Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ)
The author and coördinator of this Robert Heinlein FAQ is James Gifford, and the master copy of the document may be found in the archives of his Robert Heinlein Home Page. Other than changing the color scheme, Wegrokit.com has not altered the content of this FAQ in any way. We post it here in the belief that redundancy is often a good thing in a fluid medium such as the internet. If you wish to mirror this FAQ on your own server, we insist that you begin with Gifford's original file and follow his instructions.
The Robert A. Heinlein
|FAQ Version: 0.6.0|
Last Updated: 11 December 1997
Coordinator: James Gifford
email@example.com * http://www.ns.net/~gifford
|Commentary in alt.fan.heinlein and sff.people.robert-a-heinlein will be monitored for useful additions to the FAQ. Submissions to the FAQ should be sent e-mail to the coordinator. Those submissions phrased as a concise question followed by a concise and accurate (to the limits of known information) answer will be the most appreciated.||"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 only clue. Get the facts!"
-- L. Long
|ASF||Astounding Science Fiction|
|BB||Blue Book Magazine|
|F&SF||The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction|
|GAL||Galaxy Science Fiction|
|IF||The Worlds of If|
|NC||Not collected or reprinted after periodical appearance|
|NPP||No publication prior to book collection|
|RAH||Robert A. Heinlein|
|SEP||The Saturday Evening Post|
|SSS||Super Science Stories|
|TWS||Thrilling Wonder Stories|
|(This biography owes much to Virginia Heinlein's essay in Grumbles from the Grave and Thomas Perry's essay "Ham & Eggs & Heinlein" in Monad #3, September 1993, as well as to contributions from knowledgeable individuals.)|
|Robert Anson Heinlein was born on 7 July 1907 in Butler, Bates County, Missouri, the third son of Rex Ivar Heinlein and Bam Lyle Heinlein. Heinlein had two older brothers, Rex and Lawrence, a younger brother [Clare] Jesse, and three younger sisters, Louise, Rose and Mary. At a young age his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. He grew up there, but spent summers with relatives in Butler.|
|He graduated from Central High School in Kansas City in 1924 and attended one year of college at Kansas City Community College. His brother Rex had gone on to the Naval Academy at Annapolis and Heinlein elected the same future for himself. He industriously collected letters of recommendation and sent them to his senator, James A. Reed. It was said that Reed received one hundred letters requesting appointments to Annapolis... fifty each for individuals, and fifty for Robert A. Heinlein.|
|Heinlein entered the Naval Academy in 1925. Heinlein was commissioned in 1929 and served on a variety of ships, including the USS Lexington (the first true United States aircraft carrier) and the destroyer USS Roper. The constant rolling of the destroyer caused Heinlein to be seasick much of the time, and in 1934, weakened, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. He was cured and then retired as medically unfit for service-- "permanently disabled"-- and given a small pension.|
|In 1932, shortly after his commissioning, he married Leslyn Macdonald. Little is known about her other than brief comments in various autobiographies by Heinlein's contemporaries. Heinlein never commented publicly on Leslyn or the later divorce.|
|Between 1934 and 1939 Heinlein is believed to have worked at several occupations in both Los Angeles and Colorado Springs. One report has it that he was part-owner of a silver mine that reputedly went bust when his co-owner was machine-gunned down. He studied advanced engineering and mathematics at UCLA (having the equivalent of a bachelor's in Naval Engineering from the Academy), as well as architecture. He is also believed to have worked in real estate and possibly as an artist, photographer and sculptor, although the details of these trades are not fully known.|
|By 1938 Heinlein was working as a staff writer for Upton Sinclair's EPIC News, the house organ of the EPIC (End Poverty In California) campaign. Heinlein ran for the 59th District California State Assembly seat in the November 1938 election. Although he ran unopposed as a Democrat, he was narrowly defeated in the primary by the Republican incumbent, Charles W. Lyons.|
|(Yes, the primary, not the general election. Election laws of the day permitted "cross-filing" or listing one's name on the other party's ticket. Lyons cross-filed on the Democratic ticket while Heinlein did not do the reverse, and thus picked up a winning number of votes in the primary.)|
