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In The Puppet Masters (1951) when a group of secret agents must disrobe to prove no one is carrying one of the parasitic "slugs" from Titan, they leave a "pile of guns [that] look[s] like an arsenal." The narrator's future wife "add[s] considerably to the pile of hardware," and the man observes with approval, "I decided she just plain liked guns" (38). Indeed, throughout the nearly fifty-year career of Robert A. Heinlein we can see not only this just plain liking of guns but also, more importantly, an adherence to the "older orthodoxy" (Grumbles 55) of an armed citizenry. "Some places are awfully stuffy about concealed weapons" (Cat 172), and some places are not, yet despite occasional "foolishment from old women" (Methuselah's 672), the sneering of those whose "talents ha[ve] been devoted ... to literary criticism" (Past 590), and even the disapproval of his own editor at Scribner's (Grumbles 54-57), a host of disparate characters in Heinlein's fiction--men and women, old and young--accept the responsibility of wearing arms. To Heinlein, the firearm of the responsible citizen is a piece of craftsmanship, a protector of life and property, and, ultimately, a symbol of freedom. Heinlein understands the utility of the gun, of course, and yet, writing in the age before polymer plastics and lightweight composites, when the gunsmith's craft was worked upon blued steel and checkered walnut, Heinlein also portrays the firearm as a thing of elegance and beauty. The rather world-weary Hamilton Felix of Beyond This Horizon (1948), for example, seems mightily pleased to show off to friends his new "toy," a reproduction of the ancient Colt .45 semiautomatic pistol (9-11, 23). (1) In Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), when a scientist trying to plan for the unknown dangers of the first expedition to the Moon purchases some very utilitarian weapons, still "[h]is mouth water[s] at a fancy sporting rifle with telescopic sights" that he cannot afford (60). Young Rod Walker of Tunnel in the Sky (1955) watches admiringly as a colorful adventurer leads a band of colonists through a transdimensional portal, away from overcrowded Earth to an untamed new world: "Carried low on a fancy belt he wore two razor guns, each in a silver-chased holster that matched the ornate silver of his bridle and saddle" (15). Heinlein may explain glibly that colonists of the future still use horses to pull their Studebaker Conestogas covered in "sturdy glass canvas" because "good old 'hayburners' keep right on breeding, cropping grass, pulling loads" on faraway worlds where spare parts will be in short supply (13, 14), but the tooled leather slapping on the scout's thighs is unabashedly for pure show. Later, when he himself is about to take a transdimensional gate to an alien planet where he will complete the solo field exam of his high school course in advanced survival, Rod runs his gaze "over the rows of beautiful weapons" in the school armory (40), and he eyes the "lovely thing" that is another student's "General Electric Thunderbolt, a shoulder model with telescopic sights and cone-of-fire control" (41).

Professional & Technical
22 December
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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