Robert Heinlein’s Future History Series
Book One: Methuselah’s Children
(con’t from last post)
Robert Heinlein was a libertarian and there is no missing that fact in his writing. Right off the bat in Methuselah’s Children, the main character, Lazarus Long, makes the comment that when it comes to guns, there is “No such thing as a dangerous weapon, only dangerous men”. Makes you wonder how long that statement has been around! Did he come up with it?
Who knows. It was probably a much more original statement at that time otherwise he wouldn’t have used it.
Lazarus Long’s “blaster” is concealed beneath his kilt because there is a “gentle custom” against personal weapons (what he calls “nonsense”, “foolishment from old women”). Since he is over 200 years old, the oldest man on earth at that time, he’s of course very wise… 😉
Another chestnut thrown around by Lazarus Long is “A committee is the only form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain”. Lovely.
The author’s politics aside, male-female dialogue in this first Future History book leaves me smirking a little. The main character lights a cigarette for Mary Sperling, they talk about her looks, and later he says “Mary, why don’t you get married again and have some more squally brats.” Mary then backs off when she asks if he is suggesting they make a “contract” and says “men are so funny when they think they are about to be trapped.”
So let’s just say he could have been of the view that the silly banter that goes on between a man and a women will never change, or he doubts that equality between the sexes is an actual possibility, or he doesn’t know what that would look like. (Don’t worry, I know, one can never take themselves out of their own time, and they can’t be blamed for it.) But here I am in 2014 reading about 2136 written in the 1940s. With a man handing a woman a cigarette…
It’s probably best I stop here for risk of over-analysis.
Otherwise Methuselah’s Children is terrific. It moves fast, is surprisingly sophisticated, and makes you want more. Hard to imagine it was written over 70 years ago!
More on the first book of Robert Heinlein’s Future History series, Methuselah’s Children, in the next post.