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Friday, March 28, 2008

Robert Bloch on Heinlein (1949)

Robert Bloch on Heinlein
Frank Merriwell on Venus, Space Cadet, by Robert Heinlein, Scribner's, NY 342 pp $2.50
The publishers of Mr. Heinlein's book have craftily refrained from labeling it "juvenile"; apparently it was their intention to capture the adolescent market and at the same time sell the book to adult science-fiction fans.
As a juvenile, Space Cadet is reminiscent of the early Frank Merriwell books ... Heinlein's Merriwell is named Matt Dodson. He spends his time in the rocket ship training school of the Solar Patrol during the year 2075. His chief sidekick is a Texan ... Heinlein takes a more daring modern view in permitting the comic Texan to take three drinks ... If there are any adolescent boys who prefer reading to the practices ascribed to them in the Kinsey report, they will probably find the combination of Merriwell-plus-science quite satisfactory.
The Science Fiction fan will ... concentrate on Mr. Heinlein's generous use of mathematical theorization. The framework ... is quite simple ... conditioning cadets in rocket training ships ... the patrol acts as a sort of galactic police ... the Venetians constitute a matriarchy and speak with the simplicity of Mr. Kipling's Mowgli.
Heinlein ... paints a clear picture of a military caste gallantly carrying the white man's burden (atomic destruction) to the lesser breeds of space. Heinlein's is a sad new world ... a world of scientific freedom containing the same old slaves ... the mighty white race in its God-given mission to colonize ... the universe. Money and organized religion play their familiar roles ... and good manly chaps snap to attention when the Oberleutenant cracks the whip. Heinlein, as always, writes well - but his characterization and subject-matter is to be regretted in this instance.
Arkham Sampler: Winter 1949

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