Spanked by Heinlein

I recently finished reading Robert Heinlein’s 1956 novel Double Star. Unlike many of my writer and fan compatriots, I didn’t grow up reading Heinlein. I’m not sure I’d ever even heard of him until college. My child and young adult reading skewed more to fantasy than science fiction. I’ve read Stranger in a Strange Land within the last 10 years, but Double Star is only my second Heinlein novel.

The story takes place in 2100, but since it was written in the 1950s, people still use slide rules and make audio recordings exclusively on tape. And use encyclopedias for research (paper encyclopedias, presumably; at one point the protagonist mentions referring to the ship’s copy of a major encyclopedia).

Another thing I noticed: I’ve only read two Heinlein novels, but in both novels, some no-nonsense older man threatens to spank a young, attractive woman for impertinence. To be fair, in Stranger in a Strange Land (published in 1961), the young woman threatened with the spanking, at another point in the novel, helps two other women to dump the man in question into a swimming pool for being insufficiently polite. Still! Do men threaten to spank women in all Heinlein novels?

The novel was fast-paced and entertaining, although the way it caricatured anyone who disagreed with the “correct” politics of the future (as far as I could tell, basically libertarianism and free trade) was mildly irritating. I find it more interesting when an author acknowledges that many of the people who disagree with his or her politics do not, in fact, eat babies. (Okay, there was no actual baby eating in Double Star.) It reminded me a little of C.S. Lewis, in that respect. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis, but there’s just not a whole lot of moral complexity in the Planetary Trilogy; I think there’s probably more of it in the Chronicles of Narnia, interestingly enough; can children perhaps handle moral complexity more easily than grown-ups?)

Now I’m reading Book Twelve in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (this is the first book co-written by Brandon Sanderson, after Jordan’s death). A series in which, as Donald pointed out, there are many spankings and threats of spankings.

As far as I can remember, there are no spankings in Donald’s novel.

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