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Whoa! Who here knows who Robert A. Heinlein is?

R.A. Heinlein, [on] 20th-century democracies:

"Those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears."

-I love this guy!

I always hated how bad Starship Troopers was, especially the acting and stupid catchphrases, "you kill bugs good". But I've watched the movie literally 25 times and I think I've discovered why. There are great little nuggets of hardcore truth interspersed in there, along with Denise Richards boobies. Amen, what a combo.

Also, this:

"Ah, yes, the 'unalienable rights.' Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry. Life? What 'right' to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What 'right' to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of 'right'? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man's right is 'unalienable'? And is it 'right'?

As to liberty, the heroes who signed that great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is always unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it is always vanquished. Of all the so-called 'natural human rights' that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost."

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I couldn't agree more about taste varying

and thank God for that fact. To be honest I haven't picked up an Ellison or Asimov book for at least 15 years. The last two books I've read were the much mentioned Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and one of Anne McCaffrey's "Dragon Riders from Pern" books. Every now and then I'll stumble across an old Zelazney book from the "Amber" series, usually while cleaning out a closet, and I'll sit down and reread it, highly entertaining, I'd strongly recommend it if you are of the Romantic Fiction bent.

There are no politicians or bankers in foxholes.

I've read Zelazny.

Pretty much everything he published. It's odd, but I like his short stories much better than his novels. I recommend this collection to give you a taste. Some of his very best.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

I've read that already

quite a while ago.

There are no politicians or bankers in foxholes.


Poul Anderson is the man, glad you mentioned him.

John Brunner (1934-1995)

Stand on Zanzibar, Shockwave Rider, The Sheep Look Up...

What? No Richard Matheson?

"I am Legend," "The (Incredible) Shrinking Man," "A Stir of Echos," "Bid Time Return ("Somewhere in Time")," "What Dreams May Come," and many of the best episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and "Star Trek". As far as I know, Richard Matheson is the ONLY sci-fi writer who so inspired TV and film producers, characters were either named directly after him ("Senator Richard Matheson" on "The X Files," a minor character; and "Rachel Matheson," a major character on "Revolution").

matheson was great

I AM LEGEND was filmed as OMEGA MAN starring charlton heston & earlier as THE LAST MAN ON EARTH starring vincent price.

RM was also an influence on another great speculative writer: j.g. ballard

THE PRiSONER of course is a libertarian classic, and the new version (more ballardian) is also
quite good.

a leftie friend of mine refused to admit that the prisoner theme was libertarian, but he also was in denial
about the creators of south park. funny, when liberals discover something or someone is actually inspired by libertarian thinking they suddenly lose interest, even though previously they loved it.

Oh man

I read the crap out some H.p. Lovecraft growin up.

NO MORE LIES. Ron Paul 2012.

The pre-cursors or initiaters of the Pulp fiction era

Were Lord Dunsany, William Butler Yeats and Arthur Machen, among others. I also personally feel that M. Blavatsky had an incredible influence in pulp fiction.
Well worth checking out.

I have been a fan of his

I have been a fan of his since my childhood. You really need to read the book if you want to get the full perspective on Starship Troopers.

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. - Heinlein

The secret of happiness

"Happiness lies in being privileged to work hard for long hours in doing whatever you think is worth doing.

"One man may find happiness in supporting a wife and children. Another may find it in robbing banks. Still another may labor mightily for years in pursuing pure research with no discernible result.

"Note the individual and subjective nature of each case. No two are alike and there is no reason to expect them to be. Each man or woman must find for himself or herself that occupation in which hard work and long hours make him or her happy. Contrariwise, if you are looking for shorter hours and longer vacations and early retirement, you are in the wrong job. Perhaps you need to take up bank robbery. Or geeking in a sideshow. Or even politics."

That passage jumped out at me from To Sail Beyond the Sunset -- maybe not one of his best books, but that one bit redeemed it for me.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Love Heinlein...

Had a bunch of bumper stickers made a long time ago that said:

"An armed society is a polite society ~ Robert A. Heinlein"

Have had one on my truck for years. Along with an actual rifle in the rifle rack.

Can you grok it? :)

Yours in Liberty,


"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote..." ~ Ben Franklin

"The 'cost of freedom' is risk and responsibility..." ~ Me

Here it is

...over at Liberty Stickers in the Second Amendment store

Have A Nice Day

A New York native co-worker once complained to me that in California, people say "Have a nice day," but they don't really mean it.

