I will admit that I’ve been cheating. Rather reading the actual paper books, I’ve been listening to the audiobook versions. I can do that while working in the yard, and it makes the chores much more pleasant. I’ve been on a tear for Robert A Heinlein. These days, Heinlein is regarded as “problematic”, especially by woke Millennials, but I don’t give a rip. I view most Millennials as problematic, so we’re even.
Friday was first published in 1982, and I first read it that year. Heady stuff for a young man in his early 20s. With a strong female lead, plenty of sex, lots of libertarian thinking and plenty of action, it was rather unusual for it’s time, but Heinlein was always rather unusual for his time, from when he began writing right up until his last books. I always liked that about him.
However, the big reason I want to highlight this particular book is one chapter where Friday has been asked to develop a list of signs of a sick culture. Here’s two quotes from that chapter:
It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn’t the whole population.
Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named…but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1415529-friday
Consider those quotes and look at our current situation. See any similarities?
I don’t know what it was that moved me to read/listen to this book again at this point in history. But I’m on my fourth Heinlein book in the last 10 days, and all of them are striking chords in me when I consider the mess we’re getting ourselves into. I just hope he turns out to be correct, and that we survive the Crazy Years and continue on to the stars.
Friday won the Nebula, Hugo, Locus and Prometheus awards, giving it a clean sweep in awards it was eligible for. Good book, and if you aren’t familiar with the Dean of Science Fiction, you could start in worse places.