Robert Heinlein

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Author Review: Robert A. Heinlein (1907 Ė 1988)
Review Written By: Diane

Writing Style 
Body of Work 
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Robert A. Heinleinís title as the "Dean of Science Fiction" was not given lightly. It was truly well earned. Born Robert Anson Heinlein in Butler, Missouri in 1907, he went on to join the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. After a distinguished career as a naval officer, he retired (disabled) in 1934. He then pursued graduate studies in mathematics and physics at the University of California, as well as advanced engineering and architecture. Heinlein also tried real estate, at some point owning a silver mine, and politics, running unsuccessfully for a seat in the California State Legislature in 1939. He used all of these real life experiences and more when he began seriously writing science fiction in 1939. He began his career writing short stories for science fiction magazines, a genre not well thought of at that time. The first of many such stories, "Life-Line," was published in the August 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. His first science fiction novel was Rocket Ship Galileo, published in 1947. It may have been the first, but it was far from the last. From these beginnings, Heinlein went on to prove that science fiction was indeed a legitimate form of literature and he carved the way for many other aspiring authors. Heinlein was known as one of the most prolific and influential writers in the science fiction field, with a career spanning four decades and well over 40 novels, before dying in his sleep in 1988.

Heinlein won the Hugo award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year on four separate occasions Ė still an unbeaten record. In 1975 he received the First Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement from the Science Fiction Writers of America. In recognition of Heinleinís influence on many young readers who would later become the scientists and engineers of NASA, the NASA Medal for Distinguished Public Service was awarded posthumously in 1988.

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Writing Style

Heinlein has been accused of being many things Ė among them chauvinistic and militaristic. Depending on your viewpoint, these charges may be true. His writing is provocative and is often an odd mix of traditionalist and free spirited thinking. He frequently challenges our blind acceptance of social customs and mores. Politics, religion, sexuality, economics and science are all fair game. He does not talk down to his readers and seems to encourage independent thinking. He addresses both philosophical and practical issues and presents them matter of factly. As an example, Heinlein strongly believes that it is a manís duty to protect women and children. But his reasoning does not depend on viewing women as weak inferiors, unable to defend themselves. Instead, he believes that the fate of the human race depends on preserving the safety and security of women and children, whom he views as our future. From this viewpoint, men are perceived as dispensable, thereby making their risk taking acceptable and even preferable. Another example is Heinleinís ideas on sexuality. For someone with such traditional and right wing leanings, Heinleinís characters display some very open-minded sexual behavior! Contract marriages, marriages involving multiple partners (male and female), and other similar relationships have all been espoused in Heinleinís novels. Perhaps these ideas arenít as shocking now, but they surely raised eyebrows 40 years ago.

Many of Heinleinís novels are interrelated. He has not created a new world, rather he has projected a timeline for Earthís future and it isnít always rosy. Many of his works fall somewhere in this planned chronology and occasionally his characters will reappear in other novels. However, it is not necessary to read his novels in order, as they are all perfectly capable of standing alone.

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Body of Work

Revolt in 2100 (1940/54)
Methuselah's Children (1941/58)
Sixth Column (1941/48)
Orphans of the Sky (1941/51)
Waldo & Magic, Inc. (1942)
Rocket Ship Galileo (1947)
Beyond this Horizon (1948)
Space Cadet (1948)
Red Planet (1949)
The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950)
Farmer in the Sky (1950)
Between Planets (1951)
The Puppet Masters (1951)
The Rolling Stones (1952)
Assignment in Eternity (1953)
Starman Jones (1953)
The Green Hills of Earth (1954)
The Star Beast (1954)
Tunnel in the Sky (1955)
Time for the Stars (1956)
The Door into Summer (1956)
Double Star (1956) (Hugo Award Winner)
Citizen of the Galaxy (1957)
Have Spacesuit--Will Travel (1958)
The Menace From Earth (1959)
Starship Troopers (1959) (Hugo Award Winner)
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1959)
Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) (Hugo Award Winner)
Podkayne of Mars (1962)
Glory Road (1963)
Farnham's Freehold (1964)
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) (Hugo Award Winner)
The Past through Tomorrow (1967)
I Will Fear No Evil (1970)
Time Enough for Love (1973)
The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978)
The Number of the Beast (1980)
Expanded Universe (1980) (nonfiction, includes collected stories)
Friday (1982)
Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)
The Cat Who Walks through Walls (1985)
To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987)
Grumbles from the Grave (1989) (collected letters)
Stranger in a Strange Land (1991) (original uncut)
Requiem and Tributes to the Grand Master (1992) (includes collected stories)
Take Back Your Government! (1992) (nonfiction)
Tramp Royale (1992) (nonfiction)
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein (1999)


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