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    Mary's DIY Publishing Blog


    Progress report

    I have to report some aggravation on the home front: I need to have the interior of the old house painted before anything else can happen, and as it turns out, it is TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE to find painters in the Pacific Northwest in the summer--I had one guy tell me they don't start doing interiors until October! I am going to keep looking, but I have to go out of town again in a week's time, so . . . grrr.

    ANYWAY, I decided that I might as well do something I enjoy and get some writing in during this weird period of frustration. Today I started by reading the YA fantasy over and editing what was written--pretty happy with it, actually.


    Things are moving along

    I met with the real-estate broker about the old house today. It was one of those things where you're really apologetic about the state of things (it's musty! I haven't really been taking good care of the yard!) and the person all but has a visible thought bubble over their head that reads, "I don't know WHAT you're worried about! I've seen FAR worse!"

    Anyway, the stuff it needs now (paint & carpet, mainly) is stuff that professionals should provide, so hopefully I will be able to return my focus to something I actually enjoy doing sooner rather than later.



    I'm looking at my life, and realizing that the next thing I need to focus on is selling the old house. I'd really rather write, especially because things have been going so well, but that house is not going to go away on its own. At this point I really hate going over there even just to mow the lawn, so I feel like I should put the effort in now and get it over with before the temptation to ignore it results in some very expensive catastrophe. It's going to be a big pain, but once it's done, I can get back to writing!


    Oh, so interesting

    I'm back from my trip--still getting settled back in and readjusting to Pacific Standard Time.

    I've been catching up on the Wall Street Journal, and there is a fascinating review of a biography of Robert Heinlein in it. The really interesting bit is that the reviewer puts their finger on something about Heinlein that I think is really true: His early books are much more political/persuasive (I am of the school that feels they can be propaganda-ish and annoying), but his later books are just kind of meaningless.

    From the review:

    The novels for adults that followed were just as emotionally compelling. And that's exactly the problem. "Starship Troopers" is about a future society facing a total war against an implacably hostile alien species: Heinlein does not just describe the war with his typical vividness; he conjures up a high-tech military culture, with a worldview and ruling ideology to fit (among other things, only veterans have the right to vote), and hurls the reader into its midst with such imaginative force that its rationale seems not only inevitable but somehow desirable. Many readers have been deeply moved (I know of more than one enlistment in the real-world military inspired by it); others have felt that they're being bullied by a brilliant piece of fascist propaganda. Five decades on, it remains the most bitterly divisive book in the history of sci-fi.

    Heinlein himself was greatly upset by the controversy. He wrote that he had no idea whether the militaristic society in the book would really work. . . . And when, in 1974, the young Vietnam veteran Joe Haldeman published a direct attack on the politics of "Starship Troopers" in his own sci-fi novel "The Forever War," Heinlein repeatedly went out of his way to praise it.

    Heinlein grew to be just as ambivalent about his other masterworks. "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" is a visionary epic of a lunar colony breaking free from earth's government and establishing an anarchist-libertarian utopia. But even as it was being enshrined by the libertarian movement as a foundational text (it was endorsed by Milton Friedman), Heinlein turned cagey and evasive about whether he was advocating its revolutionary agenda. Once again, it was as though his own persuasiveness was making him uncomfortable. This discomfort escalated exponentially into nightmare with "Stranger in a Strange Land." Heinlein always insisted that he meant it as nothing more than a satirical and ironic fantasy à la "Candide" (the working title was "The Man From Mars"); he was both amused and appalled when the hippies took it up, enchanted by his luxuriantly sybaritic portrait of a Martian free-love commune. . . . But he was horrified to discover that the novel was the bible of the Manson cult.

    I don't think it's entirely a coincidence that the catastrophic fall-off in Heinlein's work began after the 1969 Manson murders. The novels he wrote in the 1970s and 1980s wholly lack his old persuasiveness. Nothing in them is real, nothing is at stake and nobody takes anything seriously. . . . The overall effect is so low-energy and stupefying that it's hard to believe it isn't somehow deliberate—as though Heinlein is out to repudiate his greatest talent and make sure no reader is inspired to take any action whatever.

    That really does kind of sum up Heinlein, right? More generally, you can never know how people are going to take a piece of science fiction, especially one that engages with political ideas. Firefly, for example, is sometimes touted by libertarians as depicting a sort of paradise--you know, the kind of paradise where slavery exists and where you have to ready a firearm before you answer a knock at the door.


    Progress report

    I did get to write today, and I wrote 1,400 words!