a tile imples honour & Coe has none. ]

    EC @ 450
    I have actually heard CHurchill speak - live - his last public meeting.
    Yes, well.
    Actually, the tory I have a lot of time for was the much-maligned Grocer Heath.
    Same as Jim Calor-=Gas ( Callaghan ) was also underestimated & disregarded.
    Or Roy Jenkins, the best PM we never had.
    Like I said , you are talking bollocks, because you are DETERMINED to fit me into a rightwing tory box into which I don't & can't fit.
    HOWEVER - your 451 is right on the nail.

    456:

    Economic Left/Right: -7.13; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.67

    Puts me in the lower left quadrant, somewhere south of Ghandi.

    I played their silly game and came out as Economic Left/Right: -7.0 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.85. Which, oddly enough kind of agrees with my own self-image. I've always wished that there exited such a thing as Left Libertarian.

    Agree, as usual, with the difficulty of characterizing my actual positions on many of the questions along the agree-disagree axis.

    457:

    No, I don't - actually, you seem to be very similar in political alignment to me, but you seem to have an acute case of Corbynophobia. I don't have any time for most of his policies, but he would be less catastrophic for the country than any of the current bunch or a New Labour replacement.

    458:

    he would be less catastrophic for the country than any of the current bunch or a New Labour replacement

    On what basis?

    I’d be willing to grant McDonnell (the real Party leader, I’d suggest) the potential for a Keynesian solution to economic troubles, but Nick Harkaway has pointed out a link to a plausible and truly depressing analysis on Twitter...

    https://thegerasites.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/labours-brilliant-summer/

    Short form: that their actions would suggest that the Labour leadership reckons that there is more to be gained by appealing to the four million UKIP voters in marginals, than to be lost by causing outrage among the centre-ground types (New Labour, Jews, Remainers) in safe Labour seats.

    It’s plausible. And if true, I’d suggest that any Labour leadership willing to sell out it’s principles for power; is likely to be as catastrophic as Conservatives have been, attempting the same.

    459:

    Total @ 438:

    I was more hoping from a cite external to the book -- Heinlein talking about his inspiration.

    There may be something in Heinlein's papers held at UCSC Special Collections & Archives. I haven't yet figured out how to find out what's in the box of Heinlein's correspondence marked "box-folder 83:18 Opus 133 Starship Troopers 1959-1976". I do know Heinlein was galvanised into action by a newspaper advert published by the left-leaning Committee For A SANE Nuclear Policy, demanding an end to nuclear weapons testing in the United States.

    Additionally, Heinlein's tentative title for the book was Sky Soldier. Sky Soldiers is the Nom De Guerre of 173rd Airborne Brigade, which traces it's lineage to the 503PIR and the airborne assault on Fortress Corregidor. The Army was reorganizing & setting up the separate airborne brigades at about the time Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers.

    Fair enough, and that does have echoes of airborne stuff. But there’s a lot of other stuff that sounds more like the Marines. E.g, the emphasis on how everyone fights is a clear imitation of the Marine “every man a rifleman,” the campaigns are modeled on the Pacific War amphibious landings (the tunnel defenses of the bugs, their ‘fanaticism’), the Rodger Young is named after a Pacific War hero, the life on the spacecraft is much more like ship life (ie living long periods aboard a ship in close quarters) rather than what the airborne would have experienced; the MI are heavily long-service professionals, which is much more like the Marine divisions of the early-mid Pacific War than any of the airborne divisions; the service that carries them around is the Space Navy.

    The Navy transported Army troops in WW2. Rodger Young was NOT a Marine. In fact, he was a soldier in the Ohio Army National Guard prior to his unit, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division, being called up in 1940. It's clear from the text that the MI are Army troops being transported on Navy ships. [Found a local branch of a national chain that has a copy on shelf. I'll be headed out in a few minutes to pick up a new copy.] Still there's this:

    The other noteworthy technological innovation in the book is the delivery of soldiers from spaceships to a planet’s surface, via what are essentially one-man atmospheric reentry vehicles. This concept is the logical extension of the idea of airplane-delivered paratrooper forces dropping behind enemy lines. Paratroopers were developed and used extensively during World War II and were very much considered the elite of the ground forces. Heinlein drew on his knowledge of this when writing about the Mobile Infantry.

