But he had been brought up to believe that honest citizens had nothing to fear
December 30, 2009 1 Comment
I’m reading all of Heinlein’s books, chronologically. Slowly, a couple a year, because wouldn’t it be horrible to find that there weren’t any more left? I do the same with Terry Pratchett. There’s no hurry. I don’t plan to die soon.
Now I’m at Between Planets from 1951. It’s a variation over a theme Heinlein used often: The American Revolution, with emphasis on the second word. Heinlein didn’t believe nations were Eternally Great because of something someone wrote in a constitution centuries ago. Any state, no matter how well it started out, might eventually deteriorate into an oppressive police state.
And then you’d have to start a revolution all over again. Which is where the Heinlein protagonist usually enters the picture. On the verge to being ready to chase the diseased, remote, authoritarian state off his land. All he needs is one final outrage to push him over the edge.
Heinlein’s message to the teenagers his early books were written for, was: Question all authority – including your teachers. Make up your own mind. That was subversive in 1951, and it still is. His strong anti-racist message isn’t, but the way it’s presented remains fresh and un-p.c today.
The plot of Between Planets is basically just a series of fortunate accidents. Come to think of it, most of Heinlein’s novels were. But he was often better at hiding it.