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Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein signing autographs at the 1976 Worldcon
Born July 7, 1907(1907-07-07)
Butler, Missouri, United States
Died May 8, 1988 (aged 80)
Carmel, California, United States
Pen name Anson MacDonald, Lyle Monroe, John Riverside, Caleb Saunders, Simon York
Occupation Novelist, short story author, essayist, screenwriter
Genres Science fiction, Fantasy

Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers",[1] he was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of the genre. He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was one of the first writers to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s, with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era. For many years, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.[2][3]

Heinlein was a notable writer of science-fiction short stories, and he was one of a group of writers who were groomed in their writing by John W. Campbell, Jr. the editor of Astounding magazine—notwithstanding that Heinlein himself had denied Campbell having influenced his writing in any great degree.

Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought. He also examined the relationship between physical and emotional love, explored various unorthodox family structures, and speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. His iconoclastic approach to these themes led to wildly divergent perceptions of his works and attempts to place mutually contradictory labels on his work. For example, his 1959 novel Starship Troopers was regarded by some as advocating militarism and to some extent fascism, although many passages in the book disparage the inflexibility and stupidity of a purely militaristic mindset. By contrast, his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land put him in the unexpected role of a pied piper of the sexual revolution, and of the counterculture, and through this book he was credited with popularizing the notion of polyamory.

Heinlein won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; in addition, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded "Retro Hugos"—awards given retrospectively for years in which Hugo Awards had not been awarded. He also won the first Grand Master Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for his lifetime achievement. In his fiction, Heinlein coined words that have become part of the English language, including "grok" and "waldo", and popularized the term "TANSTAAFL".

Contents

Life

Midshipman Heinlein, from the 1929 U.S. Naval Academy yearbook

Heinlein (pronounced Hine-line)[4][5] was born on July 7, 1907, to Rex Ivar Heinlein (an accountant) and Bam Lyle Heinlein, in Butler, Missouri. His childhood was spent in Kansas City, Missouri.[6] The outlook and values of this time and place (in his own words, "The Bible Belt") had a definite influence on his fiction, especially his later works, as experiences from his childhood were heavily drawn upon both for setting and for cultural atmosphere in Time Enough for Love and To Sail Beyond the Sunset, among others. However, he would later break with many of its values and mores—especially those concerning morality as it applies to issues such as religion and sexuality—both in his writing and in his personal life.

The military was the second great influence on Heinlein; throughout his life, he strongly believed in loyalty, leadership, and other ideals associated with the military. Heinlein graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1929, and served as an officer in the United States Navy. He served on the new aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1931. During that time, Heinlein worked on radio communications, then in its nascent phase, with the carrier's airplanes. The captain of the warship was Ernest J. King who was later to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations during the Second World War. Heinlein was frequently interviewed during his later years by military historians on Captain King and his services as the commander of the U.S. Navy's first modern aircraft carrier. Heinlein also served aboard the destroyer USS Roper (DD-147) in 1933–1934, reaching the rank of Lieutenant.

In 1929, he married Eleanor Curry of Kansas City in Los Angeles, Calif.[7] but this marriage lasted only about a year.[4] He soon married his second wife, Leslyn Macdonald, in 1932. MacDonald was a political radical, and Isaac Asimov recalled that Heinlein was, like her, "a flaming liberal." [8]

In 1934, Heinlein was discharged from the Navy due to pulmonary tuberculosis. During a lengthy hospitalization, he developed the concept of the waterbed, and his detailed descriptions of it in three of his books constituted sufficient prior art to prevent a U.S. patent on water beds when they became common in the 1960s.[9]

After his discharge, Heinlein attended a few weeks of graduate classes in mathematics and physics in the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), but he soon quit either because of his health or from a desire to enter politics.[10]

Heinlein supported himself at several occupations, including real estate sales and silver mining, but for some years found money in short supply. Heinlein was active in Upton Sinclair's socialist End Poverty in California movement in the early 1930s. When Sinclair gained the Democratic nomination for Governor of California in 1934, Heinlein worked actively in the campaign. Heinlein himself ran for the California State Assembly in 1938, but he was unsuccessful.[11] In later years, Heinlein kept his socialist past secret, writing about his political experiences coyly, and usually under the veil of fictionalization. In 1954, he wrote, "...many Americans ... were asserting loudly that McCarthy had created a 'reign of terror.' Are you terrified? I am not, and I have in my background much political activity well to the left of Senator McCarthy's position." [12]

Robert A. Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944.

While not destitute after the campaign—he had a small disability pension from the Navy—Heinlein turned to writing in order to pay off his mortgage and in 1939, his first published story, "Life-Line", was printed in Astounding Science-Fiction magazine. He was quickly acknowledged as a leader of the new movement toward "social" science fiction. He was the guest of honor at Denvention, the 1941 Worldcon, held in Denver. During World War II, he did aeronautical engineering for the U.S. Navy, also recruiting Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague de Camp to work at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania.

As the war wound down in 1945, Heinlein began re-evaluating his career. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the outbreak of the Cold War, galvanized him to write nonfiction on political topics. In addition, he wanted to break into better-paying markets. He published four influential short stories for The Saturday Evening Post magazine, leading off, in February 1947, with "The Green Hills of Earth". That made him the first science fiction writer to break out of the "pulp ghetto". In 1950, the movie Destination Moon—the documentary-like film for which he had written the story and scenario, co-written the script, and invented many of the effects—won an Academy Award for special effects. Also, he embarked on a series of juvenile S.F. novels for the Charles Scribner's Sons publishing company that was to last through the 1950s (at the rate of one book per year).

Robert and Virginia Heinlein in a 1952 Popular Mechanics article, titled "A House to Make Life Easy". The Heinleins, both engineers, designed the house themselves with many innovative features.

Heinlein and his second wife divorced in 1947, and the following year he married Virginia "Ginny" Gerstenfeld, to whom he would remain married until his death forty years later.

Shortly thereafter, the Heinlein couple moved to Colorado, but in 1965 her health was affected by the altitude. They moved to Santa Cruz, California while constructing a new residence in the adjacent Bonny Doon, California.[13] The unique circular California house, which, like their Colorado house, he designed with Virginia, and built himself, is on Bonny Doon Road 37°3′31.72″N 122°9′30.46″W / 37.0588111°N 122.1584611°W / 37.0588111; -122.1584611.

Ginny undoubtedly served as a model for many of his intelligent, fiercely independent female characters.[14][15] In 1953–1954, the Heinleins voyaged around the world (mostly via ocean liner and cargo liner), which Heinlein described in Tramp Royale, and which also provided background material for science fiction novels set aboard spaceships on long voyages, such as Podkayne of Mars and Farmer in the Sky. Ginny acted as the first reader of his manuscripts, and she was reputed to be a better engineer than Heinlein himself.[16]

Isaac Asimov believed that Heinlein made a drastic swing to the right politically at the same time he married Ginny.[8] The couple formed the small "Patrick Henry League" in 1958 and they worked in the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign, and Tramp Royale contains two lengthy apologias for the McCarthy hearings. Yet during this period Heinlein wrote Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), which is generally considered to advance very liberal themes, and was occasionally called "the unofficial bible of the hippie movement" in the late 1960s.[citation needed]

Robert and Virginia Heinlein in Tahiti, 1980.

The Heinlein juveniles, S.F. novels for young adults, are also considered to be an important part of his output. He had used topical materials throughout his series, but in 1959, his Starship Troopers was considered by the Scribner's editorial staff to be too controversial for their prestige line, and they rejected it; Heinlein found another publisher, feeling himself released from the constraints of writing novels for children, and he began to write "my own stuff, my own way," and he wrote a series of challenging books that redrew the boundaries of science fiction, including his best-known work, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), and also The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966).

Beginning in 1970, however, Heinlein had a series of health crises, broken by strenuous periods of activity in his hobby of stonemasonry. (In a private correspondence, he referred to that as his "usual and favorite occupation between books." [17]) The decade began with a life-threatening attack of peritonitis, recovery from which required more than two years. As soon as he was well enough to write again, he began work on Time Enough for Love (1973), which introduced many of the themes found in his later fiction.

