Time Enough for Love Time Enough for Love discussion


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the worse of two evils: virtue signalers, or giving attention to incest

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message 1: by Don Incognito (new)

Don Incognito Regarding Heinlein's novel Time Enough for Love, I'm not about to read an incest-fantasizing bit of trash--too many other things that interest me more--but I'm equally disgusted by the multitude of closed-minded, virtue-signaling hostile reviews I saw. They will not provoke me into reading the novel out of spite--my disgust at the novel's content (what I can see of it) is too strong. Of two evils, choose neither. But they have led me to a greater appreciation of major writers having the courage to write controversial material.

(This is the first of my efforts to put comments on books I haven't read where they belong, instead of inappropriately posting them as reviews of the book. I wish I had thought of it long ago.)


Allen White Incest, both as a taboo and as a literary device, is worth exploring; it's at least as old as Oedipus. But Heinlein instead turns this book into a long-winded justification for going back in time to bone his mom. It doesn't feel courageous, because it's totally self-serving; he's not only defending incest, he's also providing an extremely detailed case for why incest is just fine and that he should be able to do it (if he could) because he believes that he has so cleverly overcome all objections to it. Typically I come down hard on people who can't separate fictional characters and context from real people; anybody who objects to the behavior of certain characters in a novel, for example, needs to remember that it's FICTION, and that interesting characters often do things that we don't like -- character behavior is not automatically advocacy. However, Lazarus Long is so transparently Heinlein's alter ego that it invalidates this perspective.

Reading it isn't going to traumatize anybody, because it's so directly and gleefully masturbatory that it can't be taken seriously. But the real reason that I'd recommend skipping the book is that it's neither good science fiction nor great writing. Heinlein's unrelenting sexism (for an egregious example read "Friday") often gets me rolling my eyes so hard it gives me a headache.

Heinlein was at his best in his first decades as a writer, when he assembled tightly-written, pulpy, action-packed science fiction; "Starship Troopers" is a great read, if you set aside his gung-ho militarism. Later in his career, he just became bloviating, long-winded, and pompous, tirelessly dispensing his Libertarian "wisdom" to the masses.

But whatever you may think of him or his work, he certainly was a unique individual with an very specific perspective.


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