Arthur Hlavaty, whose writings about Robert Anton Wilson have been reprinted at this blog, has a review of the new Robert Heinlein biography in his latest zine. If you follow the link, download the zine and like it, I suggest contacting him and getting on the email list for his work, as I am.
Everyone should read Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1949): Learning Curve, by William Patterson, despite its excess of subtitles and colons.
I read Stranger in a Strange Land in 1966, and it blew my mind, “Thou art God” even more than the sex stuff, and more. Much of it remains with me. From the git-go, though, I had some doubts about the book and its author: The strong sexual dimorphism bothered me at the very first reading, and it was soon joined by the put-downs of marijuana and homosexuality, and later more.
So I love the best of his work, but I do not belong to the school that appears to believe that his flatulences smelled like Chanel #5. (Though I think they’re a lot closer to the truth than the people who believe he was a fascist.) I like an idea I encountered in the writings of Edward Hall, of a tribe in Mexico that doesn’t have global categories of Sane and Insane but believes that some people don’t function well in some situations. It works at the top end of the scale, with Heinlein and with the only other writer who comparably influenced me, Robert Anton Wilson, who programmed me in ways that were not obvious for months or even years, but who from the beginning seemed neither feminist nor elitist enough.
The new bio tells us much about how Heinlein got that way (including sleazo inputs like Ouspensky, Social Credit, and Hinduism that he passed along to me). I’m eagerly looking forward to the second half, promised in two years or less.