Friday, March 02, 2007

Expanded Universe

Expanded Universe

Robert Heinlein

Date: 1980   —   $22.00   —   Book

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Short Story, Nonfiction and Science Fiction

Many of these stories have been collected elsewhere; many have not. In particular, the nonfiction articles may be hard to track down, particularly as Heinlein includes a couple of predictive articles he made in the 50s and explains why he went wrong. The stories generally have a foreword or afterword about them, something that makes for entertaining reading.

More interesting, however, is a sociological perspective from 1979, when this book was compiled. Heinlein makes it very clear through his forewords and asides that he firmly believes that humanity will endure a nuclear holocaust before the end of the century, that inflation will spiral out of control until the dollar is worthless, and that, if neither of these things happen, people will generally become so ignorant that the infrastructure will collapse. All of which may seem a bit silly to today's readers, at least those who never had nightmares about walking outside and finding nobody at all because they were all killed by fire from the sky.

Yes, I am talking to those born after 1982 or thereabouts. There really was a time when the country believed that it could only get worse, and that the USSR and its satellite communist states would roll over us, not because they were stronger, but because we didn't have the will to fight. That feeling laces the pages of this book, along with Heinlein's (constrained) rage that no one is willing to fight what seems to be inevitable. So overall, you may want to space out the reading of this book— it's likely to leave you a bit down if you aren't prepared for it.

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