Monday, October 5, 2009

But add a certain amount of flubdub and hokum and don't label it 'scientific' and he will be impressed

I like Heinlein's early novels because he was a better writer when he was younger. Not as interesting as he became later, but also less self-indulgent. And it's fun to see the early versions of themes he made more out of later. Both Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) reused ideas from Red Planet (1949). They also reused themes - but different ones - from Sixth Column (1941).

America has been conquered by the PanAsians, Japanese-Chinese-Soviet caricatures. A small team of scientists and soldiers use newly discovered near-magical technologies to launch a psyops-campaign against the invaders. Because only religion remains free from PanAsian control, (the invaders believe that all religions ultimately benefit the ruling class), the campaign is built around a fake new religion, which uses technology to confuse the invaders and inspire the natives.

The story is ridiculous. It's really more of a thought experiment. "Well what if you had 6 geniuses with amazing weapons and unlimited money, how would you get rid of an occupying army?" I like Heinlein's thought experiments. But I like them better when there's a story attached. Also, the ending is too abrupt.

According to SF legend, it was Heinlein who gave L. Ron Hubbard the idea of founding a religion. (Like a legendary rock concert, everybody claims they were there when it happened.) If so, I wouldn't be surprised if aspects of the Cult of Mota went into the Church of Scientology.



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