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Number 937, August 27, 2017

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In Response to David Brin on Heinlein
by J. Neil Schulman
Brad Linaweaver

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Re: “Looking back at Heinlein's Future History - coming true before our eyes” by David Brin.

Brad Linaweaver and I are equally disturbed by David Brin’s attempt to recruit the late Mr. Heinlein to the current anti-Trump crusade. For those who aren’t well-read, Brad is the author of Moon of Ice, endorsed by Robert A. Heinlein. He was an associate editor on Bill Patterson’s The Heinlein Journal and is a life member of the Heinlein Society.

Brad and I have read every published word of Robert A. Heinlein, fiction and nonfiction. In addition, Brad is credited as grandfather of the authorized Tor two-volume Heinlein biography Volume 1, Volume 2 by William H. Patterson, Jr. That’s because Mr. Linaweaver brought Virginia Heinlein and Bill Patterson together. One of his rewards was to spend a week with Bill Patterson at the Heinlein archives at UC Santa Cruz.

We were also friends with Ginny, who had us to her home in Atlantic Beach and took us to dinner.

My 1973 interview with Heinlein made for the New York Sunday News was called by Virginia Heinlein, “The best article—in style, content, and accuracy—of the many, many written about him over the years.”

I spent hours alone both in person and on the phone just chatting with Robert A. Heinlein, from 1973 until his death in 1988.

So Brad and I can say with authority that David Brin writing that Heinlein “despised Ayn Rand” or that Heinlein would have lined up with liberals in comparing Donald Trump to Nehemiah Scudder are mendaciously false.

David Brin recruits the ghost of Heinlein to join him in the liberal cartoon that draws Trump as a religious fanatic. Ludicrous. If there’s a character in Heinlein that resembles Donald Trump it’s not Nehemiah Scudder (who would have declared Trump’s Jewish daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner to be "Pariahs") but the billionaire Delos D. Harriman in The Man Who Sold The Moon.

Brad Linaweaver wrote to me for inclusion in this comment:

This is the most disappointing piece of writing I have ever seen from David Brin. Went back and read the review I did of Brin’s novel, Earth, in my science fiction review column for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (October 28, 1990). In my review I wrote that he “brings high prose standards to a field often willing, even eager, to settle for less.”

I believe that Brin’s readers are settling for less with this particular diatribe.

Brin quotes Heinlein at length in a manner suggesting he is introducing his readers to these classics. If this is an educational exercise then historical context is important. Brin is giving a distorted version of Heinlein’s politics.

When I wrote the Nehemiah Scudder passages for my part in the round-robin novel tribute to Heinlein in the final issue of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s New Libertarian, I fully understood the kind of theocrat who casts a dark shadow over “If This Goes On-” and the expanded version of Revolt in 2100. During my long friendship with Ginny Heinlein it came as no surprise that the only kind of Republicans she and Robert saw as possible Scudder types were religious nuts like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The idea that either Heinlein would see a largely secular businessman such as Trump as a religious dictator is intellectually dishonest.

There are more problems with what Brin has written here. Why does he have any credibility on Heinlein’s presidential tastes when Brin despises Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, both of whom received documented support from RAH? I’m deliberately using the word “despise” correctly, because there is not a shred of evidence that Robert A. Heinlein despised Ayn Rand. If David Brin remembers the book of correspondence edited by Virginia Heinlein, Grumbles from the Grave, he might have noticed the section about Robert’s positive attitudes toward Rand’s The Fountainhead. But there is something more important than that.

J. Neil Schulman did the most interesting interview ever conducted with Heinlein. In it he got RAH to talk about Ayn Rand. If David Brin would like to know what the Dean of Science Fiction was thinking about the issues he’s raised so he can share it with his fans, he might read The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana. Neil honored me with an invitation to do the foreword.

I appreciate David Brin’s efforts to convince his fellow progressives that Robert A Heinlein is not a fascist — true; Heinlein was a libertarian — but doing so by remaking Heinlein into a liberal Trump-basher In His Own Image is the wrong way to do it. —JNS


J. Neil Schulman


J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish, And Short Stories.
Read more about him.


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