Glory Road: Glory Paving Incomplete
I have thoughts regarding Glory Road. Don’t laugh; the occasional thought stumbles drunkenly through my brain before realizing it’s in the wrong cranium. Not to bury the lede: I liked the book. That out of the way, I’ll share a few of my impressions.
Glory Road makes for a reasonable companion to John Myers Myers Silverlock. They are not conceptually identical, but they share certain family traits. There is the name dropping, the references, the surprise appearances, the poetry. I might even suggest Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions as a sympathetic work. There is a portal fantasy commonality in both, though of course Heinlein goes to great lengths to portray it as science fiction, employing Clarke’s Law. In that respect, L. Sprague de Camp’s and Fletcher Pratt’s Harold Shea stories might be a reference point, with their instance on magic as a rigorous, though disparate, science. Not bad company for Glory Road, if you ask me.
I do have niggling issues with the book that keep me from placing it squarely in the company of the above mentioned works. I was not hoodwinked by the cover: with Heinlein’s name I knew I would not be reading a straightforward fantasy or a sword-and-sorcery yarn. That said, the glory of Glory Road peters out about two-thirds of the way through. After which we get Heinlein being Heinlein, the science fiction writer needing to provide the background details of his premise, playing around with various social concepts, and opining on politics, both large scale and sexual. And, speaking of sexual: Heinlein the libidinous libertine sounds off full-throatedly throughout most of it. Which is fine, but since I found his actual fantastic action set-pieces so enjoyable, and his frequent paeans to heroic adventure, travel, and joyous living so engaging, so…Silverlockian, that I’d like to have read a book with just that.
But then, it wouldn’t be Heinlein, would it? Appreciate the book for what it is (assuming it is good) and not for what you want it to be. Heinlein is going to wax political. And he does it with pithy, quotable dialogue and commentary. His opinion on democracy surviving only so long as it allows room for exceptional men is particularly interesting. If America no longer allows an Elon Musk to burgeon, what would her future be? (I have my own answer to that question, but I’ll keep it to myself. These posts aren’t intended for polemics. Make up your own mind.)
So, Glory Road. I liked it, but did not love it. I’m glad I’ve read it, and at some point I may revisit it. Your appreciation might depend upon your appreciation of RAH. I generally like his stuff. Thus I’m not surprised that I was favorably disposed to this one.
I hope to see you out there on the Glory Road.