Heinlein Biographer Bill Patterson at KHC

  Heinlein Biography
KARL HESS CLUB MONDAY  AUGUST 16, 2010              

Bill Patterson on his new book, Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve

Dinah’s Family Restaurant 6521 S. Sepulveda Blvd. (at Centinela Avenue) in West Los Angeles
(310) 645-0456.

7:00  p.m.  Gathering Time
8:00  p.m.  Dinner  (Order from the regular menu)
8:45  p.m.  Announcements                   <–(Note starting time)
9:00  p.m.  Guest Speaker: Bill Patterson
10:00  p.m. Q & A                                 <–(please hold questions and comments until this time)
10:30  p.m. Adjournment from Dinah’s    <–(please depart the premises at this time)
11:00  p.m. Afters: Mixing and Mingling    Backstage Bar & Grill 10400 Culver Boulevard Culver City

Dinner stipulations: $10.00 order minimum plus $3.00 Club Cover Charge

For information on the Karl Hess Club: http://www.karlhessclub.org/

ABOUT THE PROGRAM: [provided by Bill Patterson]

The first volume of Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve
is due out from Tor Books on August 17, 2010.

Advance reviews began to appear in July — mostly laudatory, if qualifiedly so — and mostly, so far, from the science fiction community, who desperately wanted to see a biography-of-a-science-fiction-writer and are somewhat puzzled because it’s not quite. As the title tries to cue (and believe me I had to fight for that title), it’s a book about an exemplary cultural figure and the times he lived in, and the struggle with the 20th century that we all engaged in.

Heinlein was a great engager — as we in the Libertarian and Anarchist communities have special reason to know — and the 20th century is as much a character of this biography as is Robert Heinlein.  I used to jokingly say when people asked who the audience was for this book during the writing that it was written for the Pulitzer committee.

This portrait of an engager and social figure — and his impact on the libertarian movement that came together in the 1960’s and 1970s was only one of several social movements in which he was influential — was a matter of deliberate policy on my part, and it was implicit in the 60-page outline I prepared at the beginning and took with me to discuss with Ginny [Virginia Heinlein] when we first met for this project, at the end of January 2000.

My preliminary thinking had uncovered several very long philosophical arcs, consistent over many decades of his life, and the job of the portrait was going to be to show how these all belonged to a single human being, all the abundance of factual material used to bring the hidden aspects of this complex and interesting person to light. (I had not yet seen the Archive in Santa Cruz and so had no exact idea of exactly how abundant the factual material would turn out — 300,000 pages or so of letters and files).

This book has been a ten-year voyage of discovery for me (and it’s not over yet: my editor at Tor, David Hartwell, says we’ll start working on editing the second volume into submission after Labor Day), and I’ve come around to the conclusion that the most important function of Heinlein’s writing was to show us aspects of the meaning of the conflicts and struggles we were all engaged in, that could too easily be swept away.

In the 21st century, the Enlightenment Era values that were core to the American Experience are being swept up and placed in the dustbin of history, and the value of Heinlein’s persistence into our future is that he says for us, “No. These things are important.” As libertarians that has become our job, as well, and so Heinlein will continue to have special relevance to libertarians, even when his story materials seem distant from specific libertarian concerns.

I’ve recently set up an author website for discussion and comments about the biography, which you can find at www.whpattersonjr.com.  I put updates, announcements, and there are links to reviews as they are appearing.  There is also a click-through link to amazon.com so you can pre-order the biography (though this talk will take place on the 16th, so there’s not actually much “pre-” time left).  There’s also a click-through link to order The Martian Named Smith, my book showing how to read Stranger in a Strange Land for all the juice you can get out of it.

I will not have copies of the book with me, but I will have at least one advance copy, which Tor is sending me now.

So we’ll at least be able to look at the thing.  Consequently I will not have any for sale, and I don’t plan to bring any order slips with me, as it’s a general bookstore item.  The book may be pre-ordered through Amazon.com.  I have set up an author website for discussion and notices, and there is a click-through link to Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve
on www.whpattersonjr.com   I will be bringing some promotional postcards with me for distribution and autographing.

ABOUT THE  SPEAKER:   [provided by Bill Patterson]

Bill Patterson is a Cabell, SF theory, and Robert Heinlein specialist as an independent scholar, having wond the Cabell Prize in 2000 from the Commonwealth University of Virginia.  For my consulting work with the Heinlein Archive at UC Santa Cruz, the Heinlein Prize Trust designated me The Heinlein Scholar.  My professional associations include the American Comparative Literature Association, the Emerson Society, and the Popular Culture Association, with dozens of papers on Heinlein and SF theory.  I am also editor/publisher of The Heinlein Journal and have previously published a monograph on Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land co-written with Andrew Thornton, titled The Martian Named Smith.  I have been a fan since 1969 and have worked on small conventions since 1975 and was a director of IguanaCon II, the Phoenix, Arizona, worldcon in 1978. [Note: Bill says, “CV is tough — here’s a slightly modified and expanded bio I made up for the Tor publicist (the book jacket bio is wrong, wrong)”]

Bill has been a speaker before us several times over the years and it is always a pleasure to have his company and enjoy his informative and entertaining presentations. This surely will be no exception and we heartily invite you to avail of this latest opportunity to benefit from his wisdom.


