Grokking My Way to Tanis


Robert Heinlein is one of the most controversial authors of hard science fiction. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped raise the genre’s standards of literary quality. 

He was the first sci-fi writer to break into the mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. Heinlein also spent time with Parsons and Hubbard at Parsons home. 

Later, he would write “Stranger in a Strange Land,” a book referenced by Charles Manson, who believed he was both “Valentine Michael Smith” and “Jubal Harshaw.”

Valentine Michael Smith is a human raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, water-sharing, and love.

According to Wikipedia: “Jubal E. Harshaw, LL.B., M.D., Sc.D., bon vivant, gourmet, sybarite, popular author extraordinary, neo-pessimist philosopher, devout agnostic, professional clown, amateur subversive, and parasite by choice.”

Neither character seems to mean anything to me, but the word “grokking” jumped out at me. It means to understand something intuitively or by empathy.

Time to return to the original story by Parsons.

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