In the mid-1970s, Heinlein wrote two articles for the Britannica Compton Yearbook.[18] He and Ginny crisscrossed the country helping to reorganize blood donation in the United States, and he was the guest of honor at the worldcon for the third time at MidAmeriCon in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1976. While vacationing in Tahiti in early 1978, he suffered a transient ischemic attack. Over the next few months, he became more and more exhausted, and his health again began to decline. The problem was determined to be a blocked carotid artery, and then he had one of the earliest known carotid bypass operations to correct it. Heinlein and Virginia had been smokers [19] and smoking appears often in his fiction, as well as fictitious strikable self-lighting cigarettes.

Asked to appear before a Joint Committee of the U.S. House and Senate that year, he testified on his belief that spin-offs from space technology were benefiting the infirm and the elderly. His surgical treatment re-energized Heinlein, and he wrote five novels from 1980 until he died in his sleep from emphysema and heart failure on May 8, 1988.

At that time, he had been putting together the early notes for another [[World as Myth]] novel. Several of his other works have been published posthumously.[20]

After his death, his wife Virginia Heinlein issued a compilation of Heinlein's correspondence and notes into a somewhat autobiographical examination of his career, published in 1989 under the title Grumbles from the Grave. Heinlein's archive is housed by the Special Collections department of McHenry Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The collection includes manuscript drafts, correspondence, photographs and artifacts. A substantial portion of the archive has been digitized and is available online through the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Archives.[21]

Works

Series

Over the course of his career Heinlein wrote three somewhat overlapping series.

Early work, 1939–1958

The first novel that Heinlein wrote, For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs (1939), did not see print during his lifetime, but Robert James later tracked down the manuscript and it was published in 2003. Widely regarded as a failure as a novel,[6] being little more than a disguised lecture on Heinlein's social theories, it is intriguing as a window into the development of Heinlein's radical ideas about man as a social animal, including his interest in free love. The root of many themes found in his later stories can be found in this book. It also contained much material that could be considered background for his other novels, including a detailed description of the protagonist's treatment to avoid being banned into Coventry (a place in the Heinlein mythos where unrepentant law-breakers are sent to experience actual anarchy).

It appears that Heinlein at least attempted to live in a manner consistent with these ideals, even in the 1930s, and had an open relationship in his marriage to his second wife, Leslyn. He was also a nudist;[4] nudism and body taboos are frequently discussed in his work. At the height of the cold war, he built a bomb shelter under his house, like the one featured in Farnham's Freehold.[4]

Red Planet, a 1949 juvenile illustrated by Clifford Geary.

After For Us, The Living, Heinlein began selling (to magazines) first short stories, then novels, set in a Future History, complete with a time line of significant political, cultural, and technological changes. A chart of the future history was published in the May 1941 issue of Astounding. Over time, Heinlein wrote many novels and short stories that deviated freely from the Future History on some points, while maintaining consistency in some other areas. The Future History was also eventually overtaken by actual events. These discrepancies were explained, after a fashion, in his later World as Myth stories.

Heinlein's first novel published as a book, Rocket Ship Galileo, was initially rejected because going to the moon was considered too far out, but he soon found a publisher, Scribner's, that began publishing a Heinlein juvenile once a year for the Christmas season.[22] Eight of these books were illustrated by Clifford Geary in a distinctive white-on-black scratchboard style.[23] Some representative novels of this type are Have Space Suit—Will Travel, Farmer in the Sky, and Starman Jones. Many of these were first published in serial form under other titles, e.g., Farmer in the Sky was published as Satellite Scout in the Boy Scout magazine Boys' Life. There has been speculation that Heinlein's intense obsession with his privacy was due at least in part to the apparent contradiction between his unconventional private life and his career as an author of books for children, but For Us, The Living also explicitly discusses the political importance Heinlein attached to privacy as a matter of principle.[24]

The novels that Heinlein wrote for a young audience are commonly referred to as "the Heinlein juveniles", and they feature a mixture of adolescent and adult themes. Many of the issues that he takes on in these books have to do with the kinds of problems that adolescents experience. His protagonists are usually very intelligent teenagers who have to make their way in the adult society they see around them. On the surface, they are simple tales of adventure, achievement, and dealing with stupid teachers and jealous peers. However, Heinlein was a vocal proponent of the notion that juvenile readers were far more sophisticated and able to handle complex or difficult themes than most people realized. Thus even his juvenile stories often had a maturity to them that made them readable for adults. Red Planet, for example, portrays some very subversive themes, including a revolution in which young students are involved; his editor demanded substantial changes in this book's discussion of topics such as the use of weapons by children and the misidentified gender of the Martian character. Heinlein was always aware of the editorial limitations put in place by the editors of his novels and stories, and while he observed those restrictions on the surface, was often successful in introducing ideas not often seen in other authors' juvenile SF.[citation needed]

In 1957, James Blish wrote that one reason for Heinlein's success "has been the high grade of machinery which goes, today as always, into his story-telling. Heinlein seems to have known from the beginning, as if instinctively, technical lessons about fiction which other writers must learn the hard way (or often enough, never learn). He does not always operate the machinery to the best advantage, but he always seems to be aware of it."[25]

1959–1960: the seminal years

Heinlein decisively ended his juvenile novels with Starship Troopers (1959), a controversial work and his personal riposte to leftists calling for President Dwight D. Eisenhower to stop nuclear testing in 1958. "[Heinlein] called for the formation of the Patrick Henry League and spent the next several weeks writing and publishing his own polemic that lambasted 'Communist-line goals concealed in idealistic-sounding nonsense' and urged Americans not to become 'soft-headed'. ... Critics labeled Heinlein everything from a Nazi to a racist."

"'The "Patrick Henry" ad shocked 'em,' he wrote many years later. "Starship Troopers outraged 'em." [26]

Starship Troopers is a coming-of-age story about duty, citizenship, and the role of the military in society [27] The book portrays a society in which suffrage is given only to those who earn it through government service, in the protagonist's case, military service. Later, in Expanded Universe, Heinlein said that it was his intention in the novel that service would include positions outside strictly military functions and would include teachers, police officers, and other government positions.

Middle period work, 1961–1973

From about 1961 (Stranger in a Strange Land) to 1973 (Time Enough for Love), Heinlein wrote some of his more libertarian[citation needed] novels. His work during this period explored his most important themes, such as individualism, libertarianism, and free expression of physical and emotional love. He did not publish Stranger in a Strange Land until some time after it was written, and the themes of free love and radical individualism are prominently featured in his long-unpublished first novel, For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs.[28] The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress tells of a war of independence waged by the Lunar penal colonies, with significant comments from a major character, 'Professor La Paz', regarding the threat posed by government—including republican types—to individual freedom.

Although Heinlein had previously written a few short stories in the fantasy genre, during this period he wrote his first fantasy novel, Glory Road, and in Stranger in a Strange Land and I Will Fear No Evil, he began to mix hard science with fantasy, mysticism, and satire of organized religion. Critics William H. Patterson, Jr., and Andrew Thornton believe that this is simply an expression of Heinlein's longstanding philosophical opposition to positivism.[citation needed] Heinlein stated that he was influenced by James Branch Cabell in taking this new literary direction. The next-to-last novel of this period, I Will Fear No Evil, is according to critic James Gifford "almost universally regarded as a literary failure" and he attributes its shortcomings to Heinlein's near-death from peritonitis.[29]

Later work, 1980–1987

After a seven-year hiatus brought on by poor health, Heinlein produced five new novels in the period from 1980 (The Number of the Beast) to 1987 (To Sail Beyond the Sunset). These books have a thread of common characters and time and place. They most explicitly communicated Heinlein's philosophies and beliefs, and many long, didactic passages of dialog and exposition deal with government, sex, and religion. These novels are controversial among his readers, and some critics have written about them very negatively.[30] Heinlein's four Hugo awards were all for books written before this period. All of the books are written with the more heavily didactic style introduced with Starship Troopers.

Some of these books, such as The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, start out as tightly constructed adventure stories, but transform into philosophical fantasias at the end. It is a matter of opinion whether this demonstrates a lack of attention to craftsmanship or a conscious effort to expand the boundaries of science fiction, either into a kind of magical realism, continuing the process of literary exploration that he had begun with Stranger in a Strange Land, or into a kind of literary metaphor of quantum science (The Number of the Beast dealing with the Observer problem, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls being a direct reference to the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment). Most of the novels from this period are recognized by critics as forming an offshoot from the Future History series, and referred to by the term World as Myth.[31]

The tendency toward authorial self-reference begun in Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love becomes even more evident in novels such as The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, whose first-person protagonist is a disabled military veteran who becomes a writer, and finds love with a female character who, like many of Heinlein's strong female characters, appears to be based closely on his wife Ginny.[32]

The 1982 novel Friday, a more conventional adventure story (borrowing a character and backstory from the earlier short story Gulf, also containing suggestions of connection to The Puppet Masters) continued a Heinlein theme of expecting what he saw as the continued disintegration of Earth's society, to the point where the title character is strongly encouraged to seek a new life off-planet. It concludes with a traditional Heinlein note, as in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or Time Enough for Love that freedom is to be found on the frontiers.