|In early 1939 he was broke, married, saddled with a mortgage that may have been taken out to partially finance his campaign, and struggling along on his small Navy pension.|
|In late 1938 the science fiction magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories announced a story contest. Less a one-shot contest than an ongoing search for new authors, it offered full rates (one-half cent per word, up to $50) to any previously-unpublished writer whose story was selected. Although Heinlein had been a voracious reader of everything including the earliest science fiction magazines, he always claimed that it was this 'contest' announcement that led to the writing of his first story.|
|He turned out "Life-Line" in four days in April 1939 and submitted it not to TWS, which he assumed would be flooded with manuscripts, but to John W. Campbell at Astounding Science Fiction. Campbell promptly bought the story at one cent per word, or $70. Excepting his World War II service, Heinlein never seriously worked at any other trade for the remainder of his life.|
|[more to come here in the middle, when I have time]|
|Heinlein divorced Leslyn in late 1947. In late 1948, he married Virginia Doris Gerstenfeld, who remained his wife, assistant and close companion until his death in 1988. She presently lives on the South Atlantic coast.|
|Heinlein died peacefully during his morning nap on 8 May 1988, finally succumbing to a combination of emphysema and related health problems that had plagued him for the last several years of his life. His remains were scattered from the stern of a Navy warship off the coast of California, near his beloved Santa Cruz home of twenty years, Bonny Doon. There is no memorial or cenotaph.|
|For Us the Living||(ca. 1937; UP, manuscript destroyed)|
|Sixth Column||(ASF Jan-Feb-Mar 1941; book publication 1949)|
|Methuselah's Children||(ASF Jul-Aug-Sep 1941, rewritten and expanded for book publication 1958)|
|Beyond This Horizon||(ASF Apr-May 1942; book publication 1948)|
|The Puppet Masters||(1951, serialized GAL Sep-Oct-Nov 1951, uncut version published 1990)|
|Double Star||(1956, serialized ASF Feb-Mar-Apr 1956, Hugo 1956)|
|The Door into Summer||(1957, serialized F&SF Oct-Nov-Dec 1956)|
|Starship Troopers||(1959, serialized F&SF Oct-Nov 1959)|
|Stranger in a Strange Land||(1961, Hugo 1961, uncut version published 1990)|
|Glory Road||(1963, serialized F&SF Jul-Aug-Sep 1963, Hugo nom.)|
|Farnham's Freehold||(1964, serialized IF Jul-Aug-Oct 1964)|
|The Moon is a Harsh Mistress||(1966, serialized IF Dec 1965 Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr 1966, Hugo nom. 1965, Hugo 1966)|
|I Will Fear No Evil||(1970, serialized GAL Jul-Aug-Oct-Dec 1970)|
|Time Enough for Love||(1973)|
|The Number of the Beast--||(ca. 1976, UP)|
|The Number of the Beast||(1979, serialized Omni Oct-Nov 1979)|
|Job: A Comedy of Justice||(1984)|
|The Cat Who Walks Through Walls||(1985)|
|To Sail Beyond the Sunset||(1987)|
|Rocket Ship Galileo||(1947)|
|Farmer in the Sky||(1950, serialized BL Aug-Sep-Oct-Nov 1950)|
|Between Planets||(1951, serialized BB Sep-Oct 1951)|
|The Rolling Stones||(1952, serialized BL Sep-Oct-Nov-Dec 1952)|
|The Star Beast||(1954, serialized F&SF, May-Jun-Jul 1954)|
|Tunnel in the Sky||(1955)|
|Time for the Stars||(1956)|
|Citizen of the Galaxy||(1957, serialized ASF Sep-Oct-Nov-Dec 1957)|
|Have Space Suit--Will Travel||(1958, serialized F&SF Aug-Sep-Oct 1958, Hugo nom. 1958)|
|Podkayne of Mars||(1963, serialized IF Dec 1962 Jan-Feb-Mar 1963)|
|(The names of some of the collections in which each story will be found have been abbreviated. See the COLLECTIONS list following for complete titles.)|
|"Life-Line"||(ASF, Aug 1939, in Moon, PTT, Worlds, EU)|
|"Misfit"||(ASF, Nov 1939, in 2100, PTT)|
|"Requiem"||(ASF, Jan 1940, in Moon, PTT)|
|"If This Goes On--"||(ASF, Feb-Mar 1940, in 2100, PTT, rewritten and expanded for book collection)|
|"Successful Operation"||(as "Heil!", Futuria Fantasia #4, Summer 1940, as by Lyle Monroe, in EU)|
|"Let There Be Light"||(SSS, May 1940, as by Lyle Monroe, in Moon)|
|"The Roads Must Roll"||(ASF, Jun 1940, in Moon, PTT)|
|"Coventry"||(ASF, Jul 1940, in PTT)|
|"Blowups Happen"||(ASF, Sep 1940, in Moon, Worlds, PTT, EU, rewritten for first anthology in 1946)|
|"Magic, Inc."||(Unknown, Sep 1940, in Waldo and Magic, Inc., aka "The Devil Makes the Law")|
|"--And He Built a Crooked House--"||(ASF, Feb 1941, in Hoag)|
|"Logic of Empire"||(ASF, Mar 1941, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Beyond Doubt"||(Astonishing Stories, Apr 1941, as by Elma Wentz and Lyle Monroe, NC)|
