Deadpool 2 – A Very Warped Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

Deadpool was my favorite movie of 2016.  I saw the movie on a recommendation and really didn’t know what to expect.  But from the first moment of the intro with Angel of the Morning playing over the comedic version of the credits revolving around a freeze-framed photo of a hyperkinetic centrifugal multi-villain murdering automobile rollover I knew it was gonna be great.  Now granted, Deadpool viewing does come with some penalties.  Deadpool is a fan of Wham and George Michael in general.  This is painful.  The end credits roles through an entire Wham song.    So, you take the good with the bad.

I went to see Deadpool 2 today.  I won’t put in any spoilers.  In the latest installment Deadpool puts together a team that he calls X-Force because he says X-Men is too sexist.  He faces off against Josh Brolin as a time travelling mercenary called Cable who sports a bionic arm.  And the scene where they first deploy as a team is hysterically funny.  Negasonic Teenage Warhead is back but this time with hair and a Japanese girlfriend.  Colossus is also back and even develops a little edge by the end of the movie.  And Morena Baccarin and Leslie Uggams and that doofus from Silicon Valley are back too.  And once again Wade Wilson is plunged into despair.  And that means he will be employing barrels full of ultra-violence and mayhem will rain down on his enemies and of course also hilariously on his unkillable self.  There is a scene where Deadpool is regenerating his lower body that is truly disturbing and symptomatic of some psychotic issues among the writers.  And there is plenty of truly horrendous schmaltzy music.  But Deadpool keeps the terrible sight gags and banter flowing throughout the show.  And there are even a few scenes of tenderness and love.  And unlike the terrible unhappy ending of Avengers: Infinity War, if you stick around during the credits there’s a bonus that sets some things straight.

Deadpool is a guilty pleasure.  He is obscene, sacrilegious, depraved and extremely gross.  But it cannot be denied that he is funny.  And in our increasingly humorless politically correct environment that alone should be enough to justify the time spent.

26MAY2018 – OCF Update

The thirty degree mornings have relented.  There is a break in the seemingly endless succession of torrential rain and wind storms.  I have a non-work day where I can cut the grass and put the yard in post-winter order.So today may be a bit slow.  What’s on tap and coming up soon:

  1. Photos from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
  2. Photo essay on the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens on the A7 III.
  3. Book Review on Robert Silverberg’s “Valentine Pontifex.”
  4. Book Review on “Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge Book 3).”
  5. Book Review on “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past.”
  6. Review of the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head for heavy lens shooting.
  7. Review of Deadpool 2.
  8. Review of Capture One 11 Photo Editing Software.
  9. President Trump’s summary firing of the intelligence agency conspirators.  Wait I’m not supposed to write that.  Let’s call that Trump Humor.

And some of these may not be in this order.  I am human after all and sometimes the mood strikes me to switch stuff up.  So stay tuned.

Avengers: Infinity War – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

Spoiler alert.  If you don’t want to know how this movie ends don’t read this.  But just know that I don’t recommend this movie.

Last week was a birthday party for one of my grandsons.  I was talking to my two older grandsons (13 and 10 years old) and told them I’d seen a commercial for The Incredibles Part 2.  They told me it was already out so I told them I’d take them to see it Saturday. (May 19th).  Well I checked the theater listings on Friday and it turns out The Incredibles doesn’t start playing until June.  Not wanting to disappoint the kids I asked them if there was anything else out they wanted to see.  Well, they said The Avengers.  I’d brought them to see the first two and they were pretty good.  But I’d heard that the third one (Civil War) was starting to get lefty preachy so I skipped it.  So, I went to Infinity War with some trepidation.  And I had good cause.

This movie is a hot mess.  They threw everything and the kitchen sink into it.  There’s all the Avenger characters, then they added in the Guardians of the Galaxy crew for good measure.  Then there was someone called Doctor Strange and some stray characters with him.  He seemed to be some kind of imitation Dr. Who – Time Lord character.  Then they threw in the Black Panther characters.  And just in case there was anyone who wanted more, they threw in Spiderman.  All these various characters are working together to defeat Thanos.  He’s collecting the Infinity Stones and if he gets all six of them he’ll be able to perform his plan which is to kill half of all the intelligent beings in the Universe.  There’s all kinds of battles and fights and at the end Thanos wins and his power kills half of the world.  You see half of the Avengers and the other super heroes evaporating into dust.

