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Ripping good story with disturbing undertones
on 26 June 2000
As a Heinlein devotee I recently reread my copy after several years neglect. There is no doubt that this is a tremendously told story. As a tale of subterfuge and revolution it is not far off one of Heinlein's finest works; The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
However, I have to say I was disturbed by the somewhat racist nature of the bool. The basic premise is the discovery of a machine that will only kill asiatics and not caucasians; nothing wrong there since the plot revolves round the invasion and enslavement of the American people by Asia. The problem is that there is never any mention made of the Black American population. Indeed in some places caucasian is used almost synonymously with American.
I believe there is absolutely no case for claiming Heinlein as a racist. The list of his novels that have anti-racist themes or plots is too long to list, e.g. the 2nd half of Farnham's Freehold; The society in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and a number of heros who are either revealed at the end of stories as non-white or left as indeterminate race. I do think however this novel is a product of its time and in the views of the current time contains startling oversights