Happy Birthday Robert Anson!

Yes, it is deliberately ambiguous, as my son and the master share a birthday.

If Robert Anson Heinlein lived, he’d be 115, which I want to point is a totally attainable age, and I’m sorry he didn’t make it. We’d have at least three or four more books, right?

But as someone who never got to meet him, but came to share his profession, someone on whom he had almost as much influence as he might have had on a child of his own (I doubt without reading Heinlein I’d be an American, or a writer, or– Well, I doubt I’d be me.) I feel it important to quote him on adventure and what we long for.

“What did I want?
I wanted a Roc’s egg. I wanted a harem loaded with lovely odalisques less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels, the rust that never stained my sword,. I wanted raw red gold in nuggets the size of your fist and feed that lousy claim jumper to the huskies! I wanted to get u feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a like wench for my droit du seigneur–I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles.
I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.
I wanted Prestor John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be–instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.” – Robert A. Heinlein

21 comments

    1. I absolutely cannot imagine how my life would have turned out had I not encountered Heinlein’s writing when I was six. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Thanks, RAH. And I’ll keep hoping we can have the Heinlein Sesquicentennial in Luna City, at Harriman Square.

  1. He was one of the first science fiction authors I read, “Have Spacesuit will travel” I think, followed by “Time for the Stars” and I was hooked. I remember finding “Time enough for Love” when it came out in college and devouring it in one long afternoon and evening. Just could not get enough of his writing. So glad I got to read him when I did. And here are the crazy years, right on schedule.

  2. Great quote, and thanks for the word “odalisques”.

    I *just* finished a book where a character called women of a certain profession “obelisks” and was beating my brains out trying to figure out what she meant.

  3. Lotus root is pretty delicious. You can buy some at your local Korean store, probably.

    But if you eat much, it makes you pee endlessly. I am not kidding.

    So I have questions about that island, Homer! Questions!

    1. I started with Puppet Masters when I was in 7th grade in 1967. It is the only book that gave me bad dreams. It still impressed me and Starship Troopers was next. I was hooked on The Grand Master from then on. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is still my favorite.

  4. I started to get into Robert Heinlein…about the time he died. I think I read my first few sci-fi books that I enjoyed had his name and I was trying to find more of his books and more of his stories…and, I think he was gone a year or two when I got old enough to really enjoy them.

    (FYI, Stranger In A Strange Land was one of those books that shouldn’t have been released until he was gone. It’s not bad, but…there’s the touch of that “one final project” about it that anything after that was just flat soda.)

    He wrote the sort of stories I wanted to read. They might not have been the happiest stories, but they were never grim for grim’s sake. They were told well, and you wanted to believe in the worlds he created. You wanted to be a part of them.

    And, it’s a damn shame that I only really learned of him far too late to ever know the man.

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