I was originally intending to write a post about what my family and I have been reading lately. But I’ve ended up focusing specifically on what my wife, Kerri, has been reading. Why? Because she’s been reading books by an author significant to my reading past.
It all started when she asked me to recommend some books. (She’s a much faster reader than I, and is always running out of reading material.) So I thought it was high time to introduce her to the books of Robert Heinlein, the acknowledged “dean of science fiction writers” (well, so says Wikipedia… so, of course it must be true).
Robert Anson Heinlein (1907 –1988) was the American writer of numerous best-selling science fiction novels. Four of his books won the Hugo Award and he was the first recipient of the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement, given by the Science Fiction Writers of America.
I was in Year 7 when I discovered Heinlein. Well, actually, it was my school librarian who placed a copy of Citizen of the Galaxy in my hands, assuring me that I’d like it. She was right… I LOVED it! And that year, I proceeded to read all the Heinleins in my school library… which was only about four or five. Over the years I went on to read many of his books, until one fateful day… but I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s get back to Kerri.
I would have liked her to start with Heinlein’s juvenile novels — something like Time for the Stars or Citizen of the Galaxy (my two favourites) — but she said she wanted a grown-up book. I sighed, for I never thought Heinlein’s grown-up stuff anywhere near as good as his books for younger readers. I scoured the bookshelves in our library (Yes, we have a little library in our home. As we are a family of book lovers, it seemed like a logical idea, when we built our new house, to include a library.) for Heinleins. Alas there were only three grown-up books — Job, Glory Road and Waldo + Magic Inc. It was then that I remembered that I had actually given her Job to read many years ago, and I seem to remember that she thought it was okay but not good enough to get her to read more of his stuff. So I gave her Waldo + Magic Inc, as this was the one I enjoyed most out of these three.
Waldo + Magic Inc is actually two novellas in one book. Kerri enjoyed Waldo, despite it being “a little too heavy on the science stuff”, and also enjoyed Magic Inc, despite it being “heavy on politics in one overly-long section”. After she finished the book, she asked if I had any more Heinlein.
And so it was with much trepidation that I handed over Glory Road. This was the book that put me off reading Heinlein. Long, meandering and silly is how I remember it. It was a fateful day when I first picked up that book… because I’ve never read a Heinlein since. A similar thing happened to me with Stephen King after I read his dreadfully long and boring sci-fi horror, The Tommyknockers… but that’s another story. Back to Heinlein.
“It’s not a great book,” I warned. “Are you sure you want to read it? Wouldn’t you prefer one of his teen books? They’re much better!” No, she wanted Glory Road. She was about half way through the book, when we had friends over for dinner. She launched into a diatribe about this stupid book that I had told her to read. When revealed as Glory Road, the dinner guests all rolled their eyes and said, “if you want good Heinlein, go read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress”. Alas, it is not on our bookshelves. I’ve never read this book (as I said, I’d been put off reading Heinlein by Glory Road). But now I’m thinking it might be time to dip back into the past and dig out a copy of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and perhaps some of his other books I never got around to reading.
By the way, Kerri still hasn’t finished reading Glory Road. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get her to reader another of his books?
Anyone out there read any of Heinlein’s books? Glory Road perhaps? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
And tune in next time to find out about a Melbourne-based literary app for your iPhone (assuming you have one, that is… and even if you don’t, tune in anyway… it will be interesting… I promise).
Catch ya later, George
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