|"They"||(Unknown, Apr 1941, in Hoag)|
|"Solution Unsatisfactory"||(ASF, May 1941, as by Anson MacDonald, in Worlds, EU)|
|"Universe"||(ASF, May 1941, in Orphans)|
|"'--We Also Walk Dogs'"||(ASF, Jul 1941, as by Anson Macdonald, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Elsewhen"||(ASF, Sep 1941, as by Caleb Saunders, in AinE)|
|"By His Bootstraps"||(ASF, Oct 1941, as by Anson MacDonald, in Menace)|
|"Common Sense"||(ASF, Oct 1941, in Orphans)|
|"Lost Legacy"||(SSS, Nov 1941, as by Lyle Monroe, in AinE)|
|"'My Object All Sublime'"||(Future, Feb 1942, as by Lyle Monroe, NC)|
|"Goldfish Bowl"||(ASF, Mar 1942, as by Anson MacDonald, in Menace)|
|"Pied Piper"||(Astonishing Stories, Mar 1942, as by Lyle Monroe, NC)|
|"Waldo"||(ASF, Aug 1942, as by Anson MacDonald, in Waldo and Magic, Inc.)|
|"The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag"||(Unknown Worlds, Oct 1942, as by John Riverside, in Hoag)|
|"A Bathroom of Her Own"||(NPP, 1946, in EU)|
|"Free Men"||(NPP, 1947, in Worlds, EU)|
|"No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying--"||(1947; Vertex #3, 1973, in EU)|
|"On the Slopes of Vesuvius"||(1947; NPP, in EU)|
|"The Green Hills of Earth"||(SEP, 8 Feb 1947, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Space Jockey"||(SEP, 26 Apr 1947, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Columbus Was a Dope"||(Startling Stories, May 1947)|
|"They Do It with Mirrors"||(Popular Detective, May 1947, as by Simon York, in EU)|
|"It's Great to Be Back!"||(SEP, 26 July 1947, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Jerry Was a Man"||(TWS, Oct 1947, in AinE)|
|"Water is for Washing"||(Argosy, Nov 1947, in Menace)|
|"The Man Who Traveled in Elephants"||(1948; Saturn, Oct 1957, in Hoag)|
|"The Black Pits of Luna"||(SEP, 10 Jan 1948, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Gentlemen, Be Seated"||(Argosy, May 1948, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Ordeal in Space"||(Town & Country, May 1948, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Our Fair City"||(Weird Tales, Jan 1949, in Hoag)|
|"Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon"||(BL, Apr-May 1949, in EU)|
|"Poor Daddy"||(Calling All Girls, Aug 1949, in Requiem)|
|"Gulf"||(ASF, Nov-Dec 1949, in AinE)|
|"The Long Watch"||(American Legion Magazine, Dec 1949, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"Delilah and the Space-Rigger"||(BB, Dec 1949, in GHOE, PTT)|
|"The Man Who Sold the Moon"||(NPP, 1950, in Moon)|
|"Cliff and the Calories"||(Senior Prom, Aug 1950, in EU)|
|"Destination Moon"||(Short Stories Magazine, Sep 1950, in Requiem)|
|"The Bulletin Board"||(NPP, 1951, in Requiem)|
|"The Year of the Jackpot"||(GAL, Mar 1952, in Menace)|
|"Sky Lift"||(Imagination, Mar 1953, in Menace)|
|"Project Nightmare"||(Amazing Stories, Apr-May 1953, in Menace)|
|"The Menace from Earth"||(F&SF, Aug 1957, in Menace)|
|"Tenderfoot in Space"||(BL, May-Jul 1958, in Requiem, aka "Tenderfoot on Venus")|
|"All You Zombies--"||(F&SF, Mar 1959, in Hoag)|
|"Searchlight"||(Scientific American, Aug 1962, in Worlds, EU, PTT)|
|"The Discovery of the Future" (Third World Science Fiction Convention Guest of Honor Speech)||(1941; in Requiem)|
|How to Be a Politician||(1946; published 1992 as Take Back Your Government!)|
|"On the Writing of Speculative Fiction"||(1947)|
|"Where To?" aka "Pandora's Box"||(1950, updated versions 1966, 1973; in Worlds, EU)|
|"Ray Guns and Rocket Ships"||(1952, in EU)|
|Tramp Royale||(1954; published 1993)|
|"The Third Millenium Opens"||(Amazing Stories, Apr 1956, in EU)|
|"Science Fiction: Its Nature, Faults and Virtues"||(1957)|
|"The Future Revisited" (Sixteenth World Science Fiction Convention Guest of Honor Speech)||(1961; in Requiem)|
|"Channel Markers" (James V. Forrestal Graduation Lecture, Annapolis)||(1973; long but incomplete transcript published in Analog, Jan 1974, shorter transcript published in EU as "The Pragmatics of Patriotism")|
|"Larger than Life"||(1979, in EU)|
|"Spinoff"||(Omni, Mar 1980, in EU)|
|"The Happy Days Ahead"||(1980, in EU)|
|Interstitial commentary in EU||(1980)|
|Grumbles from the Grave||(Virginia Heinlein, ed.) (1989)|
|Waldo and Magic, Inc.||(1950)|
|The Man Who Sold the Moon||(1950) (Moon)|
(There are two editions of this collection. One does not contain the items marked with an asterisk. In addition, the longer collection contains the so-called "raunchy" version of "Let There Be Light," while the shorter edition contains the "clean" version.)
