Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Baen, Heinlein, and Me

11 March 2014

I’m a (very minor) Baen author. I’m embarrassed by this. Honestly, I couldn’t read the whole thing. I got to this pair of sentences and bounced out:

Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not?

Easy peasy. Life is short.
I don’t like Heinlein’s work, generally speaking.
His female characters were, well, not believable female characters to me. On the other hand, as Rick pointed out when I had wound up to quite a rant one day: Heinlein wrote female main (and major) characters at a point in time when few other people did. So, credit where it’s due. He tried. Maybe not very hard, but he tried at a time when few others even bothered.
All the Heinlein stories that I do like are neatly collected into this anthology. “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” and “And He Built a Crooked House,” for example.
What I dislike even more than some of Heinlein’s stuff is some Heinlein fans. My least favorite group to interact with in fandom is The Heinlein Society. Why?
Because when I told them that I didn’t want to have single-author panels for next year’s convention, they went to the chair of a convention I was attending to get her to help them lobby me (in person, live) to change my policy. After that, I never wanted to speak to them again. Never got an apology, either.
I don’t believe in single-author panels for two reasons:

  1. Panels should be about conversations that expand the audience’s appreciation about a topic. Single-author panels only appeal to big fans of that particular author, and thus have a more-limiting maximum audience than a broader topic.
  2. I consider it disrespectful to the Writer Guest of Honor to have single-author panels that aren’t about the WGoH’s own work. (In the case of someone like Scalzi, including a discussion of Heinlein influences in Scalzi’s work would be a two-author panel, but I’d be okay with that kind of thing, sure.)

One of the things various Heinlein fans have said to me over the years is that Heinlein wrote about his wife Virginia, usually followed by something like therefore he must understand women.
My usual response to that is, “So she married her rapist?” Somehow the topic always drops after that. Mind you, she only married the “good” rapist. IMHO, for a much better book with some Friday-esque themes in it (and without that problematic ending), Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl is a far better book.
Let’s just say there are reasons that BASFA occasionally auctions off a used copy of Friday, someone drives over it or otherwise abuses it, then it gets re-donated to be re-auctioned. Maybe it’s time to scour the local used bookstores for a fresh copy.

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