The 1984 novel Job: A Comedy of Justice is a sharp satire of organized religion.

Posthumous publications

Several Heinlein works have been published since his death, including the aforementioned For Us, The Living as well as 1989's Grumbles from the Grave, a collection of letters between Heinlein and his editors and agent; 1992's Tramp Royale, a travelogue of a southern hemisphere tour the Heinleins took in the 1950s; Take Back Your Government, a how-to book about participatory democracy written in 1946; and a tribute volume called Requiem: Collected Works and Tributes to the Grand Master, containing some additional short works previously unpublished in book form. Off the Main Sequence, published in 2005, includes three short stories never before collected in any Heinlein book (Heinlein called them "stinkeroos").

Spider Robinson, a colleague, friend, and admirer of Heinlein, wrote Variable Star, based on an outline and notes for a juvenile novel that Heinlein prepared in 1955. The novel was published as a collaboration, with Heinlein's name above Robinson's on the cover, in 2006.

A complete collection of Heinlein's published work, conformed and copyedited by several Heinlein scholars including biographer Bill Patterson is being published by the Heinlein Trust as the "Virginia Edition", after his wife; the volumes are printed on 50 lb acid-free archival paper and bound in leather. The series price for 44 volumes is $1500.

Ideas, themes, and influence

Politics

Heinlein's writing may appear to oscillate wildly across the political spectrum.[citation needed] His first novel, For Us, The Living, consists largely of speeches advocating the Social Credit system,[citation needed] and the early story Misfit deals with an organization that seems to be Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps translated into outer space.[citation needed] Heinlein himself has suggested that, early on, he was very liberal, and that his divergence from that position was one of the stressors leading to his divorce from his first wife. Of his later works, Stranger in a Strange Land was embraced by the hippie counterculture, and Glory Road can be read as an antiwar piece, Starship Troopers militaristic, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset, published during the Reagan administration, stridently right-wing.[citation needed]

Certain threads in Heinlein's political thought remain inarguably constant. A strong current of libertarianism runs through his work,[citation needed] as expressed most clearly in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His early juvenile novels often contain a surprisingly strong anti-authority message,[citation needed] as in his first published novel Rocket Ship Galileo, which has a group of boys blasting off in a rocket ship in defiance of a court order. A similar defiance of a court order to take a moon trip takes place in the short story "Requiem". Heinlein was opposed to any encroachment of religion into government;[citation needed] he pilloried organized religion in Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Race

Heinlein grew up in the era of racial segregation in the United States and wrote some of his most influential fiction at the height of the US civil rights movement. His early juveniles were very much ahead of their time both in their explicit rejection of racism and in their inclusion of non-white protagonists—in the context of science fiction before the 1960s, the mere existence of non-white characters was a remarkable novelty, with green occurring more often than brown.[citation needed] For example, his second juvenile, the 1948 Space Cadet, explicitly uses aliens as a metaphor for minorities.[citation needed] Heinlein challenges his readers' possible racial preconceptions by introducing a strong, sympathetic character, only to reveal much later that he or she is of African or other descent; in several cases, the covers of the books show characters as being light-skinned, when in fact the text states, or at least implies, that they are dark-skinned or of African descent.[33] Heinlein repeatedly denounced racism in his non-fiction works, including numerous examples in Expanded Universe.[citation needed]

Race was a central theme in some of Heinlein's fiction.[citation needed] The most prominent and controversial example is Farnham's Freehold, which casts a white family into a future in which white people are the slaves of cannibalistic black rulers. In the 1941 novel Sixth Column (also known as The Day After Tomorrow), a white resistance movement in the United States defends itself against an invasion by an Asian fascist state (the "Pan-Asians") using a "super-science" technology that allows ray weapons to be tuned to specific races. The book is sprinkled with racist slurs against Asian people, and interestingly blacks and Hispanics don't exist at all. The idea for the story was pushed on Heinlein by editor John W. Campbell, and Heinlein wrote later that he had "had to reslant it to remove racist aspects of the original story line" and that he did not "consider it to be an artistic success."[34][35] (However, the novel prompted a heated debate in the scientific community regarding the plausibility of developing ethnic bioweapons.[36]) Heinlein reveals near the end of Starship Troopers that the novel's protagonist and narrator, Johnny Rico, the formerly disaffected scion of a wealthy family, is in fact of Filipino descent.

Some of the alien species in Heinlein's fiction can be interpreted in terms of an allegorical representation of human ethnic groups.[citation needed] It has been suggested that the strongly hierarchical and anti-individualistic "Bugs" in Starship Troopers were meant to represent the Chinese or Japanese, but Heinlein claimed to have written the book in response to "calls for the unilateral ending of nuclear testing by the United States."[37] Heinlein suggests in the book that the Bugs are a good example of Communism being something that humans cannot adhere successfully to, since humans are strongly defined individuals, whereas the Bugs, being a collective, can all contribute to the whole without consideration of individual desire.[38]

Individualism and self-determination

In keeping with his belief in individualism, his work for adults—and sometimes even his work for juveniles—often portrays both the oppressors and the oppressed with considerable ambiguity. Heinlein believed that individualism did not go hand-in-hand with ignorance. He believed that an appropriate level of adult competence was achieved through a wide-ranging education, whether this occurred in a classroom or not. In his juvenile novels, more than once a character looks with disdain at a student's choice of classwork, saying "Why didn't you study something useful?"[39] In Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long gives a long list of capabilities that anyone should have, concluding, "Specialization is for insects". The ability of the individual to create himself is explored deeply in stories such as I Will Fear No Evil, "—All You Zombies—", and By His Bootstraps.

Sexual liberation

For Heinlein, personal liberation included sexual liberation,[citation needed] and free love was a major subject of his writing starting from the 1939 For Us, The Living.[citation needed]

During his early period, Heinlein's writing for younger readers needed to take account of both editorial perceptions of sexuality in his novels, and potential perceptions amongst the buying public; as critic William H. Patterson has put it, his dilemma was "to sort out what was really objectionable from what was only excessive over-sensitivity to imaginary librarians".[40] By his middle period, sexual freedom and the elimination of sexual jealousy were a major theme of Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), in which the progressively minded reporter, Ben Caxton, acts as a dramatic foil for the less parochial characters, Jubal Harshaw and Valentine Michael Smith (Mike).[citation needed]

In later books, Heinlein dealt with incest and the sexual nature of children. A scene in Glory Road has a mother and her daughters offer their sexual favors to the protagonist—the more of them he accepts, by their cultural standards, the more he honors them—but, bound by his own Earthly inhibitions, he does them the dishonor of refusing their offer. In Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long uses genetic arguments to initially dissuade a brother and sister he has adopted from sexual experimentation with each other, but he later arranges for them to be married, having discovered that they (in an extremely rare but scientifically possible circumstance) are not brother and sister on a genetic level; he also consummates his strong sexual attraction to his own mother, whom he goes back in time to see again. Also in Time Enough for Love, Long is himself cloned into two female forms, Lorelei Lee and Lapis Lazuli, who later seduce him. In some of Heinlein's books, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, for instance, sexual urges between daughters and fathers are exemplified and briefly discussed on several occasions. Later in the same book, the protagonist/narrator (Maureen Johnson) discovers that her two youngest children are engaged in heterosexual incest. After failing to dissuade them from the relationship, she forcibly returns the two to their father, and never mentions them again.

Arguably, Heinlein's treatment of female characters provides an example of a sexually liberated attitude, working against generally accepted stereotypes.[citation needed] Beginning with For Us, The Living, Heinlein's female characters of all ages were generally competent, intelligent, courageous, powerful, and in control of their lives and situations to the extent circumstances permitted. Those few of his female characters who are weak or helpless are held in contempt by other characters (including other females). Yet even the strongest of these characters (Podkayne of Mars, Friday and Star in Glory Road are examples) nonetheless suggest that they are willing to submit to physical punishment or control from stronger male figures.

