Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Many 'Mechs of Lazarus Long

The most misleading of the
covers Google gave me.
Last night I finished reading Time Enough for Love by Heinlein. The novel's framing and structure are interesting (I've spotted at least four ways that the whole narrative might be the hallucination of a dying man) and the moral lesson (that investing in the companionship and well-being of friends and family is what makes for a satisfying life) is fair enough.

But I mention the book because BattleTech seems to have taken inspiration from it. Stackpole did, for sure; its discussion of human breeding is a clear model for certain aspects of Clan culture, and Stackpole's old Warrior Trilogy author bios (which present the author as a time traveler on the run from ComStar) are an extraordinary match for a conversation late in Heinlein's novel.

Intriguingly, the few clues the book gives about the period 1980~2200 match up with what I recall of BattleTech's history for the same period, and it'll be interesting to find out how well the rest of Heinlein's "future history" lines up. (If I'm lucky, it'll bridge BattleTech with Renegade Legion.)


  1. I think this was pretty much the last Heinlein I ever read which according to his bibliography means I missed all of what are considered his 'late' novels. My partner has suggested I read Friday which I may ado at some point. My point being is that Heinlein shaped a lot of readers imaginations and it would not be surprising to find that Stackpole was so influenced.

    1. Yep yep. I wonder if anybody has put together an "appendix N" for BattleTech? Maybe I'll give it a shot.

      Wish I could recommend a book to you, but I think this and Starship Troopers are all I've read of Heinlein's, and I'm a bit scarce on classic sci-fi overall. (Too much TV, y'know.)

  2. I should have been clearer. I've read every Heinlein novel up to Time Enough for Love, and the reason I didn't read any after that was because of Time Enough for Love.

    There comes a point when you realize that an author isn't pushing your buttons and giving you what you want. To some extent this is a process of time; when I was young I devoured new authors and had to catch them all.

    Now older I tend to be less enthused, so I read a new author for a couple of books and then move on. Partly my taste has changed, but partly because I'm looking for different things now.

    1. No worries. I don't imagine that you were actually looking for a reading suggestion, but I enjoy trying when I can anyways; what is the internet for, if not to cast good intentions out into the void?

      I take your point about tastes being refined over time, and it's obvious how Time Enough for Love would turn someone off of Heinlein. All I meant was that, since I haven't read his earlier works, I can't even take a bearing on where your tastes might be now, and I haven't read broadly enough to know which books can be suggested on their own merits.

      For instance, a few weeks ago I read a compilation of Tolstoy's short stories, but--like Time Enough for Love--I enjoyed them more for the craftsmanship than for the content; I doubt I'll ever reread it, and I'd only recommend it to someone looking specifically for Tolstoy.

    2. Oh gosh yes. I agree. I don't know if you've caught my writing blog, but among the diary keeping and writing stuff I also put up brief reviews, where review means a few lines of comment rather than a critique, of any books I've been reading.

      Caveat: I don't review things I don't enjoy (with enjoyment being loosely defined as worthwhile reading etc).

    3. I hadn't been, but I'll certainly start now.

    4. Cheers. Glad you think it's worth your time.