The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein

By Farah Mendlesohn

A major new critical study of the writings of a giant of the SF genre by a Hugo award-winning critic and historian.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

How Durable is Heinlein?

A really interesting post from John Scalzi  here on Heinlein's durability. One point he notes is that you might not have read Heinlein but you have probably read writers influenced by Heinlein so you aren't going to escape his influence no matter what you do.
My own feeling is that if RAH makes it through one more generation he'll move from "Vintage" (a thing that some think sexy and others think irrelevant) to "Classic"--you all have to read it, and as we all know from being forced to read "classics" of any genre in school, this is Not a Good Thing for child reader enjoyment.
But I am not sure which books will make it. I think the juveniles are a lot more durable than John Scalzi thinks for example, simply because people tend to enthuse about their childhood reading, and while their own children may shrug, grandchildren often take these things up. So I decided to look at Amazon. I should have done multiple columns for what was available how but I didn't so consider this a ranking; Print first, electronic second, and audio if nothing else. Note tho that I took a few looks at comments and the enthusiasts were the re-readers.
The only one I'm surprised about is that Space Cadet is not in print, it's so many people's favourite of his juveniles.

Electronic Rocket Ship Galileo
Printed this century Beyond This Horizon
Kindle Space Cadet
Print Red Planet
Audio The Day After Tomorrow/Sixth Column
Second hand only Farmer in the Sky
Printed this century Between Planets
Printed this century The Puppet Masters
Second hand only The Rolling Stones
Printed this century Starman Jones
Electronic The Star Beast
Electronic Tunnel in the Sky
Printed this century Double Star
Printed this century Time for the Stars
Printed this century The Door into Summer
Electronic Citizen of the Galaxy
Printed this century Have Space Suit—Will Travel
Printed this century Methuselah's Children
Printed this century Starship Troopers
Printed this century Stranger in a Strange Land
Printed this century Glory Road
Printed this century Podkayne of Mars
Audio Farnham's Freehold
Printed this century The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
Audio I Will Fear No Evil
Audio Time Enough for Love
Audio The Number of the Beast
Printed this century Friday
Printed this century Job: A Comedy of Justice
Audio The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
Audio To Sail Beyond the Sunset


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John Appel
 John Appel says:

What's missing from your analysis is that we now have a full generation of fans who in the majority have never read any Heinlein works at all. Some of them are creators, which means that the field is starting to be shaped by people for whom Heinlein is not a direct influence. And the simple demographics of the millennial and post-millennial generations mean they dwarf the generations before them. This is compounded by the SFFH genre becoming more "mainstream," and also by the sheer number of works being created now.

Young people interested in the genre aren't starting with Heinlein juveniles; they're starting with Harry Potter, or Percy Jackson, or the works of Tamora Pierce or Holly Black.

posted 10th May 2018

Farah Mendlesohn
 Farah Mendlesohn says:

Actually it's not missing. I talk about deferred influence. And influence goes down the generations in non-linear ways. Anyone using the basic techniques of sf worldbuilding is using Heinlein's techniques. But what is true is that new generations will swamp that and the traces of influence will get more diffuse and that's how it *should* be. Unless as I note he makes it into being a classic, which may or may not happen.

posted 10th May 2018

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