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Heinlein in dimension,: A critical analysis Paperback – April, 1972

9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Advent Publishers; [1st ed.] edition (April 1972)
  • ASIN: B0007FG9P8
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,245,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Carl Freire on May 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Frankly, I don't understand why this book does not have a higher rating here at Amazon, since it is a worthy effort that merits close study and thoughtful reflection. Panshin's work was the first close reading of any modern science fiction writer and stands as a serious--and largely successful, in my view--attempt to consider Heinlein's work to that date (1968, through "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"). As he writes in his introduction, Panshin's goals included tracing Heinlein's development as a writer, analyzing the characteristics of his writing, and teasing out both what makes his works successful _as literary works_ and fail _as literary works_. I suspect it is non-recognition of this latter point that accounts for some of the less-than-favorable reviews here; if you are looking for a book that says, "Gee, what neat ideas Heinlein had!" you're better off looking elsewhere. This is a work of literary criticism; its goals are to (1) consider Heinlein's work as a whole and tease out those characteristics that make it "Heinlein's work" and not someone else's and (2) probe and reflect on the works that comprise the whole and what makes them work well or not as science fiction and and as works of fiction more generally.

Panshin lays out his biases at the start--not about Heinlein, but rather about what he feels constitutes good science fiction, good storytelling, and good writing. He then runs through Heinlein's works up to the time of writing and assesses them in light of the standards he has laid out.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aaron J. Palmer on June 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Glicklich on December 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
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]
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on July 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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