Telegraphica

NaNoWriMo Would Be Peanuts to Heinlein

When I read Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century, Volume 2 by William H. Patterson a few years ago, I was struck by how fast Heinlein wrote his “juveniles,” the science fiction adventures that we would now term “young adult fiction.” It usually took him a month to write one. He was fast with his other novels too (except for Stranger in a Strange Land, which he periodically got stuck on).

It appears that every November was the time that he was scheduled to write one of these for the Scribner publishing company. Here’s one:

“Heinlein began writing Schoolhouse in the Sky [to become Tunnel in the Sky] on November 11, 1954, finishing the 76,000-word draft on December 10, ahead of his usual work schedule, with ample time over the holidays to trim it and have it professionally retyped.”

And another:

“The book was written over a three-week period from November 12 to December 8, 1956, with four alternative titles, but when he had the manuscript professionally retyped for submission, he gave it a new name: Citizen of the Galaxy.”

And the first one I read:

“By November 1951 it was time to start his annual boys’ book for Scribner, and he didn’t have even the glimmering of an idea. Heinlein asked [his wife] Ginny what he should write about. ‘Why don’t you write about a pair of mischievous twins,’ she suggested, ‘always getting into trouble.’ … He finished the draft of The Rolling Stones a couple of days before Christmas and found that his usual ‘tightening-up’ edit – striking unnecessary phrases, surplus adjectives, and so forth – was almost not needed this time.

So good luck. If you can achieve quantity and quality, like he did, you have it made.

Cover image of Heinlein's novel The Rolling Stones, which show his flatcats floating in zero-g. They were the precursors to Star Trek's tribbles.

An aside: The Rolling Stones featured “flatcats,” notably more than an inspiration for “Star Trek”’s tribbles in the “Trouble With Tribbles” episode. The producer of “Star Trek” contacted Heinlein, worried about a lawsuit when they realized the similarity. Heinlein let it go, though it bothered him later when scriptwriter David Gerrold started merchandizing tribbles.

Richard II

The Lionheart and the Peach

Finished reading: King Richard: Nixon and Watergate–An American Tragedy by Michael Dobbs ๐Ÿ“š Incredible. Fascinating. Hard to put down.

(The fact that I went directly from an audiobook about King Richard I, by Marc Morris, to a book about Richard M. Nixon called King Richard is entirely coincidental. ๐Ÿ‘€ So is the fact that, according to this book, Nixon was named after Richard I, “Lionheart,” though that is a different Richard than Richard I, known as “Longshanks,” son of Henry III. Morris’ book explains the discrepency in numbering, having to do with the Norman Invasion. He didn’t refer to Richard the Lionheart as Richard I, though. Interesting too that the Morris book has “Great and Terrible” in its title, a point, though maybe not in those exact words, Dobbs makes about this “King” Richard, a dualism. [Though “terrible” in the 13th century probably meant “inspires terror.”] So the two books combined lead to the title of this post.)

I remember seeing on TV, when this was going on, a news report about protesters calling for the impeachment of the president. The camera panned down a line of people holding up signs. One after the other, the signs read “Impeach Nixon,” “Impeach Nixon.” At the end of the line was a little old lady holding up a sign that read: “Nixon Is a Peach.”

[Slight spoiler ahead about the book’s content]

I was disappointed that Dobbs wanted to structure the book a certain way that only covered the 100 days following Nixon’s second inauguration. It stops when the fight over the tapes begins. It’s an abrupt ending and I wanted to read about the rest. It’s otherwise an amazing book that draws extensively from the tapes themselves.

Notes From the Shadows

Jaclyn Smith could have been in “Dark Shadows”?

In my watch of the TV series “Dark Shadows” on disc, currently in what is known as Collection 6, there is an interview with Roger Davis, who played the jailer/lawyer of Alexandra Molke’s character Victoria Winters. He said he was married to Jaclyn Smith for a time and they met when she auditioned for “Dark Shadows” when the production was looking for a replacement for Molke, who was leaving the show. Smith could have had the part – the producer was eager to hire her – but she turned it down. (In the end they decided not to replace Molke after all, choosing to write her character out of the show.) How TV history could have been different…

Davis also shared that when he got the part in the show he was in an off-Broadway play with Stacy Keach. Names of those well-known continued when he added that he was friends with Hampton Fancher, screenwriter for Blade Runner. He got some facts wrong here, saying that Fancher wrote a short story (then he said novella) titled … and here he got the title Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep incorrect, which was actually a novel by Philip K. Dick, the novel on which Blade Runner was based. He said that Fancher never got any money from the short story/novella/screenplay – it wasn’t clear – but that could hardly be the case. Certainly Dick saw little money from Do Androids Dream when it was first sold, because of what publishers were paying for science fiction paperbacks back then, and didn’t start seeing decent income until Blade Runner, according to his biography.

At any rate, this watching of “Dark Shadows” continues to yield rewards. ๐Ÿ“บ ๐Ÿ‘ป