Now, what the hell kind of Super Hero movie is that to bring kids to?  The good guys lose and half of everyone in the world dies.  Of course, in the next movie they’ll bring them all back to life but what a depressing stupid mess!  Thanks Marvel.  Well I sure hope they don’t ruin the Incredibles too.  Honestly, I’m starting to wonder if the only movies worth watching are from a generation ago.  I’m going to start making a list of the movies that we watched as kids and renting or buying them so the grandkids have stuff worth watching.

Larry Correia Describes His Disinvitation by Origins Game Fair

Vox had a couple of posts up about this but I figured it would be useful to have Larry’s first hand version.  It does highlight what Vox says about SJWs using any means possible to destroy those who resist their demands.  Larry truly is a moderate guy and the charges used to attack him are laughably untrue.  And he is successful enough that this is more of an insult than an injury but it shows how they can destroy less successful people working anywhere near  an SJW area of influence.  A cautionary tale.

Statement Concerning My Being Disinvited as the Guest of Honor for Origins Game Fair

Monster Hunter Siege by Larry Correia – A Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review

Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series has been a fun experience for me.  His stories feature heroic monster hunters battling the unalloyed evil of the world’s varied monster population.  The Shacklefords and their associates have turned wholesale slaughter of the undead into a lucrative enterprise but one that has taken its toll on the family.  Included in this attrition are three recent victims who have been turned respectively, into a werewolf and two master vampires.  But what makes it a pleasure is that none of the monsters and none of the hunters ever seem tempted to wax poetic on the need to increase the world quotient of social justice.  The diversity of the characters is measured in species of monsters dispatched or the variety of allied supernatural creatures such as trailer-park dwelling elves, death-metal loving orcs and gangsta gnomes who get featured in a story.  Correia never once discusses the need to ascertain the correct gender fluid pronouns of any zombies before blowing their heads off with a rocket propelled grenade.  So, the books are very much action oriented.  Shooting monsters is their forte.

But I am happy to relate that Larry’s storytelling abilities are definitely becoming more nuanced.  In Siege one of the highlights of the book is a sustained dialog between the protagonist (Owen Pitt) and his nemesis.  In this scene Correia gives the devil his due.  In fact, I think his evil character may actually seal the show.  Of course, there is still plenty of combat and monsters being blown up.  And Larry further clarifies the mythology of his universe.  So never fear, there’s plenty of explosions to warm the heart of all Monster Hunter fans.  But Larry is definitely steering the series into a more complicated plot.  Larry has shown that he is not averse to killing off some of his characters.  And some of that goes on in Siege.  But what is also clarified is that he is braiding at least five separate strands of supernatural intervention and even some of the “good guys” may not get along together.  So, we shouldn’t expect any imminent resolution of the larger threat that has been growing in the background.  If anything, the details at the end of Siege further complicate the future for Owen and his family.  But that’s alright.  Larry seems in control of his material and expanding the scope of the story to epic proportions.

So, if you are already a Monster Hunter fan then the good news is that Siege is a very worthy successor to the series.  And if you are new to the series then rest assured that your investment will pay off with an already good number of sequels to satisfy your monster killing quota and with every indication that Larry will continue to expand the Monster Hunter saga into an urban fantasy franchise comparable in size and quality to Jim Butcher’s Dresden files.  The only shortcoming to the story is that the only mention of Agent Franks is retrospective to the previous book.  We’ll have to wait for the next book to see his smiling face.

