Robert A. Heinlein

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(July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988)

RAH was one of the major writers of John W. Campbell's Golden Age of Astounding. The first third of his career (which made his reputation) was focused on short fiction. During the second third, he created the “Heinlein Juveniles,” some of the best YA sf ever written, as well as his best adult novels, such as Double Star and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The last third of his career was a twilight of long books he did not permit to be edited.

It is a measure of the strength of the first two thirds of his career that he is still remembered as one of our greatest authors. Along with Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke and van Vogt (pick two), he’s considered one of the Big Three of science fiction writers. He was a Worldcon guest of honor three times.

He may have originated the idea of a history of the future in sf. He wrote under the pseudonyms Caleb Saunders, Lyle Munroe and Anson MacDonald. He used the last in the early 1940s for some of his most well-known stories when they were not in a recognizable Heinlein universe: "Solution Unsatisfactory", "By His Bootstraps", "Sixth Column", "Waldo", "Goldfish Bowl", and "Beyond This Horizon". The name is derived from his full name: Robert Anson MacDonald Heinlein.

Heinlein in Dimension by Alexei Panshin was the first book-length study of an SF author and still one of the best. Heinlein greatly disapproved of it and attempted to force the publisher, Advent, to suppress the book. His own self-examination resulted in the posthumous autobiographical work, Grumbles from the Grave, which, unfortunately, seems to have been an accurate portrayal of him in later life. His "official" biography, in 2 volumes (2010, 2014), was written by William H. Patterson, Jr., co-founder of The Heinlein Society.


Juveniles[edit]

The “Heinlein juveniles” is the usual name for Heinlein’s novels written for what’s now be known as the "young adult" market

The core group are the 12 novels published by Scribner's between 1947 and 1958. The series started with some fairly minor work, but by its end included novels that stand up as well or better than his adult novels.

A thirteenth, Starship Troopers, was submitted to Scribner's but rejected and instead published by Putnam. A fourteenth novel, Podkayne of Mars, is often listed as a "Heinlein juvenile," although Heinlein himself did not consider it to be one.

Many fans consider the Juveniles to be the high point of RAH's writing. While there's no doubt that his earlier incarnation (roughly 1939 to 1950) as a primarily short fiction writer was more influential on the field, the Heinlein Juveniles, and especially the later ones like Citizen of the Galaxy and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, were the first taste of first-rate SF for a great many fans who came of age in the 1950s and ’60s. These books shaped an entire generation.

Heinlein's Children is an interesting collection of essays about them.

Personal life[edit]

After being invalided out of the Navy before World War II, he did engineering for the Navy near Philadelphia and after the war lived in Colorado for nearly 20 years before moving back to California where he lived for the rest of his life. While in Colorado, he was a member of the Colorado Fantasy Society.

Austin Carter, one of the characters in Anthony Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue is directly modeled after him in his days in the Manana Literary Society.

He was married three times, to Elinor Curry (1929–1930), Leslyn MacDonald (1932–1947) and Virginia Gerstenfeld (1948–his death).

Awards, Honors and GoHships:


Person Reasonator 19071988
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