Saturday, January 26, 2002

Stranger in a Strange Sci-Fi Debate- I was interested in a back-and forth between Justin Slotman (Philip K. Dick) at the IRB and Megan McArdle (Robert Heinlein), bringing back memories of my teen years, when I read nearly the whole Sci-Fi section of the Midland library. Heinlein was one of my favorites. I somehow missed Dick's writing, but from the two movies that got mentioned, Blade Runner and Total Recall, his work seems a bit dystopian, and I like to leave a book feeling better than I came in. Heinlein's male characters seemed to be optimistic curmudgeons (is that an oxymoron?), like Jubal in Stranger in a Strange Land or Lazarus Long in Methusalah's Children and Time Enough to Love or the father in Farnham's Freehold. However, most of his work has a lightly misogynistic and amoral feel that doesn't sit well with my today. His books may not make good movies since the triumphalism of the 40s and 50s has given way to a more cynical attitude and his best work, Stranger in a Strange Land, will likely never be made into a movie due to the non-raunchy nudity; a PG-13 book would turn into a NC-17 movie. Another good book I liked, Podkayne of Mars (I had a crush on her), assumes life on both Mars and Venus, and thus would have to be done with a Captain Proton-level tongue-in-cheek to be filmed today. The Number of the Beast might be the basis for an interesting screenplay, with a can-do female protagonist, although the TV show Sliders has covered the multiverse theme. I still use a line from Jubal in theological discussions-"The predestinationists and the free-willers are tied in the fourth quarter, last time I checked." However, I wouldn't go back and reread them today.

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