All I Needed To Know About Life
I Learned From Robert Anson Heinlein.

Either you love Heinlein, or you hate him. Very few people are wishy- washy on the subject. When's the last time you found somebody who couldn't stand Arthur C. Clarke? Who loathed LeGuin? But when you mention Heinlein in certain circles, you can expect the "How Heinlein Changed My Life" speech, or the "Why Heinlein Is An Over-Opinionated Hack" speech. I will spare you the former, and as far as the latter goes: Yes, he's preachy. Yes, all his main characters are the same person. Yes, he might be considered sexist, misogynist, racist, atheist, jingoist, and most any other ist you can come up with. In my defense, I began reading Heinlein at a tender and impressionable age (I was 10). And once you catch the bug . . .

I doubt you'll agree with everything here. I'm not sure I agree with everything here. If you've got a serious problem with any of it, mail me. I haven't had a good debate in a while.


Politics and government

"Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain. . . . The best things in life are beyond money; their price is agony and sweat and devotion . . . and the price demanded for the most precious of all things in life is life itself--ultimate cost for perfect value."

Jean V. Debois
Starship Troopers

"At one time kings were annointed by Deity, so they problem was to see to it that Deity annointed the right candidate. In this age, the myth is 'the will of the people' . . . but the problem changes only superficially."

Professor Bernardo de la Paz
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

"Radical and conservative are terms for emotional attitudes, not sociological opinions."

Doc
"Logic of Empire"

". . . [M]ore than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better, and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parlimentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest."

Professor Bernardo de la Paz
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

"The police of a state should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom. That's a personal evaluation, of course."

Mordan Claude
Beyond This Horizon

"Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws--always for the other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of the trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: 'Please pass this so I won't be able to do something I know I should stop.' Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see their neighbors doing. Stop them 'for their own good'--not because the speaker claimed to be harmed by it."

Manuel Davis O'Kelley
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Sex raises its interesting head

". . . real beauty is likely to scare a man off, or else make him quite unmanageable, whereas prettiness, properly handled, is an asset."

Podkayne
Podkayne of Mars

"Women will forgive anything. ... Otherwise the race would have died out long ago."

Hamilton Felix
Beyond This Horizon

"... all in the world any woman has to do to be considered 'charming' by men is to listen while they talk."

Podkayne
Podkayne of Mars

Fatherly advice

"None of us goes around sobbing over the millions and billions of people who have died in the past . . . nor over those still living and yet to be born whose certain heritage is death (including Podkayne Fries herself.) So why should you cry foolish tears simply because you happen to be in the neighborhood when someone you don't like--despise, in fact--comes to the end of her string?"

Podkayne
Podkayne of Mars

"Son, any statement that begins with 'I really ought to--' is suspect. It means you haven't analysed your motives. . . . Find out what you want to do, then do it. Never talk yourself into doing something you don't want."

Dr. Russell
Have Spacesuit--Will Travel

"Never commit suicide on an empty stomach, my dear; it's bad for the digestion."

Uncle Tom
Podkayne of Mars

Science

"... scientific research, no matter how 'pure' and useless it may seem, has an annoying habit of paying for itself many times, in the long run, in the form of greatly increased productivity."

Beyond This Horizon

"Throw away every book, table, instrument, and start over? I know that some of my ancestors did that in switching from old English units to MKS--but they did it to make things easier. Fourteen inches to a foot and some odd number of feet in a mile. Ounces and pounds. Oh, Bog!"

Manuel Davis O'Kelley
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

"... the pursuit of science, despite its social benefits, is not a social virtue; its practitioners can be men so self-centered as to be lacking in social responsibility."

Major Reid
Starship Troopers

Violence

". . . a boss who is forced to part a man's hair with a wrench has failed at some point."

Podkayne, quoting her mother
Podkayne of Mars

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion [that violence never settles anything] is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms."

Jean V. Debois
Starship Troopers

Religion

"A religion is a source of happiness and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong--and you are strong. The great trouble with religion--any religion--is that the religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge these propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason--but one cannot have both."

Hartley M. "Two-Canes" Baldwin
Friday


Do you hunger for more?


Return to: West or The Origin

Britt Scharringhausen
Last modified: Tue Mar 5 14:30:02 EST 2002