Discussion:
Thoughts on "Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
(too old to reply)
a425couple
2018-03-25 01:50:58 UTC
Permalink
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).

Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."

Lyn (frequent reviewer) states it well:
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."

I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuselah%27s_Children
"Methuselah's Children is a science fiction novel by American
writer Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialized in Astounding
Science Fiction in the July, August, and September 1941 issues.
It was expanded into a full-length novel in 1958.
The novel is usually considered to be part of Heinlein's Future
History series of stories. It introduces the Howard Families, a
fictional group of people who achieved long lifespans through
selective breeding. The space ship in this novel, the New Frontiers,
is described in the Future History timeline as a second generation
ship, following the Vanguard, the vehicle for Heinlein's paired
novellas "Universe" and "Common Sense". ----
Plot summary
--- Ira Howard became rich --- but died of old age at 48 or 49
years old. The trustees of his will carried out his wishes to
prolong human life, by financially encouraging those with long-
lived grandparents to marry each other and have children. By the
22nd century the "Howard families" have a life expectancy exceeding
150 years and keep their existence secret with the "Masquerade"--,

also, interesting to see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masquerade_(trope)

This site,
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006MITAWI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
show you can get it delivered to your door reasonably.
And it also has a pretty good thumb nail description:
"Lazarus Long, member of a select group bred for generations to live far
beyond normal human lifespans, helps his kind escape persecution after
word leaks out and angry crowds accuse them of withholding the “secret”
of longevity. Lazarus and his companions set out on an interstellar
journey and face many trials and strange cultures, like a futuristic
Odysseus and his crew, before returning to Earth. This classic novel,
set in Robert A. Heinlein’s Future History universe, introduces the
author’s most beloved and widely quoted character (see THE NOTEBOOKS OF
LAZARUS LONG).

And here, you can listen to it read to you:

Methuselah's Children - Robert A. Heinlein
6 hours 13 minutes.
Johnny1A
2018-03-25 04:59:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.

Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.

But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.

RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.

This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
a425couple
2018-03-25 17:24:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
Post by Johnny1A
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-03-25 17:32:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2018-03-25 17:55:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
Well, we know he was a toddler at the start of WWI, does TEFL give a date
for the framing story?
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
a425couple
2018-03-25 19:01:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)

In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands? (?!)
a425couple
2018-03-25 19:11:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
"Methuselah's Children" by  Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point.  They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc.  Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health.  You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while.  Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret?  That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True.  I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding:  they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
?  Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is?  Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands?  (?!)
I found an answer, the easy quick way.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Enough_for_Love
"The book covers several periods from the life of Lazarus Long
(birth name: Woodrow Wilson Smith), the oldest living human,
now more than two thousand years old."
Richard Hershberger
2018-03-27 12:43:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
"Methuselah's Children" by  Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point.  They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc.  Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health.  You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while.  Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret?  That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True.  I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding:  they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
?  Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is?  Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands?  (?!)
I found an answer, the easy quick way.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Enough_for_Love
"The book covers several periods from the life of Lazarus Long
(birth name: Woodrow Wilson Smith), the oldest living human,
now more than two thousand years old."
So he was named after the governor of New Jersey? That's peculiar.

Richard R. Hershberger
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-03-27 16:43:00 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 27 Mar 2018 05:43:36 -0700 (PDT), Richard Hershberger
Post by Richard Hershberger
Post by a425couple
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
"Methuselah's Children" by  Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point.  They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc.  Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health.  You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while.  Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret?  That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True.  I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding:  they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
?  Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is?  Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands?  (?!)
I found an answer, the easy quick way.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Enough_for_Love
"The book covers several periods from the life of Lazarus Long
(birth name: Woodrow Wilson Smith), the oldest living human,
now more than two thousand years old."
So he was named after the governor of New Jersey? That's peculiar.
Yeah, I always thought Heinlein slipped up on the chronology there.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-03-25 21:04:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands? (?!)
Dunno, I quit that one midway and would like to say I've
forgotten it completely, which I haven't quite.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
a425couple
2018-03-26 03:36:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
and the above comments, do seem to be echoed by Dorothy.
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
In TEFL ("Time Enough for Love") IIRC is not he in thousands?
Dunno, I quit that one midway and would like to say I've
forgotten it completely, which I haven't quite.
I know what you mean.
I got bogged down and stopped about 1/2 way.
A year or two ago, I picked it up and restarted and pounded
to about 3/4. Stopped again.

