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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jeet Heer's observation

Jeet Heer

Canadian journalist Jeet Heer on Twitter:

Next he'll be saying that about this website :)

The Tweet is a nice witticism that captures RAW's influence on the modern libertarian movement, not to mention Reason contributors such as Jesse Walker and Brian Doherty.

When I did a little exploring, I discovered that Mr. Heer sometimes writes pieces on comics and science fiction writers, including an old article on Philip K. Dick ("The laureate of radical postmodernism was, it turns out, a stool pigeon.") and this new one, on Robert Heinlein ("While America became increasingly liberal, he became increasingly right wing, and it hobbled his once-formidable imagination. His career, as a new biography inadvertently proves, is a case study in the literary perils of political extremism.")

His Heinlein piece is witty and makes some good points, but his main thesis could use  little polishing. Heer claims the political rot set in by 1957 — "The turning point came in 1957. After that year, Heinlein's books were no longer progressive explorations of the future but hectoring diatribes lamenting the decadence of modernity" — so how come two of the best novels came later? Stranger in a Strange Land came out in 1961, while The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was published in 1966. Both won Hugo awards and are very popular, so it's not just me who likes them.


Unknown said...

«That’s too simplistic an explanation» is good exposition of Heer's article.

three Roberts — Heinlein, Sheckley and Wilson — made me who I am (and Linji helped them at the end stage). I think there is almost no simplicity in their figures and/or lives/persons.

Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966), I Will Fear No Evil (1970), Time Enough for Love (1974), The Number of the Beast (1980) and To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987) are my favorites of his works. all of them are later than 1957 and they have really progressive explorations of the future.

I suppose we could thank Mr Heer only for mention of one of those great dead men who should be remembered for ever.

Unknown said...

I got the same Roberts, also Shea and Silverberg.

Eric Wagner said...

The Heinlein piece would have benefitted from E-Prime. Also, the whole right wing/left wing model seems inadequate.