The SFFaudio Podcast #652 – READALONG: Farmer In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #622 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and Trish E. Matson talk about Farmer In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Talked about on today’s show:
1950!, serialized in Boys’ Life, August – November 1950, its about farming, Ganymede, there’s no bad guys, there’s no conflict, no villians, boy against nature, father son conflict, annoyed at the annoying people, takers and bureaucrats, less bureaucracy hate than usual, a little lecture, the senator got him in, ultimately they will fail in life, the evolution in action argument, who is financing all of this, self-financing, the meta-economic stuff, Tunnel In The Sky, a Star Trek episode, boy and girl scouts, girls do something, Patty was a hard ass bitch vs. Patty was competent, Mrs. Schultz, in the domestic sphere, a big surprise, he chooses not to go to school, subversive, very unHeinlein, so scouty, we’re improving, were becoming disciplined, were footsoldiers for empire, a number of surprises, the twins are going to go to Earth to go to school, the Turner thesis, the frontier, why school is not necessary, so much about scouting, when the frontier was already closed, middle class, progressive, urban America, the Baden Powell scouts, the Boer War, you get to shoot at people, what little boys want to do, go out in the woods and hit things, a special two finger salute, listen to the older boys, Brownies leveled up to Girl Scouts, that Euro American tension, the Malthusian logic, pressures back on Earth, building colonies, like America up to the end of the 19th century, the progressive era, Jeffersonians, the Louisiana Purchase, Lions Clubs, Kiwanis, Elks, civic organizations, Paul was born and raised in New York City, I get to wear a belt with a pouch on it!, you have to buy your own uniform, you buy those badges?, you have to earn them and then you have to buy them, I need comics, swear allegiance to the queen, the motto or slogan, god and country, scout rallies, jamborees, an organization what was quasi-paramilitary, get involved in the community, the cadets, air cadets, sea cadets, ROTC, being a grunt digging ditches and burning latrine shit, a career resume, how to become elites, gliding in gliders, pushing people into a system of rank and authority, this is a scam, how did Evan get out of this cult?, I’m going to get my merit badges, coincidence, making our hero a hero, when the meteorite hits the spaceship, alien artifacts on Ganymede, a pro-Scout perspective, he’s lost so much, Peggy has been lost, he’s gonna get Gretchen, bothered by poor Peggy, poor Poddy, killing off the girls, somebody needs to be refrigerated, Paul, replaced with twin boys, they literally do Scouting, field patrols, some doofus on a tractor, they help old ladies across the road, can-do, he wore his uniform against his skin, his bones are in the scouts, appendicitis, be interactive in the world, pull out your whistle, what those merit badges are for, start fires when your plane crashes in the middle of the woods, exemplifying the Boy Scout mentality, go back to the meetings, very American foreigners, the Japanese Scout, Douglas MacArthur Okajima, a Russian kid, the German family next door, the triumph of the American future, a super-dystopia on Earth, this apartment didn’t have any windows, burning the dinner plates, a bad PKD future, Evan was triggered by Malthusian Earth, the Population Bomb, that horrible Star Trek episode, worked for China, too many people, 55 million Californians vs. 39.5 million, the stores have food, wrong about all sorts of stuff, the only version of birth control humanity will ever have is wars, Heinleinian old men characters, one of them is growing a beard, you did your calculations all off screen bud, what drives Jesse up the wall about Heinlein, how often an alignment of Jupiter’s moons, just because it was cool?, a Ganymede quake, Mars and Venus in alignment, earthquakes and tidal waves, astrological implications, what’s missing from this colony is religion, no churches, for a frontier society it is a giant lack, the good salt of the earth colonists, deliberate, they bring it into the war, if the colonists did it on purpose…, nobody else is talking about it, a deliberate oversight (choice), respecting silly traditions, that’s just how people are, they’re all scouts together, that’s their religion, Golgotha, he gets the tractor and smashes Golgotha, Armageddon, the only tree on the planet is an apple tree, and they chop it down and burn it, The Most Beautiful Tree On Ganymede, we did not bring weeds, a lot of things to like, ecology, we know what we’re doing, rabbits, dumb it down, weeds are anything don’t want, marijuana on Ganymede, impressively self confident, got rid of lockjaw, how agriculture is these days, GMO seeds, a broader issue, if you don’t know why you need clover, the scene on Ganymede vs. the scene on Earth, an immigrant lens, the space border, the boys dorm, endless food, food porn, a couple of hints, another very boy scouts sort of scene, captain’s mast, Star Trek Voyager, Tuvok gets promoted, Paris gets demoted, 30 days in solitary confinement, the federation is a nightmare, all of the food was not treebourne, ground food, strawberries, hand pollinate, their bees cant fly,

Listen to this: For breakfast we had corn cakes with syrup and real butter, little sausages, real ham, strawberries with cream so thick I didn’t know what it was, tea, all the milk you could drink, tomato juice, honey-dew melon, eggs—as many eggs as you wanted.

There was an open sugar bowl, too, but the salt shaker had a little sign on it; DON’T WASTE THE SALT.

