It’s six against six million in a brilliantly waged near-future war for nothing less than liberty and justice for all. The totalitarian East has triumphed in a massive invasion, and the United States has fallen to a dictatorial superpower bent on total domination. That power is consolidating its grip through concentration camps, police state tactics, and a total monopoly upon the very thoughts of the conquered populace. A tiny enclave of scientists and soldiers survives, unbeknownst to America’s new rulers. It’s six against six million - but those six happen to include a scientific genius, a master of subterfuge and disguise who learned his trade as a lawyer-turned-hobo, and a tough-minded commander who knows how to get the best out of his ragtag assortment of American discontents, wily operators, and geniuses. It’s going to take technological savvy and a propaganda campaign that would leave Madison Avenue aghast, but the US will rise again. The counterinsurgency for freedom is on, and defeat is not an option.
Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) was born in Missouri. He served five years in the US Navy, then attended graduate classes in mathematics and physics at UCLA, took a variety of jobs, and owned a silver mine before beginning to write science fiction in 1939. His novels have won the Hugo Award, and in 1975 he received the first Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement.
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The Yellow Peril as it was
Heinlein fans. Nostalgia sci-fi fans.
He is great.
Robert Heinlein’s the Sixth Column (1949) was written in 1941. It is a sort of embarrassing racist dated tome about the “Yellow Peril”. There was a reason that active U. S. military people were so forewarned. While a young naval officer on board the Lexington in 1932, the ship was dispatched to Pearl Harbor under strict radio silence when the Japanese moved into Manchuria. In the novel, Japanese (although they are never named as such) take over Colorado and the rest of the U. S. The talented reader can do all the voices and accents. The enemies speak like 1942 movie Japanese villains, Philip Ahn, J. Carol Nash, and the rest. Those are like the voices I heard on network radio dramas in the 1940’s. I am old enough to remember that era.
I distinctly remember listening to “Terry and the Pirates” on V-Jay Day. Richard Loo type voice: “But, remember Terry Lee. The War is not yet ‘ova’.” But some flunky rushes in and says it IS ova. The radio people had to drop the prepared script and ad lib with a skeleton crew. All the rest were out in the streets celebrating.
The underground U. S. Army guys had fantastic advanced death rays and other weapons with which to fight back. They organized a resistance from a religious temple in Denver.
I can only think that the manuscript may have been unsellable in 1941, even though it may have seemed topical, but it reached the light of day in 1949 after Heinlein had become a name. It is certainly not “politically correct” from the perspective of today. It is a curiosity product from an author who was honing his craft. It is a must read for Heinlein fans who want to discover how he started in the early years. It may be a nostalgia adventure for those who recall the work the first time around.
- Thomas Martin