In contrast, we were working in a retail shop in a California mall, when someone walked in carrying a soda. He pointed to the sign that said, "No food/drink," and said to the customer, "What's the matter? Can't you read?" We nearly fainted.

Say what you will about sincerity in the Wild West, but Heinlein was right.

What do you think?

My first singature on the DP was a Heinlien quote

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him."

Here are some as pertaining to:

Economics - "The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship."

Jealousy - "A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity."

Peace and Freedom - "You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once."

The Universe - "The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract."

Armed Societies - "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. "

Freedom and Responsibility - "I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. "

History - "A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future."

Politics - "Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. "

God and Religion - "Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child."

Sin - "Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful —just stupid.)"

Reasoning with People (for the Paulbots) - "How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?"

This one reminds me of Ron Paul -

"Being right too soon is socially unacceptable. "

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.
Dwight D. Eisenhower


is the begining of tyranny

Stranger in a Strange Land

also classic.

Short story collection: Future History Stories a personal favorite.

He was definitely one of the early libertarians in modern 'culture.'



One of the greatest authors of the 20th Century. I recommend his entire catalogue.

Introduce your children to him early. Tunnel in the Sky is a good place to start for kids.

a great author

that wrote timeless classics like Stranger in a Strange Land. But he also wrote some real turds, like I Will Fear No Evil. As much as I liked the concept of that book, it was extremely boring and I could not force myself to finish it. Stick to his early stuff, pre-1970.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu


Who the hell is downvoting this? Please explain your rationale for downvoting a question? I'm perplexed. My only guess is your afraid of admitting liking Denise Richards boobies???

NO MORE LIES. Ron Paul 2012.

I didn't down-vote it either,

I didn't down-vote it either, but if you are looking to Heinlein for direction you will be lead astray. The movie for "Starship Troopers" could not have been further from the book.

The "Starship Troopers" movie was made by Paul Verhoeven, the same guy that made the original "Total Recall" and "RoboCop". Those three fit together in that they all seem to be dumb action flicks on the surface, but each "hides" a deeper meaning. "RoboCop" was a strong condemnation of military/police contractors. "Total Recall" was based on the Philip K Dick story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale", and was vehemently against black-bag corrupt government/business alliances. "Starship Troopers" was a blatant satire of war propaganda movies like "Triumph of the Will". Verhoeven even cut out Heinlein's enemies and replaced them with villains which better fit "Ender's Game" so he could go over the top with the propaganda side (and CG).

The "Starship Troopers" book was Heinlein's argument in favor of hard military rule. This is transparent when you read the books, with no hint of irony. Go to the sections dealing with the "government/morality" classes. The teacher is the voice of Heinlein, and does nothing but argue for fascism. Many say that what is being proposed by Heinlein is one of the strongest calls for outright fascism ever put on paper. I haven't read "Stranger in a Strange Land" yet, but I'm not too enthusiastic for it given what I found in "Starship Troopers".

Heinlein may have some good quotes, but one can pull good quotes from "Bill Crystal" if you are willing to ignore the context and track record. I would be surprised if Heinlein would have been anything but a neo-con were he alive today. In no way does he belong in the top three sci-fi writers of his period (Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury). The poster who connects him with Hubbard is probably correct.

"Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered." -- Cicero

Your comment is misguided.

I've heard this same assertion about Starship Troopers countless times, and it always disturbs me. In my viewpoint, those who liken ST to a promotion of "fascism" can be compared with those who associate Ron Paul with "racism". This stems from a confusion of the terms.

Some people tend to interpret the "government" of Starship Troopers as a proposed ideal, which it is not. It is rather an appropriate setting for Heinlein to masterfully disseminate some of his deepest personal philosophies with a core focus on how honor, duty, and responsibility influence morality and tie into the means of self-preservation. Of course, there are also tones of anti-communism.

Think of it this way... You might call yourself a libertarian, but your ideal vision of a "perfect" society and the true methods of its realization probably conflict with your libertarian convictions. I know I've faced the same quandary in moments of exasperation ("If only I could FORCE these sheep into being peaceful, reasonable, and non-coercive!"). Obviously, the proper resolution to this dilemma is to admit reality and do the best you can while you can in accordance with your own morality. This is one of the basic foundations that indirectly guides all of Heinlein's fiction. He admits reality.