There wasn’t any coffee, which I wouldn’t have noticed if George had not asked for it. There were other things missing, too, although I certainly didn’t notice it at the time. No tree fruits, for example—no apples, no pears, no oranges. But who cares when you can get strawberries and watermelon and pineapples and such? There were no tree nuts, too, but there were peanuts to burn.

Anything made out of wheat flour was a luxury, but you don’t miss it at first.

Lunch was choice of corn chowder or jellied consomme, cheese souffle, fried chicken, corned beef and cabbage, hominy grits with syrup, egg plant au gratin, little pearl onions scalloped with cucumbers, baked stuffed tomatoes, sweet potato surprise, German-fried Irish potatoes, tossed endive, coleslaw with sour cream, pineapple and cottage cheese with lettuce. Then there was peppermint ice cream, angel berry pie, frozen egg nog, raspberry ice, and three kinds of pudding—but I didn’t do too well on the desserts. I had tried to try everything, taking a little of this and a dab of that, and by the time desserts came along I was short on space. I guess I ate too much.

so good at it,

The first supper was mushroom soup, baked ham, roast turkey, hot corn bread with butter, jellied cold meats, creamed asparagus, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, spinach with hard boiled egg and grated cheese, corn pudding, creamed peas and carrots, smothered lettuce and three kinds of salad. Then there was frozen custard and raisin pudding with hard sauce and Malaga and Thompson grapes and more strawberries with powdered sugar.

Besides that you could drop around to the kitchen and get a snack any time you felt like it.

