Friday, September 15, 2006

Heinlein returns from the dead, again!

This one seems to be a popular topic, so I'm using my nearly limitless powers to bubble it back to the top of the list. Have fun!

Colin Lee forwards this message from slashdot:
"Robert Heinlein's last novel, Variable Star , will be released in September. Completed by Spider Robinson at the behest of Heinlein's estate, the novel is based on the notes and outline created by Heinlein for the novel over 50 years ago. It was set aside and forgotten when Heinlein went to work on other projects. The story follows the life of Joel Johnston who — after having a fallout with his girlfriend and going on a bender — wakes up on a starship bound for the stars. Spider Robinson has done an excellent job maintaining Heinlein's style and flow throughout the novel. Want to check out the story for yourself? You can download the first eight chapters online from the 'Excerpts' link on the site as they are released over the next few weeks."
My first reaction, of course, is "Aw geez, not this crap again." Look, Robert Heinlein is long dead. Virginia Heinlein is dead. So far as I know Heinlein never had any children with any of his three wives, so when we're talking about "the Heinlein estate" we aren't even talking about the Brian Herbert thing of the kid trying to work the old man's family farm, but rather the business interests of the Spectrum Literary Agency and a section 501(c) non-profit corporation known as The Heinlein Society.

Y'know, 20-some years ago, I remember someone whose name I should remember now suggesting in the SFWA Forum, in classic half-joking full-serious manner, that we should all just give up trying to write under our own names and instead join a SFWA-administered apprenticeship and studio program, under which we would be evaluated, trained, and eventually allowed to write under the names of either Asimov®, Clarke®, or Heinlein®...

But never mind that. Here's today's idea.

Back around 1989 or so, I was on a panel at a con that started out as a fairly straight-faced Heinlein tribute and retrospective but then went silly when someone suggested that Heinlein had in fact not died, but rather had faked his own death in order to escape all the book packagers who were after him to license derivative works. From there we got going on the Heinlein sequels and spinoffs that should exist, if only Ginny would relent and grant us permission to write 'em: The Cat Who Walks Through Doors, The Cat Who Claws The Furniture, The Cat Who Falls Out Windows; Starship Messcooks, Starship Cabinboys, Starship Foredeck Hands; Stranger in an Even Stranger Land, Stranger in the Strangest Land Yet, Stranger in an Actually Rather Surprisingly Ordinary Land; Podkayne of Chicago, Podkayne of Philadelphia, Podkayne Does Dallas...

It was when we got going on sequels to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress that everything really went to hell.

So here's today's challenge. I want you to come up with a title and a brief synopsis for the Heinlein® novel *you* would write, if only you could get permission from the estate. Ready? Set? GO!