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The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein
james_nicoll
The Past Through Tomorrow
Robert A. Heinlein



I know my comments are going to come off as half-hearted for the most part but in the two years between when I bought this and when I apparently stalled in mid-book (going by the two library slips I found between the pages) I read this until it was battered and scuffed. Part of the issue is it is hard to read these stories as naively as I did when I was 14 but I think it's also possible I reread this so often I buffed off my Heinlein receptors.

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Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.


"It's Great to Be Back!" (1947):

Tired of the constraints of living on the Moon, a couple moves back to Earth to discover you cannot go home again.

There really is no chance the moral was going to be "Wow, the Moon sure sucked! Am I glad to be back in Peoria!"


Come to think of it, someone must have done this story at least as a goof, haven't they?

On the other hand, I can't think of many westerns where the story is about characters who've found they just can't stand Dodge and would rather live in Manhattan after all. I have some memories of a couple old-time radio (adult) westerns where guest characters are giving up, and there was the sad comedy Wagons East or something like that (starring John Candy and the cast of Voyager) but otherwise the subject seems thin on the ground.


On a less heroic scale, there _are_ a fair number of stories about people experiencing the joys of country living and then shaking the cowpats from their shoes as they flee back to an apartment in the city.

And now I am imagining "What if Robert Heinlein wrote 'Green Acres'?"

  • Hooterville → Spungtown
  • Eva Gabor → Eve Plumb

The sexual politics would remain the same. The husband decides where to live, etc., but is befuddled by his wife's ability to cope with everything about the place they've gone.

Come to think of it, someone must have done this story at least as a goof, haven't they?

There is literally a book that begins "We thought we'd go to the moon for spring break, but the moon turned out to really suck."

Feed, by M.T. Anderson.

I want to say John Barnes did it and then alluded to the destruction of the place in a later book. But that might just be my neurons trying to wipe any memory of John Barnes from my brain.

The wiping clean, of course, is itself a Barnesian notion. Notice how the meme has successfully implanted itself in you.

Allan Sherman had a song about a couple going to the suburbs, but deciding the city was better....

I think I mentioned this before:

You know that psychology paper that was getting hyped a little while back, about how reading literary fiction (but not genre fiction of any sort, such as SF) strengthens your theory of mind?

https://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/377.short
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=7715

The study used exactly one example of science fiction, which was Heinlein's "Space Jockey."

Also, "...do Heinlein protagonists ever have heart to heart discussions with their loved ones or do they just lecture them until they stumble into happy endings more or less by accident?"

A lot of Number Of The Beast involves both heart-to-hearts (in an emotionally terse sort of way) /and/ lectures (if you count all the 'I am your captain, you must obey' stuff, anyway).

It's not very effective, but...

(Actually, I suppose Time Enough For Love has some, too.)

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