Friday, May 25, 2012

"Slowness Is Beauty" - Laurence Binyon

The Seer of Cleveland asked me weeks ago, "In one of your blog postings, you mention that you and RAW mostly talked about movies and books. Can you tell me if he talked about science fiction very often, and what he said about who his favorite science fiction authors were?"

Science fiction came up from time to time in Bob's letters and conversations.  I remember talking with him on the phone about my first science fiction class in August 2000.  He said he considered Heinlein the first writing to bring sociology into science fiction.

He used to write about The Valis Trilogy by Phil Dick.  I told him I thought of Phil's last four books as a cohesive unity: Radio Free Albemuth, Valis, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.  He said he agreed and that he'd referred to it as a trilogy because he had an omnibus volume called The Valis Trilogy.


  1. I forgot Bob liked the film "Star Trek V". He loved the line, "What does God need with a starship?"

  2. I've often wondered about the usual classification of Heinlein as a "hard science" SF writer, usually grouped in the Trinity of "Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein". The science is definitely there, but in the later novels--starting, say, with Stranger in a Strange Land--he really starts to work on both alternative family structures and the direction the US is going.

    I'm currently rereading Friday and one thing that stands out in this book is the political disintegration of the US and the power of the multinationals--as the nuking of Acapulco (on p. 42 of the paperback edition) shows. It could have been published last year and not in 1982.

  3. Your comment prompted me to look at the Wikipedia page for "Hard Science Fiction" which gives representative works rather than representative writers. It includes at least one work each by Asimov, Clarke, and Larry Niven, but not one by Bob Heinlein, at least not to my cursory scan. Both Niven and Heinlein wrote a wide variety of stuff. To me "Hard SF" suggests books by people who can do higher math and incorporate that into their fiction. This adds to verisimilitude and it also has a certain snob appeal to those who can also do higher math. Permit me an amateur pscyhological analysis: Traditionally science fiction often appeals to young men who excel in math more than in socialization. They (my younger self included) treasure "hard sf" which values what they excel in (even though I haven't done much math for decades).