Dec 26, 16 / Cap 25, 00 18:50 UTC

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress / Starship Troopers  


Would love to get your thoughts on two Robert Heinlein Books I (re)read recently.

A short disclaimer: I don't necessarily support any of the ideas proposed in the books, but found them deeply thought provoking especially in the context of the 2016 political climate and with the concept of Asgardia.

'The moon is a harsh mistress' is probably more relevant. It's about a lunar colony trying to break away from earth.

'Starship troopers' should not be confused with the movie, which is only very loosely based on the book. The book spends a lot more time philosophising on systems of government.

What are your thoughts on these? I will share mine in later replies.

Dec 26, 16 / Cap 25, 00 20:44 UTC

I love both these books, but they're just fiction. It's easy to make political statements like both books make when you control everything in that universe. You can always manipulate plot lines to have your hero/heroine come out in the end. However, too many people take both of these books as some kind of factual moral and ethical statement just like they do with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. It always amazes me that so many people are willing to take these things as having a greater meaning than they have. It's even worse when the author takes their work of fiction more seriously than it should. Yes, I'm looking at you, Ayn Rand. However, one should never take their life philosophies from fiction. I'm looking at the Star Trek fans, too.

I absolutely love Diane Duane's Spock's World, but I know that there are no Vulcans to make it real.

I always liked Heinlein's Juvenile fiction better. The first sci-fi book I ever read was Rocketship Galileo, so I'm a bit jaded.

  Updated  on Dec 26, 16 / Cap 25, 00 21:57 UTC, Total number of edits: 1 time
Reason: Corrected grammar issue

Dec 26, 16 / Cap 25, 00 20:56 UTC

Yet it is possible to take a set of rationalized principles, and then to distill them into a fictional story in order to demonstrate how one believes ones philosophy pertains to the real world. I would agree that to treat the fiction as anything other than an argument made poetically might be dangerous. But also to willingly take nothing from it is, I think, a little vain. It's good to try to take some wisdom from a philosophical work of fiction, partially in its critique, and partially by its merit. And many of these stories do have something of merit to offer, both Rand and Star Trek alike.

The danger comes from setting the standard at those works. If we are contented perfectly from Star Trek, we won't do fresh philosophy, refining our ideas even further. When we idolize individual works of philosophy we become stagnant.

Dec 26, 16 / Cap 25, 00 21:19 UTC

I think the interest in both works and in sci if in general is coming up with an idea of how the future might work and testing it out in a way.

Because it's fiction the author can generate a contrived universe where they can test th ideas.

For example the main theme I took from starship troopers was that Heinlein proposes restricting the sovereign franchise ( right to vote) to people who vote in the best interests of the group, in this case only granting the right to vote to those who've done military service and therefore supposedly learnt to put the interests of the whole before themselves.

Does the theory hold water? Probably not. Heinlein makes a lot of assumptions and abstractions from reality to get the idea to work in his book, but it raises the question for me of whether there's a way of restricting the right to vote reliably to "responsible" individuals.

Currently the west has settled on "not a criminal" and "over 18" being the only restrictions