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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sixth ColumnSixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I won't say this is a particularly good Heinlein, by any stretch of the imagination, but if you get right down to it, it was written in 1949 when he was moving away from his Juveniles and putting his hand to more adult works.

In this case, he was writing for a small white male audience that had recently come out of WWII and he kinda clumped all Asians as WWII imperialist Japanese with the numbers of China to come up with the baddies having overtaken America. It's a kind of ignorant future, okay? The book needed a baddie that wasn't American and culturally alien enough to pull off what WAS a pretty fun stunt that reminds me a lot of Heinlein's much better chicanery and revolution stuff.

What WAS pretty damn good was these good ole boys whipping up a technological masterpiece that appears like magic and coming to the conclusion that the only way to strike a blow on the Pan-Asians occupying America was to use a hokey religious guise that all the locals could see through to gather enough men to strike a magic-as-technology blow against the invaders.

Which they do. In a very silly, but ultimately fun way.

Would I recommend this as good Heinlein? Hell no. But do I think it deserves a ton of hate? No. Not at all. I really appreciated how he used Hobos for an information network and thumbed his nose at religion in general, how he USED it for good ends without taking any of it seriously. And if you think about it, that's pretty awesome in 1949. There has always been a rather keen abuse of religion, and some periods were worse than others. So I give credit where credit is due. Ahead of his time in one way, and woefully behind in another. Flawed but still worthwhile.

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