Introduction by John W. Campbell, Jr.*
"Let There Be Light"
"The Roads Must Roll"
"The Man Who Sold the Moon"
"Blowups Happen" (1946 version)*
|The Green Hills of Earth||(1951) (GHOE)|
"Delilah and the Space-Rigger"
"The Long Watch"
"Gentlemen, Be Seated"
"The Black Pits of Luna"
"'It's Great to Be Back!'"
"'--We Also Walk Dogs'"
"Ordeal in Space"
"The Green Hills of Earth"
"Logic of Empire"
|Revolt in 2100||(1953) (2100)|
Introduction by Henry Kuttner: "The Innocent Eye"
"If This Goes On--"
Afterword: "Concerning Stories Never Written"
|Assignment in Eternity||(1953) (AinE)|
"Jerry Was a Man"
|The Menace from Earth||(1959) (Menace)|
"The Year of the Jackpot"
"By His Bootstraps"
"Columbus Was a Dope"
"The Menace from Earth"
"Water is for Washing"
|The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag||(1959) (Hoag)|
(also published under the title 6xH)
"The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag"
"The Man Who Traveled in Elephants"
"All You Zombies"
"Our Fair City"
"--And He Built a Crooked House--"
|Orphans of the Sky||(1963) (Orphans)|
|The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein||(1966) (Worlds)|
(Contents completely subsumed by Expanded Universe)
"Pandora's Box" (1950 version plus 1966 updates) (NF)
"Blowups Happen" (1946 version)
|The Past Through Tomorrow||(1967) (PTT)|
Introduction by Damon Knight
"The Roads Must Roll"
"Blowups Happen" (1946 version)
"The Man Who Sold the Moon"
"Delilah and the Space-Rigger"
"The Long Watch"
"Gentlemen, Be Seated"
"The Black Pits of Luna"
"'It's Great to Be Back!'"
"'--We Also Walk Dogs'"
"Ordeal in Space"
"The Green Hills of Earth"
"Logic of Empire"
"The Menace from Earth"
"If This Goes On--"
|Expanded Universe||(1980) (EU)|
"Blowups Happen" (original 1940 version)
"The Last Days of the United States" (NF)
"How to Be a Survivor" (NF)
"Pie from the Sky" (NF)
"They Do It with Mirrors"
"No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying--"
"A Bathroom of Her Own"
"On the Slopes of Vesuvius"
"Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon"
"Pandora's Box" (1950 version plus 1966, 1980 updates) (NF)
"Where To?" (NF)
"Cliff and the Calories"
"Ray Guns and Rocket Ships" (NF)
"The Third Millenium Opens"
"Who Are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?" (NF)
"Inside Intourist" (NF)
"The Pragmatics of Patriotism" (NF)
"Paul Dirac, Antimatter and You" (NF)
"Larger than Life" (NF)
"The Happy Days Ahead"
|HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING|
|These oft-quoted and -referenced rules appeared in the 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction." They are, for the most part, as germane today as they were then, although some feel that the change in the science fiction marketplace has invalidated them.|
|1. You must write.|
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
|THE NOTEBOOKS OF LAZARUS LONG|
Probably no other piece of Heinlein's writing generates more newsgroup traffic (and, for me, e-mail) than the Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
For the record, the "Notebooks" are contained in their entirety in the two "Intermission" chapters of Time Enough for Love. They were also printed in their entirety in the June 1973 Analog, and in abbreviated form in the August 1979 Omni.
They were also reprinted as a separate book, titled The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, with many of the sayings represented as full-page illuminated panels by D.F. Vassallo. This book was long out of print and commanding higher and higher prices until it was recently reprinted by Pomegranate Books.