As Goodreads frequent reviewer Lyn says,
"The best thing about Heinlein is that he is a good writer, a
great writer of science fiction.
And that is demonstrated both in the positive and negative in TEFL.
When he is telling a story, it is very good, but in the “in between
sections” it drags poorly. The best section is the story about Lazarus
and his marriage to short lived Dora and their pioneer life. ----
Ultimately, it’s just too long, Heinlein is too ambitious and throws
too much in and it collapses under it’s own weight."

Another said, "Time Enough mostly feels disjointed and long-winded."
Mike Van Pelt
2018-03-26 21:33:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
As Goodreads frequent reviewer Lyn says,
"The best thing about Heinlein is that he is a good writer, a
great writer of science fiction.
And that is demonstrated both in the positive and negative in TEFL.
When he is telling a story, it is very good, but in the "in between
sections" it drags poorly. The best section is the story about Lazarus
and his marriage to short lived Dora and their pioneer life. ----
I've read TEFL two or three times. Yeah... "The Tale of the
Adopted Daughter" is one of the very best things Heinlein ever
wrote. That section is pretty much stand-alone. If you didn't
get that far, Dorothy, I'd recommend reading just that chapter.

The rest of it... Yeah. Pretty uneven. Some of it was really
good, some of it pretty tedious, and some of Heinlein's later
... indulgences ... are pretty heavily foreshadowed.
--
Mike Van Pelt | "I don't advise it unless you're nuts."
mvp at calweb.com | -- Ray Wilkinson, after riding out Hurricane
KE6BVH | Ike on Surfside Beach in Galveston
Johnny1A
2018-03-27 04:05:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Dunno, I quit that one midway and would like to say I've
forgotten it completely, which I haven't quite.
I know what you mean.
I got bogged down and stopped about 1/2 way.
A year or two ago, I picked it up and restarted and pounded
to about 3/4. Stopped again.
As Goodreads frequent reviewer Lyn says,
"The best thing about Heinlein is that he is a good writer, a
great writer of science fiction.
And that is demonstrated both in the positive and negative in TEFL.
When he is telling a story, it is very good, but in the “in between
sections” it drags poorly. The best section is the story about Lazarus
and his marriage to short lived Dora and their pioneer life. ----
Ultimately, it’s just too long, Heinlein is too ambitious and throws
too much in and it collapses under it’s own weight."
Another said, "Time Enough mostly feels disjointed and long-winded."
I would agree with much of that.

The individual segments work well, for the most part. The story of the Man Who Was Too Lazy To Fail, and the Adopted Daughter, are good. When he goes back in time and visits Kansas City, it's good, too, as long as Lazarus is acting as 'tour guide' of the place and time, it's an interesting look at the Midwestern America of that period. When he meets his mother, though, it stalls out again.

"Hmm, LL just met a redhead. Time to update the 'score card'." :lol:

The 'up then' parts of TefL have a few good bits. For ex, RAH uses it to explain the way the Howards overcome the limitations of the breeding program. As one narrator notes, Lazarus was born too early to have had much benefit from the breeding program, he's only the 3rd generation of it, you would expect his natural lifespan to be only slightly more than average, instead he's still healthy and 'young' at 213, outliving and outperforming many late-generation products of the program.

It's implied that he is the reason the program worked as well as it did. His genes propagated through the program enabled the Howards to get the lifespans they got, way beyond what you'd expect from such a program on such a time scale.

As to where LL himself got those genes, the narrator admits that they just don't know. He's a mystery. But LL does tell Ira Weatherall at one point that there are 'natural long-lifers' throughout history that live for centuries, hiding their nature and changing identities from time to time. Now LL is explicitly an unreliable narrator, so he might be making it up...or maybe that _is_ the explanation. The Howard Program got lucky and a natural long-life was born early in the program, letting them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