06MAY2018 – OCF Update

This week I’ll finish up reading Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter Seige” and post a review.  The hard cover version came out back in July but I buy the paperback for convenience and that version just got issued.  The site has been a little slow because I’m putting together a sort of “best of” post on my southwest landscape trip for a link that Captain Capitalism is providing me and it’s a time-consuming endeavor.  It’s like eleven hundred files and I’m still learning how to use Capture One.  So bear with me.  That post should be pretty interesting for the photo enthusiasts.  As I mentioned earlier I’ll get those rental lenses on Friday the 11th and that will spawn some interesting posts on the viability of using Sigma lenses with Canon mount on the Sony A7 cameras.  That may be interesting to Canon shooters with Sigma glass who have been interested in switching to Sony and anyone who is still constrained by Sony’s telephoto and macro lens choices.

The other thing I am interested in writing about is the direction of right wing movement.  I am trying to formulate my own particular spin on what makes sense going forward.  There is a lot of confusion and undirected anger that doesn’t seem to be producing much in the way of results.  And there seems to be a certain amount of opportunism and charlatanism that makes it difficult to know what is solid and worthwhile.  Sometimes it seems that several people have each latched onto a different piece of the puzzle needed to reform the current situation but like the blind men and the elephant they only “see” a small part of the reality and are missing the big picture.  And because of that, they diagnose that small part of the problem and their solution doesn’t address the broader situation.  And some of the “wise men” are too extreme.  They would throw out the baby with the bath water.  The more I think about solutions for the social disintegration the more I think that restoring the common-sense institutions we used to have is the solution.  Stopping unlimited immigration is neither impossible nor radical.  Restoring respect for the traditions and institutions of our forefathers is important and relatively straight forward.  And replacing social justice and reverse discrimination with actual justice is so rational that it shouldn’t even require explanation.  I think some of the emphasis on race reality is a response to the absurdity that occurs when racial and sexual protectionism and intersectionality tactics are used to attack the American white middle and working classes.  If you eliminate these irritants then the rules of American society should be competent to allow different types of people to function relatively harmoniously.  Anyway, that is what I’m starting to think.  I’m definitely interested in other opinions.  And I read around to hear what other people are coming up with.  For instance I’m going to read Gregory Cochran’s “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution” and David Reich’s “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past” to see if there’s anything in biology that rules out my optimism for a functional multi-ethnic America.

And finally, I’d love to get more feedback from the readers.  Even if it’s negative.  It’s useful to know what you like and what you don’t.  Or even to just say hi.  It’s definitely appreciated and part of why I made this site.  I am interested in hearing other points of view.  And if you find something interesting on-line pass along the link.

03MAY2018 – Quote of the Day

It’s so short (and in the public domain!) how could I abridge this magnificent malignancy?

THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allan Poe
TRUE!--nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but
why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses--not
destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I
heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things
in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how
calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once
conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion
there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had
never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his
eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture--a pale blue eye,
with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and
so by degrees--very gradually--I made up my mind to take the life of the
old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you
should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded--with
what caution--with what foresight--with what dissimulation I went to
work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week
before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch
of his door and opened it--oh so gently! And then, when I had made an
opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed,
closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh,
you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it
slowly--very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s
sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so
far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have
been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I
undid the lantern cautiously--oh, so cautiously--cautiously (for the
hinges creaked)--I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell
upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights--every night
just at midnight--but I found the eye always closed; and so it was
impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but
his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into
the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a
hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he
would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every
night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the
door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never
before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers--of my
sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think
that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to
dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and
perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled.
Now you may think that I drew back--but no. His room was as black as
pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened,
through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the
opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb
slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying
out--“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a
muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still
sitting up in the bed listening;--just as I have done, night after
night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal
terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief--oh, no!--it was the low
stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged
with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when
all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with
its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well.
I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at
heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight
noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since
growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could
not. He had been saying to himself--“It is nothing but the wind in the
chimney--it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a
cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to
comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain.
All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his
black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the
mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to
feel--although he neither saw nor heard--to feel the presence of my head
within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie
down, I resolved to open a little--a very, very little crevice in
the lantern. So I opened it--you cannot imagine how stealthily,
stealthily--until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the
spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open--wide, wide open--and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I
saw it with perfect distinctness--all a dull blue, with a hideous
veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see
nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray
as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but
over-acuteness of the sense?--now, I say, there came to my ears a low,
dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I
knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It
increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into
courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the
lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon
the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew
quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s
terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every
moment!--do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am.
And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of
that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable
terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But
the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now
a new anxiety seized me--the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The
old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern
and leaped into the room. He shrieked once--once only. In an instant
I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then
smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the
heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it
would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man
was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone,
stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many
minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would
trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe
the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night
waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered
the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and
deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so
cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye--not even his--could have
detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out--no stain of any
kind--no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had
caught all--ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock--still dark
as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the
street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,--for what had
I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with
perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by
a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused;
information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the
officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,--for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The
shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was
absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade
them search--search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I
showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of
my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here
to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of
my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which
reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was
singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they
chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale
and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my
ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more
distinct:--It continued and became more distinct: I talked more
freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained
definiteness--until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my
ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;--but I talked more fluently, and with a
heightened voice. Yet the sound increased--and what could I do? It was
a low, dull, quick sound--much such a sound as a watch makes when
enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath--and yet the officers heard
it not. I talked more quickly--more vehemently; but the noise steadily
increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with
violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would
they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if
excited to fury by the observations of the men--but the noise steadily
increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed--I raved--I swore! I swung
the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the
boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It
grew louder--louder--louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and
smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!--no, no! They
heard!--they suspected!--they knew!--they were making a mockery of my
horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than
this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear
those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!
and now--again!--hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!--tear up
the planks! here, here!--It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

 


   

Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg – A Science Fiction Review

Previously I reviewed the first book of this series Lord Valentine’s Castle.  And since I liked that volume I went ahead and bought the other two volumes.  Majipoor Chronicles is constructed as a bridge between the first and third volumes and also serves to fill in as much of the backstory of Majipoor as it can.  One of the minor characters from the first book uses a machine that can record and replay the experiences of a person’s life so that another can virtually relive them as if it were his own life unfolding.  Using this plot device, we are served up a series of short stories varying between twenty and fifty pages in length.  Themes and characters vary.  Some are personal accounts of ordinary people living through the history of this planet.  All the primary characters are humans but the stories sometimes are primarily concerning human/non-human interaction.  Some of the stories involve characters who are major historical figures in the Majipoor world.  And some of the stories shed a light on the unusual place that dreams play in Majipoor life.  And finally, the last story is directly about the hero of the first book, Lord Valentine.

My first comment on the book is that it absolutely cannot be read with first reading Lord Valentine’s Castle.  Without first walking through Majipoor with Valentine on his journey of discovery I think the details and logic of Majipoor life would seem random and confusing.  Without some grounding in the structure of their ruling system and the relations between the sentient species some of the stories would be especially confusing.

The second thing that I want to discuss is the vintage of these books.  They were written at the end of the nineteen seventies and into the nineteen eighties.  During that period science fiction authors were heavily invested in introducing sex as a major component of their stories.  Silverberg was no exception.  So, in addition to normal sexual matters he highlights the oddity of the male protagonist who experiences these mind recordings experiencing sex from the point of view of one of his female subjects.  And in one story at an all woman’s school the fact that two of the women were in an intimate setting has one character wondering if it was an attempted sexual advance.  I think the character more or less says the “Seinfeldian” line, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  And later on, there is a sex scene involving a woman and two brothers.  Of course, by today’s standards these are extremely tame but at the time these were boundary testing.  The more bizarre sexual situation involves two human characters in separate stories that engage in sex with non-humans.  In fact, the really odd one has a young woman actually initiating sex with an unemotional, fairly uninterested but polite lizard man who the female character is nursing back to health from a leg injury.  This one was a bit much for me.  I have to admit that my tolerance human woman / lizard man sex is extremely limited.  So that facet of the stories is not entirely to my satisfaction.  As far as his description of normal male female sexuality I thought that was fairly done.  And of course, the adult nature of the books would exclude recommending them to very young people.

