Scalzi and Heinlein: Together at Last

Earlier in the year I was asked to write the introduction for Project Moonbase and Others, a book of scripts that Robert Heinlein wrote for a 1950s television series based on his stories (a series which, alas, never made it out of pilot). I readily agreed, both because I am a huge Heinlein fan and also because it meant that I was going to have a chance to read some Heinlein work almost nobody else had to that point, which really is like getting a shiny new toy on Christmas. Needless to say, I found the scripts fascinating — but for reasons which were a bit different than what I expected.

Over at Subterranean Online my introduction to the book is up for your perusal, which explains what I found so interesting about the scripts — and there’s a sneak peak at the text of the book itself: the script adaptation of “Delilah and the Space Rigger,” one of the several scripts in the book. This is your chance to look at some of the first “new” Heinlein in decades (and, uh, me talking about it). Don’t miss it.

(P.S.: That awesome cover? Bob Eggleton.)

20 Comments on “Scalzi and Heinlein: Together at Last”

  1. Got the same Subterranean newsletter, just have one question…. did the second half of that newsletter get printed for Scalvi ?????

    It sounds like something he would do…

    Bwhaaa haha haha

  2. Actually, the pilot was turned into a theatrical release called (wait for it) Project Moonbase, which is available on DVD and on downloadable video through Amazon.

  3. threeleggedcat – Sheffield, United Kingdom – I live in Sheffield, England, which has been my home for 20 years now. I'm a Londoner by birth. I'm a teacher of maths, a learner of French and German. I've recently completed my MEd with the Open University, my new challenge is learning to code. I like to eat, drink and be merry. I take too many photos and buy too many postcards. I blither on about my life, the universe and everything at http://www.three-legged-cat.co.uk
    Three-Legged-Cat

    Great introduction. I had similar thoughts about looking back on other people’s futures recently. I’ve been re-reading some short stories from the 60s (various Analog antholgies) and it’s always interesting to see how the reality matches up with the vision.

    One thing struck me though, in all the futures envisaged everybody seems to smoke, no one seems to have questioned that.

  4. I’ve totally noticed that noone actually predicts when things in near future sci fi happens anymore. I always got the feeling that it had to do with the rise in computer technology making scientific reality relatively hard to predict. I’ve noticed that some of the tom clancy video games (ghost recon, end war, HAWKS) have been brave enough to apply current technology trends to current political trends (with the assumption of escalation). I just wish clancy would write more novels to go along with the games because they only seem to give you a taste of the story.

    I’d really like to read a novel that takes place at least partially on the new “flying cruise liner” that I think is still in the design stages…

  5. Congrats! What an honor. Heinlein, wow.

    I wanted to make a quick note that I really enjoyed your post on the YA vs. Adult markets. You really opened my eyes.

    Having just had a quasi-sf book come out in the middle grade market, I’d love to hear your take on a different animal, MG vs. YA. Those often get confused and mixed, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad.

    LOVE your blog.

  6. Alex @6:
    Charles Stross (I think. It’s one of these blogging authors) has discussed why he tries to stay in the middle future. The short answer is that while online video was predictable in 1996, YouTube wasn’t. Or LOLCatting. Or look at the rise of the weblog. Or the hulling of nucular power in the continental US. Three Mile Island did exactly what it was supposed to do.

    Long story short, I think the medium future is easier because you can posit a lot of things in that range that have to be argued for in the near future.

    Back on topic:
    Way to go Mr. Scalzi. That’s almost as cool as a flying car.

  7. luisaperkins – I write speculative fiction, specifically contemporary dark-ish fantasy. I've been married for nearly 20 years to Patrick, an absolute prince of a man. We live with our six lovely children and an insane cat in New York's Hudson Highlands. My passions include reading, gardening, knitting, cooking, eating, and musicking.
    Novembrance

    Fantastic introduction! I look forward to reading the book. It sounds amazing.

  8. OK, I’m jealous. At least you’re going to share! :)

    The Golden Age. My current science fiction reading project is the delightful reprints of James H. Schmitz’s on-going space opera of “The Hub” stories. (There must be a dozen movies there.) I somehow missed a couple of these stories when they were first published, and there is great joy in revisiting the tales of Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee and Pilch and … The Witches!

  9. You write about the Golden Age authors, “they picked their years and guessed what life would be like then”

    Kinda like the first rule of predictive economics which I read a long time ago: “forecast often.”

