AN OH MY GOD MOMENT - 08.16.2021
August 16, 2021
Good Monday morning. I'm author Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California. Welcome to Rupp's Notes/FBI Special Agent Hartman Series posts.
"More and more we are into communications; and less and less into communication." – A quote from Studs Terkel, an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. I could not agree more. We seek media communications more and more and think less and less. We are looking down at our cell phones more and more. There are no facial expressions to give us some hints as to actual beliefs. The resulting effect is brainwashing (the concept that certain psychological techniques can alter or control the human mind). Have you noticed many in our society have lost the ability to think critically or independently?
"The people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do." – A Steve Jobs adage. For my novel SKYWARD, I have researched the Getty family, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Gavin Newsom (and his supporting San Francisco neighbors, who sometimes showed up at Le Central, one of mine and FBI Special Agent Hartmann's favorite watering hole). Their stories are mushed together in SKYWARD.
At my fit band fitness workout session, I struck up a conversation with the person next to me. When he learned about the plot for my upcoming novel SKYWARD, he commented, your story sounds a lot like the one in the famous author Heinlein's science fiction novels. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS.
That turned out to be an "Oh My God" moment for me. Though I was writing a quasi scifi novel, I had not done much research on them. Now I am. I remember reading Heinlein's FARMER IN THE SKY in my teens. It's a scifi story about people having to leave an overcrowded Earth, where food is being rationed. It's a story that has always stuck in my mind. That's good writing.
Talk about someone ahead of his time. During the Golden Age of science fiction (1920-1960), Robert A Heinlein, a writer, certainly was. His publisher indicates his is style is "sheer simplicity. . . He never wasted the reader's time explaining details of a technological device or an unfamiliar cultural trend. All of that was handled through dialogue and snippets of exposition." Additionally, his publisher says of him, "At many times during his career, RAH tried to deny the fact he was doing anything more than writing 'just stories, meant to amuse and written to buy groceries.' The more he protested that he was not writing "literature," and certainly not philosophy, the less I believed him."
Yes, my plot for SKYWARD is similar to what Heinlein loved to write about, but my writing style is different. That may be good or bad. We both love(d) exploring and colonizing the Universe and making references good and bad about Earth. The concepts of getting to and living on the Moon have not changed that much over the years. And, a lot of what I write about and describe is similar to the story in THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS.
I love Heinlein's writing style. His novels combine quirkiness with a sense of humor. There is a lot of slang. I will admit it took me a few pages to get used to. And, I frequently had to look up a word for its meaning. For instance, "children raised in a crèche." Or, "polandries," "sine-qua-non," "putsch," and "agitprop." Then there are descriptions I love. For example, instead of hooker or prostitute, he uses the term "slot-machine girl."
He does not shy away from controversial subjects. "I had birthed a monster. It had to be eliminated." And, he has "clan marriages." More like what we call today a "swingers group, or "friends with benefits." I also touch on these subjects in SKYWARD. As my novel is about the Bowman Twins, I love this line by Heinlein's character Wyoming – "When I was fifteen, I married two brothers, twins twice my age, and I was terribly happy." Then she indicates, "I announced a divorce."
Here is what startled me. Heinlein's stories portray the continued disintegration of Earth's society, to the point where his characters decide to seek a new life beyond Earth. He indicated that freedom is to be found on the frontiers. Yes, that is also the belief of my characters' in SKYWARD. I also address the need for new frontiers to help repair the problems on Earth.
Heinlein was a devout libertarian and conveyed some of that thinking into his stories. He also populates the Luna and adjacent Moon cities that are penal colonies with 3 million bad Earthlings. I laughed when I read this, only because in my novel SKYWARD the Bowman Colony is made up of people who want to escape what's happening on Earth and actually return the bad Moonies to Earth, which they jokingly refer to as purgatory. I think I'm stretching it with locating 25 thousand people on the Moon split between the Bowman Colony and the Chinese military base. Both the Bowman Twins and the Chinese look at the Moon as a stepping stone to the Universe.
Heinlein is quoted as saying, "It seems to me that every time we manage to establish one freedom, they take another one away. Maybe two. And that seems to me characteristic of a society as it gets older and more crowded, and higher taxes, and more laws." I concur with this. It's one of the reasons the Bowman Twins want to venture from Earth.
Heinlein stated that his outlook and values were established by growing up in "The Bible Belt." Mine was set by growing up in Hollywood. He published his first story at age 32 (in the Science Fiction genre) in 1939, a year after I was born. I published my first novel in 2015 at age 77. He was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who became an aeronautical engineer. I am a retired insurance industry researcher with a social science degree. He brainstormed unconventional combat techniques during World War II. I reviewed bills and made out the checks in the Army Finance Corps to pay the Armys financial obligations. My service was between any major military conflicts. You could not find more opposing backgrounds. But, we both come to many of the same conclusions about the need to explore and colonize space.
I differ with Heinlein in his philosophical opposition to positivism. This is an approach to studying society that specifically utilizes scientific evidence such as experiments, statistics, and qualitative results to reveal a truth about how society functions. It is based on the assumption that it's possible to observe social life and establish reliable knowledge about its inner workings. My Bowman Moon Colony is made up almost exclusively of millennials with STEM backgrounds. By nature, their approach to the society they have developed would lean toward science and positivism.
Instead of allowing for a libertarian society, I think the adverse environment on the Moon will produce a more socialist-oriented community. People must work together and must follow the established rules for survival.
Heinlein indicates that his writing was designed to educate his readers about the value of racial equality and the importance of racial tolerance. I concur with him on this but have ended up with a form of discrimination that evolved from my story. The Bowman twins do not discriminate racially or ethnically in selecting who gets to join their Moon Colony. In fact, they want a racial and ethnic mix, and by the nature of the need to work together for survival, racial or ethnic intolerance does not exist. But, their selection criteria (i.e., must be a millennial, with a STEM education, and a partner you can procreate with) ends up discriminating based on age, social/educational background, disability, and sexual preference. As the Colony matures, some of this initial discrimination is rectified.
Both Heinlein and I believe that catapults are essential to space travel. Here's one of his comments on this subject – "It's cheap to ship downhill, expensive to ship uphill." We both agree that master supercomputers are essential for survival in an adverse environment. His is called "Mike" and has developed a personality. My computer does not have a personality but closely monitors the Colony and each colonist who has been chipped and has a temperature recording patch for safety purposes. The crew that programs and monitors this computer, including FBI Special Agent Hartmann, knows everything happening in the Bowman Colony, and so will you. So much for libertarianism.
In my story, there is not a violent revolution against the "Authority," but rather a gradual separation (not obvious) allowed by distance (physical and social) and encouraged by new distant frontiers. There is no looking in the rearview mirror or downward. Heinlein dialog, "Nothing uses up alcohol faster than political argument. I sent for another bottle."
Last night I watched all new shows on my local PBS Station. Starting with the return of "All Creatures Great and Small," followed by the final episodes of "Unforgotten" and "Professor T." WOW, both powerful endings to the "Unforgotten" and "Professor T."
My next post is a spin-off of this one. It's titled, "Where does logic take you?"
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright©2021 by Richard V. Rupp