Putting aside this second point, which is restricted to a small part of the overall book, I enjoyed the writing and I found several of the stories very original.  Silverberg has a fertile imagination and writes his characters in an interesting and sympathetic manner.  I especially liked the stories that advanced the historical knowledge of Majipoor.  My favorite was the war story, “The Time of the Burning.”  It directly addresses the human colonization of Majipoor and the impact this had on the aboriginal population.  But overall I see Majipoor Chronicles as an interlude between Lord Valentine’s Castle and Valentine Pontifex, the third book of the series.  It’s merely a snack between the main courses.  If you’re reading the series then you must read it because there are a few plot points that would be missed with out it but overall it is more of a background enhancer for the Majipoor world building effort.  Now on to Valentine Pontifex!

Heinlein – What Was He?

I’m a Heinlein fan.  That’s not to say I like everything he wrote.  I believe “I Will Fear No Evil” is remarkably bad.  I know of several other of his books that I don’t think very highly of.  But a lot of what he wrote, especially during his heyday was very good.  And comparing him to those writing at the time when he came on the scene it is striking how much better he was.

So why was that?  What made him so good?  First of all, I think Heinlein happened to be a very intelligent man.  Secondly, he was well educated and this included the fact that he had an upper middle-class upbringing that included good literature.  Thirdly, he had a decent work ethic.  Between these things he probably brought much more to the table than most of his peers.  And finally, I think he modelled his stories not on other science fiction authors but rather on successful authors in the wider literary world.  And I think this has been recognized for a long time.  Many years ago, I read some literary criticism that posited that Heinlein had taken Kipling’s British Raj and mapped it onto the Solar System or some such thing.  Another critic said that Heinlein created America as Science Fiction.  While I don’t think either of these premises are completely true I think they hint at the fact that Heinlein wanted to take science fiction out of its ghetto and make it interesting to the grown-ups.

And to a great extent, he succeeded.  Especially in his early future history stories, the feel is very much of a mid-twentieth-century American dynamism.  It combines wit, enthusiasm and confidence.  It belongs with such other products of the time as John Houston’s motion pictures The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  He has turned the American Century into the source for his characters and their ethos.  And in some of his stories like Citizen of the Galaxy and Double Star, Heinlein did borrow some of the flavor of Kipling’s British Empire.

But really all this shows is that Heinlein wanted his stories to belong to the Anglo-American tradition of storytelling.  He recognized good work and he incorporated the spirit of the best works from his time and of the literary past that he enjoyed and projected them on the future.

Some might say that he thereby lacked originality.  This may be somewhat true.  But it is also universal.  Even James Joyce when he wrote his stream of consciousness in Ulysses is using Homer for his plot basis.  And to the extent that Ulysses is original it is also a failure as literature.  Every writer borrows from the past.  He has to.  As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.  The trick is making it new and making it your own.  I think Heinlein was well within fair usage.

Coming back to the question of what Heinlein was, I believe he was the right man at the right time.  He was an intelligent, literate American at just the moment in the American Century when science fiction was becoming mainstream and relevant to the culture.  Atomic bombs and space craft were crossing over from science fiction to front page headlines.  Science fiction readers were seeing their stories become respectable and even literary.  Legitimate periodicals included some of the more refined writers between the glossy covers.

Will we see his like again?  I would have to say no.  Not so much because he was some towering genius, but because the times have changed.  No one would mistake our present culture for 1930s America.  Even in the depths of the Great Depression there was an optimism and solidarity that just doesn’t exist anymore.  Authors today reflect that despair.  And maybe that is interesting to some, a sort of decline of the Roman Empire sensibility, but I don’t think it lends itself to good storytelling.  Even in the most realistic story I think you need something beyond fatalism and ennui.  Otherwise it feels like the story is not even worth your time to read.

But, of course, maybe a change is just around the corner and an American renaissance is on the horizon.  Well, if that’s the case, I better reread Green Hills of Earth.  Delilah and the Space Riggers?  Sure why not?