Tag Archives: robert heinlein

Galactic Suburbia 142!

In which the Hugo shortlist is more controversial as ever, but in the mean time we’ve been reading & watching some great things. You can get us at iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

MANY APOLOGIES for sound issues on this episode – we didn’t catch an accidental microphone shift which means some background noise which should have been muted were not.

What’s New on the Internet?

Hugo Shortlist
Effect of slate nominations on Hugo Shortlist at File 770.com

The Rebirth of Rapunzel winners: Margaret Eve & Kate Laidley, we hope you enjoy your book prizes!


Alex: Rebirth of Rapunzel, Kate Forsyth; The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein; Defying Doomsday, Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench; The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson

Alisa: Every Heart a Doorway; Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; Orphan Black

Tansy: Deirdre Hall is the Devil, presented by Jodi McAlister; Teen Wolf, Downton Abbey, Doctor Horrible’s Singalong Blog, Buffy Season 1

Skype number: 03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

349.jpgThis was sent to me by a Galactic Suburbia listener, when I mentioned that I had finished my first Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land) only recently. Isn’t that awesome??

… apparently I should feel a bit bad about not loathing this. Ah well.

The short version is: I enjoyed it more than I anticipated that I would. I had zero knowledge of what the story was about before going in (except for the slight teaser from Jonathan Strahan describing Luna: New Moon as “The Moon is a Very, Very Harsh Mistress”), and given that it was published in 1966 by a man who has almost become synonymous with outdated ideas and views… yeh, I found it surprisingly readable.

Let me deal with the problems first and get them out of the way. Yes, it’s racist. The Chinese colonists and those on Earth are not given the same level of respect as the white colonists. I am in no way disregarding that; but I was expecting it. It’s like being able to tolerate – that is, not run away screaming from – such racism in James Bond movies. But I’m white; I have the advantage of not having to deal with that sort of crap every day. I can understand not wanting to wade through that to get to possible good bits. I am certainly not saying anyone has to read this.

Additionally, yes it’s sexist. Interestingly it’s not as sexist as I had expected; there are a couple of women who have active and interesting roles. While Wyoming doesn’t have as active role as some of the others, she is present and she is a genuine member of the action, as are – if to a lesser extent – a couple of other women. So I think it does slightly better on the female angle than on the non-white angle (damning with faint praise?).

The short version of the plot: the moon is being used largely as a penal colony – well, the bit the story cares about; there’s also a Chinese colony, but they hardly feature (see? racism). The colony is being used as labour to extract stuff that Earth needs. So there’s a revolution. Naturally.

SPOILERS below in case you’re like me and a Heinlein novice. This isn’t pretending to be an in-depth analysis of the book, just a few comments on the things I found interesting.

Continue reading →

Galactic Suburbia 129

In which we explain the metaphorically violent nature of Australian politics, celebrate the return of Feminist Frequency and our faces are on the internet.
And I am late in posting this! Holidays will do that, when you don’t take a laptop camping… you can get us from iTunes or Galactic Suburbia, anyway.

What’s New on the Internet

Malcolm Turnbull is not Tony Abbott: the Australian Spill Story
Our national sport
The onion thing, no we don’t get it either.

New Feminist Frequency Tropes v Women in Video Games – Women as Reward & Special DLC Mini Episode.

The Three Hoarsemen Podcast Episode 25 featuring Alisa

Galactic Suburbia on Books and Pieces

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Mad Max Fury Road; Undisclosed: The State vs Adnan Syed Podcast

Alex: Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut; Archer’s Goon, Diana Wynne Jones; I finished Stranger in a Strange Land!! Also Of Sorrow and Such, Angela Slatter

Tansy: Dawn, Octavia E. Butler; Bombshells #1, Marguerite Sauvage & Marguerite Bennett; The Cornell Collective; Supernatural

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Stranger in a Strange Land

imagesI don’t really remember when I started this. It might have been 2012, or 2013. You see, I’ve been reading it for about half an hour every fortnight of school time… and not quite every fortnight even then. So it’s taken me a while. And I feel somewhat bereft now that it’s finished. It was such a hefty, cosy friend every time I went into the library to set a good example by reading.

Yes, this was my first Heinlein. Yes it was deliberate; I’d heard it was his “liberal” book, and the concept intrigued me. Yes, I know there are people who are appalled by this. I did read the whole thing though, so it wasn’t that bad (… over a few years…).

Not having read other Heinlein I don’t really know how else he presents his politics. I’ve seen the move of Starship Troopers, but I think there’s some squabbling about whether he meant the novel to be quite as satirical as the movie ended up being? Anyway, from the perspective of a leftie in the 21st century, this doesn’t seem all that liberal in its politics. I mean, I guess it seems to be advocating a form of socialism, but I’m not sure how seriously anybody was meant to take that (although given how prevalent ‘grok’ is in certain circles… hmm). Of course if you take ‘liberal’ to mean ‘happy to talk about sex and have sex and I don’t believe in marriage to have sex’ then yes, it is liberal. Of course compared to modern books the sex scenes are positively chaste and I had to re-read some sections to understand what the fuss was about (ohhh he talked about them kissing but he meant they weren’t ONLY kissing…).

It’s a very long book to talk about the return of a human child to Earth, now a man, who has been raised by the inhabitants of Mars and has therefore quite a different way of understanding the world. He has no clue about human interactions and the ability to perform various mind-tricks like telekinesis and so on. There’s also a financial aspect since the way the law works he appears to be the owner of or ambassador from Mars, plus other technological side-benefits, which means that he is a multi-millionaire… all of these things naturally mean he has more enemies and would-be friends than he can deal with.

Interestingly the focus, I think, is not really on Mike, the Man from Mars. Nor is it on Jill, his nurse, at least not after the first bit. Instead the character who has really stuck with me is Jubal. Jubal almost seems to me how I imagine Heinlein to have been (and this is completely unfair since no one is born old): old, cranky, seen it all, cynical, bored by the world but still in love with it, impatient, garrulous, and desperate to do right by all those around him. Also the most amazing sense of entitlement. Jubal appears to have tried everything worthwhile and he runs a house that is at once a commune, a resort, and a demanding place of work. His obstinance and his love of his adoptive grandchildren, his bullying and arrogance matched with the fact that he uses his enormous brain for the good of those he loves – this, rather than Mike, seems to me to be the epitome of humanity.

Because in many ways I think Mike is meant to represent the best of humanity. But he’s a distant figure, for all he sleeps with every woman he gets close to as far as I can tell. He is unknowable. Interestingly he’s an inversion of the Great White Saviour trope, I think, because he’s doing humanity better than humanity but he IS human, just raised by a distant and unknowable people. I’m not sure that he’s being a better Martian than the Martians; we’re not given that info.

There are some appalling moments, especially about the women; this is not unexpected. The stuff about Fosterites was weird and a bit uncomfortable (but not nearly as weird as the bits about Foster himself!). The inclusion of a Muslim character surprised me, given the publication date… and the way he’s treated by those around him is simultaneously welcoming and also appalling.

I am glad I’ve read it. I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone. Perhaps someone like me who is old enough to be cynical and hasn’t read any Heinlein before… as long as they’ve read enough other SF to know that it’s not all like this. Will I read any more Heinlein? I’m honestly not sure. There are so very many other books to read.