"Bear in mind that this is science, not wishful thinking; the universe is what it is, not what we want it to be." - Starship Troopers

Conversely, fiction is fiction, and it leaves open opportunities for the writer to explore alternative realities.

So, let's actually examine the reality that Heinlein creates in Starship Troopers. The one aspect that a lot of people seem to attribute to the supposed "fascism" inherent in the book is the concept of “Civilian Vs. Citizen”.

Basically, the society in the book has established a threshold one must cross to graduate from the ordinary civilian (achieved by birth) and the citizen (achieved by the completion of military service). The definition of a citizen is one who is granted the permission to vote and participate in public office. Another controversial issue is that voters must pay a “poll tax”. At first, these concepts seem quite draconian to a liberty-minded observer, but let us remember that the rules pertaining to this particular “franchise”, as Heinlein names it, have been far more controlled and arbitrary throughout the history of man. He reminds us:

“The sovereign franchise has been bestowed by all sorts of rules—place of birth, race, sex, property, education, age, religion, et cetera. All of these systems worked and none of them well. All were regarded as tyrannical by many, all eventually collapsed or were overthrown.” - Major Reid, Starship Troopers

Now, let us consider the society of the book as a whole. It is composed of relatively libertarian constructs. There are few laws (anti-coercion based). There are low taxes and few. The economy is not regulated and controlled. There is no “prison system”. Murder is met with execution; minor infractions such as theft are met with restitution and corporal punishment (often flogging). All of the rights enumerated in our own “Bill of Rights” are protected and granted to civilian and citizen alike. Also, military service is in no way compulsory. In fact, you can choose to be discharged before ever seeing combat, the forfeiture of your citizenship your only penalty.

In essence, the main jurisdictions of the “government” are the military and courts. A system in which the military is regulated solely by veterans of that very same military is hardly fascism. It seems much more reasonable than a military controlled by stockholders of Goldman-Sachs.

“To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority... other than through the tragic logic of history. The unique “poll tax” that we must pay was unheard of. No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead—and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.
“Superficially, our system is only slightly different; we have democracy unlimited by race, color, creed, birth, wealth, sex, or conviction, and anyone may win sovereign power by a usually short and not too arduous term of service—nothing more than a light workout to our cave-man ancestors. But that slight difference is one between a system that works, since it is constructed to match the facts, and one that is inherently unstable. Since sovereign franchise is the ultimate in human authority, we insure that all who wield it accept the ultimate in social responsibility—we require each person who wishes to exert control over the state to wager his own life—and lose it, if need be—to save the life of the state. The maximum responsibility a human can accept is thus equated to the ultimate authority a human can exert. Yin and yang, perfect and equal.” - Major Reid, Starship Troopers

You must also keep in mind that in no way does Heinlein propose that this system is perfect. It is only an imagined reality.

“Love your country, but never trust its government.” - Robert Heinlein

At its roots, Starship Troopers is a treatise on the philosophy of responsibility disguised as a sci-fi novel about a boy's elevation to manhood (duty) during an inter-stellar alien war which threatens human existence. Sure, there are definite strains of militarism, but it is a sort of militarism combined with responsibility which is a contrast to the wars of profit and politics we suffer today. It is a primally inspired amalgamation of war and virtue. As Heinlein correctly writes in the book:

“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.” - Mr. Dubois, Starship Troopers

I agree that the movie could not be further from the book. Verhoeven is a hack who never even read the book. In fact, he has personal disdain for it. In his blind neo-liberalism, he designed the movie as a farce to patronize and tarnish the original work. The movie is a cliché that recycles the theme of action-as-plot and adds the obligatory Hollywood romance. And besides, no powered armor = instant fail.

I urge you to reconsider the novel in a different light. Perhaps even reread it without prejudice and try to absorb the underlying themes. In any case, don't let your evaluation of ST affect your desire to experience the rest of Heinlein's library, as I know that it can be a put-off for some. Heinlein was the greatest writer of libertarian fiction, and you would be robbing yourself to ignore his complementary works.

Starship Troopers was an aberration.

Most of Heinlein's work (and I've read nearly all of it) is much more pro-liberty and takes a jaundiced view of Authority. You do him a grave injustice if you judge him by that one book. Try The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress -- a much better book than Stranger, IMO, and WORLDS better than Starship Troopers.