Ira Weatherall also has a few interesting moments. But yeah, too much of TefL is just late-RAH free to indulge himself, and that never works well.
Peter Trei
2018-03-27 13:41:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Dunno, I quit that one midway and would like to say I've
forgotten it completely, which I haven't quite.
I know what you mean.
I got bogged down and stopped about 1/2 way.
A year or two ago, I picked it up and restarted and pounded
to about 3/4. Stopped again.
As Goodreads frequent reviewer Lyn says,
"The best thing about Heinlein is that he is a good writer, a
great writer of science fiction.
And that is demonstrated both in the positive and negative in TEFL.
When he is telling a story, it is very good, but in the “in between
sections” it drags poorly. The best section is the story about Lazarus
and his marriage to short lived Dora and their pioneer life. ----
Ultimately, it’s just too long, Heinlein is too ambitious and throws
too much in and it collapses under it’s own weight."
Another said, "Time Enough mostly feels disjointed and long-winded."
I would agree with much of that.
The individual segments work well, for the most part. The story of the Man Who Was Too Lazy To Fail, and the Adopted Daughter, are good. When he goes back in time and visits Kansas City, it's good, too, as long as Lazarus is acting as 'tour guide' of the place and time, it's an interesting look at the Midwestern America of that period. When he meets his mother, though, it stalls out again.
The 'up then' parts of TefL have a few good bits. For ex, RAH uses it to explain the way the Howards overcome the limitations of the breeding program. As one narrator notes, Lazarus was born too early to have had much benefit from the breeding program, he's only the 3rd generation of it, you would expect his natural lifespan to be only slightly more than average, instead he's still healthy and 'young' at 213, outliving and outperforming many late-generation products of the program.
It's implied that he is the reason the program worked as well as it did. His genes propagated through the program enabled the Howards to get the lifespans they got, way beyond what you'd expect from such a program on such a time scale.
As to where LL himself got those genes, the narrator admits that they just don't know. He's a mystery. But LL does tell Ira Weatherall at one point that there are 'natural long-lifers' throughout history that live for centuries, hiding their nature and changing identities from time to time. Now LL is explicitly an unreliable narrator, so he might be making it up...or maybe that _is_ the explanation. The Howard Program got lucky and a natural long-life was born early in the program, letting them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
I just checked. LL is listed as being born in 1912, and the adult LL goes back
to 1916. I was wondering if he was possibly his own father, but the dates don't
make that possible. That would have been a 'By His Bootstraps' moment.

How much wild oats did young(ish) LL sow during the 20th C? Old LL may have
slept with his mom, but she was already pregnant (by her husband) at
the time. I wonder if old LL managed to put a some long life DNA into
the Howard Families a generation early.

pt
Post by Johnny1A
Ira Weatherall also has a few interesting moments. But yeah, too much of TefL is just late-RAH free to indulge himself, and that never works well.
h***@gmail.com
2018-03-27 14:23:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Trei
I just checked. LL is listed as being born in 1912, and the adult LL goes back
to 1916. I was wondering if he was possibly his own father, but the dates don't
make that possible. That would have been a 'By His Bootstraps' moment.
How much wild oats did young(ish) LL sow during the 20th C? Old LL may have
slept with his mom, but she was already pregnant (by her husband) at
the time. I wonder if old LL managed to put a some long life DNA into
the Howard Families a generation early.
To Sail Beyond the Sunset suggests that there were opportunities
a425couple
2018-03-30 15:11:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by h***@gmail.com
Post by Peter Trei
I just checked. LL is listed as being born in 1912, and the adult LL goes back
to 1916. I was wondering if he was possibly his own father, but the dates don't
make that possible. That would have been a 'By His Bootstraps' moment.
How much wild oats did young(ish) LL sow during the 20th C? Old LL may have
slept with his mom, but she was already pregnant (by her husband) at
the time. I wonder if old LL managed to put a some long life DNA into
the Howard Families a generation early.
To Sail Beyond the Sunset suggests that there were opportunities
As I recall, there are several places in "Time Enough For Love"
where the archivist and his computer are very sure that there
are many more children of Lazarus Long that are shown in
the records.

Seems to me, that PLENTY of women appreciated him and wanted
to be with him.