    I’m not thinking of Marine raids, but of the regular Marine amphibious landings, and, yes, they did get scattered all over the place. The Amtraks and landing crafts often got scattered by the currents, by unexpected sandbars, and so on. Once ashore, the men on them often got scattered as they moved onto the beach. It wasn’t quite as drastic as the airborne at, eg, Normandy, but it could be substantial.

    The U.S. Army conducted amphibious operations in the Pacific Theatre as well. But whether the landing craft were scattered from their objectives or not, the TROOPS carried on those landing craft were not dropped on the beaches as individuals who had to rally & rendezvous before they could move on to pursuing their objectives.

    Paratroopers were dropped directly ON objectives to hold until relieved by amphibious forces whether Army or Marines - 503d PIR at Nadzab, New Guinea; the 511th PIR, 11th Airborne Division on Tagaytay Ridge in part of a pincer move by the Eighth Army to take Manilla.

    Also the coordinated air, ground, amphibious assault on the Los Baños POW camp, where paratroopers held the camp until the ground troops could get there.

    Did Heinlein ever specify?

    I'll let you know if I ever get access to the Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein Papers at UCSC Special Collections. But AFAIK, he didn't state the "starship soldiers" were Marines. I do know that US Marines don't take kindly to being called "soldiers", because that's the Army and they are very emphatic that they are NOT the Army. Most of the references Heinlein makes in the text are to Army formations, rather than to Marines.

    460:

    I'm not convinced, nearly all of the inactions in the article can also be put down to simple paralysis, and I don't believie Corbyn is capable of the amount of comprise needed to truly appeal to the Kippers.

    461:

    Nojay @ 442:

    I seem to recall that Rico only did one "hot" parachute-style in the book, the Skinny raid. The rest of the times he went to fight he went down in a landing ship to an already-secured area. I may be wrong on this though.

    The time they went down in the retrieval boat was an exception. They were going in to relieve another MI unit that had made the drop. There are mentions of other drops, but they're not specifically detailed in the text. They're more of a background to Johnnie's evolution as a soldier.

    462:

    EC @ 457
    You are half right - there is no-one at all ( actually in office or shadow-office ) who appears to be any use at all ( Possible exception, Kier Starmer? )
    But Corbyn is actually worse than some of the tories, for other reasons, most notably his following of the aformentioned Lansbury, as well as being strongly pro-Brexit, of course.
    He also seems to pick some VERY unsavoury friends - like Coe.

    463:

    Sky Soldiers is the Nom De Guerre of 173rd Airborne Brigade, which traces it's lineage to the 503PIR and the airborne assault on Fortress Corregidor

    The 173d was not an airborne unit until after Heinlein had already written “Starship Troopers,” so I seriously doubt the connection.

    As to the 503rd, despite Corregidor, it made most of its assaults amphibiously, so that doesn’t suggest much about whether the MI was modeled on amphibious attacks or airborne ones.

    The Navy transported Army troops in WW2. Rodger Young was NOT a Marine.

    Yes, I know. That’s why I didn’t claim he was. What I did claim, and remains true, is that his heroism was in the Pacific, not the Atlantic, where almost all of the airborne troops fought.

    And further on this, the use of airborne troops in WWII were often such disasters (whether it was Crete for the Nazis or Market Garden for the Allies that almost all of the major powers stopped airdropping troops) during the war and started using them as ground troops.

    the TROOPS carried on those landing craft were not dropped on the beaches as individuals who had to rally & rendezvous before they could move on to pursuing their objectives

    That comment suggests you don’t know your amphibious landings very well. The units on the landing craft often ended up widely scattered for a variety of reasons (eg, at Tarawa, because they had to wade in from quite a distance because of an unexpected sandbar), so that’s not dispositive.

    The U.S. Army conducted amphibious operations in the Pacific Theatre as well

    Yes, they did. And the idea that Heinlein -- a former Naval officer -- said ‘I’m modeling the MI not on the ones who did the really remembered amphibious assaults in the Pacific but the Army guys’ is going to require a lot of evidence to convince me.

    I'll let you know if I ever get access to the Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein Papers at UCSC Special Collections

    You do that.

