From 1947 to 1958, Robert Heinlein wrote a series of science fiction novels aimed at the young men of America. Aided in this effort by editor Alice Dalgliesh, whose efforts to shape Heinlein’s books into something suitable for their intended market Heinlein was not entirely appreciative of, he wrote what are for many people of a certain age one of the great series in science fiction. For many writers it is a model seared into their brains, although not one many authors can successfully emulate1. Indeed, the reasonable reaction to the announcement by a once-favoured author that he (it’s almost always a he, and almost always of a certain age) is going to try his hand at this Heinlein Juvenile thing is lamentation and despair, as the results are hardly ever any good and the effect on the author often corrosive.
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