© J. Neil Schulman.
This self-published on-demand book approaches Heinlein, one of my favorite authors, from a Libertarian point of view. The author is a well known writer in that arena who met Heinlein in his youth (as seen in the cover photo) and landed a lengthy interview with him, most of which was never used at the time. Heinlein seems to have warmed to the young man, and answered questions in this interview which he usually avoided. Perhaps their shared interest in Libertarianism helped with that. The interview is the selling point of this book (which can also be read online, apparently), though it’s filled out with other reviews and writing on Heinlein (and himself) by Schulman.
Libertarianism is a broad term which covers lots of political/ethical points of view as you can see in the wikipedia link above, from a simple belief in personal freedom to all-out anarchy. Sort of reminds me of a herd of cats, actually. Heinlein comments in the interview, “How do anarchists spend their time? Why, they spend it fighting with other anarchists.” Given that wide umbrella, and our American heritage, I think many of us can find some common ground with Heinlein’s views on that and many other subjects covered in the interview. The author/interviewer is more radical and provocative in his comments and questions, but then he was young at the time, too. The dialogue between the two is entertaining, though Heinlein is clearly the one with the more reasoned opinions. And that makes for good reading. You have to admire a man who is willing to tackle a question like “is there life after death?” though he mainly does so by saying, “I have little or no objective data.”
Heinlein also talks quite a bit about his own writing here, something he rarely did, though in this case it’s usually with an Libertarian slant of some kind, as that’s what Schulman was most interested in. Still, quite a few insightful comments in that area.
The rest of the book did little for me. Schulman seems impressed with himself, but I can’t say I found good reason for it in his writing. The physical book itself looks like a substantial trade paperback of 200 pages, but the type is very large, and at normal book size would probably run only about 100 pages. At $19.95 I felt ripped off by that, but on the other hand, I did enjoy the interview, which fills about half the pages. I can’t recommend it to the casual Heinlein fan, but if, like me, you’ve read everything in print that the man wrote, you will probably enjoy this interview.