Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein is universally recognized as a Grand Master and a Founding Father of American Science Fiction. Heinlein began his career writing for the emerging SF pulp fiction magazines of the late 1939 and the 1940s. During this time many of his stories are loosely associated in what is his Future History. Starting in 1947 and through 1958, Robert Heinlein had written a number of best selling science fiction stories aimed at the Juvenuile/Young Adult market.

During the 1960s Heinlein then transitioned to the Adult SF category and created a number of classics including four Hugo award winning novels. Heinlein continued to write through the 1970s, publishing non-fiction as well as revisiting his Future History series that he had begun 30 years earlier.

"Robert Anson Heinlein may have been the all-time most important writer of the Science Fiction genre, though not its finest writer in strictly literary terms; his pre-eminence from 1940 to 1960 was both earned and unassailable. For half a century he was the father -- loved, resisted, emulated -- of the dominant U.S. form of the genre. " ---- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nichols

"Following World War II Robert A. Heinlein emerged as not only America's premier writer of speculative fiction, but as the greatest writer of such fiction in the world. He remains today as a sort of trademark for all that is finest in American imaginative fiction." --- Stephen King

Robert A. Heinlein and Pulp Fiction

Before there were paperbacks, comic books, and television, it was left up to the pulp fiction magazines, to provide most of the available entertainment for the masses. Radio provided an escape and the weekly Saturday movie matinee was also an occasional option, but it was the pulp fiction magazine that fueled the imaginations. During the troubled years of the Depression and WWII, many looked to the pulps for the wild stories that would lift them to imaginary worlds.

Pulp magazines, named after the cheapest paper (pulpwood) the publishers could find, printed sensationalist stories catering to every possible type of reading interest. This format created hundreds of speciality magazines which offered opportunities to struggling new authors. In this climate, the sci-fi genre was born.

The pulp magazines turned into proving grounds for many famous authors to began their careers: Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, Dashiell Hammett, Carroll John Daly, to name just a few. Visit our Pulp Fiction Central section for more on this incredible genre.

Often times, these pulp magazines would offer writing contests to attempt to attract new writers. In 1939, Robert Heinlein noticed such an ad and sat down and put down on paper his first short story, Life Line.

Realizing that his story was worthy of acceptance on its own merits, he sent it to a different magazine, Astounding Science Fiction which accepted it.

Over the next fours years, until his military service in WWII, Mr. Heinlein would write over thirty short stories and three novels for the pulps. He quickly became one of the most popular writers for Astounding earning the highest rates in the business.

The pulps encouraged an entertaining and action oriented style. Whether the pulps had an effect on Mr. Heinlein or rather his style was perfectly suited for that format, the fans loved it.

His stories have stood the test of time and are still enjoyable today. Currently, Expanded Universe offers a number of his pulp stories including Life Line his first. Also, Revolt in 2100 offers a number of his Future History series.

In novellas, we have the Sixth Column plus two novellas were combined into one novel entitled Waldo and Magic, Inc.

Robert A. Heinlein's Pen Names

During the pulp era, many writers turned to pseudonyms as a matter of course. Business necessity often dictated it in that pulp magazines would not normally carry two stories with the same by line in any one issue.

Mr. Heinlein was no exception and is known to have worked under the following pen names: Anson MacDonald, Lyle Monroe, John Riverside, Leslie Keith, and Caleb Saunders.

He reserved both his real name and Anson MacDonald for his top tier work and closely guarded his reputation under both of these names. Stories under these names, he would demand top dollar. In the pulp days, top dollar was 1.5 cents per word. When he had material that was either rejected from the top markets or of questionable value, he would use the other names.

Robert A. Heinlein's Future History

During his pulp fiction career many stories had a loose connection which tied them together. These short stories and novellas became known as the future history series. These stories are often singled out as some of the best work in his illustrious career.

Mr. Heinlein would return to this story line some thirty plus years later with complete novels further detailing the characters, most notably Lazarus Long.

You can find some of the future history short stories located in Expanded Universe plus, Revolt in 2100 contains three of the novellas as well. Hopefully in the very short term, we will be able to offer you the remaining future history stories.

