Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stranger in a Strange Land

We spent today on the River Wey at Pyrford Lock near Woking, Surrey.

The Anchor Pub

Today is the centenary of the birth of R.A. Heinlein, one of the greatest science fiction writers of the last century. Steve Sailer writes:
Between 1959 and 1966 Heinlein published three books that remain cult novels today. Remarkably, they are worshipped by three almost mutually exclusive audiences: Starship Troopers (military men), Stranger in a Strange Land (hippies and New Agers), and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (libertarians).
At one point I had over forty of Heinlein's novels and short-story collections on my shelves. Although it is years since I read any of them, his gift for painting the future using the detail of everyday life was undoubtedly a formative influence on my career directions.

I recently read Vernor Vinge's Rainbow's End, which depicts a society 10 years down the road, through the eyes of an Alzheimer's sufferer, an emeritus professor of poetry, returned to "normal" through new medical treatments. Vinge, like Heinlein, never wrote pulp-style stories of flying cars and laser swords, but peels open the effects of a single-change in our society, or the cumulative effect of all the daily achievements in computers, bio-medical, transportation and energy technology.

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