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June 19, 2004


Silent Running reviews the strait-to-dvd release Starship Troopers II. I like to watch films with a fresh eye so only read enough of the review to know things were looking bad before renting the accursed thing. My own review follows in the extended entry.

Bad from minute one. It is amazing to learn what it feels like as your IQ drops. I felt like this movie was literally lobomotimizing me as I watched it. This was not just bad. It was boring. I would like to say that never have so many decent movies been ripped off so badly for so little entertainment value. But the truth that Starship Troopers II was merely awful. A hideous pastiche of the first film (itself a rip-off), Aliens, Mimic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Pitch Black and The Thing. Even a Jean-Luc Picard line is abused. But this is no Zardoz. And it is too stupid to have the ideological offensiveness of the Paul Verhoeven effort.

There are hot naked people and there is plenty of bug splattery for those who enjoy that sort of thing. For some reason the troopers in this one all have George Michael facial hair. I admit this does feature the best ever use of a microwave oven in a movie.

Now off to read the Silent Running review.

And then... Ha! One quote strikes me:

We will of course feel obliged to slam the very existence of this travesty and a lot of us will be sacrificing our Dr Who memorabilia in an effort to appease the one true god. RAH.

Robert Anson Heinlein inspires that reaction in many. There is an intensity to his work and he always manages to slap me in the face with his plot twists. I just read "Farnham's Folly", for example and am now taking a bath in PKD's "Our Friends from Frolix 8" to recover. "Farnham's Folly" is the first library paperback I have ever read that included hostile, scrawled book reviews on the last page.

"oh what a cheesy, jingoistic last line. gag!"
"bootleggers made America what it is, sedated Happy Sheple Nation"
"Heinlein misogynistic"

Can anyone shed light on why teenage women, often the daughter of the protagonist, throw themselves at the protagonist? Is there a hidden depth I am missing here?

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 19, 2004 10:55 AM

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First off, it's "Farnham's Freehold." Your title probably captures the essence of the story better, but it isn't the one on the book :-)

FF is one of the few early-Heinleins that gets intensely debated. There's no real agreement about what he's getting at.

For my own part, I think he was after a "what goes around, comes around" story, and used the then-available concepts and tropes to build one that people would be affected by. When I first read it, back in the Sixties, the echoes and inversions of the attitudes I saw in my American South surroundings were notable. YMMV.

As for the sexual attraction thing, Heinlein was a great science fiction writer. This does not necessarily equal "saintly human being without flaws."

Ric Locke

Posted by: Ric Locke at June 19, 2004 12:24 PM

Oops! I am blogging on low coffee this morning.

Posted by: Flea at June 19, 2004 12:30 PM

When but a mere pup (12-14 yrs) I'd read several RH books; they struck me as cool, but hard to get through.

Fast forward 20 years, I pick up "Time Enough for Love," and think, wow, this guy not only REALLY hates religion, but he also REALLY wants to nail his daughter. Since I paid for the book, I finished it, but like the first time you're ever bitten by a snake, it's not something you want to dwell on.

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at June 19, 2004 10:17 PM

I read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" when I was about 12 and have been getting around to reading it again. I read "The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls" for the first time fairly recently and it had what is now looking to be a recurring sex-with-daughter trope. There are plenty of Heinlein fans out there and I had never seen this commented on before. Gross.

Posted by: Flea at June 19, 2004 10:32 PM

For most people who aren't either pederasts, pedophiles, or leftie University types, Heinlein can be divided pretty sharply into two almost mutually exclusive categories: before and after Stranger in a Strange Land. This BTW also coincides with before and after his stroke and consequent bypass surgery. The term in fandom is "the brain eater."

The last "real" Heinlein, in my opinion, was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is the book just before Stranger. Stranger itself is sort of tolerable, and even has some good spots, but everything after that was written by someone using his name that I really don't want to know much about -- this from someone who gave up eating for two days to buy Time Enough for Love in hardback, and has regretted it ever since.

The Future History ("Green Hills of Earth") stories, the "juveniles" culminating in Tunnel in the Sky and Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and even the (deservedly) much-maligned Fifth Column are good, fun reads with useful morals, endings that work, and characters one can respect or despise as appropriate. My copy of Citizen of the Galaxy is a keepsake; I bought it at the library sale when my high school library closed to be moved to a new building. It was the first Heinlein I ever read, and among the first science fiction.

So if all you've seen is the crap that came after Stranger, I urge you to look up the Good Old Stuff. Even the virtually unreadable For Us, the Living, eugenics, racism, two-page footnotes, and all, is better than To Sail Beyond the Sunset; it at least has a point not better served by NAMBLA flyers.


Posted by: Ric Locke at June 19, 2004 11:25 PM