Re: Russian Slang in Heinlein's Work

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Aug 11 2001 - 14:52:56 MDT

Mike Lorrey wrote:
> Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> >
> > > >> Would you please explain further your belief that Heinlein was actually
> > > >> pandering to leftists when he utilized Russian slang in that book? I
> > > >> naively thought that it was because he foresaw a greater role for the
> > > >> Soviet Union in the future than has so far turned out to be the case.
> >
> > I always assumed that the Russian slang on the Moon was due to the race
> > between the Americans and the Russians to reach the moon first. Regardless
> > of which side one, most people expected the moon to be populated by half
> > Russians and half Americans.
> Yes, but there was a similar number of chinese people, yet there was a
> total absense of chinese slang, proverbs, etc. I don't know if this was
> simply something RAH overlooked, but the use of Russian slang does fit
> with the desire by Heinlein and others for literary acceptance. I did
> not say that he was 'pandering to leftists', but he rightly recognised
> that gaining literary recognition would translate to more sales.

Good grief. Heinlein wrote straight from the heart as well as
the head and I doubt very much he had any intention whatsoever
of appealling to supposed reds in the literary world.
Especially as he wrote in an era when the literati had very
little if any use for science fiction. They were not his

Heinlein is also infamous as the original libertarian sci-fi
author. No other sf author of the time wrote so elogquently for
the importance of and rights of the individual beyond any State.
To accuse RAH of cozying up to the Russians to be more
acceptable to a literati that had no use for such "pulp trash"
is ridiculous and an insult.

Russian slang could be part of his books simply because the
Russkis were there first and because they launched 10-100 times
as much stuff into space as we did over many years. Also, the
Russians after WWII acquired as much (or more) of the rocket
scientist talent than the US did and pushed harder and earlier
for space exploration and conquest. It would be very wierd if
there weren't Russian slang (at least) present in tales of near
earth space. Its absence would betray even more bias.

- samantha

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