Heinlein also incorporated elements of the mid-twentieth century female stereotype in certain characters.[citation needed] In Double Star, for example, the secretary, Penny, while smart and competent, allows her emotions to affect her work—and eventually fulfills the dream of many Fifties secretaries by marrying her boss.

Gary Westfahl points out that "Heinlein is a problematic case for feminists; on the one hand, his works often feature strong female characters and vigorous statements that women are equal to or even superior to men; but these characters and statements often reflect hopelessly stereotypical attitudes about typical female attributes. It is disconcerting, for example, that in Expanded Universe Heinlein calls for a society where all lawyers and politicians are women, essentially on the grounds that they possess a mysterious feminine practicality that men cannot duplicate." [41]

Philosophy

In To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Heinlein has the main character, Maureen, state that the purpose of metaphysics is to ask questions: Why are we here? Where are we going after we die? (and so on), and that "you are not allowed to answer the questions". Asking the questions is the point for metaphysics, but answering them is not, because once you answer them, you cross the line into religion. Maureen does not state a reason for this; she simply remarks that such questions are "beautiful" but lack answers. Maureen's son/lover Lazarus Long makes a related remark in Time Enough for Love. In order for us to answer the "big questions" about the universe, Lazarus states at one point, it would be necessary to stand outside the universe.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Heinlein was deeply interested in Alfred Korzybski's General Semantics and attended a number of seminars on the subject. His views on epistemology seem to have flowed from that interest, and his fictional characters continue to express Korzybskian views to the very end of his writing career. Many of his stories, such as Gulf, If This Goes On—, and Stranger in a Strange Land, depend strongly on the premise, extrapolated from the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, that by using a correctly designed language, one can liberate oneself mentally, or even become a superman.[citation needed] He was also strongly affected by the religious philosopher P. D. Ouspensky.[6] Freudianism and psychoanalysis were at the height of their influence during the peak of Heinlein's career, and stories such as Time for the Stars indulged in psychoanalysis. However, he was skeptical about Freudianism, especially after a struggle with an editor who insisted on reading Freudian sexual symbolism into his juvenile novels. Heinlein was fascinated by the social credit movement in the 1930s. This is shown in his 1938 novel For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs, which was finally published in 2003, long after his death. He was strongly committed to cultural relativism, and the sociologist Margaret Mader in his novel Citizen of the Galaxy is clearly a reference to Margaret Mead. In the World War II era, cultural relativism was the only intellectual framework that offered a clearly reasoned alternative to racism, which Heinlein was ahead of his time in opposing. Many of these sociological and psychological theories have been criticized, debunked, or heavily modified in the last fifty years, and Heinlein's use of them may now appear credulous and dated to many readers. The critic Patterson says "Korzybski is now widely regarded as a crank",[42] although others disagree.

Influence

Heinlein is usually identified, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, as one of the three masters of science fiction to arise in the so-called Golden Age of science fiction, associated with John W. Campbell and his magazine Astounding. However, in the 1950s he was a leader in bringing science fiction out of the low-paying and less prestigious pulp ghetto. Most of his works, including short stories, have been continuously in print in many languages since their initial appearance and are still available as new paperbacks decades after his death.

Robert Heinlein was also influenced by the American writer, philosopher and humorist Charles Fort who is credited as a major influence on most of the leading science-fiction writers of the 20th-century. "Fort's writing was to have an immense influence on the field.... His wry sense of humor and refusal to take himself as seriously as did his followers excused many of his faults. I found his eccentric—even explosive—style stimulating and indeed mind-expanding."[citation needed] said Arthur C. Clarke in Astounding Days (Gollancz 1989). Heinlein was a long-time member of the International Fortean Organization also known as INFO, the successor to the original Fortean Society until his death. Heinlein's letters were often displayed on the walls of the INFO offices and his active participation in the organization is mentioned in the INFO Journal.

He was at the top of his form during, and himself helped to initiate, the trend toward social science fiction, which went along with a general maturing of the genre away from space opera to a more literary approach touching on such adult issues as politics and human sexuality. In reaction to this trend, hard science fiction began to be distinguished as a separate subgenre, but paradoxically Heinlein is also considered a seminal figure in hard science fiction, due to his extensive knowledge of engineering, and the careful scientific research demonstrated in his stories. Heinlein himself stated—with obvious pride—that in the days before pocket calculators, he and his wife Virginia once worked for several days on a mathematical equation describing an Earth-Mars rocket orbit, which was then subsumed in a single sentence of the novel Space Cadet. Part of this may be tied to Heinlein's almost uniquely effective ability to see, as he defined it, not only the primary and secondary effects of technology (the automobile leads to the disappearance of the horse, primary, and to the fact that few Americans have any real experience of horses, secondary) but to the tertiary and deeper effects of technology (for example, the effect of the automobile on loosening social mores, by allowing people to "get away" from people that might gossip about them). In this, Heinlein was a master: He foresaw Interstate Highways (The Roads Must Roll), concern over nuclear power generation (Blowups Happen), international nuclear stalemate (Solution Unsatisfactory—i.e., the Cold War) as well as numerous other lesser examples. Rarely was the technology he described the end solution, but almost always he saw the effect that sort of technology would have on society. Heinlein can also be credited, post-Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, with writing the first modern variations of almost every hard SF archetype.

Heinlein has had a nearly ubiquitous influence on other science fiction writers. In a 1953 poll of leading science fiction authors, he was cited more frequently as an influence than any other modern writer.[43] In 1974, he won the first Grand Master Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for lifetime achievement. Critic James Gifford writes that "Although many other writers have exceeded Heinlein's output, few can claim to match his broad and seminal influence. Scores of science fiction writers from the pre-war Golden Age through the present day loudly and enthusiastically credit Heinlein for blazing the trails of their own careers, and shaping their styles and stories." [44]

Outside the science fiction community, several words and phrases coined or adopted by Heinlein have passed into common English usage: waldo, TANSTAAFL, moonbat,[45] and grok.

In 1962, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (then still using his birth name, Tim Zell) founded the Church of All Worlds, a Neopagan religious organization modeled in many ways after the treatment of religion in the novel Stranger in a Strange Land. This spiritual path included several ideas from the book, including polyamory, non-mainstream family structures, social libertarianism, water-sharing rituals, an acceptance of all religious paths by a single tradition, and the use of several terms such as "grok", "Thou art God", and "Never Thirst". Though Heinlein was neither a member nor a promoter of the Church, it was done with frequent correspondence between Zell and Heinlein, and he was a paid subscriber to their magazine Green Egg. This Church still exists as a 501(C)(3) religious organization incorporated in California, with membership worldwide, and it remains an active part of the neopagan community today.

He was influential in making space exploration seem to the public more like a practical possibility. His stories in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post took a matter-of-fact approach to their outer-space setting, rather than the "gee whiz" tone that had previously been common. The documentary-like film Destination Moon advocated a Space Race with the Soviet Union almost a decade before such an idea became commonplace, and was promoted by an unprecedented publicity campaign in print publications. Many of the astronauts and others working in the U. S. space program grew up on a diet of the Heinlein juveniles, best evidenced by the naming of a crater on Mars after him, and a tribute interspersed by the Apollo 15 astronauts into their radio conversations while on the moon.[46]

Heinlein was also a guest commentator for Walter Cronkite during Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's Apollo 11 moon landing.

There was an active campaign to persuade the Secretary of the Navy to name the new Zumwalt class destroyer DDG-1001 the USS Robert A. Heinlein;[47] however, DDG-1001 will be named USS Monsoor, after Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in Iraq.

Main-belt asteroid 6371 Heinlein (1985 GS), discovered on April 15, 1985 by Edward L. G. Bowell, was named after him.

Inventions presaged by Heinlein

In Heinlein's works, there are many concepts that have become actual products. What follows is a partial list:

Automatic Light Switches (from "The Man Who Sold The Moon"), Hand dryers (from "Coventry"), Drafting Software (from "The Door Into Summer"), Mobile Phones (called "Pocket Phones" in "Assignment in Eternity"), Moving walkways (called "slidewalks" in "Space Cadet" and "slideways" in "Beyond This Horizon"), Solar panels (from "The Roads Must Roll" and "Coventry"), Waldoes (remote manipulators) (from "Waldo"), Screensavers (from "Stranger In A Strange Land"), The San Francisco-Oakland BART Transbay Tube (from "Citizen of the Galaxy"), and Waterbeds (from "Double Star", "Stranger In A Strange Land", "Beyond this Horizon", and "Waldo")

Bibliography

Heinlein published 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 collections during his life. Four films, two TV series, several episodes of a radio series, and a board game have been derived more or less directly from his work. He wrote a screenplay for one of the films. Heinlein edited an anthology of other writers' SF short stories.