Pomegranate is best known for their calendars and art books, so it's not surprising they have done a much better job on this book than Putnam's with the original. The illuminated pages are vastly better reproduced, with much more intense colors and subtle shadings. (The parchment backgrounds are also clearly visible.) Frankly, the original Putnam's edition looks like bad color photocopying next to the Pomegranate edition. (Generally, the layout and format of the book were not changed, but Pomegranate did re-set all the body type as well.)
Pomegranate Books can be reached at http://www.pompub.com, or at 1.800.227.1428, or at 707.586.5500.
|1.||What is Juan Rico's race in Starship Troopers?|
At the end of the book, Rico makes reference to [Ramon] Magsaysay, a great Filipino hero, and mentions that his family's native tongue is Tagalog (the principal language of the Phillipines). Many Filipinos have Spanish names. Q.E.D. Rico is Filipino. (References are often made to a Samuel Delany essay in which Rico is mentioned as being black. Rico is not black.)
|2.||What is the race of Joan Eunice Smith (Eunice Evans Branca) in I Will Fear No Evil?|
One answer is that Joan Eunice's race is indeterminate, and deliberately so. There is no explicit evidence in the book that she is either black or white. It is believed that Heinlein deliberately made her race a cipher, and is known to have worked on the book with two photos of beautiful women in front of him-- one blonde, one black.
However, Heinlein later made explicit references in correspondence to Joan Eunice as being black. The careful reader is invited to judge for him/herself.
|3.||What is the difference between Heinlein's juvenile and adult works?|
Very little. Most of the so-called juveniles are read with complete satisfaction by adults, and most of the adult works are accessible and enjoyable to teens and even pre-adolescents. The primary difference is that the twelve juvenile novels and handful of stories written for Boys' Life magazine have no explicit sexual references and somewhat simplified moral issues.
There is very little reason for drawing any distinction between the two categories, especially with respect to the novels. The division is made in this FAQ only because "Heinlein's juveniles" are a recognized sf landmark.
In fact, Starship Troopers was written as a juvenile, rejected by Scribner's, and published by Putnam as an adult novel. Podkayne of Mars was written as an adult novel but is usually classified as a juvenile because of its teenage female protagonist.
|4.||What are the "stinkeroos"?|
The so-called "stinkeroos" (Heinlein's own term for them) are three short stories, all dating from the first phase of his writing career, prior to World War II. With one exception, they have never been reprinted since their original pulp appearances. Heinlein refused reprint requests and never included them in any of his own collections, and his literary executors continue this policy. It is unlikely that any of them will ever be reprinted prior to copyright expiration sometime in the 2030's.
The stinkeroos are:
"Beyond Doubt" (Astonishing Stories, Apr 1941)
For a taste of the stinkers, read "Successful Operation." The postwar short "Our Fair City" is a better story, but retains much of the stinkeroos' tone and feel.
And yes, the stinkeroos earned their epithet.
|5.||What pseudonyms did Heinlein use, and why?|
Heinlein is known to have published fiction under the following names:
- Robert A. Heinlein (Most work)
In addition, the pseudonym "Leslie Keith" turns up here and there in correspondence, but was apparently never used on a published work.
The two girls' stories ("Cliff and the Calories" and "Poor Daddy") were long believed to have been written under a pseudonym. They were not, and it is amusing/amazing that no one discovered them prior to Heinlein's inclusion of the first in Expanded Universe.
"Anson MacDonald" was a pseudonym created by proud Scot John W. Campbell Jr., the editor of ASF who nurtured Heinlein's early career. (Campbell himself wrote much of his early fiction as "Don A. Stuart," and other works under "Arthur McCann.")
"Anson" came from Heinlein's middle name, while "Macdonald" was taken from his first wife's maiden name, Leslyn Macdonald. (Campbell later borrowed her first name for his daughter. The "Don A." in his own pseudonym came from his wife's first name, Dona.)
"Macdonald" was generally used for Heinlein's first-rate stories that did not fit into the Future History. It also allowed Campbell to fit more than one Heinlein story into each issue of ASF while still presenting a diverse contents page. (It was not uncommon for issues of ASF in 1940-41 to feature stories by 'both' writers.)
Campbell's editorials and other magazine features referred to Macdonald and Heinlein as separate writers (as well as to "Stuart" and "McCann" as individual entities). However, he slipped by announcing one forthcoming story as by Heinlein and running it as an Anson Macdonald piece.
"Lyle Monroe" was a pseudonym created by Heinlein for his lesser-grade short stories, those rejected by Campbell and sold to second-rate pulps such as Astonishing Stories and Future. He originally kept the name a close secret, with a separate mailing address, to keep the Monroe stories from polluting his image. ("Lyle" is taken from his mother's maiden name, Bam Lyle. "Monroe" is another ancestral name.)
