December 7th, 2019

dead

Farnham's Freehold, by Robert A Heinlein

Oh my, where to begin?

I would very much like Paul Verhoeven to make a film of this in much the same vein as his excellent take on Heinlein's Starship Troopers, because some deep-level parody is the only way to fully enjoy this tale.

1950s American Engineer Man builds a bomb shelter when the Big Whoops arrives. Inside are AEM, his fat alcoholic wife, his feckless son whom he's putting through law school, his plucky daughter, her plucky friend from school, and a Negro servant. AEM is large and in charge and will shoot anyone who dares disobey him. They're all alive due to his forethought despite this terrible catastrophe. But, when you think about it, is it really all that bad?

AEM: "Well it's hard to take the long view when you are crouching in a shelter and wondering how long ou can hold out. But Barbara [plucky school chum -- I'm not sure this is before or after AEM has had post-atomic war coitus with her] I've been worried for years about our country. It seems to me that we have been breeding slaves -- and I believe in freedom. This war may have turned the tide. This may be the first war in history which kills the stupid rather than the bright and able...

the boys in service are as safe or safer than civilians. And of civilians those who used their heads and made preparations stand a far better chance. Not every case, but on the average, and that will improve the breed. When it's over, things will be tough, and that will improve the breed still more. For years the surest way of surviving has been to be utterly worthless and breed a lot of worthless kids. All that will change."
...
Barbara: I suppose you're right. No, I know you're right. ... Killing the poorest third is just good genetics...


--

Ultimately they leave the shelter [I'm not sure whether this is before or after AEM's daughter tell him that of the three men present, she would most like to have sex with him.] and they've been blasted into the future, which is fortunate since it's not too radioactive. So AEM makes a few more orders and organizes civilization, until they are improbably picked up by the people of the future. With the Northern Hemisphere wiped out by the Whoops, the earth is now ruled by dark-skinned people with white-skinned slaves [I'm not sure whether this is before or after half the case has used the n-word]. Further twaddle ensues. I'll give it this -- it's reasonably engaging and as each section of plot kind of plays itself out, Heinlein comes up with something else interesting to happen. But the whole thing feels.... well, let me just quote a bit more.

[AEM] concentrated on being glad that Barbara was a woman who never chattered when her man wanted her to be quiet.