Our regular venue is Dinah’s Family Restaurant in West Los Angeles.  The address is: 6521 S. Sepulveda Blvd. (at Centinela) (310) 645-0456.

The time for dinner is between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. although you may arrive earlier. If you do, please be sure to mention that you are with the KHC so that the club gets credit for your custom. You may be seated in the meeting room at that time if you wish.

The program will be from 9 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. (the restaurant’s doors close at 11 p.m. sharp). The club will have exclusive use of the room between 8 and 10:30 p.m.  Please exit promptly after 10:30 p.m.

The deal at Dinah’s is: The minimum for our diner/attendees is $10.00 plus a $3.00 cover to the club (which, with notice, may vary upward by program but will be at least $3.00). FYI: Dinah’s has an all-you-can-eat Chicken Dinner on Mondays which costs $10.95, and everyone may order off the regular menu. Individual cheques. Pay your own tab. The club dues will be collected from you.

Please note that KHC attendees must observe the minimum restaurant order. If you arrive early and dine before the group, please retain your receipt.

Thank you to our loyal members for your continued support.

Upcoming Programs Scheduled:

September 20, 2010  Leon Weinstein  Program To Be Announced
October 18, 2010      Sharon Presley  “Standing Up to Experts and Authorities: How to Avoid Being Intimidated, Manipulated, and Abused.” BOOK TOUR [Sharon also will be presenting at Libertopia]
November 15, 2010   Ray Acosta on “The Mexican Revolution” BOOK TOUR

Special Note:

Please join us for the Aftermeeting at the Backstage Bar & Grill!  When we adjourn at 10:30 p.m.,
proceed to the Backstage and we’ll reconvene for an informal gathering after 11 p.m. until whenever.
The Backstage is at 10400 Culver Boulevard Culver City 90232 ( two blocks East of Overland Avenue at Motor Southeast side of Sony MGM Studios). 310 839-3892  http://www.backstageculvercity.com/

We Also Highly Recommend:

Chuck McGlawn’s Liberty ViewsLetter  a weekly compendium of items of interest to libertarian activists. Emanating from Orange County, California, this e-magazine has been published continuously for over six years. Subscription is at no charge. To subscribe and for info, contact chuckest@aol.com  


Looking for Hugh, The Capitalist Guidebook, a novel by Leon Weinstein
2009 WAM-art.net  4780 Poe Avenue Woodland Hills, CA 91364  $12.99
For more information and to order a copy, contact: inquiries@wam-art.net or 818 716-7064

The author, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, started writing plays in high school, going on to direct theatre shows and films.  In 1974 he immigrated to Israel where he organized the Theatre for Youth and was twice nominated for the Best Children’s Show of the Year.  Author of numerous plays, short stories and a variety of political articles, Mr. Weinstein co-founded Weinstein Art Management, in Woodland Hills, which is aimed at providing venues for artists from ex-communist countries. He is currently on a quest to prevent socialism from taking over the United States of America.

The author says that “this book  is an attempt to apply to everyday life the philosophical principles of Ayn Rand and many other proponents of Capitalism and individual freedom. My thanks go to Antoine de Saint Exupery for writing The Little Prince, Lewis Carroll for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, L. Frank Baum for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Jonathan Swift for Gulliver’s Travels. These four authors were my guiding stars in creating Looking for Hugh.”

It is the story of a  teenage boy searching for his lost friend Hugh in a series of encounters after a ride on a kite to the “Thousand Islands Empire.”  Part fantasy and part polemic, the vignettes portray a series of situations each illustrating different facets of oppression brought about by adherence to various political philosophies.  Intended for adults but accessible to younger readers, the author hopes that this work will serve to educate and inspire those who would champion the ideals of a free society.  This book is very readable and is highly recommended.  Mike says: ****1/2
Available at Amazon:


Upcoming Local Event of Interest:

Libertopia: http://www.libertopia.org/home/

October 14 through 17 in Universal City, California

Libertopia is a movement and a community and, therefore, more than just the invitation to attend the annual celebration. Annual membership starts with attendance at Libertopia 2010 and access to all speeches, panels, the exhibitors’ room, and networking activities, but also includes access to the Community section of this website, where ideas about promoting the Libertopia ideal as well as inputs about the celebration are shared by members.

Membership for Adults — $175

Membership purchased at the door October 14 — $200.

Membership for students with ID — $75.

Membership for individuals under 18 is no charge.Libertopia Gold Membership - Highly Recommended

Includes the following:

  • The Libertopia 2010 Annual Membership
  • The Sovereign Awards for Lifetime Achievement Banquet
  • A Limited Edition, signed and numbered Giclee print of the Liberty Head artwork - a $195 value
  • Reserved best seats to all main room sessions
  • A Program Book

All for only $595

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