Three non-fiction books and two poems have been published posthumously. One novel has been published posthumously and another, written by Spider Robinson based on a sketchy outline by Heinlein, was published in September 2006. Four collections have been published posthumously.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ WonderCon 2008 :: Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Blood Drive
  2. ^ Robert J. Sawyer. The Death of Science Fiction
  3. ^ Sir Arthur Clarke Named Recipient of 2004 Heinlein Award. Heinlein Society Press Release. May 22, 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d Houdek, D. A. (2003). "FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Robert A. Heinlein, the person". The Heinlein Society. http://www.heinleinsociety.org/rah/FAQrah.html. Retrieved 2007-01-23.  See also the biography at the end of For Us, the Living, 2004 edition, p. 261.
  5. ^ "Say How? A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures". Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). 2006-09-21. http://www.loc.gov/nls/other/sayhow.html#h. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 
  6. ^ a b c William H. Patterson, Jr. (1999). "Robert Heinlein—A biographical sketch". The Heinlein Journal 1999 (5): 7–36.  Also available at Robert A. Heinlein, a Biographical Sketch. Retrieved July 6, 2007.
  7. ^ "Social Affairs Of The Army And Navy", Los Angeles Times; Sep 1, 1929; p. B8.
  8. ^ a b Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov.
  9. ^ "Robert A. Heinlein's Legacy" by Taylor Dinerman. The Wall Street Journal, 7/26/07.
  10. ^ Afterword to For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs, 2004 edition, p. 245.
  11. ^ Heinlein was running as a left-wing Democrat in a conservative district, and he never made it past the Democratic primary because of trickery by his Republican opponent (afterword to For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs, 2004 edition, p. 247, and the story "A Bathroom of Her Own"). Also, an unfortunate juxtaposition of events had a Konrad Henlein making headlines in the Sudetenlands.
  12. ^ Tramp Royale, 1992, uncorrected proof, ISBN 0-441-82184-7, p. 62.
  13. ^ Heinlein, Robert A. Grumbles from the Grave, ch. VII. 1989.
  14. ^ The Rolling Stone
  15. ^ Heinlein’s Women, by G. E. Rule
  16. ^ The Passing of Ginny Heinlein. January 18, 2003.
  17. ^ Virginia Heinlein to Michael A. Banks, 1988
  18. ^ On Paul Dirac and antimatter, and on blood chemistry. A version of the former, titled Paul Dirac, Antimatter, and You, was published in the anthology Expanded Universe, and it demonstrates both Heinlein's skill as a popularizer and his lack of depth in physics. An afterword gives a normalization equation and presents it, incorrectly, as being the Dirac equation.
  19. ^ Photograph, probably from 1967, pg. 127 of Grumbles from the Grave.
  20. ^ Based on an outline and notes created by Heinlein in 1955, Spider Robinson has written the novel Variable Star. Heinlein's posthumously-published nonfiction includes a selection of letters edited by his wife, Virginia, Grumbles from the Grave; his book on practical politics written in 1946 (published as Take Back Your Government; and a travelogue of their first around-the-world tour in 1954, Trampe Royale. The novels Podkayne of Mars and Red Planet, which were edited against his wishes in their original release, have been reissued in restored editions. Stranger In a Strange Land was originally published in a shorter form, but both the long and short versions are now simultaneously available in print.
  21. ^ "The Heinlein Archives". www.heinleinarchives.net. http://www.heinleinarchives.net/upload/index.php. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  22. ^ Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe, foreword to "Free Men", p. 207 of Ace paperback edition.
  23. ^ Heinlein in Dimension, Chapter 3, Part 1
  24. ^ The importance Heinlein attached to privacy was made clear in his fiction (e.g., For Us, the Living), but also in several well known examples from his life. He had a falling out with Alexei Panshin, who wrote an important book analyzing Heinlein's fiction; Heinlein stopped cooperating with Panshin because he accused Panshin of "[attempting to] pry into his affairs and to violate his privacy." Heinlein wrote to Panshin's publisher threatening to sue, and stating, "You are warned that only the barest facts of my private life are public knowledge..." [1]. In his 1961 guest of honor speech at Seacon, the Worldcon in Seattle, he advocated building bomb shelters and caching away unregistered weapons,[2] and his own house in Colorado Springs included a bomb shelter. Heinlein was a nudist, and built a fence around his house in Santa Cruz to keep out the counterculture types who had learned of his ideas through Stranger in a Strange Land. In his later life, Heinlein studiously avoided revealing his early involvement in left-wing politics,[3], and made strenuous efforts to block publication of information he had revealed to prospective biographer Sam Moskowitz.[4]
  25. ^ James Blish, The Issues at Hand, page 52.
  26. ^ John J. Miller. "In A Strange Land". National Review Online Books Arts and Manners. http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YjE5OGQwZDgzODc5OTYwODRkNTIzM2Y5ZWZhNDUwNTE=. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  27. ^ Centenary a modern sci-fi giant The Free Lance Star, June 30, 2007.
  28. ^ The story that Stranger in a Strange Land was used as inspiration by Charles Manson appears to be an urban folk tale; although some of Manson's followers had read the book, Manson himself later said that he had not. However, at one point the Heinleins took the idea seriously enough that they took special precautions against possible targeting by the Manson family, as mentioned in a letter from Virginia Heinlein reprinted in Grumbles from the Grave.[5] // It is true that other individuals formed a religious organization called the Church of All Worlds, after the religion founded by the primary characters in Stranger, but Heinlein played no part in this except for some private correspondence with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Heinlein's insistence on paying for his subscription to Green Egg Magazine, refusing a complimentary subscription. (See http://www.heinleinsociety.org/rah/faqworks.html)
  29. ^ Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion, James Gifford, Nitrosyncretic Press, Sacramento, California, 2000, p. 102.
  30. ^ See, e.g., Review of Vulgarity and Nullity by Dave Langford. Retrieved July 6, 2007.
  31. ^ William H. Patterson, Jr., and Andrew Thornton, The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, p. 128: "His books written after about 1980 ... belong to a series called by one of the central characters World as Myth." The term Multiverse also occurs in the print literature, e.g., Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion, James Gifford, Nitrosyncretic Press, Sacramento, California, 2000. The term World as Myth occurs for the first time in Heinlein's novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.
  32. ^ "Robert A. Heinlein, 1907-1988". Biography of Robert A. Heinlein. University of California Santa Cruz. http://library.ucsc.edu/content/biographies. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  33. ^ The reference in Tunnel in the Sky is subtle and ambiguous, but at least one college instructor who teaches the book reports that some students always ask, "Is he black?" (see [6]). Critic and Heinlein scholar James Gifford (see bibliography) states: "A very subtle point in the book, one found only by the most careful reading and confirmed by Virginia Heinlein, is that Rod Walker is black. The most telling clues are Rod's comments about Caroline Mshiyeni being similar to his sister, and the 'obvious' (to all of the other characters) pairing of Rod and Caroline."[citation needed]
  34. ^ Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe, foreword to Solution Unsatisfactory, p. 93 of Ace paperback edition.
  35. ^ Citations at Sixth Column.
  36. ^ * Appel, J. M. Is all fair in biological warfare? The controversy over genetically engineered biological weapons, Journal of Medical Ethics, Volume 35, Pp. 429-432 (2009).
  37. ^ Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe, p. 396 of Ace paperback edition.
  38. ^ Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, p. 121 of Berkley Medallion paperback edition.
  39. ^ For example, recruitment officer Mr Weiss, in Starship Troopers (p. 37, New English Library: London, 1977 edition.)
  40. ^ William H Patterson jnr's Introduction to The Rolling Stones, Baen: New York, 2009 edition., p.3.
  41. ^ Gary Westfahl, "Superladies in Waiting: How the Female Hero Almost Emerges in Science Fiction", Foundation, vol. 58, 1993, pp. 42–62.
  42. ^ Patterson and Thornton, 2001, p. 120
  43. ^ Panshin, p. 3, describing de Camp's Science Fiction Handbook
  44. ^ Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion, p. xiii.
  45. ^ The New York Times Magazine, On Language, by William Safire, September 3, 2006
  46. ^ The Hammer and the Feather. Corrected Transcript and Commentary.
  47. ^ Miller, John J.. "In a Strange Land on National Review / Digital". nrd.nationalreview.com. http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YjE5OGQwZDgzODc5OTYwODRkNTIzM2Y5ZWZhNDUwNTE=. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 