    In the meantime, I’ll repeat my earlier points, none of which you’ve addressed effectively: “But there’s a lot of other stuff that sounds more like the Marines. E.g, the emphasis on how everyone fights is a clear imitation of the Marine “every man a rifleman,” the campaigns are modeled on the Pacific War amphibious landings (the tunnel defenses of the bugs, their ‘fanaticism’), the Rodger Young is named after a Pacific War hero, the life on the spacecraft is much more like ship life (ie living long periods aboard a ship in close quarters) rather than what the airborne would have experienced; the MI are heavily long-service professionals, which is much more like the Marine divisions of the early-mid Pacific War than any of the airborne divisions; the service that carries them around is the Space Navy.”

    In sum: I think that Heinlein was modeling things on the Pacific War amphibious landings (with some influence from airborne stuff), pulled a lot of things from the Marine experience, and generally had in mind things like Iwo & Okinawa in his mind when he wrote. I’ll note that I, too, don’t have external evidence of this, but it’s convincing enough that I’m going to need to see something from RH himself before I concede that the airborne were the sole source for his ideas.

    464:

    I need to give you the facts about one depressing bit of reality. Callahan’s doesn’t exist and I’m as disappointed as everyone else.

    Sez you. I spent a fair bit of time at Callahan's Place a few weeks back (August 16-20), listened to a short rugged man playing the piano, heard some forced puns, and thought better of throwing anything into the fireplace. But I never did find the door out to Route 25A on Long Island. *grin*

    465:

    I'm glad you enjoyed the con.

    466:

    Total @ 463:

    In sum: I think that Heinlein was modeling things on the Pacific War amphibious landings (with some influence from airborne stuff), pulled a lot of things from the Marine experience, and generally had in mind things like Iwo & Okinawa in his mind when he wrote. I’ll note that I, too, don’t have external evidence of this, but it’s convincing enough that I’m going to need to see something from RH himself before I concede that the airborne were the sole source for his ideas.

    Then I think it's fair for me to ask the same of you as you've asked me. Can you support your position with a direct quote from the man himself that the basis for Starship Troopers is Marine amphibious operations in WW2?

    Until then, you're entitled to your opinion, but I don't find your argument convincing.

    467:

    Then I think it's fair for me to ask the same of you as you've asked me. Can you support your position with a direct quote from the man himself that the basis for Starship Troopers is Marine amphibious operations in WW2?

    What part of my previous note -- which you actually quoted -- did you not understand? "I’ll note that I, too, don’t have external evidence of this..."

    Until then, you're entitled to your opinion, but I don't find your argument convincing

    Oh, honey child, did you think I care whether you change your mind or not? How precious.

    As I said at the beginning, I read ST as Marine amphibious landings in the Pacific and I was wondering if someone else who read it differently had had evidence for their opinion.

    The answer to that, after all of this bouncing around, is no, you don't have evidence for your POV. So I'll stay with mine, thanks.

    468:

    I'm glad you enjoyed the con.

    Obviously I was in the wrong room of the trans-dimensional bar. I saw quite a few authors hanging around but none that I actually know to be dead...

    I was a little disappointed that I didn't catch any of the Heinlein Society people walking the hundred feet or so necessary to see Kip's twenty inch slide rule; that thing is awkwardly large.

    469:

    My father had a couple slide rules once. I wonder if he still owns any. And who is Kip?

    470:

    About the only marine-ish thing in the beginning of Starship Troopers is that the Sergeants are "Ship's Sargeants." Otherwise, there's an army/navy split that mimics the WWII US divide.

    471:

    Narrator of HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL.

    472:

    Right. I was thinking about people who don't live in books.

    473:

    And who is Kip?

    Sean Eric Fagan is correct, Kip is the narrator of Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. At one point he muses, “Dad says that anyone who can’t use a slide rule is a cultural illiterate and should not be allowed to vote. Mine is a beauty—a K&E 20-inch Log-log Duplex Decitrig.” That's a real model and there was one on display in the exhibit hall. I don't have my convention photos at hand but a quick googling turns up a picture in this article. If that looks like more slide rule than you need, you're right; I've got the ten inch version of the 4081 and it's a much more practical instrument.

    474:

    I still have my slide-rule, though I think I've forgotten how to use it .....
    ( Last used in about 1973, IIRC )

    Elderly Cynic