lumberjack food, tilling the fields, planetary disaster, on a scale that’s hard to replicate, rain and snow, sublimation, Fritz Leiber’s A Pail Of Air, the bowels of a skyscraper, endless layers of blankets, an amazing story, if you’re Pluto, Titan’s atmosphere, liquid methane or nitrogen lakes, from its semi-terraformed state to its original state, -70 fahrenheit to -20 fahrenheit, this is an awesome book, the tacked on ending (was good!), the whole sister killing thing, the father – son conflict, Anne and George, call me Bill, a modern civilization thing?, he calls him Dad to us, he addresses him as George, a formal relationship, never?, you knew her name but you never used it, if you want to make a point, just mom and dad, almost never, running a business, focuses the relationship with the customer, its about power, you get a name before your parents get name, if certain circumstances apply, maturity and growing up, being a caregiver to your parents, asserting power, he’s right a lot, his dad is an incompetent cook, wasting rations, he lapses, growing up with depression era parents or grandparents, the household books, little Billy’s bike got a puncture, everything gets recycled, you scrape that bowl to the bottom, money doesn’t grow on trees, I just want to have an allowance like all my friends, that Golgotha rock, the same thing happens to his uniform, the rubber pillow, it was all rags, he cut off all the badges but he threw away the uniform, a home-made patch, imagining a sash, symbolically interesting, his merit badge exams, a maturing metaphor, the Soviet WWII veterans for VE day, so many badges they have to put it on both sides of their chests, grade inflation, give em another badge, I’m subverting the boy scouts, man, you can just be a farmer, Evan Lampe needs to do a Heinlein readthrough as a podcast, themes and hobby horses, like Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft, Between Planets, who your audience is, older and later?, Blue Book Magazine, not the onlt thing he wrote for Boys’ Life, Tramp Space Ship, the literal inspiration for Tribbles, Flat Cats, Space Family Stone, The Rolling Stones, a space opera radio drama, a used space ship, industrious children, Europa is next, Pigs Is Pigs by Ellis Parker Butler [not O. Henry], an unlimited amount of guinea pigs, hence the tribbles, Tenderfoot In Space is set on Venus, Tenderfoot -> Eagle Scout, you can wield a hatchet without killing anyone, the new scout handbook, all girls troops in the BSA, not a merger, trans scouts of America, atheist scouts, a list of things scouts need to be, you cant be reverent if you’re irreverent, a vocal atheist, tiger cubs (kindergarten), early indoctrination, Red Dawn (1984) is a very Heinleiny movie, strong women still subservient to the men, no line marriages, the Mongols, Cubans parachuting in to Colorado, the Nicaraguans and the Cubans take over the United States, they can camp all weekend, you’re never gonna catch my sons, out there in the woods and they are Eagle Scouts, a weird analogy for Afghanistan, the North Koreans invaded the United States, for movieland reasons, an Australian remake of Red Dawn [Tomorrow, When The War Began (2010)], we people of the hardscrabble lands know how to take are of ourselves, obedience to authority, love of country and love of the countryside, faking the homeless experience, the war experience, a lot of marching, a line of guys walking into the forest, WWII was a lot like being homeless, but with hot food, without the political an historical context, looking through the catalogue, there was something wrong about it from the beginning, there’s no boy scout tax, pre-pandemic, cadets standing in uniform outside of grocery stores, food banking, bottle drives, trying to sell oil change certificates, child labour sucks, rich families buy all the girl scout, cookies, a troop of boy scouts in the girl scouts, its not fair, when she’s selling cookies, book points, government bureaucracy, pioneers need good neighbours vs. absolute self-reliance, specialization is for insects, no good waiting for the government to provide soil, his straw man, Noisy, he never gets his revenge, kids today don’t understand violence [says old man Jesse], getting over it vs. turning the other cheek, Hank was the bad guy, go over the speed limit and lie about it, he eventually is the ally, go and hang out with the captain, Heinlein is so good, the same kid, they do the same things, tons of pets, i can’t give you my fish, the horse in Between Planets, the girls are irrational, our hero Billy or William is oblivious to girls, more oblivious, put them in a bag, is he wrong?, girls and boys should be put in a bag, the German household next door, the family stuff, George drops it, Bill pouts until he gets his way, George drops it again, Bill pouts again, leave his son behind, people are not one thing no matter what you are, bad at communication, Ann and George, Have Space Suit—Will Travel, no cupboards, our kind of food, processed food, the bounty planet, living formally, good characterization, so neat with some of his straw men, the dad was so intent on Bill going to school, get everything he could out of Earth, be a professor like his dad, the step-relationship, so many separations, until she is refrigerated, how much happens, how good the writing is, skillfully done, entertaining and interesting, for novels Jesse likes Heinlein best, somebody online said it was a bad book [correction: Joachim Boaz said it was a “blah” book], really good philosophy stuff, the crystals, he can’t see what’s in the cave, it seems to have legs, 38 legs, tractor?, spaceship hangar, the world is open, really really good, top notch, atmosphere plant, our slow space program, the Voyager probes, the ruined planet is the asteroid belt, a petty hobby horse, regular intervals of planets and then this missing one, its a mystery, one more point of science, back to back to back, 40 novels tons of short stories, in Requiem, Tenderfoot In Space, is there a more American author than Heinlein?, Hemingway is international, Mark Twain, Hemingway is cosmopolitanism, the soil of Missouri, a fetish for Joan of Arc, James Fennimore Cooper, the modern stuff, a fetish for the new, H.P. Podcraft’s episodes on Voltaire’s Candide, hilarious all the way through, not a commercial product in the same way as a lot of stuff, Evan’s restrictions, a leading candidate, mainstream writers, Steinbeck, Heinlein’s speaking to a lot of issues those guys don’t do, the power plants, atomic power, an atmosphere shield, fusion? the radiation level on Ganymede is too high for humans, a little handwavy, Rocket Ship Galileo, there’s Nazis on the Moon!, sub-Antarctic French islands, Space Nazis!, fight the Nazis on the fucking moon!, the frontier and the sea, following where the text take him, libertarianism, in some respects it is gross, Reason TV, a mock libertarian PBS, approx 70%, Fraggles: “you have right to put anything in your body”, SOCIALISM!, free speech, associating with neighbours, hospitalizations, there’s no mention of pay, the community pays, the barn raising, a cooperative nature, cooperative clans, I was promised X, Y, and Z, I refuse to do work, we will feed your family, you can go eat rocks, he’s an adult he can fend for himself, personal responsibility to stop the drug war in Central and South America, straw men characters, given we have to deal with people, reason with them, the alternative is violence or shunning or deporting or locking them up, excessive, he broke the prime directive, this water planet was being ruined by their own environmental policies, solitary for 30 days!, Pen Pals, the Prime Directive loophole, lots of people on Voyager who have no rank, she takes orders from Harry Kim, the Doctor doesn’t have a rank, Neelix doesn’t have a rank, Kes didn’t have a rank, not passengers, Maquis badges, helpful for us as viewers, who are you new actor of the week?, Chakotay’s side, we’ve transitioned out of this episode, some good episodes of Enterprise, stupid decisions, a country and western theme instead of some horns?, a whole bunch of mistakes, savoring Voyager, Red Letter Media on Star Trek The Next Generation, The Naked Now, Darmok, The Inner Light, ideas, they’d have to make it way stupider, the value of boy scouts, commanding voice, be prepared, punch that little kid in the face several times, the environmental disaster, a novel structure, how the gravity works, gravity plates, the gravity plates never turn off, TV is not smart enough to handle what Heinlein’s putting down, Red Planet, a case for a kissing book, Take Back Your Government, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, Tunnel In The Sky, Star Beast, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Sixth Column, Anarchaos by Donald E. Westlake, The Puppet Masters, Beyond This Horizon, The King Of The Mazy May by Jack London, Nothing Ever Happens On The Moon, The Rolling Stones, Roadwork by Richard Bachman, Gullivar Of Mars.

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life August to November 1950 - Satellite Scout by Robert A. Heinlein

Farmer In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

FARMER IN THE SKY by Robert A. Heinlein

Danny Flynn cover art for FARMER IN THE SKY by Robert A. Heinlein

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2 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #652 – READALONG: Farmer In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein”

  1. I admit that, after I’d discovered Heinlein and was making my way through Dad’s copies of his juveniles (copies which, come to find out, had been purchased _after_ I was born), Farmer in the Sky wasn’t initially a favorite, just because it was, well, about a farmer and didn’t have as much jetting around in rocket ships as I preferred. But it has definitely grown on me over the years, and certainly aged better than certain _other_ Heinlein books we might name.

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