I do recommend, in chronological order of publication (and some of my particular favorites marked with an asterisk):
Red Planet*
Between Planets
The Rolling Stones*
The Star Beast*
Tunnel in the Sky*
Double Star
Time for the Stars*
Citizen of the Galaxy*
The Door into Summer
Have Space Suit Will Travel*
Methuselah's Children*
Stranger in a Strange Land*
Podkayne of Mars
Glory Road*
Time Enough For Love*
Expanded Universe (anthology of short stories)

And for the record, I like Heinlein better than Asimov, Clarke and Bradbury put together -- and I've read many books by all of them. None of the others are even vaguely libertarian -- and I'm hard put to recall a single memorable character from any of their books.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

What about...?

Wendell Urth? Elijah Bailey? R Daneel Olivaw? The Mule?
HAL 9000? (or is he Kubrick's rather than Clarke's?)
DOUG SPAULDING????? fer pity's sake...

But otherwise I agree with you. Give me Manuel O'Kelly Davis or Hamilton Felix or Lazarus Long or Wyoming Knott anywhere, any century, any universe.

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
to be continued

Yeah. Clarke and Asimov are


Clarke and Asimov are hit and miss, but Bradbury is a hack.

His most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, is what Heinlein would call "pseudo-intellectual masturbation".

As for other libertarian sci-fi authors, try Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, and L. Neil Smith. And if you haven't read "This Perfect Day" by Ira Levin, do so immediately. I feel as though it's even more relevant than 1984 and Brave New World.

Bradbury is a hack? Everyone

Bradbury is a hack? Everyone you listed such as Stephenson have great ideas but can't tell a story in as natural a manner as Bradbury. Hell, I love Heinlein but his writing can be stilted as all hell. Same with Asimov and Clarke. Don't call someone a hack who had more understanding of language and craft than you or I do in his little finger (after decades of practice of course)

Back to the original post though, why is no one bringing up Stranger in a Srange land as Heinleins' best work. It bent all of the rules at the time and even now. It brought forth the non-agression principle perfect in Valentine. The only time people disappeared in his presence was when they were considered harmful due to being so against logic that they were a cancer as opposed to a natural being. After the idea of non aggression was explained to him, he went beyond into the state of a physical iteration of that idea and allowed himself to be scattered to the winds so he could be assimilated into the world at large.

Moon is great, but not nearly as deep and freeing as SIASL.

edit: Due to my lack of reading, I see Stranger was brought up a few times. :O


"Bradbury is a hack?" Yes. A

"Bradbury is a hack?"

Yes. A Bradbury novel reminds me of something I might have written when I was twelve years old. It consists of meaningless, flowery prose. In fact, you could easily condense any of Bradbury's works to a fraction of their size, and they would flow much more naturally. Bradbury = Filler, filler, and more filler. Ugh.

I agree that Heinlein's writing can be a bit stilted at times, but at least it is direct and purposeful. Bradbury couldn't get a point across if he had a bow and arrow.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

i liked the martian

i liked the martian chronicles


Martian chronicles ruled.

Martian chronicles ruled. Great exposition on the decline of a society (the martian one in this case).


This is good to know. I'll at

This is good to know. I'll at least read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" soon, and likely will read some others over time.

I'm not a huge sci-fi reader, just the classics really, but it's a little unfair to say that there isn't anything "even vaguely libertarian" about Bradbury. They guy wrote "Fahrenheit 451". Even short stories like "Sound of Thunder" involve strong libertarian ideas. To my knowledge he didn't espouse libertarian theory, but he certainly pushed for a more educated populous and against totalitarian rule. The other ones were all world government types, but their science is sound.

As for characters, well, to me that isn't what sci-fi is about. To me, hard sci-fi is about ideas backed by what would at least be considered possible given our knowledge at the time. It looks into the future and considers the ramifications of different technologies. I can't name any characters from Asimov, and can only even recall the two debuggers from "I, Robot". However, a few weeks back a Swiss data warehouse consultant, an American machine learning doctorate, a brilliant Indian semantics/ontology guy, a high level Indian programmer/IT manager and myself were able to talk about the laws of robotics, their value and how they would work going forward for two hours over dinner at a Punjabi place in Delhi. Who else could have sparked that kind of conversation 50 some years after their relevant books were published?

It's hard to take most political stuff in sci-fi seriously. Even Card in the 80's assumed that the Soviet Union would live forever. They all more or less lean toward technocratic rule. Where they shine is in their vision of science/engineering and showing the failings of technocratic systems.

"Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered." -- Cicero