Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Patriotism and Robert A. Heinlein

A version of this was submitted this week to
The Heinlein Centennial Reader A Call for Articles and Essays
about Heinlein's Life & Work
http://www.heinleinsociety.org/

I'll be going to the Robert Heinlein Centennial convention in
Kansas City over the July 7, 2007 weekend. They've put me on 6
panels in two days. So I've been preparing some handouts and
thinking about the topics.

Meanwhile, one of the Sime~Gen fans (Midge Baker) announced
she's a Robert Heinlein fan -- imagine that -- and gave me a URL
I'd like to share with you.

It is ever so gratifying to discover that some of my all time
favorite authors have fans who also like Sime~Gen and my other
work. And that happens quite a lot. Maybe I've done something
right.

You may note that my first novel, a Sime~Gen novel titled House
of Zeor which first came out from Doubleday in hardcover then
had numerous mass market paperback and translation reprints,
plus an Omnibus reprint, was dedicated to Robert Heinlein.

After a lifetime of reading his work, I first met Robert at the
World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in 1976 when I
was on an autographing tour for my non-fiction book Star Trek
Lives! about why fans like Star Trek. They held the first
Worldcon Blood Drive at that convention, and donating blood was
the only way to get RAH's autograph.

As it happened, I was disqualified from blood donation at the
time, but he built in a dodge to get around the requirement. If
you stood in line at the Bloodmobile, and were turned down, you
got a heart-pin that was your ticket to stand in line at the
autographing.

So I did both stand-in-lines (long ones) and got my heart-pin
which I still wear, and finally got to the desk where he was
signing books. Instead of asking for his autograph, I gave him
House of Zeor autographed to him by me.

He later called me and made some very encouraging remarks. So I
sent him my second novel, Unto Zeor, Forever and he called me
again asking if I was a medical doctor (which I'm not) because
I'd portrayed the essence of that profession with remarkable
realism.

Later still, he invited me and my family to visit him in his
home, a visit where my children (just the right age) got
autographed copies of his juveniles which they treasure to this
day.

There's a reason for that dedication of my first novel -- and it
wasn't to get an invitation to Robert Heinlein's house.
Sime~Gen and almost all of my work falls into the category I've
named Intimate Adventure
http://www.simegen.com/jl/intimateadventure.html
for more detail.

Romance and Intimacy (which aren't necessarily the same thing)
are both about Relationship -- about me vs. other with the focus
on Other.

Romance and Intimacy both create the binding force that holds
society and civilization together -- the bonds between
individuals which then extend to children, ancestors, extended
family, tribe, city, nation, etc.

It is this fundamental binding force of civilization that Robert
Heinlein writes about with such moving conviction that it became
one of the core drivers of my own fiction.

I became a science fiction writer very much because of Robert A.
Heinlein's vision of what humanity could and should be -- our
highest calling -- the counter entropic force in the universe,
the organizing force.

I first discovered his novels in the library in the early 1950's
-- or more accurately, my mother discovered them for even his
juveniles were shelved not in the children's library but in the
adult library to which I didn't qualify for a card. So my
mother sneaked me books way above my grade level. So I
did learn everything I needed to know about life from those
early juveniles.

One of the most important things I learned was the reason for
Patriotism and for Good Manners in any society containing
humans.

Here's the URL where you can find Robert A. Heinlein's speech on
the nature of Patriotism on Jerry Pournelle's website (which is
worth exploring).

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2mail/mail212.html#RAH

That reason is survival. Pure and simple. Human societies that
fail to engender patriotism and good manners become extinct.
Heinlein held that "women and children first" = Patriotism.
That no society can survive if it doesn't reproduce. In that
endeavor males are expendable; women and children are not.
It's not that women CAN'T fight -- it's that society can't
afford it. If it comes down to a woman defending her children,
the warriors have failed. (but the attacker is going to be very
very sorry!)

In Sime~Gen, the channels don't fight because the Householding
that doesn't put "channels & Donors first" doesn't survive, even
though the channels are the most powerful combatants.
Heinlein had a reverence and respect for the POWER of womanhood
that went bone marrow deep - beyond words.

Heinlein's vision of the reason why viable human societies
produce Warriors is very deeply ingrained in my concept of
"Intimate Adventure."

Intimate Adventure replaces the "action" in Action/Adventure
with Intimacy -- so it becomes Intimate/Adventure.
In Intimate Adventure the Warrior's courage is needed on the
field of Intimacy, as well as the field of physical battle.
The Warrior's ability to give wholly of himself in service of
the Group -- to hold nothing back -- is rooted in personal bonds
of all kinds. The first personal bond that begins this process
is infant to care-giver (child to mother).

Through life, an individual forms hundreds of such bonds with
varying degrees of Intimacy -- and eventually, finds a mate and
raises children.

Romance is that activated state just prior to forming a mating
bond -- and the process of forming that bond.

What attracts a woman to any man is that man's untapped ability
to form such a bond at the deepest, most intimate level -- the
level where "what does she see in him?" and "what does he see in
her?" are clear and self-evident.

Women seek Men who will put them first in "women and children
first" -- a man who will stand between danger and the survival
of the group.

That ability to stand between danger and the survival of the
group is based on that network of bonds formed with individuals
of the group, the ancestors' sacrifices, and the vision of the
accomplishments of the progeny. So deeply steeped in Heinlein's work,
I wrote House of Zeor to portray a "Group" that would be worthy
of the kind of Patriotic Warrior Heinlein wrote about, the
Householdings that exist to prevent the extinction of the human species.

Robert Heinlein advocated "Pay It Forward" -- so I'm paying his
legacy forward by teaching the Intimate Adventure style of
writing on simegen.com.


Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://www.simegen.com/jl/

3 comments:

  1. Great column, Jacqueline! As always, I had to save it to file.

    I think the Intimate Adventure concept may be why a lot of Romance novels don't capture my interest. I've been married over a decade and have been pregnant four times. To me, Romance is a whole heck of a lot more than just Boy-Meets-Girl.

    I do have Heinlein's idea of Patriotism in my novels. Isn't it amazing how we internalize such concepts from reading fiction? I never heard of him before I read your column today!

    As Patricia Pollacco's Ukrainian grandmother used to tell her, "Words have power."

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  2. Well, look up Robert A. Heinlein on amazon -- STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was his most popular book. They tried to make a movie or two out of a couple of his things, STARSHIP TROOPER is a better book than film.

    And thank you for the nice comment!

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg
    http://www.simegen.com/jl/

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  3. Got 'Stranger in a Strange Land' on order!

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