Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

3 out 5

The characters in this book are more illustrations of types than characters. They are left
stranded when a survival course goes wrong and have to build a sustainable society until they are rescued, which gives Heinlein a chance to explore and espouse social programming theories. It’s an interesting thought experiment. It feels like a computer could’ve created this as a virtual simulation and has as much emotion as one.


Double Star by Robert A Heinlein

5 out of 5

This is my favorite Heinlein novel. Not only is the main character a conman he is
an actor who accepts commissions to impersonate people. He is not only concerned with
pulling off scams but giving the best performance possible. This is a rogue who’d be
winsome in any genre. This being scifi he has the solar system as his stage when he steps into the role of a life time.

Flash Fiction: Hercules Versus the Furies

When will this hangover end? Hercules wondered. His head hurt and his eyes were insulted by the sight of the ugliest crones he’d ever seen in his life.

“You three have to give the term ‘ ugly old bitches’ new meaning don’t you?” He grumbled. Disapproving old biddies were one thing but of course there had to be nothing less than monsters for a son of Zeus. The three old women had dogs’ heads on their coal-black bodies.

They growled in rage at his comment and raked him with their claws. He swatted them away, but they were like mosquitoes that refused to die. They always came back to sting him with their flails.

His first accusers have been easy enough to squash, but these ones were tough. Megara asked him, ” Does King Thespius have 50 daughters?” with tears In her eyes. He waved away her concerns. Or did he swat her away?

“Where’s Mama?” the boys asked. He pushed away their questions when they changed to screams of, “What happened to Mama?” Or did he push them away?

Why couldn’t they leave him alone? Let him enjoy his cup of wine when he came home from a long journey before they pestered him?

Now his accusers were these ugly old crones who kept yapping at his heels. He switched from slapping them to using his fists.

“Yes, do it!” Hera screeched out in encouragement in his ears. “Smite the Furies. Let this be the grand ending to your career as a hero.”

Her cackle was enough to make Hercules pause. It was like a spike thrust into his head. Then there came a piercing beam of light that surrounded him. It illuminated the corpses of his family pounded into a bloody pulp. “No.”

The crones barked with laughter. “You spilled your family’s blood and now must pay for it with your own.”

Zeus stepped out from the golden beam. “I’m sure we can work something out, Kindly Ones.”

“Mortals must always pay for their misdeeds in blood.” They hissed in unison.

“But gods work out deals with you.” Zeus said.

“He’s no god.”

“Neither is he a mere mortal.” Zeus sniffed.

“A Herculean effort is not enough to atone for blood guilt. It must be an Olympian effort.” They said.

Zeus smiled. “What is the going rate between a Herculean effort versus an Olympian one?”

“It’ll take 12 Herculean efforts to equal an Olympian one.” They said.

“Then let my son perform 12 labors to atone for this crime.”


Hercules collapsed into a merciful stupor after this.


He awoke to the scent of his own vomit and sweat. Worse yet was the smell of blood. His wife and children were smashed as if they were fragile vessels of clay. Father was there and looked down upon him. “You know what you must do. Bury them with the proper honors before you begin your labors.”

Zeus disappeared in a flash of golden light. Hercules sighed. He’d never thought he’d need to be saved by deus ex machinae. He hadn’t asked for it, but rejecting this favor would only make things worse.

The Vitality of Greek Myths

Some people resent the watering down of ancient myths into pop culture products. I see this as a sign of their vitality. You can read Greek Myths as a children’s book. Yet when you get older, you can find a pop culture retelling to fit your current maturity level.

My favorite pop culture version of Greek Myths is Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He is treated like a modern superhero, but the source material defines what we deem “heroic” in the first place. Though the original myths contain elements that are deemed inappropriate by modern standards.

Scope of Journeys

Hercules performs 12 labors in the myths. The Legendary Journeys have 5 TV movies and 111 episodes worth of adventures. Greek myths are such a rich source material the writers could create a long-running series

Hercules as a Family Man

Both the myth and the series have Hercules’s first family die. The Gods are responsible in both sources. Hera sends a fireball in episode 1 of the series. She inflicts madness on Hercules in the myths, and he kills them during a fit. This is a metaphor for domestic violence the modern show wasn’t willing to use. The myths didn’t shy away from it. Mythic Hercules denied conscious responsibility for his actions. Yet still underwent the 12 labors to make amends for this deed.

Hercules Effect on the Ladies

King Thespius had 50 daughters, and he wanted Hercules to father his grandchildren. The Hercules of myth accepts the offer and fulfills it. In the Legendary Journeys’ Hercules rejects the offer and flees from them in “The Eye of The Beholder.” The Legendary Journeys sanitized Hercules for prime time but this situation still resonates. It’s little wonder there’s a steamy romance book starring Hercules.

The End of Hercules

The myths had Hercules ascend to Olympus and become an Olympian himself.

The Legendary Journey let its viewers choose two alternate endings. There is the 4th wall breaking episode, “Yes Virginia, There is a Hercules.” Hercules poses as the actor Kevin Sorbo and squabbles with his Olympian half-brother. The official ending has him outlast the Olympians as they make way for a new age. They infer he lives on into further adventures until he becomes too old for them anymore.

Hercules Stories are worth Retelling and Rereading

Most stories don’t keep up with their reader’s life stages and offer new nuances of meaning. Myths do and can, which is why they’re so resilient and inspiring. Greek myths are the most well-known myths of all. Few modern stories can stand up to re-reading and retelling . Stories that have done this for centuries are impressive.

I was inspired to put out my own interpretation of Greek myths. A “Hercules vs. the Furies” flash fiction goes live here tomorrow. You’ll see a retelling with an awareness of the unsanitized aspects of Greek myths. I have more stories available in A Heart for Hubris.