It's my opinion, that young Dora wanting to have sex with
him was only unique in one way, in that he had a special
long time mentoring relationship with her.
Johnny1A
2018-03-31 03:29:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by h***@gmail.com
Post by Peter Trei
I just checked. LL is listed as being born in 1912, and the adult LL goes back
to 1916. I was wondering if he was possibly his own father, but the dates don't
make that possible. That would have been a 'By His Bootstraps' moment.
How much wild oats did young(ish) LL sow during the 20th C? Old LL may have
slept with his mom, but she was already pregnant (by her husband) at
the time. I wonder if old LL managed to put a some long life DNA into
the Howard Families a generation early.
To Sail Beyond the Sunset suggests that there were opportunities
As I recall, there are several places in "Time Enough For Love"
where the archivist and his computer are very sure that there
are many more children of Lazarus Long that are shown in
the records.
Though at one point, one of his female clone-daughters points out that even if the archives don't know all of his offspring, _he_ has kept track of _exactly_ how many kids he's had over 2000 years. He doesn't deny it.
Chris Zakes
2018-03-29 15:01:11 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 25 Mar 2018 12:01:09 -0700, an orbital mind-control laser
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
There's a bit--I think it's in TEFL, possibly one of the other later
Lazarus Long stories--where someone (Ishtar?) remarks that his long
life is more than just Howard breeding--that he's some kind of
mutation.
Post by a425couple
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
As I see it, in "Methuselah's Children" on page 13,
he claims to be 213 years.
(Without rechecking for citation, but I took a note
that I figured somehow, his d.o.b. was in 1912.)
Correct. There's a bit in "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" where it says he
was born just after Woodrow Wilson was elected president, hence the
name.
Post by a425couple
In TEFL IIRC is not he in thousands? (?!)
2000-something. Once you start dealing with a lot of FTL travel, it
gets a little harder to determine what the calendar date is back on
Earth.

-Chris Zakes
Texas
--
GNU Terry Pratchett
Mind how you go.
David DeLaney
2018-04-02 10:01:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Zakes
There's a bit--I think it's in TEFL, possibly one of the other later
Lazarus Long stories--where someone (Ishtar?) remarks that his long
life is more than just Howard breeding--that he's some kind of mutation.
... and here I'm flashing back to Camber Tremodian, in fast time, manipulating
the genes that will become Trent Castanaveras - and causing one of the very
few fatalities of the Time Wars in the process.

Dave, can you tell I'm fond of way too many books?
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
Robert Carnegie
2018-03-25 19:16:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
Post by a425couple
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert A. Heinlein,
Written in 1941, expanded in 1958, a pretty decent story,
and gave me a couple thoughts I found worth a lot of
contemplation (I'll probably do it in a followup.).
Goodreads gives it a fair rating, good at 3.99.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175319.Methuselah_s_Children
It gives a pretty fair thumbnail/set-up
"the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent
in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there
is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or
invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans
are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it
cost them: nothing could make them forswear those truths they
hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality."
"Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy,
introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love,
this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature
technical attention to detail.
The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time
Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of
interstellar exploration.
A must read for Heinlein fans."
I also appreciated when Jim said, "Unlike his later books,
this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an
oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government
can get their greedy hands on them."
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end
of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and
popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment
of his work.
Post by Johnny1A
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to
a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the
effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward
degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project
for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population
of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent
health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that
way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the
near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and
secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
True. I don't think there were *that* many Howards, so they
would turn 100 one at a time, and be interviewed by their *local*
news-organ, and attribute their long lives to healthy living.
Post by Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the
Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of
genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation,
all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
Present-day Iceland, population approaching 350,000, is being
studied as a convenient laboratory for genetic diseases.
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Johnny1A
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
From memory, it comes up early when the oldest family member present
is supposed to chair any meeting, but Lazarus Long doesn't speak up
because he doesn't want the job.

It does seem to me that he spent less time having long-lived
ancestors intermarry for his benefit before his birth, than
he spent just being alive.
Johnny1A
2018-03-27 03:56:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Does Lazarus at any time say just how old he is? Or does he just
say "I've quit counting"?
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
IIRC, in _Methuselah's Children", he is said to be 213. He was named after President Woodrow Wilson, after all, and MC is set about two centuries after that, or sometime in the early-mid 22nd Century.

