On Sunday, the LA Times' Calendar section published this article about Robert Heinlein's legacy, as the SF giant's 100th birthday nears. The reporter makes some attempt at a balanced article, but the overall tone of the piece is negative and somewhat bitchy. Lots of modern commentators (who appear mainly to be critics and bookbuyers, rather than writers themselves) treat Heinlein as a literary dinosaur, lumbering and crushing his way through mid-20th-century science fiction.
Certainly Heinlein's work furnishes support for such polarized opinions. On the one hand, he was a gifted, enthralling storyteller, who believed in the promise of science and technology to help humans evolve into their best selves. On the other, his work (especially his later novels) abounded with polemics, chest-thumping, omnicompetent know-it-alls and crusty crankcases. (I must agree with those who like his "juveniles" best; books like "Have Space Suit -- Will Travel" and "Podkayne of Mars" maximized his entertaining writing while minimizing the polemics.
Still, I doubt that the detractors in the article will have as much influence and adulation 100 years after their births as Heinlein has now.
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