References

Critical

  • H. Bruce Franklin. 1980. Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502746-9.
A critique of Heinlein from a Marxist perspective. Somewhat out of date, since Franklin was not aware of Heinlein's work with the EPIC Movement. Includes a biographical chapter, which incorporates some original research on Heinlein's family background.
  • James Gifford. 2000. Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion. Sacramento: Nitrosyncretic Press. ISBN 0-9679874-1-5 (hardcover), 0967987407 (trade paperback).
A comprehensive bibliography, with roughly one page of commentary on each of Heinlein's works.
  • Alexei Panshin. 1968. Heinlein in Dimension. Advent. ISBN 0-911682-12-0. Online edition at [7]
  • William H. Patterson, Jr. and Andrew Thornton. 2001. The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Sacramento: Nitrosyncretic Press. ISBN 0-9679874-2-3.
  • Powell, Jim. 2000. The Triumph of Liberty. New York: Free Press. See profile of Heinlein in the chapter "Out of this World".
  • Tom Shippey. 2000. "Starship Troopers, Galactic Heroes, Mercenary Princes: the Military and its Discontents in Science Fiction", in Alan Sandison and Robert Dingley, eds., Histories of the Future: Studies in Fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 0-312-23604-2.
  • George Edgar Slusser "Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in his Own Land". San Bernardino, CA: The Borgo Press; The Milford Series, Popular Writers of Today, Vol. 1.
  • James Blish, writing as William Atheling, Jr. 1970. More Issues at Hand. Chicago: Advent:Publishers, Inc.
  • Ugo Bellagamba and Eric Picholle. 2008. Solutions Non Satisfaisantes, une Anatomie de Robert A. Heinlein. Les Moutons electriques (Lyon, France). ISBN 978-2-915793-37-6. (French)

Biographical

  • Robert A. Heinlein. 2004. For Us, the Living. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-7432-5998-X.
Includes an introduction by Spider Robinson, an afterword by Robert E. James with a long biography, and a shorter biographical sketch.
A lengthy essay that treats Heinlein's own autobiographical statements with skepticism.
Contains a shorter version of the Patterson bio.
  • Robert A. Heinlein. 1997. Debora Aro is wrong. New York: Del Rey.
Outlines thoughts on coincidental thoughts and behaviour and the famous argument over the course of three days with Debora Aro, renowned futurologist.
  • Robert A. Heinlein. 1989. Grumbles From the Grave. New York: Del Rey.
Incorporates a substantial biographical sketch by Virginia Heinlein, which hews closely to his earlier official bios, omitting the same facts (the first of his three marriages, his early left-wing political activities) and repeating the same fictional anecdotes (the short story contest).
  • Elizabeth Zoe Vicary. 2000. American National Biography Online article, Heinlein, Robert Anson. Retrieved June 1, 2005 (not available for free).
Repeats many incorrect statements from Heinlein's fictionalized professional bio.
Autobiographical notes are interspersed between the pieces in the anthology.
Reprinted by Baen, hardcover October 2003, ISBN 0-7434-7159-8.
Reprinted by Baen, paperback July 2005, ISBN 0-7434-9915-8.

External links

Bibliography links are in the Robert A. Heinlein bibliography article.


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.
Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Robert Anson Heinlein (7 July 1907 – 8 May 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of science fiction of the 20th Century.

See also pages for the novels:

Starship Troopers (1959)
Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
Glory Road (1963)
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)
Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)

Contents

Sourced

One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits ...
  • How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?
  • One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.
    • "Doctor Pinero" in Life-Line (1939)
  • There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.
    • Life-Line (1939)
  • You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.
  • The whole principle is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak.
  • Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.
  • Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.
  • Take sex away from people. Make it forbidden, evil. Limit it to ritualistic breeding. Force it to back up into suppressed sadism. Then hand the people a scapegoat to hate. Let them kill a scapegoat occasionally for cathartic release. The mechanism is ages old. Tyrants used it centuries before the word "psychology" was ever invented. It works, too.
  • The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.
  • The death rate is the same for us as for anybody ... one person, one death, sooner or later.
  • We lived like that "Happy Family" you sometimes see in traveling zoos: a lion caged with a lamb. It is a startling exhibit but the lamb has to be replaced frequently.
  • I also think there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don't think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can't save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say : Let the damned thing go down the drain!
    • Guest of Honor Speech at the 29th World Science Fiction Convention, Seattle, Washington (1961)
    • The Quotable Heinlein
  • I started clipping and filing by categories on trends as early as 1930 and my "youngest" file was started in 1945.
    Span of time is important; the 3-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, languages, and mathematics. Equipped with these three you can learn anything you want to learn. But if you lack any one of them you are just another ignorant peasant with dung on your boots.
  • Widows are far better than brides. They don't tell, they won't yell, they don't swell, they rarely smell, and they're grateful as hell.
  • I would say that my position is not too far from that of Ayn Rand's; that I would like to see government reduced to no more than internal police and courts, external armed forces — with the other matters handled otherwise. I'm sick of the way the government sticks its nose into everything, now.
    • The Robert Heinlein Interview, and other Heinleiniana (1990) by J. Neil Schulman
  • My wife Ticky is an anarchist-individualist ... When she was in the Navy during the early 'forties she showed up one morning in proper uniform but with her red hair held down by a simple navy-blue band — a hair ribbon. It was neat (Ticky is always neat) and it suited the rest of her outfit esthetically, but it was undeniably a hair ribbon and her division officer had fits.
    "If you can show me," Ticky answered with simple dignity, "where it says one word in the Navy Uniform Regulations on the subject of hair ribbons, I'll take it off. Otherwise not."
    See what I mean? She doesn't have the right attitude.

The Puppet Masters (1951)

  • Listen, son. Most women are damn fools and children. But they've got more range than we've got. The brave ones are braver, the good ones are better — and the vile ones are viler, for that matter.
    • The "Old Man" to "Sam", when discussing "Mary", chapter 11
  • Don't ask me why it was top secret, or even restricted; our government has gotten the habit of classifying anything as secret which the all-wise statesmen and bureaucrats decide we are not big enough girls and boys to know, a Mother-Knows-Best-Dear policy. I've read that there used to be a time when a taxpayer could demand the facts on anything and get them. I don't know; it sounds Utopian.
    • chapter 24

The Rolling Stones (1952)

One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
  • Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.
  • Free will is a golden thread running through the frozen matrix of fixed events.

Double Star (1956)

  • Aside from a cold appreciation of my own genius I felt that I was a modest man.
  • I have never been impressed by the formal schools of ethics. I had sampled them — public libraries are a ready source of recreation for an actor short of cash — but I had found them as poor in vitamins as a mother-in-law’s kiss. Given time and plenty of paper, a philosopher can prove anything. I had the same contempt for the moral instruction handed to most children. Much of it is prattle and the parts they really seem to mean are dedicated to the sacred proposition that a “good” child is one who does not disturb mother’s nap and a “good” man is one who achieves a muscular bank account without getting caught. No, thanks!
  • Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong — but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.
  • His bow to me must have been calculated on a slide rule; it suggested that I was about to be Supreme Minister but was not quite there yet, that I was his senior but nevertheless a civilian — then subtract five degrees for the fact that he wore the Emperor’s aiguillette on his right shoulder.
  • Son, suppose you tend to your knitting and I tend to mine.
  • People don’t really want change, any change at all — and xenophobia is very deep-rooted. But we progress, as we must — if we are to go out to the stars.
  • There is solemn satisfaction in doing the best you can for eight billion people. Perhaps their lives have no cosmic significance, but they have feelings. They can hurt.

Methuselah's Children (1958)

Life is short, but the years are long.
  • Age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin.
  • No philosophy that he had ever heard or read gave any reasonable purpose for man's existence, nor any rational clue to his proper conduct. Basking in the sunshine might be as good a thing to do with one's life as any other — but it was not for him and he knew it, even if he could not define how he knew it.
  • A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.
  • Life is short, but the years are long.
    • Part of the secret "call and response" codewords by which members of the long-lived Howard Families can identify others:
Life is short.
But the years are long.
Not while the evil days come not.