In _Time Enough For Love_ it's said that he is a bit of 2000 years old.
Johnny1A
2018-03-27 03:54:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
I'll agree.
Post by Johnny1A
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
Ahh, if they advance only to regularly 80s & 90s & rarely 100,
why would they feel any need to keep it secret? That is not
that significant an advance over 'normal'.
You'd need to keep the eugenic breeding project secret throughout most of that time, for various reasons, legal and social. No, a 90 year lifespan, even a family of regular centenarians, wouldn't be a problem in itself, they'd be envied but no worse. But the means used to get there would be problematic, in varying degrees, throughout most of the period.
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding. Also, there's the issue of what you do with the offspring of the 'failures'. This is hinted at in _Time Enough For Love_, and most of what you could do would be of questionable legality, at best.
Remember, if Families Member John Doe keels over from an unexpected heart attack or stroke at age 60...that means his offspring can not be allowed to take further part in the project. But they _know about the project_. So, how, exactly do you deal with this issue?
Post by a425couple
Was more than one 'retardation' mentioned?
With a population of over 100,000 I would not think
'close inbreeding' would be necessary.
Only one was shown up-close, but others are referred to.

By the time of MC, it's probably not as bad a problem as it once was. But remember, they didn't _start_ with a population of 100,000, that's after nearly 3 centuries of deliberate large families and careful selection. Earlier they started with a smaller population, and the nature of the project means you breed the 'best with the best'. But that takes along the bad genes that are not part of the project, which means that the earlier generations of the Howards probably had a nasty-high rate of bad defects and trouble. I don't know if the project bred brother with sister or parent with child, but first cousins are risky, esp. when you do it repeatedly in a family line.
Post by a425couple
Post by Johnny1A
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist.
? Difference between 213 years old and many thousands (?) ?
In-story, yes. But the _real_ difference was that the RAH who wrote MC was restrained in ways that the RAH who wrote TefL was not, and that lack of restraint was harmful to the work.
Peter Volk
2018-03-26 05:40:55 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:59:13 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan. At one point in the book these therapies are offered
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.

Additionally, the rest of the world would have been developing the
medical sciences as well, and there is no reason to think these
improvements didn't lengthen Howard lifespans.

The problems of keeping a secret and the problems of disposing of the
culls of inbreeding both have the same simple and effective solution.
Lazarus makes it plain in TEFL that by the time of the Family meeing
of 2012 (?) the Howard families were quite prepared to kill to keep
their secrets. MC makes the point that it is possible to place a
posthypnotic suggestion so strongly into a persons mind that they will
literally bite their tongue off rather than to reveal a secret. A
suicide compulsion is probably only slightly harder. The masquerade is
broken because (A) the Families made a decision to experiment with
releasing the information that they exist, and (B) some of the
experimental subjects were in a position where they could be taken
without triggering such compulsions, or, possibly didn't have them
installed.

Peter
Peter Trei
2018-03-26 12:58:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Volk
On Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:59:13 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan. At one point in the book these therapies are offered
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.
Additionally, the rest of the world would have been developing the
medical sciences as well, and there is no reason to think these
improvements didn't lengthen Howard lifespans.
Indeed. In the time since TEFL was written, life expectancy has increased
by over a decade for both men and women. ...and in the developed nations,
a large part of that is an increase in *adult* life expectancy.

pt
Johnny1A
2018-03-27 04:13:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Trei
Post by Peter Volk
On Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:59:13 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan. At one point in the book these therapies are offered
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.
Additionally, the rest of the world would have been developing the
medical sciences as well, and there is no reason to think these
improvements didn't lengthen Howard lifespans.
Indeed. In the time since TEFL was written, life expectancy has increased
by over a decade for both men and women. ...and in the developed nations,
a large part of that is an increase in *adult* life expectancy.
pt
Yeah, but it's not quite the same thing as the technologies in MC/TefL. It's less a matter of slowing aging than ways to treat certain degenerative diseases, or get past individual events (heart attacks, strokes, etc.) that were once fatal. That raises life expectancies, but it's not the same as true life extension.

A lot of what traditionally has been _called_ death by old age actually, strictly speaking, was other things that happened to get more likely with age. But there's still true death by old age, and that's not changed much.
William Hyde
2018-03-26 20:46:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Volk
On Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:59:13 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan.
I don't recall anything of the kind. Reference at one point is made to cosmetic therapies.

At one point in the book these therapies are offered
Post by Peter Volk
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.
I do not recall this at all.
Post by Peter Volk
Additionally, the rest of the world would have been developing the
medical sciences as well, and there is no reason to think these
improvements didn't lengthen Howard lifespans.
At the end of the book the ROW has developed the first of the medical techniques for extending life, the growing of new blood. The Howard families definitely did not have this. They had at one point considered the idea but lacked the research capacity to solve the problem.

