Lion of the Blogosphere

Heinlein wouldn’t get away with this today

I started reading the uncut version of Stranger in a Strange Land.

When I read this:

This would account for his action in jetting to Australia and proposing marriage to Doctor Winifred Coburn, a horse-faced spinster semantician nine years his senior. The Carlsbad Archives pictured her with an expression of quiet good humor but otherwise lacking in attractiveness.

I thought that if someone wrote that today, he’d be called a misogynist.

* * *

A commenter asked about the uncut edition. This is the preface to the uncut edition, published posthumously in 1991:

IF YOU THINK that this book appears to be thicker and contain more words than you found in the first published edition of Stranger in a Strange Land, your observation is correct. This edition is the original one-the way Robert Heinlein first conceived it, and put it down on paper.

The earlier edition contained a few words over 160,000, while this one runs around 220,000 words. Robert’s manuscript copy usually contained about 250 to 300 words per page, depending on the amount of dialogue on the pages. So, taking an average of about 275 words, with the manuscript running 800 pages, we get a total of 220,000 words, perhaps a bit more.

This book was so different from what was being sold to the general public, or to the science fiction reading public in 1961 when it was published, that the editors required some cutting and removal of a few scenes that might then have been offensive to public taste.

And this is interesting. Heinlein actually DIDN’T get away with my original quote in 1961. The edited version says only the following:

This resulted in his jetting to Australia and proposing marriage to Doctor Winifred Coburn, a spinster nine years his senior.

Still a spinster 9 years older than Captain Michael Brant, but the part about her unattractive looks was cut.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 16, 2017 at EDT pm

Posted in Books

9 Responses

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  1. it’s too perfect a description of too many people to get away with


    July 16, 2017 at EDT pm

  2. He was just predicting the marriage of Peter Suderman, 28, to Megan McArdle, 37.


    July 16, 2017 at EDT pm

    • Megan’s not bad. She and her whole Reason crowd r just nuts.

      “So Yasha Levine and Mark Ames are claiming victory for their Playboy piece claiming Rick Santelli was a plant by a vast Koch-funded conspiracy to spill tea all over the streets of our nation’s cities. We know this because I am dating Peter Suderman…”

      I found this on a quick netsurf. I mean, who gives a shit. Such pettiness. And she makes a good living off of it.


      July 17, 2017 at EDT am

  3. Which one of those books of his was the really kinky one? To Sail Beyond the Sunset?


    July 16, 2017 at EDT pm

  4. I didn’t realize there was an “uncut” version. What’s the difference?

    Mike Street Station

    July 16, 2017 at EDT pm

  5. I advise you to read the first-published version, not the “uncut” version. 99% of the difference is extra description, which turns out to be a drag on the narrative. The slimmed-down version is much better– all the action and plot is there but it is a much crisper read! That is why Heinlein never tried to publish the uncut version in his lifetime, but left it for his widow Virginia to publish for the curious when the obits goosed Heinlein’s fame, as a kind of extra life-insurance policy, to ease her widowhood.

    That Guy

    July 17, 2017 at EDT am

    • Fair description.


      July 17, 2017 at EDT pm

    • Heinlein said he was a great believer in giving editors some fat to edit lest they cut the muscle.

      IMHO he was the founder of today’s DVD “Director’s Cut” for curious fans.


      July 17, 2017 at EDT pm

  6. I read and reread the first edition several times over the years, and when the “uncut” came out I was curious and read it. The strange thing is that it doesn’t seem that different–when I got finished I wouldn’t have suspected there were 60,000 more words, maybe less than half of that.

    There’s also an “uncut” Red Planet available. The cuts were not nearly as extensive as in “Stranger” and I think it’s a slightly better book, though I thought the original was one of Heinlein’s best.


    July 17, 2017 at EDT pm

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