Book Recommendation - Revolt in 2100

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Posted on : 12/03/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Throughout Robert Heinlein's literary life, he created an alternate world that embraced technology and an individualist perspective on the world.  Mr. Heinlein is credited with predicting the impact of future technologies on society even though his predictions were errant with respect to the specifics of those technologies.  He was an avowed anti-Communist, a veteran, and a visionary.

Robert Heinlein is one of my favorite authors.  His book "Starship Troopers" should be required reading for every high school student.  Ignore the movie for anything more than titillation and explosions.

I happened across his book "Revolt in 2100" in the library.  In reality, this is one modest length book with a few short stories tacked onto the end.

Robert Heinlein has always impressed me for a variety of reasons.  His repeated treatments of the themes of individual liberty and individual responsibility are thought provoking.  His outright advocacy for equality of any dimension continues to be relevant to current events.

One aspect of Mr. Heinlein's writing is his ability to allow the reader to infer language and actions.  His books never contain profanities, yet you know when someone is using them.  His books never include overtly salacious content, yet almost everyone is having sex and characters wander around au naturale at some point in many of his stories.

Apparently, Mr. Heinlein was an infrequent nudist.

"Revolt in 2100" takes place in an America dominated by a theocracy.  The protagonist, and a few other characters, undertake an accidental journey where they discover some of the dirty secrets about how the theocrats maintain their power, how they justify actions that are antithetic to their professed faith, and how tenuous their hold on power truly is.

Our protagonist is John Lyle, member of the personal guard of the Prophet Incarnate.  This guard is known as the Angels of the Lord.  Also he is an officer and graduate of West Point, his duties are the sort that are more typically performed by an ordinary soldier.

Mr. Heinlein frequently uses military characters or characters that are veterans in his stories.  Being a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Mr. Heinlein believed that military service was a virtuous experience.  Call me biased, but I generally agree!

John Lyle has grown up accepting the version of history taught by the church/state that presented the religious leadership as being divinely endorsed.  Religious instruction and monitoring of the population being the "will of God".

John graduates from West Point and eventually joins the elite guardians of the church/state leader.  A position where his commission earns him the lowest rung on the ladder.

As a part of this elite unit, he learns that the government expects him to have human failings.  It plans to use those failings later on to obtain either leverage on his future behavior, or as justification to terminate his military career if it should ever become an inconvenience to the church/state.  The 'wise' officer being the one that is monitored to commit a few lesser failings in order to better hide the greater failings that they enthusiastically enjoy.

Such failings inevitably involve women.  Imagine that!

John then meets one of the Sisters that "minister" to the leader of the church/state.  And, yes, the scare quotes imply just what you think.  But she didn't know what she was agreeing to do when she joined the Sisters.  Imagine her surprise when the moment of truth arrived.

The story proceeds from there as John and his paramour join the resistance. 

The short stories include a cautionary tale about wishing for real anarchy.  (i.e. the total lack of government as opposed to the socialist state that our modern "anarchists" promote)  Also included is a story about space exploration in the asteroid belt.

"Revolt in 2100" is solid work by Mr. Heinlein, even if it is not his best work.  It was a reasonably enjoyable read.


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