Starship Troopers (1959)

These are just a few samples; for more quotes from this work, see Starship Troopers.
  • Morals — all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.
  • Correct morality can only be derived from what man is — not from what do-gooders and well-meaning aunt Nellies would like him to be.

Stranger in a Strange Land (1961; 1991)

These are just a few samples; for more quotes from this work, see Stranger in a Strange Land
  • Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
    • "Jubal Harshaw" in the first edition (1961); the later 1991 "Uncut" edition didn't have this line, because it was one Heinlein had added when he went through and trimmed the originally submitted manuscript on which the "Uncut" edition is based. Heinlein also later used a variant of this in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls where he has Xia quote Harshaw: "Dr. Harshaw says that 'the word "love" designates a subjective condition in which the welfare and happiness of another person are essential to one's own happiness.'"
  • Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often confuses one for the other, or assumes the greater the love, the greater the jealousy. In fact they are almost incompatible; both at once produce unbearable turmoil.
    • "Jubal Harshaw" in the first edition (1961); this is another line not in the "Uncut" edition of 1991 based on his original manuscripts, because this was one of the lines that Heinlein added, rather than trimmed down, during the editing process of the first edition.
  • Ben, the ethics of sex is a thorny problem. Each of us is forced to grope for a solution he can live with — in the face of a preposterous, unworkable, and evil code of so-called "morals." Most of us know the code is wrong; almost everybody breaks it. But we pay Danegeld by feeling guilty and giving lip service. Willy-nilly, the code rides us, dead and stinking, an albatross around the neck.
    You, too, Ben. You fancy yourself a free soul — and break that evil code. But faced with a problem in sexual ethics new to you, you tested it against that same Judeo-Christian code ... so automatically your stomach did flip-flops ... and you think that proves you're right and they're wrong. Faugh! I'd as lief use trial by ordeal.
    • "Jubal Harshaw"
  • There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk "his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor" on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.

Glory Road (1963)

These are just a few samples; for more quotes from this work, see Glory Road
  • Logic is a feeble reed, friend. "Logic" proved that airplanes can't fly and that H-bombs won't work and that stones don't fall out of the sky. Logic is a way of saying that anything which didn't happen yesterday won't happen tomorrow.
  • Democracy can't work. Mathematicians, peasants, and animals, that's all there is — so democracy, a theory based on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are equal, can never work. Wisdom is not additive; its maximum is that of the wisest man in a given group.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

These are just a few sample quotations; for more quotes from this work, see The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
  • A rational anarchist believes that concepts, such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his efforts will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.
  • I will accept the rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.
  • Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop. Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them for their own good.
  • TANSTAAFL.
    • Acronym for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch." The origin of this phrase is often misattributed to Heinlein or Milton Friedman, but it actually dates back to at least the 1930s. Heinlein's contribution was to make the acronym for it.

Time Enough for Love (1973) and The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978)

Most, if not all, of these quotations are of the recurring Heinlein character "Lazarus Long", and most were labeled as from the "Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long". Many of these were later published as a separate poster book. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978).
  • Progress doesn't come from early risers — progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.
  • $100 placed at 7 percent interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 — by which time it will be worth nothing.
  • A "critic" is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased — he hates all creative people equally.
  • A "pacifist male" is a contradiction in terms. Most self-described "pacifists" are not pacific; they simply assume false colors. When the wind changes, they hoist the Jolly Roger.
  • A brute kills for pleasure. A fool kills from hate.
  • A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
  • A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.
  • A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.
    • Paraphrased variant: A generation without history has no past — and no future.
  • A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.
  • A motion to adjourn is always in order.
  • A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
  • A touchstone to determine the actual worth of an "intellectual" — find out how he feels about astrology.
  • A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.
  • A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.
  • All men are created unequal.
  • All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can — and must — be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly — and no doubt will keep on trying.
Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
  • A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill.
  • Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.
  • Always store beer in a dark place.
  • An elephant. A mouse built to government specifications.
  • Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure "good" government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare — most people want to run things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the "backseat-driver syndrome."
  • Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.
  • Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
  • Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. N.B.: Circumstances can force your hand. So think ahead!
  • Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors — and miss.
  • Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.
  • Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.
  • By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man — man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him.
  • Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.
  • Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  • Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
  • Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. (He is also a fool.)
  • Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires.
  • Dear, don't bore him with trivia or burden him with your past mistakes. The happiest way to deal with a man is never to tell him anything he does not need to know.
  • Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.
  • Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.
    Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?
  • Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.
  • Does history record any case in which the majority was right?
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
  • Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
    But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please — this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!
    So learn to say No — and to be rude about it when necessary.
    Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
    (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)
  • Don't ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.
  • Early rising may not be a vice ... but it is certainly no virtue. The old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed.
  • Everybody lies about sex.
  • Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.
  • Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.
  • Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.
  • God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
  • History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
  • History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion — i.e., none to speak of.
  • Human beings hardly ever learn from the experience of others. They learn; when they do, which isn't often, on their own, the hard way.
  • I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket. But if he is acting in his own self-interest and says so, I have usually been able to work out some way to do business with him.
  • If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another — but which one? Differences are crucial.
  • If men were the automatons that behaviorists claim they are, the behaviorist psychologists could not have invented the amazing nonsense called "behaviorist psychology."
  • If tempted by something that feels "altruistic," examine your motives and root out that self-deception. Then, if you still want to do it, wallow in it!
  • If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I've never heard of it.
  • If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for, but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.
  • If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people.
  • If you happen to be one of the fretful minority who can do creative work, never force an idea; you'll abort it if you do. Be patient and you'll give birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.
  • In a mature society, "civil servant" is semantically equal to "civil master."
  • It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.
  • It is better to copulate than never.
It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.
  • It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.
  • It's amazing how much "mature wisdom" resembles being too tired.
  • Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.
  • Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing — and you don't have to go home in the cold. But it's lonely.
  • Men are more sentimental than women. It blurs their thinking.
  • Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
  • Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.
  • Money is the sincerest of all flattery. Women love to be flattered. So do men.
  • Most "scientists" are bottle washers and button sorters.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
  • Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.
  • Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.
  • Never attempt to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
  • Never crowd youngsters about their private affairs — sex especially. When they are growing up, they are nerve ends all over, and resent (quite properly) any invasion of their privacy. Oh, sure, they'll make mistakes — but that's their business, not yours. (You made your own mistakes, did you not?)
  • Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
  • "No man is an island — " Much as we may feel and act as Individuals, our race is — a single organism, always growing and branching — which must be pruned regularly to be healthy.
    This necessity need not be argued; anyone with eyes can see that any organism which grows without limit always dies in its own poisons. The only rational question is whether pruning is best done before or after birth.
    Being an incurable sentimentalist I favor the former of these methods — killing makes me queasy, even when it's a case of "He's dead and I'm alive and that's the way I wanted it to be."
    But this may be a matter of taste. Some shamans think that it is better to be killed in a war, or to die in childbirth, or to starve in misery, than never to have lived at all. They may be right.
    But I don't have to like it — and I don't.
  • No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: "Come back with your shield, or on it." Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.
  • Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman's breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy.
Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.
  • Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy"is the most amazing — with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for second and third place.
  • One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word.
  • One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
  • Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is pleasanter — and much safer.
  • People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.
  • Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.
  • Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
  • Rub her feet.
  • Sex should be friendly. Otherwise stick to mechanical toys; it's more sanitary.
  • Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.
  • Small change can often be found under seat cushions.
The more you love, the more you can love ...
  • Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.
  • Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
  • The first time I was a drill instructor I was too inexperienced for the job — the things I taught those lads must have got some of them killed. War is too serious a matter to be taught by the inexperienced.
  • The more you love, the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
  • The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
    The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.
  • The phrase "we (I) (you) simply must —" designates some thing that need not be done. "That goes without saying" is a red warning. "Of course" means you had best check it yourself. These small-change clichés and others like them, when read correctly, are reliable channel markers.
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
  • The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
    But it's lovely work if you can stomach it.
  • The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives. But it is a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must — never for sport.
  • The shamans are forever yacking about their snake-oil "miracles." I prefer the Real McCoy — a pregnant woman.
There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?
  • The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.
  • The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute — get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.
  • There are hidden contradictions in the minds of people who "love Nature" while deploring the "artificialities" with which "Man has spoiled 'Nature.'" The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of "Nature" — but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers' purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purposes of men) the Naturist reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred.
    In the case of "Naturists" such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.
    As for me, willy-nilly I am a man, not a beaver, and H. sapiens is the only race I have or can have. Fortunately for me, I like being part of a race made up of men and women — it strikes me as a fine arrangement — and perfectly "natural" Believe it or not, there were "Naturists" who opposed the first flight to old Earth's Moon as being "unnatural" and a "despoiling of Nature."
To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy — and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.
  • There is no conclusive evidence of life after death. But there is no evidence of any sort against it. Soon enough you will know. So why fret about it?
  • There is no such thing as "social gambling." Either you are there to cut the other bloke's heart out and eat it — or you're a sucker. If you don't like this choice — don't gamble.
  • There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.
  • Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
    This is known as "bad luck."
  • To be matter of fact about the world is to blunder into fantasy — and dull fantasy at that, as the real world is strange and wonderful.
You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
  • Touch is the most fundamental sense. A baby experiences it, all over, before he is born and long before he learns to use sight, hearing, or taste, and no human ever ceases to need it. Keep your children short on pocket money — but long on hugs.
  • What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!
  • What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
  • When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere.
You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
  • When the need arises — and it does — you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don't farm it out — that doesn't make it nicer, it makes it worse.
  • Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.
  • Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of — but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
  • You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
  • You live and learn. Or you don't live long.
  • Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.
  • Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament — it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can’t avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome.