The ROW representative is at first convinced that the Howards had this secret but refused to share it. When finally convinced that they didn't have this technique, he speculates that, combined with the Howards' natural longevity, it will lead to extremely long lives.

William Hyde
Scott Lurndal
2018-03-26 20:54:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Volk
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan.=20
I don't recall anything of the kind. Reference at one point is made to cos=
metic therapies.
While LL was about 200 years old in MC, his 2,000 year lifespan
was enabled by rejuvination. See TEfL.
William Hyde
2018-03-27 01:04:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Scott Lurndal
Post by Peter Volk
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan.=20
I don't recall anything of the kind. Reference at one point is made to cos=
metic therapies.
While LL was about 200 years old in MC, his 2,000 year lifespan
was enabled by rejuvination. See TEfL.
Yes, but not developed by the Howard families. At the time they dropped the Masquerade, they had no therapies for life extension, and never themselves developed any.

William Hyde
Peter Volk
2018-03-30 11:08:14 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 26 Mar 2018 13:46:16 -0700 (PDT), William Hyde
Post by William Hyde
Post by Peter Volk
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan.
I don't recall anything of the kind. Reference at one point is made to cosmetic therapies.
At one point in the book these therapies are offered
Post by Peter Volk
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.
I do not recall this at all.
It was a throwaway idea in one paragraph.

"Ford and he had agreed on a scheme, weak at best, for gaining time.
They were doling out the techniques used by the Families in delaying
the symptoms of senility under the pretense that the sum total of
these techniques was the "secret." To put over this fraud Barstow had
to have the help of the biochemists, gland therapists, specialists in
symbiotics and in metabolism, and other experts among the Families,
and these in turn had to be prepared for police interrogation by the
Families' most skilled psychotechnicians . . . because they had to be
able to put over the fraud even under the influence ofbabble drugs.
The hypnotic false indoctrination required for this was enormously
more complex than that necessary for a simple block against talking.
Thus far the swindle had worked . . . fairly well. But the
discrepancies became more hard to explain each day."
Johnny1A
2018-03-27 04:08:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Volk
On Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:59:13 -0700 (PDT), Johnny1A
Post by Johnny1A
_Methuselah's Children_ was one of the stories written toward the end of what I consider RAH's best period, before his growing fame and popularity enabled him to indulge his personal tropes to the detriment of his work.
Realistically, the breeding project as portrayed _would_ work...up to a point. They breed long-lifers with long-lifers, which would have the effect of selecting out some genetic problems, tendencies toward degenerative diseases, weak immune systems, etc. Keep up the project for a few generations and I have no doubt you'd end up with a population of people who might routinely live into their 80s and 90s in decent health. You might _eventually_ get a group of routine centenarians that way.
But it would level off after a while. Plus, of course, the near-insurmountable difficulties of keeping the program going, and secret, generation after generation.
RAH is also willing to show (though briefly) the genetic cost of the Howard Families' inbreeding: they have a very high percentage of genetic abnormalities, birth defects, mental and physical retardation, all the usual nasty side-effects of extensive close inbreeding.
This story also gives us Lazarus Long at his most interesting. The character in MC is not the same man as the Lazarus of _Time Enough For Love_, though there are similarities. The LL of MC is far more interesting, far less of a self-indulgent solipsist. We're also spared the endless sexual free-for-all silliness of TofL. (Partly this was the effect of social restraints of the time, which benefited RAH's writing enormously.)
I agree about the limits of pure selective breeding, but don't forget
that Heinlein makes reference to other life extension therapies that
had been developed by the families to leverage off their increased
base lifespan. At one point in the book these therapies are offered
to the government as a delaying tactic, presenting them as a major,
rather than minor, part of the reason for the length of Howard
lifespans.
No, they didn't. They had a few _cosmetic_ treatments that helped hide a few of the visible effects of age that they still suffered, but that's all they had. At one point, their leader at the time points out to Slayton Ford, the head of government, that the only thing they could offer to extend lifespan was artificial insemination so that the next generation would live longer, which was obviously not a practical option.

Ford himself knew that the Families had no secret, but he found himself caught between the choice of murdering 100,000 innocent people or letting the entire society blow up. LL presented him with a 3rd option.
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