» » Heinlein in Dimension, a Critical Analysis.

Download Heinlein in Dimension, a Critical Analysis. epub

by Alexei Panshin

Book by Panshin, Alexei
Download Heinlein in Dimension, a Critical Analysis. epub
ISBN: 0911682120
ISBN13: 978-0911682120
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Alexei Panshin
Language: English
Publisher: Advent Pub Inc; Revised edition (June 1, 1968)
Pages: 214 pages
ePUB size: 1330 kb
FB2 size: 1143 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 235
Other Formats: txt doc rtf docx

I waited a long time before deciding to to buy and read this book. Heinlein was the author of the first SF I ever read; I didn't read anything by Panshin until twenty years later. However, I like them both, in different ways and for different reasons. While I cannot say I agree with all of the observations, criticisms, and conclusions Panshin has made about Heinlein -- I don't -- "Heinlein in Dimension" *did* make me think a bit more about the Heinlein I've read. Seeing how Panshin viewed him and his work has made me consider my own opinions on the matter. If you're looking for an RAH cheerleading book, this isn't it. If you're looking for a completely objective and unbiased book about Heinlein and his work, I don't think this is it either. If, however, you're familiar with Heinlein (even a fan), are looking for someone *trying* to be objective about the subject, and can read it with the continual remembrance that you're reading someone's *opinion*, then you might find "Heinlein in Dimension" worthwhile -- in viewpoint-stretching ways if not as pure analysis.
I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I have heard about it from the various Heinlein reviews and web sites. It is usually panned by people who are Heinlein fans, and I thought that I should read it. I think Heinlein is a great author, but not without his flaws. It would be interesting to see what a structured review that was generally thought to be critical of Heinlein would have to say.

Panshin is a writer of some talent, and he writes as if he had a degree in English. Good structure and wordier than is necessary as he doesn't just get to the point.

My first impression when starting to read this book was that Panshin was one of those adults blind to social skills, inadvertently saying insulting things when he means to be positive. He would actually say that he really enjoyed this story or that one, but that it was really very badly flawed. After reading this comment over and over you begin to believe that he saying he enjoyed the story so that he isn't constantly negative, that his positive comments are just to keep you from putting the book down in disgust with the constant carping.

That's the trick of this book. Panshin will praise Heinlein for some facet he says Heinlein does well, such as his technical knowledge, since, after all, Heinlein was an engineer. Before going much further into the book being discussed, Panshin will then slowly denigrate such skill as being unimportant in writing, not really something a good story needs. By the time you are near the end, it is obvious that none of Heinlein's writing is good enough for Panshin, everything that was good, such as his ability to construct a good story plot, really is one of his weaknesses!

The last 10% of the book is really wearying, a trial to read. I skimmed much it, but there really wasn't much there except more shoveling of dirt onto the supposed grave of Heinlein.

You really have to wonder what Heinlein ever did to Panshin. Since Panshin is really disparaging of Heinlein's libertarian heroes and philosophy, it could be that Panshin is just a statist and is angered by Heinlein's success with libertarian themes, or maybe he just is angered that he will never be remembered as an important writer as Heinlein will be. It could be that Heinlein took offense at Panshin prying into his personal life and Panshin in return took offense at Heinlein. Whatever the reason, it is clear that Panshin doesn't like Heinlein and this book is more about that then Heinlein's writing.
For anyone looking for background or critical information on Heinlein and his works, this book is a good place to start. It is well written, informative, interesting, and also attempts to explain what is meant by "Science Fiction." Panshin also reveals his views on what a story should consist of. However, as a work of criticism, the book is very flawed. Panshin often makes assertions that cannot be backed up by fact, and his anyalysis is many times far to narrow to be taken seriously. If nothing else, Panshin's book is a good place to find key issues of contention that are often brought up by Heinlein critics. It is not, however, a place to find praise of Heinlein as an author or final answers to any questions regarding his works. Heinlein himself claimed that he never read the book nor met Alexei Panshin.
1968 analysis of the author Heinlein, intriguing as one of the first major studies as well as being written when Heinlein was still alive, and before he'd gone into the more generally recognizable decline. Panshin has a lot of interesting things to say, particularly in the ways the narrative of Starship Troopers and Stranger fail, the increasingly didactic and solipsist manner of his writing, the extraordinary egoism that Heinlein wrote substantial fantasies about. In this regard Panshin sees the true break point not being Heinlein's increasingly militant politicization, but his short story "All Ye Zombies" where he came to more and more openly reject the notion of outsiders.
Some interesting analysis, although still far too generous to Heinlein for my taste, and oddly Panshin doesn't seem to perceive the similar flaws in earlier works, particularly The Puppet Masters. As well, valuable though it is to have a close connection to the material surveyed, it also means Panshin echoes a fair bit of Heinlein's racism and sexism rather than calling him out on it.

Quote of note:
"If there is one wish that all men have had at one time or another, it is that they might be able to go back and avoid the mistakes they once made and so save themselves a lot of pain. Heinlein has the perfect way to do that: his Individual, no matter the number of different guises he appears in, is one single character who quite conveniently serves as teacher to himself. In this way the man who has learned better can alert his naive self and save him the cost of his mistakes. The world may have to be tied into knots to allow teh Heinlein Individual to prevail, but that is quite all right since he is the single, solitary real thing in an essentially unreal world. The world exists for him, not he for the world." [Panshin, 172]