The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
Reviewed date: 2004 Jul 14
Stupid Writing Trick #1: Shoehorning
What possesses a writer to jam all his stories into one all-inclusive timeline? It never works. Even Isaac Asimov tried this: he linked his Foundation universe with his Empire books, then wrote another book joining them to his Robot series. Asimov's success was limited. Limited as in I hated him for trying.
Heinlein tries to link The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to Time Enough For Love with his crossover book The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. In doing so he weakens The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Heinlein should have written a stand-alone novel.
Stupid Writing Trick #2: Libertarianism
Political philosophy lectures are for ivory tower eggheads at dusty old universities. A novel is not the place for beating people over the head with libertarian propaganda. Heinlein is guilty of this in many of his books. And he does not limit himself to libertarianism--Starship Troopers is practically a worship psalm to fascism.
Stupid Writing Trick #3: Cutesy
Cut out the sappy flirtatious sex talk, Mr. Heinlein. Real people don't talk that way, and it isn't cute or endearing for more than two pages. Certainly not for 388 pages.
Stupid Writing Trick #4: Free Love
In the future, people will not cast off their ancient primitive prejudices and beliefs. They won't eliminate jealousy. Men and women will never decide en masse that open group marriages are more fun, and that sex should be as casual as a cup of coffee.
Stupid Writing Trick #5: Young Girls
Mr. Heinlein has a fascination with the sexual urges of preteen girls. The Free Love Trick I can understand, but I don't appreciate books that make me glance over my shoulder at the door, wondering when the FBI is going to break in and arrest me for possession of kiddie porn. I am exaggerating somewhat. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls never got too graphic (it wouldn't even qualify as erotica, so it certainly wasn't porn) but any book that makes me afraid of the FBI is a bad book.
Stupid Writing Trick #6: Six Feet Under
Robert Heinlein is dead. That really burns me up! How can I send him a scathing letter expressing my indignance and disgust? How can I show up uninvited at 3am on his doorstep to demand he buy back the stupid book he wrote? Jack Handey expresses my frustration best:
We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me. - Jack Handey