"Caleb Saunders" was the only other pseudonym to appear in ASF, on the rather substandard short story "Elsewhen" (published as "Elsewhere.") "Caleb" is probably derived from his Annapolis classmate and lifelong friend Caleb Laning.
"John Riverside" was used for the fantasy/horror novella "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag" in Unknown. Heinlein lived in Riverside, California at the time.
"Simon York" is the only pseudonym to be used after World War II, for the pulp detective story "They Do It with Mirrors." This story was known by rumor among sf fans from the time it was published, and the pseudonym was exposed at about the same time, but this story lay undiscovered until Heinlein included it in Expanded Universe in 1980.
|6.||What are some of the topics that have been discussed to death on the net and/or are liable to cause a flamewar on alt.fan.heinlein and should be treated carefully?|
Start or reply to any of the following threads at your own risk.
- Juan Rico's race (see #1 above);
In addition, the perpetual game of casting Heinlein movies will often provoke groans and howls from readers who have been through it all one too many times.
|7.||I've heard that Heinlein was ill a lot and that it affected some of his books. Is this true, and if so, which books?|
Were it not for severe illness, Heinlein might never have become a science fiction writer. He spent the largest part of his Navy career on the first US aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington. Against his and his commanding officer's wishes, he was transferred to the destroyer USS Roper.
The continual roll of the smaller ship caused Heinlein to be seasick a large part of the time, and eventually he weakened and contracted tuberculosis. He was invalided out as 'permanently disabled' in 1934. The need to support his wife and pay off a heavy mortgage led directly to the start of his writing career in 1939. Thus, one serious illness resulted in the founding of his career.
In 1970, he was stricken with a serious case of peritonitis that very nearly ended his life. He was unable to write for almost two full years following. At the time he was hospitalized, he had just completed the first draft of I Will Fear No Evil. With Heinlein gravely ill and unable to make business decisions, his wife and agent elected to publish the book in its unedited form. The result is a rather rambling and murky story line that almost certainly would have been shortened and tightened up considerably had Heinlein been able to edit the draft before publication.
In the mid-1970's, Heinlein was suffering from a serious blockage of the carotid artery that reduced blood flow to his brain. In his own words, he "slept 16 hours a day and wasn't worth a hoot the other eight." During this period, he wrote one novel that was never published on the advice of his wife.
In 1977, he had a stroke precursor (a transient ischemic attack-- not a stroke as often stated) that resulted in surgery to correct the carotid blockage. When he recovered, he was in better mental shape than he had been for several years. He retained his normal mental acuity until his death in 1988 from emphysema and related disabilities.
|8.||Is there any particular order in which I should read Heinlein's stories? Will reading them out of order spoil anything?|
On the whole, you can read Heinlein's novels and short stories in any order you like. Heinlein wrote no sequels or multi-part novels in the usual sense, although many stories work together to build a consistent and progressive picture. (There are actually several sets of connected stories, the most famous and distinct of which is the Future History.)
The following novels contain significant continuations of earlier works, and should probably be put off until the prior works have been read:
- The Number of the Beast
The following novels should probably be put off until you have read at least a few other Heinlein books, because they are of relatively inferior quality or are not representative of Heinlein's work as a whole. Reading these books early on have soured some would-be Heinlein fans:
- I Will Fear No Evil
In addition, new Heinlein readers are warned that Stranger in a Strange Land can be an off-putting book. Many readers have discovered Heinlein and his work through this work, but quite a few end up being turned off and are reluctant to read any more Heinlein. You won't be hurt by reading a handful of the other novels first; you might be soured by reading Stranger too early.
Please don't send me any more e-mail with alternate read/don't read lists, or filled with righteous wrath because I put your favorite or first Heinlein on the list (or left it off). The above lists are my call on the situation. Feel free to post yours in the newsgroup.
|9.||So, what books and stories should I read first?|
There is no consensus on which novels and shorter works are the best for a new or novice reader. However, most serious Heinlein fans would find little to argue with in the following list of "recommended starters":
- The Past Through Tomorrow (Future History short stories)
Almost anyone who's going to like Heinlein as a whole will like most or all of these books.
A good set of "second round" starters might be the following. These books are hailed by many as some of Heinlein's best works, but each has a significant number of detractors as well. If you don't like one in this list, put it back on the shelf and try another. They're all very different, and just because one tastes bad to you does not mean the others will.
- Starship Troopers
After that, you're on your own. Read on knowing you are deeply envied by the legions for having mountains of fresh, undiscovered Heinlein to read.
|10.||What movies have been made from Heinlein's stories?|
Somewhat unusually, there have been only a few movies made from Heinlein's stories and novels. The complete list is as follows:
1950 "Destination Moon"
1953 "Project Moonbase"
The script for the pilot, "Ring Around the Moon," was an original. After it had been filmed at its half-hour broadcast length, Seamans decided to capitalize on the sudden boom in science fiction movies (started by, among others, "Destination Moon"). Without Heinlein's foreknowledge or approval, Seamans went back and filmed an additional 25 minutes, extending a thin TV-grade story into an even thinner movie. Released as "Project Moonbase," it did poorly and was disavowed by Heinlein.