The Pragmatics of Patriotism (1973)

Quotations from Heinlein's address at the U.S. Naval Academy (5 April 1973), published in Expanded Universe (1980)
Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. ... The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family.
  • In this complex world, science, the scientific method, and the consequences of the scientific method are central to everything the human race is doing and to wherever we are going. If we blow ourselves up we will do it by misapplication of science; if we manage to keep from blowing ourselves up, it will be through intelligent application of science.
  • Patriotism is not sentimental nonsense. Nor something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man's evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual.
  • I now define "moral behavior" as "behavior that tends toward survival." I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word "moral" to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being "moral" without stretching the word "moral" all out of shape.
Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.
  • Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.
Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing ...
  • The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she'll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college — and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child ... and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.
  • Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.
  • The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your own kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called "patriotism."
  • Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind.
  • Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
  • Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a high percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on ... as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and children, you've had it, you're done, you're through! You join Tyrannosaurus Rex, one more breed that bilged its final test.
He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.
This is how a man dies. This is how a man ... lives!
  • I said that "Patriotism" is a way of saying "Women and children first." And that no one can force a man to feel this way. Instead he must embrace it freely. I want to tell about one such man. He wore no uniform and no one knows his name, or where he came from; all we know is what he did.
    In my home town sixty years ago when I was a child, my mother and father used to take me and my brothers and sisters out to Swope Park on Sunday afternoons. It was a wonderful place for kids, with picnic grounds and lakes and a zoo. But a railroad line cut straight through it.
    One Sunday afternoon a young married couple were crossing these tracks. She apparently did not watch her step, for she managed to catch her foot in the frog of a switch to a siding and could not pull it free. Her husband stopped to help her.
    But try as they might they could not get her foot loose. While they were working at it, a tramp showed up, walking the ties. He joined the husband in trying to pull the young woman's foot loose. No luck —
    Out of sight around the curve a train whistled. Perhaps there would have been time to run and flag it down, perhaps not. In any case both men went right ahead trying to pull her free ... and the train hit them.
    The wife was killed, the husband was mortally injured and died later, the tramp was killed — and testimony showed that neither man made the slightest effort to save himself.
    The husband's behavior was heroic ... but what we expect of a husband toward his wife: his right, and his proud privilege, to die for his woman. But what of this nameless stranger? Up to the very last second he could have jumped clear. He did not. He was still trying to save this woman he had never seen before in his life, right up to the very instant the train killed him. And that's all we'll ever know about him.
    This is how a man dies.
    This is how a man ... lives!

Friday (1983)

  • Friday, don't despise assassins indiscriminately. As with any tool, merit or demerit lies in how it is used.
  • All normal human beings have soi-disant mixed-up glands. The race is divided into two parts: those who know this and those who do not.
    • Ch. XXI, p. 214
A skillful Artist in shapes and appearances does no more than necessary to create His effect.
  • Geniuses and supergeniuses always make their own rules on sex as on everything else; they do not accept the monkey customs of their lessers.
    • Ch. XXI, p. 214
  • A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both.

Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)

These are just a few sample quotations, for more from this work, see Job: A Comedy of Justice
  • Wisdom includes not getting angry unnecessarily. The Law ignores trifles and the wise man does, too.
  • Time is never a problem on the God level. Or space. Whatever needed to deceive you was provided. But no more than that. That is the conservative principle in art at the God level. While I can't do it, not being at that level, I have seen a lot of it done. A skillful Artist in shapes and appearances does no more than necessary to create His effect.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985)

Once you can honestly say, "I don't know", then it becomes possible to get at the truth.
  • When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.
    • Richard Ames; chapter 2, p. 24
  • I usually read the obituaries first as there is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day.
    • Richard Ames; chapter 3, p. 27
  • How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.
  • A monarch's neck should always have a noose around it. It keeps him upright.
    • Richard Ames; chapter 9, p. 108
  • Premenstrual Syndrome: Just before their periods women behave the way men do all the time.
    • credited to Lowell Stone, M.D., born 2144; chapter 15, p. 185
  • Women seem to have almost unlimited capacity for forgiveness. (Since it is usually a man who needs forgiveness, this must be a racial survival trait.)
    • Richard Ames; chapter 16, p. 200
Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.
  • The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it — once you can honestly say, "I don't know", then it becomes possible to get at the truth.
    • Gwen Novak (Hazel Stone); chapter 18, p. 230
  • How can you argue with a woman who won't?
    • Richard Ames; chapter 19, p. 235
  • Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.

Quotes about Heinlein

  • Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him — one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don't agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn't raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I'm a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.
  • I found Robert A. Heinlein in back issues of Astounding, and also in The Saturday Evening Post, and I read everything of his I could find. I was completely hooked on his "juveniles": Space Cadet. Red Planet. Starman Jones. Between Planets. Farmer in the Sky. Wonderful stories, and the only thing "juvenile" about them was that he took the trouble to explain what was happening. Robert once told me that young people want to know how things work, and you can tell them more in a "juvenile" than you can in an adult novel. In any event I devoured everything of his I could find, through high school, the army, college, and I couldn’t have cared less that many were "juveniles". They were wonderful.
    I met Robert Heinlein years later, and through some kind of rare magic we became instant friends. We corresponded for a decade. In those days I was an engineering psychologist, operations research specialist, and systems engineer in aerospace. Most of my work was military aerospace, but I did get to work on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. We were helping to make the dream come true!
    I went from there to a professorship, and then into political management and city government. Robert visited me when I was working for Mayor Sam Yorty. "You probably don’t know this," he said, "but my political career ended when Yorty beat me for the Democratic nomination to the State Assembly."
    When I finally decided to get out of politics, academia, and the aerospace industry and try my hand at writing, Mr. Heinlein was enormously helpful. Years later, when I was an established writer, I asked him how I could pay him back.
    "You can’t," he said. "You don’t pay back, you pay forward." I never forgot that, just as I never forgot the wonderful things his ‘juvenile’ stories did for me.
  • Heinlein presents us, in terms of his sources and influences with a rope of many strands and the strength of the whole is in the multiplicity of the strands. To lift one strand out and examine it has two immediate effects: it magnifies the relative importance out of proportion to its place in the whole; and it weakens the whole. For all the good and interesting use Heinlein made of his encounter with Cabell, he was not a disciple or even a "Cabell minor." Rather, he used Cabellian materials to make his own figure in the world, and in so doing he has given the Biography of the Life of Manuel a Life of its own, flowing into literary history.
    Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery — but in literature, transformation is the only form of progeny.

External links

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Simple English

Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 - May 8, 1988) was a writer. He was from the United States. He mostly wrote science fiction books. He won the Hugo Award four times. Probably his best-known novels are Starship Troopers (1959, Hugo Award, was made into a film), and Stranger in a Strange Land (1961, Hugo Award). Two other Hugo awards were for Double Star (1956) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). Together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke he is seen as one of the Big Three of Science Fiction.








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