Kansas City here I come

I just made my reservations for the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial, July 7, in Kansas City Missouri.  It’s going to be a whirlwind visit; flying in early the morning of the main event and flying out early the next day.  I would like to stay longer, but I’m stretching my funds as it is, and I doubt Bob would have approved of someone bankrupting themselves in order to fête a dead guy.

Speakers are going to include Buzz Aldrin, Arthur C. Clark, Spider Robinson, John Scalzi, and many others.  I can’t wait.

If anyone is fuzzy on why Heinlein matters, here’s a good primer.  In a nutshell, he more or less created science fiction as we know it, and he is frequently cited by astronauts, pilots, engineers, and leaders in the aerospace field as their inspiration for doing what they do.

Is anyone else going?

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  1. Have fun!

    I like Heinlein.. and think that he has written a bunch of good hard science fiction…

    He’s not my favorite, tho.. and I think the “created science fiction as we know it” is a bit exagerrated in my view.

    He was one of the early greats.. but he was but one of a number of them..

    Personally, I find Harlan Ellison to be more meaningful, fun, and comprehensive that Heinlein.. but to each their own!


    1. Re: Have fun!

      Personally, I can only take Ellison in small doses, and he’s definitely the less personable of the two as a human being; but to each his own 🙂

      I base my assessment of Heinlein’s impact on a few different things: first, as Spider points out in the linked article, he mapped out the lay of the land. He wrote the archetypal works that nearly every SF story since has owed at least a little to. Second, professional acclaim – he was the inaugural recipient of the SFWA Grandmaster award for lifetime achievement, and many in the field simply refer to him as the dean of science fiction. Quoting Wikipedia:

      In a 1953 poll of leading science fiction authors, he was cited more frequently as an influence than any other modern writer […] Critic James Gifford writes that “Although many other writers have exceeded Heinlein’s output, few can claim to match his broad and seminal influence. Scores of science fiction writers from the prewar Golden Age through the present day loudly and enthusiastically credit Heinlein for blazing the trails of their own careers, and shaping their styles and stories.”

      Third, he broke SF into the popular market. Also from Wikipedia:

      He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility that few have equaled, and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. He was the first writer to break into mainstream general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling novel-length science fiction in the modern mass-market era.

      Fourthly and perhaps most importantly, arguably no one else did as much as he did to help other sci-fi authors get their start. Here’s a quote from Phillip K. Dick:

      I consider Heinlein to be my spiritual father, even though our political ideologies are totally at variance. Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me.

      . . . he knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

      When another now-prominent writer (the name escapes me at the moment) was experiencing writers block, Heinlein sent him stacks of story ideas, free of charge.

      It’s a subjective point, I agree; but I think it’s safe to say the SF landscape would have been substantially different without him. Along with Asimov and Clarke, he set the standard.

      1. Cool..

        I don’t doubt he is one of the greats and I like his work a lot.. and I hope you have fun there…

        I just like ellison’s writing more… (I’m sure Ellison himself would not rank himself next to Heinlein.. he’s generally cool like that..)

        For example.. see this… where he works to help Heinlein.. 🙂


        ps–I like ellison’s snarkiness… 🙂

  2. Wish I could! I’ve been keeping up with the blogs on what will be there and it sounds like quite the interesting trip.

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