1956 "The Brain Eaters"
198? "Starship Troopers"
1994 "Robert A. Heinlein's Red Planet"
1994 "Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters"
1997 "Starship Troopers"
Rumors & Buzz
The Star Beast has been recently optioned by Disney. Whether this will be an animated or live action/CGI adaptation is unknown
Dreamworks has recently optioned The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
|11.||What books about Heinlein should I read?|
Fair Warning: As the author of three and possibly more forthcoming books on Heinlein, it is difficult to remain objective about the current literature. I wouldn't be writing these books if I didn't think the crop so far was pretty much a failure; My opinion of the existing literature is not good.
We'll see what they have to say about my stuff.
Nearly all of what has been written about Heinlein so far falls at the extreme limits of the critical range. Much falls very close to craven worship; the remainder tilts heavily towards willful denigration. There is very little evenhanded discussion or evaluation to be found in print anywhere.
Leading the "worship" camp is science fiction writer Spider Robinson, author of two important essays: "Rah, Rah, R.A.H.!" (1978, found in the Robinson collection Time Travelers Strictly Cash) and the posthumous (to RAH, that is, not Robinson) "Robert" (1989, found in the Heinlein collection and retrospective Requiem.) To Spider, Heinlein is a veritable demigod who could do no wrong, and he proceeds to tell us why at great length. Don't get me wrong-- Spider's a great guy, and his essays have many valid points, but I think he's a little over the top with respect to Heinlein.
In the same category but far more reasoned is Leon Stover. His Robert A. Heinlein (1988) is the first comprehensive book on Heinlein's work that takes a positive approach. It would be a first-rate reference except that it's loaded with basic errors that flaw many of the discussions and arguments. Stover does, however, perform the valuable service of being the first to place Heinlein in the ranks of great American writers, without the caveat of "...science fiction..." being appended.
(And, of course, the ranks of this category are swelled by the many amateur and semi-pro writers whose gushing and inordinate praise fill the pages of fanzines. Sigh.
The great majority of serious critical work on Heinlein seems to fall into the other category of disdainful dismissal. These critics and reviewers seem to take a genuine delight in prying apart Heinlein's work and crowing over every flaw, real or imagined. It often seems to me that they'll search through heaps of diamonds to find the tiny turd in the pile that "proves" their interpretation. While there are certainly flaws to Heinlein's work-- sometimes grievous flaws-- any critic who can see only the flaws and has nary a good thing to say about the matrix, the structure in which these flaws are found is difficult to take seriously.
H. Bruce Franklin
Ugh. This book's only saving grace is its detailed look at Heinlein's early family history. The rest is scintillating, engrossing and brilliant if you happen to like Marxist drivel and can't wait to see Heinlein and his work used as an example of everything that's wrong with the US, capitalism and the western world in general.
I would like to say better things about this book only because Aldiss is a science fiction writer of the first rank himself. However, his book (updated from Billion to Trillion) is a nasty, parochial history of science fiction in which every writer not of Aldiss's era and clique (roughly, the 1960-1975 New Wavers-- Ellison, Harrison, Brunner, Aldiss) gets sliced and diced in a truly vicious fashion. (One infamous early chapter begins "The worst thing that ever happened to science fiction was a man named Hugo Gernsback.") Heinlein, along with Asimov and Clarke, is largely relegated to a chapter titled "How to Be a Dinosaur," and Aldiss's interpretation, as you might guess from that, is not complimentary.
Olander & Greenberg, eds.
This collection of essays by sf notables is less negative than the others in this list. In fact, Jack Williamson's essay on the Heinlein juveniles is one of the better short writings about Heinlein. The overall tone of the book, though, is downbeat and critical.
These two short books published by Borgo Press in the early 1970's are somewhat negative, but more to the point, they are rather diffuse. Slusser's grasp of Heinlein's work seems tenuous, but that hasn't stopped him (and Borgo) from publishing several more short works in this same vein.
The following three books are 'in press' and due to be released by Borgo Press late in 1997.
Nancy Bailey Downing
Reginald and Slusser, eds.
While I can't comment on books not yet published, I should note that the "Cyclopedia" has been on the verge of publication for at least several years with at least two publishers. Borgo has it listed at US$53.00. Ouch.
Just the title of the second one sends me into hysterics. US$27.00 in paperback.
