Robert Heinlein’s Future History Series
Book Two: The Man Who Sold the Moon
(con’t from the last post)
I’ve realized that reading old science fiction is not a study of the future, but a study of the past. It’s a learning experience about what it was like in the author’s time. In Heinlein’s time, relations between men and women were so different than they are now, and it’s silly to even complain about it, but this book has been harder for me to get through for more than just this reason.
I totally realize this is a man writing in the mid-1900s and he cannot “foresee” how things will be in the future. We should not expect him to.
On top of that, the actions his characters take, or words they say, should not be construed as being of the author’s viewpoint. In other words, just because a character believes something, that doesn’t necessarily mean the author does. Duh.
But there was more than one time when I went, oh geez.
One of the main characters is discussing with his wife the possibility of moving their residence. She is a hoity-toity rich lady, having servants and a big house. The husband wants to move to a less expensive house, and selling the land their present dwelling is on would prove very lucrative and pay for the new home.
When he isn’t totally forthcoming with his reasons, she says she thinks he is “up to something”. This rankles the husband, who mentally notes that “being ‘up to something’ was the unnamable and unforgiveable crime for which any American male could be indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced in one breath. He wondered how things had gotten rigged so that the male half of the race must always behave to suit feminine rules and feminine logic. Like a snotty nosed schoolboy in front of a stern teacher.”
Needless to say, this rankled me a little bit. It harkens to the good old boy complaint you might hear on Fox News (I have actually) about how men are not allowed to be men anymore and instead have to live by the feminized rules of society. I would argue those rules are not necessarily feminine rules but ones that naturally come about when people have to conform to living with a large group of people. The point is though, that this idea that women are oppressing men’s true nature is alive and well today, and it goes back to at least 1950, 64 years ago, when this book was published.
More to come on the politics of Robert Heinlein in the next post.