“So Athena vowed and under her feet fastened the supple sandals, ever-glowing gold, that wing her over the waves and boundless earth with the rush of gusting winds.”

The Odyssey

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.

Prince: Farewell, latter spring. Farewell, Allhallown summer.

— Henry IV, Part I

Falstaff: ‘Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear. …

Prince: What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy of Moorditch?

— Henry IV, Part I

In the mall parking lot, though it’s cloudy, you can catch someone’s shadow in a puddle as smooth as glass. #thatmorningwalk

Cold morning and grey in the mall parking lot. Others are there, sitting in their trucks or wandering. It won’t open for hours, though it used to open now. We forgot when it would open, or not? What drove us to gather? The seagulls are missing. #thatmorningwalk

Heinlein wrote from “can” to “can’t” each day. There was no try.

Butterflies Are Free. 1972. Goldie Hawn and Edward Albert. Rating: Many popcorns. 🍿 🎟

Truly, living in a library, a museum or a mall would be bliss for me.

Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore will be renovated to include apartments. I want to live there. Come see my bookshelves; they are three stories tall. Please wait in the waiting room cavern. We have green lamps.

Have been watching so much “Great British Baking Show” I now say “maths” instead of “math” and “tin” instead of “pan.”

I can jump out of the cupboard to surprise Aristotle but then I would still have to come up with a reversal.

“All birds are dinosaurs,” Dr. Holtz always said in his Balticon presentations. I remember it when I see turkey vultures all in a row, hunched and waiting. And masses of seagulls in mall parking lots. And murders of crows. #thatmorningwalk

In the mall there’s a wooden sculpture of the word “Wish” with a handle in its side. The letters are staggered upwards as if the handle extends them. I’ve seen it for years. Decades. And only now it occurs to me it may be possible to turn the handle myself. #thatmorningwalk

Tinnitus from the sirens because you chose to walk and their volume is set for people in cars with the windows rolled up. Odysseus didn’t have it. He chose to sail.

Moby-Dick as first and still modern novel, with Gibsonian superspecificity and the minute detail of a Steven Millhauser story. Herman Melville as meta-cyberpunk.

In a Philip K. Dickian scenario we could all become Stilpo.

But what if Stilpo turns out to be Big Brother? One must first find out who Stilpo is in order to be on his side. The goal of Big Brother is to not only be with Stilpo as well as you but also to be Stilpo.

🎼 And do you think you’ve made the right decision this time?”

— The Smiths

I’m with Stilpo too, Zeno.

It’s like something out of Philip K. Dick: the overarching personality that everyone is connected to. Mercer. Palmer Eldritch. Stilpo.

I’m With Stilpo: The Musical

“If you lay violent hands on me, you’ll have my body, but my mind will remain with Stilpo.”

— Zeno, quoted in The Daily Stoic

I’m With Stilpo would make a good title. 

“Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”

Romeo and Juliet

Have a jocund day.

Animation still from Monty Python and the Holy Grail of a sun with legs standing on a hilltop ready to jump

(Image: Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

“How bloodily the sun begins to peer above yon bulky hill. The day looks pale at his distemp’rature.”

— Henry IV, Part I

Red sky in morning, sailor take warning.