  10. Scalzi wisely says over there in his introduction:

    I have my quibbles with Golden Age science fiction, much of it relating to the fact that even the progressive views of gender and sexual politics of the time are cringe-inducing now (Heinlein is no exception; he’s progressive enough in Project Moonbase to have a female in charge of the moon mission in 1970, but enough a product of his time to see nothing wrong with having a general threaten to spank said woman if she gets out of line, and have it not quite be a joke).

    I think Fritz Lieber does be best of that bunch. Compare his scene with the colonel (a red-headed woman, just like in a Heinlein book, eh? Well…) and the general stuck in the elevator in The Wanderer. A far cry, eh?

    Okay, not fair. That’s 1964 (but so is the underrated and misunderstood Farnham’s Freehold). My copy of Conjure Wife (1942, I think) has gone missing, but there I think you have a fair comparison.

    Of course, the very early Heinlein (or does early just mean pre-Virginia?) is different yet again. I’m not sure but what Heinlein doesn’t go backwards on women as he went forward in time.

  11. “…they picked their years and guessed what life would be like then and essentially put their chips down. If they were wrong, oh well; they’d try again later. Today’s science fiction writers–and I include myself in this–are a little more cagey about it. Try to get us to put an actual year to our near-future fiction and see how far you get.”

    Just curious by how big a definition to ‘near-future’ are you willing to give. 20 years? 50 years? When I read some of the golden age sci fi it seems that all the advances happen with 50 years or less. That, I would consider, ‘near future’ because it would happen in a life time. With sci fi written today societies are set up usually at least 100+ years in the future. Sometimes much more than that. I don’t consider that ‘near future’ because it wouldn’t happen in a lifetime.

    Do you think current writers are pushing out the far end of the ‘near future’ further because they’re more aware of science and how long and hard it is to get anything done, i.e. building a moon colony (which is why they might not put a date on things)? Or is this a bias on the reader’s part?

  12. crotchetyoldfan – The Crotchety Old Fan is Steve Davidson, also know as Rimworlder on many SF forums. Steve maintains the Rim Worlds Concordance project which is devoted to the works of A. Bertram Chandler and his most enduring character - Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Grimes is science fiction’s original ‘Horatio Hornblower of Space’. More information about Chandler, Grimes and the Rim Worlds can be found at www.rimworlds.com. Steve also maintains a visual index of volume 1, number 1 pulp science fiction magazines on the same website and is a devoted collector of the same. ‘I’m an ‘old’ SF fan, which you can take whichever way you like, as I love the old masters (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, E.F. Russell, Piper, Cordwainer Smith) and I’m well beyond the age you’re not supposed to trust anymore’. This blog is devoted to an investigation of the growing divide between ‘old’ - or ‘classic’ science fiction and the moderan literary genre that is currently sold under the same name. Steve has also begun writing reviews for www.SFReader.com, expects to be doing the same for www.SFSignal.com, and is contributing various non-fiction pieces to various other websites, all of them concerned with science fiction of one stripe or another. Early in 2008 he became completely disappointed with the SciFi Channel and created The Classic Science Fiction Channel website that gathers links to public domain radio, television, film and literary properties. Steve had a successful non-fiction writing career - writing articles and books dealing primarily with the paintball industry (Four books and several hundred articles including editorializing, product reviews, sports reporting, educational and more) - which he has since given up in favor of blogging and fiction. (Leaving the paintball industry after 25 years.) One final book on this subjected is scheduled to be released in early 2009 (A Parent's Guide To Paintball). Current work on fiction includes several completed novellettes/novellas curently in submission hell and various chapters of three novels. Freely distributed current work - including several chapters of a science fiction/paintball novel and a pulp/comic book/fairy tale mashup can be found on his website.
    steve davidson

    I think one of the reasons for the lack of specific timeframe was the fact that the authors themselves began to see how far off some of their works had become and started advising the next generation NOT to put down specific dates.

    The result is very Heinlienesque: listen to what the old man has to say, do it your own way anyhow and then live with the results.

  13. No insights from reading his scripts as to the Rolling Stones plot? Also, did he write the scripts on spec or get paid regardless of airing?

  14. I’m not sure if they were spec or not. My own speculation is that inasmuch as Heinlein believed in getting paid, he got paid something for the scripts. But that’s only speculation.

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