This series included the following stories:

Phase One

  • Life Line
  • The Roads Must Roll
  • Blowups Happen
  • The Man Who Sold The Moon
  • Delilah and The Space Rigger
  • Space Jockey
  • Requiem
  • The Lone Watch
  • Gentlemen, Be Seated
  • The Black Pits of Luna
  • It's Great to Be Back
  • We Also Walk Dogs
  • Searchlight
  • Ordeal in Space
  • The Green Hills of Earth
  • Logic of Empire
  • The Menace from Earth
  • If This Goes On--
  • Coventry
  • Misfit
  • Universe
  • Methuselah's Children

Phase Two

Robert Heinlein's Juvenile/Young Adult Novels

The juvenile novels were a unique aspect of Mr. Heinlein's career. Every December, between 1947 and 1958, a new science fiction novel specifically written for the teenage reader was published. These stories generally focused on a young hero or heroine dealing with a world where space travel and exploration was more than speculation.

These stories were incredibly popular with teenagers and libraries everywhere. Combining young heroes in positions where their courage and character would be tested, with the fantastical emerging possibilities of space travel proved to be inspirational to a generation of young readers. A decade later, many of these young readers would go on to participate in America's Space Program where space travel migrated from fiction to fact.

Even though these stories were written for a younger reader, one of the principle tenets of the juvenile stories was that if an adult would not be interested in the story, neither would the young reader. Generally, these stories had a simplified moral theme and no sexual innuendo, but plenty of action and adventure.

But even today, ignoring the technical facts that may have become outdated, these stories are enjoyable for all readers for the interesting characters, plots, and themes that we have come to expect from Mr. Heinlein.

The Juvenile Novels

 

Robert Heinlein's Adult Fiction

With a hugely successful series of short stories completed and a major contribution to children's literature underway during the 1950's, adult novels was the next frontier to be conquered.

Although some of Mr. Heinlein's short stories were later expanded into novels, for the most part, his adult novels began with The Puppet Masters in 1951.

The 1950's, even though pre-occupied with delivering a yearly juvenile story, resulted in some of his best work in the pure sci-fi genre.

In 1959, his Starship Troopers proved to be a turning point in his career as well as an incredibly controversial novel and a commercial success. With this story we begin to hear Mr. Heinlein's political and philosophical voice.

This success allowed him to return to a plot outline that he drafted in 1949. He felt confident enough to write the kind of stories that he wanted to tell. In 1961, he published Stranger in a Strange Land which grew into an underground classic that contributed to the culture of the 1960's. Even today, Stranger appears to be the most popular and well known RAH novel.

During the 1960's, three more novels appeared with the third, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, receiving considerable attention as possibly his best novel.

The 1970's and 1980's brought a return to the Lazarus Long character first introduced in the Future History series of the 1940's. Plus a number of other novels that touched on fantastical science fiction concepts.

The Adult Novels

 

Robert A. Heinlein and the Hugo Awards

Every year, science fiction fans who attend the annual World Science Fiction Convention, vote for their favorite science fiction stories. With a number of different categories, the Hugo Award recognizes outstanding efforts in many different areas.

Mr. Heinlein, as of this writing, currently holds the record for most Hugo Awards in the category of Best Novel. Four novels have been recognized for this award. Had the Hugo Awards been created earlier than 1953, Mr. Heinlein might have been recognized for some of his earlier material as well.

The award is named in honor of Mr. Hugo Gernsback, (a writer, publisher, and editor) who in 1926, created Amazing Stories which was the first true science fiction magazine ever. Also, he coined the term scientification which later was shortened to science fiction, then on to SCI-FI.

The Hugo Award Winning Novels

 

Robert A. Heinlein's Non-Fiction

As a professional writer, Mr. Heinlein had outlined plans for a number of non-fiction based projects. However, only a few actually made it to print.

Tramp Royale is an interesting account of Robert and Virginia's trip around the world in 1953. For those interested in that time period and the places they visit, this will prove to be a good read.

