It occurs to me that this is Heinlein showing what ideal family life is like, at least if the family is all adults. If he wrote any extended passages of parents and their children-- especially with small children-- I can't think of them.
I think it's fairly rare to have people being pleasantly drunk in sf.
Here we have something which also appeared in Puppet Masters-- an assumption that any man who doesn't react to a beautiful woman isn't a human. Heinlein was more accepting of homosexuals in his later books-- and takes sex change operations as normal in this one-- but he doesn't think of the obvious exception for that test.
Blue-green blood should affect skin color. Just saying.
Deety has an accurate time sense. Zeb notices, and Deety says, “I’m sorry, Zebadiah— I don’t mean to be a freak.”
That's a very sad reaction, and I'm not sure if I should hate Heinlein or the world or what. Why is Deety so insecure? I could say "emotionally abusive father" considering his temper, but Jake likes Deety's intelligence.
Or just a subtly abusive emotional situation where Jake is difficult, Jane manages him smoothly, and the constant message is "be like Jane".
Form another angle, Deety's insecurity could be in the story as a contrast to Hilda's self-assurance.
All this being said, the discussion of where to dissect the alien is an example of people treating each other well.
I hate the custom of women hiding their ages.
"Something like tattooing— or maybe masking I haven’t been able to peel off— to make the face and other exposed skin look human instead of blue-green."
So that does get addressed, but I think it would be very difficult to stay out of the uncanny valley.
"A permanent substitution might fool anything but an X-ray— and might fool even X-ray if the doctor giving the examination was one of Them"
A bit of an echo of Puppet Masters. You could probably write a book about paranoia in Heinlein.
One more thing about Deety and psychological issues-- why doesn't she let her feelings show on her face? I assume she's afraid they'll be unwelcome. Form one angle, it's good to show that being beautiful isn't prevent psychological problems. Nor cause them. They are independent characteristics.
I'm not sure if this is reasonable, but I think beautiful women are frequently presented as landscape, and Deety has an emotional (if somewhat fucked up) and intellectual inner life. So it could be Heinlein doing well even if her particular problems are getting on my nerves. I've seen people complain about how much Deety worries about how she smells, but not about how much she worries about being good enough in general.
This entry was posted at https://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1107782.html
. Comments are welcome here or there.
comments so far on that entry.