There can't be any doubt that Robert A. Heinlein has dropped more than a little ink endorsing the idea of group marriages and incest. In Stranger In A Strange Land, we meet Mike the Martian, who sets up communities where everyone is married to everyone else and drops their pants (if they're wearing anything) at the drop of a hat. In the Lazarus Long books we see much the same arrangements.
But group marriages, even if idiolized by Heinlein, can't work in reality. Some husbands will invariably prefer some wives in the group over others and vice veras. And what about children? If one husband makes all the children, you're gonna tell me that the other husbands will enjoy raising them and taking care of them? Even assignment of mundane tasks, such as who cooks dinner and takes out the garbage, can lead to fights, much less who sleeps with whom on Tuesdays.
And what's with the incest? Heinlein implies as long as there are no genetic problems that it's A-ok. Lazarus constantly slept with his daughters and other relatives. But is this really ok? Doesn't the concept of Parent-child change when the parent is doing the child?
What does this all mean? Did Heinlein fantasize about having sex with his mother, father, or children? Isn't it sort of odd that this concept keeps popping up in his books, over over? By the time of his last book, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Lazarus's famil was big enough to fill a football stadium.
Lazarus Long's Ex posts on 11/6/2009 3:45:26 AM
I just finished re-reading "Time Enough For Love," my first revisit to Heinlein's work since my teens (nearly 40 years ago). As a kid, I first was hooked by RAH's juveniles, progressed to SIASL, and had a dim memory of TEFL as a truly evolved work.
Boy, was I dissappointed. And disturbed.
TEFL was a fascinating premise, but fails as a novel for several reasons, most notably in structure. It was huge and gassy with extended, self-indulgent musings on any number of RAH's own interests, mostly voiced by Lazarus Long, clearly a RAH alter ego. That was disappointing.
The sexual content was at best somewhat distasteful. Into that category I put his treatment of women in general. While the juveniles portrayed women as ethical and intelligent (often smarter and more accomplished in academics and their careers as the men), they still remain very much male fantasies. This does not change in his adult books. In TEFL, he champions a type of female sexuality that is essentially male, or what a male would hope female sexuality should be. Every woman wants to be a baby factory, is constantly begging for male servicing, and will behave in a coy, childish way to get it, even resorting to trickery and blackmail. Again, in the 50's and pre-sexual-revolution '60's, this was a rare view of the power of female sexuality, but on current reading, seems hopelessly anachronistic. I suppose it wouldn't bother me so much if RAH didn't dwell on it so much, and in such a self-congratulatory way.
The young, twin female clones of Lazarus are explicitly males in female bodies. When Lazarus is "seduced" by them (a pedophile's dream!) it is a queasy mix of incest, pedophilia, and narcissism. But it's all so good and healthy, RAH reminds us, again and again and again. Defensively, it seems to me.
The polyamory reflected in the books is equally fantasized. He simply posits that humans evolved past petty jealousies and that's all that holds back group marriages or free love as an ideal. If only human love and bonding and psychology were that simplistic! There's nothing immoral or disturbing about polyamory, it's just not explored with any insight or realism.
The most disturbing is, as mentioned, the incest and adult-child sexuality. And the bombastic, drumbeat repetition of that theme, to the point that I felt I was reading a pedophile's apologia. What seemed so daring when I first read this and other of his later works, on re-reading felt sordid because of this emphasis.
Oh, and he had some really regressive ideas about homosexuality, too. As a bisexual woman, who has seen the incredible damage incest and pedophilia has done in the lives of friends and loved ones, I was, finally, offended.
I mean no disrespect to RAH's memory, personal life, or legacy as a brilliant fantasist, or how he brought science fiction out of the pulp ghetto. Yet the later works insist on portraying indefensible treatment of women and children -- while stating explicitly that "women and children first" was the basis for all successful human enterprise, in TEFL. On re-reading, I have to conclude that my youthful enthusiasm for RAH's so-called mature works was really an adolescent identification with some very adolescent, geeky, psychologically immature and even disturbing themes.
Bizzx6 posts on 10/3/2009 9:27:42 AM
I don't think RAH was advocating either incest or polyamory. I'm of the opinion he was exploring the possibilities.
I think the incest thing was to create some controversy, while at the same time thumbing his nose at the religious wingnuts.
Polyamory is possible, its also very difficult to maintain.
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Vilyamkt posts on 8/1/2007 3:28:46 PM
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Henry Olszewski posts on 7/30/2007 4:26:10 PM
Last year, I came across a novel I believe was written by Barbara Michaels. On the cover was a black and white photograph of a rather sinister house with what looked like a face in the tower. However, I do not remember the novel’s title, and I cannot find the cover anywhere, either at the library or online.
If anyone would know what novel and edition I am referring to, I would appreciate it if you would let me know.
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Mac posts on 11/9/2006 5:27:24 PM
Just because some of Heinlein's books talk about incest and polygasms doesn't mean he advocated them. He simply writes about something which goes along with his story. It also, apparently, attracts readers and creates controversy, which, inturn attracts more readers. Just because Jessica Fletcher wrote about murders didn't mean she was a murderer.
H Fan posts on 11/9/2006 4:13:51 PM
Aw come on, only adolescents and the sexual fringe are so hung up on sex. If you take any decent cultural anthro course, you'll find that RAH was just giving his adult readers the Readers Digest tour. Science Fiction is supposed to provoke thought and cause people minds to move out of the ruts generated by their cultures. Unfortunately, when the topic of intimate relations appears, some people run aground.
Yeah, it's interesting and different, big deal. If that's all you can talk about, you're visiting the wrong part of the internet.
Andeo posts on 11/9/2006 12:29:09 PM
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Andeo posts on 11/9/2006 12:29:02 PM
Nice site! I've enjoyed visiting it. Thanks for ur work.
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