Also, Grumbles From the Grave is a collection of his letters to various publishers and agents which offer a unique into the writing profession. Plus, it offers many insights into the various novels and stories.

And finally, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long is a collection of comments from the novel Time Enough for Love. Although this may be technically fiction, the words of wisdom will be thought provoking and controversial to anyone living in our non-fictional world.

 

Working Titles

The original title that an author tentatively pens to a manuscript very often does not become the final, published title. The marketing aspect of the publishing business usually has a great effect on the final title. Plus, many times, the author's working title, is just that, just a working catch phrase.

For you hard core fans, here is a list of working titles and their final, published names. Most of this information has been gathered from Grumbles from the Grave.

  • A Stranger in a Strange land... could have been... The Man From Mars
  • Star Double... could have been... Star Role
  • Moon is a Harsh Mistress... could have been... Brass Cannon
  • Rocket Ship Galieo ... could have been... Young Atomic Engineers
  • Tunnel in the Sky ... could have been... Schoolhouse in the Sky
  • Starship Troopers ... could have been... Sky Trooper
  • Farmham's Freehold ... could have been Grand Slam

In additon to the working title of the Man for Mars, the following titles were also considered, for what would eventually be Stranger in a Strange Land: The Heretic,
The Sound of His Wings, A Sparrow Falls, Born Unto Trouble, That Forbidden Tree
and Of Good and Evil.

 

Suggested Reading for Robert Heinlein

Generally, the short story format is one which is over-looked and under-appreciated. However, this format is excellent in the sense that our busy readers can easily pick up and put down a good book in between short stories. We recommend Expanded Universe not only for the short stories, but also because Mr. Heinlein provided a short foreword or afterword for each short story. This extra material gives us a nice insight into his world. Plus the stories themselves gives us a unique view into the 20th century.

Currently, our Future History section is not yet complete, so we will refrain from recommending anything yet from this category. Hopefully soon though.....

From the juvenile section, we recommend either Citizen of the Galaxy or Have Space Suit -- Will Travel.

From the adult novels... If you are a pulp fiction fan, the action packed invasion of the U.S. and the call to intelligence officer Sam Cavanaugh, in the Puppet Masters could be right for you.

For Science Fiction fans, we suggest Double Star or The Door Into Summer as two of his purely sci-fi oriented and best works from the 1950's.

One of Mr. Heinlein's many contributions has been to incorporate significant ideas and philosophical discussions into the SCI-FI genre. If you would be interested in a radical story with religious themes, then you should consider his most well-known book Stranger in a Strange Land. And, if it is a story with deep political themes that interests you, you should consider The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Notable Quotes

"Robert Anson Heinlein may have been the all-time most important writer of the Science Fiction genre, though not its finest writer in strictly literary terms; his pre-eminence from 1940 to 1960 was both earned and unassailable. For half a century he was the father -- loved, resisted, emulated -- of the dominant U.S. form of the genre. " ---- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nichols

Regarding Friday, "One of Heinlein's best, which is to say one of the best in all of Science Fiction--a terrific story with a superbly realized heroine and world." --- Poul Anderson

"Following World War II Robert A. Heinlein emerged as not only America's premier writer of speculative fiction, but as the greatest writer of such fiction in the world. He remains today as a sort of trademark for all that is finest in American imaginative fiction." --- Stephen King

"We proceed down a path marked by his ideas." --- Tom Clancy

"If there is anything that can divert the land of my birth from its current stampede into the Stone Age, it is the widespread dissemination of the thoughts and perceptions that Robert Heinlein has been selling as entertainment since 1939." --- Spider Robinson

"We perpetrators of the 1960s recall well that everybody read and was affected by The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. --- Paul Williams, founder of Crawdaddy

"Would you consider buying a book just because I asked you to? It's called Expanded Universe. --- Algis Budrys

"Robert A. Heinlein, as much as any writer while I was growing up, taught me to argue with the accepted version." --- Samuel R. Delany

 

Product Format: Paperback

Assignment in Eternity by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
The Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein
The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein
The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein
Tramp Royale by Robert A. Heinlein
Waldo and Magic Inc. by Robert A. Heinlein

 

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