The third, I fear, especially with Slusser at the helm, will be another diffuse exercise in fuzzy logic. Maybe not. But the convoluted title isn't particularly promising. US$17.00 in paperback.
("Jungian Archetypes..." Snicker)
There are many other essays on Heinlein that have appeared in various magazines and journals. Some, such as the late Thomas Perry's two essays in Monad, are excellent. Others are mere turd-sifting. (In particular, I have yet to read anything written under the auspices of the Science Fiction Research Association [SFRA] that doesn't fall in the latter category. Some think that SFRA came into existence for the express purpose of Heinlein bashing. I wouldn't argue the point.)
Readers interested in Heinlein the man and Heinlein the writer do have a few sources to which to turn. All are "authorized" works, though, so they are not much good as balanced critical appraisal. None of them is specifically "about" Heinlein, either.
Expanded Universe contains some 10,000 words by Heinlein about himself and his work. Although the interstitial material in this collection seems to have been dictated and transcribed hastily and is not without errors, it is the longest "Heinlein on Heinlein" writing available and contains many insights and explanations.
Grumbles from the Grave offers an extensive, if somewhat sanitized look at Heinlein the writer.
Requiem offers looks at Heinlein from several dozen of his friends, colleagues and admirers. The eulogistic tone of the volume tends to make things more admiring than balanced, but many of the essays and speeches contain nuggets of unsanitized information.
All three books should be on the shelf of any reader truly interested in Heinlein.
|12.||What awards did Heinlein win for his work?|
Heinlein won four Hugo awards for best novel (an unmatched record), the first Grandmaster Nebula ever awarded, the Sequoyah award for best novel for young people, and was nominated for a dozen more major awards. (All of his awards and nominations were for novels; his short-fiction days largely predated the major science fiction awards.)
The Hugo awards are nominated and voted for by the fans. Heinlein's Hugo nominations and awards (and Nebula nominations) are as follows:
- Double Star (Hugo, 1956)
Heinlein was also awarded the Sequoyah Award, voted by the children of Oklahoma, for Have Space Suit--Will Travel as the best young person's novel of 1958. He also won other, lesser awards.
|13.||How do you pronounce "Heinlein"?|
The correct pronunciation is "hine-line," with more or less equal emphasis on both syllables, although it is usually permissible to slur it a bit to "hine'-line" or "hine'-len."
|14.||Are there any distinct periods in Heinlein's career?|
Some claim to see distinct divisions in Heinlein's work. (Some people claim to see faces and rabbits on the face of the moon, too.) The notion that Heinlein has distinct eras in his writing probably originated with Alexei Panshin, who sharply delineated three periods: the pre-war work, the post-war work through about 1958, and the (then-)later work from Starship Troopers through The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
It is possible to divide Heinlein's work into categories by era, but no two readers or scholars are likely to choose the same division points. No matter where you place the markers, you will find anomalous works in other "eras."
Any writer whose output spans five decades is likely to write differently as time passes (certain tightly-genred writers excepted). Heinlein grew more experimental as his success ensured sales.
|15.||What are the "uncut" versions of various Heinlein novels that have appeared in recent years?|
Many of Heinlein's novels were cut significantly before their initial publication. Some (Red Planet, Podkayne of Mars) were cut because an editor objected to certain material or story elements. Stranger in a Strange Land was cut drastically, mostly at RAH's own discretion, to bring it down to what was regarded as a salable length. The Puppet Masters was hacked up by the original magazine editor and shortened for book appearance by Heinlein himself.
With his death, many publishing contracts and options were terminated, and Virginia Heinlein was free to renegotiate terms. In the case of each of the novels named above, she chose to have the original, uncut versions of the manuscripts published. In general, any edition published before 1990 is the "original" book version; any version from 1990 on is the "uncut" or "restored" edition. Most of the latter carry a blurb on their covers trumpeting their complete nature.
Serious readers will want to read both versions of each of these works. Generally, readers seem to prefer the restored versions, but not always. Especially in the case of Stranger, opinion is divided as to which version is the "best."
The older versions are all out of print but easy to find in used book stores.
|16.||What does "E.F. or F.F.?" mean?|
This phrase appears several times in Time Enough for Love, most notably in the "Dora story." It means, simply, "Eat first, or fuck first?" and is believed to be old Navy slang (perhaps shorthand for "You wanna get some real food or some tail first?" on first hitting dirt for shore leave).
Dora's reply of "Both!" has confused some readers, but is completely in character, if you think about it.
|17.||Was Heinlein a Mason?|
According to Virginia Heinlein, no. He had Masonic friends from his Navy days onward, from whom he picked up the basic "secrets" and language that appear in many early short stories. However, he was never a member of the order himself.
While we're on the subject, Heinlein was not a Mormon, either.
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