Robert A. Heinlein, often called the dean of science fiction writers, is

regarded as the “most influential” writer of modern science fiction, in the whole history of the genre.


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He is ranked by many as one of the four luminaries of the Golden Age of science fiction, along with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.

He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction.

His published works, both fiction and non-fiction, express admiration for competence and emphasizes the value of critical thinking. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture.

Heinlein is a timeless inspiration to writers and readers.

One of the most lasting testaments to Robert Heinlein is that he created many of the science fiction genres, and Inspired generations of new writers, scientists, and astronauts.

Robert Heinlein is one of the authors that I grew up reading, and I have always found his books to be highly readable and very enjoyable, starting in 1958 with “Have Space Suit Will Travel.

This novel is a wonderful adventure for all ages.

I was in the sixth grade, and was not much of a reader, when my school started bringing books from the public library to our elementary school library.

When I saw the book title “Have Space Suit Will Travel,” and the picture of a man in a space suit on the book cover, I was intrigued.

I immediately checked out the book, and read it twice, and did not want to check it back in.

I had some money saved from cutting grass in my neighborhood, so I claimed that I had lost the book, and paid $5.00, the cost of the book, to Gates Memorial public library in Port Arthur, and kept the book.

Twenty-six years later, in 1984, I met Robert Heinlein at an L-5 conference in Houston, Texas, and he autographed the book on an inside title page.

Heinlein did not start out as a writer.


In 1929, he graduated from the Naval Academy with the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Engineering, ranking fifth in his class academically but with a class standing of 20th of 243 due to disciplinary demerits. Shortly after graduation, he was commissioned as an ensign by the U. S. Navy. He advanced to lieutenant, junior grade while serving aboard the new aircraft carrier USS Lexington in 1931, where he worked in radio communications.

In 1934, Heinlein was discharged from the Navy due to pulmonary tuberculosis.

After discharge from the Navy, Heinlein supported himself at several occupations, including real estate sales and silver mining, but for some years found money in short supply.

While not destitute, he had a small disability pension from the Navy — Heinlein turned to writing to pay off his mortgage.

His first published story, “Life-Line”, was printed in the August 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Originally written for a contest, he sold it to Astounding for significantly more than the contest’s first-prize payoff.

Some saw Heinlein’s talent from his first story, and he was quickly acknowledged as a leader of the new movement toward “social” science fiction.

Thus, began Heinlein’s writing career.

Robert Heinlein is considered one of the greatest and most essential writers in the SF cannon, not only because of his excellent narrative and literary qualities, but as a pioneer in the field, a paladin of critical thinking and of rational pragmatism, owing perhaps to his formation as an engineer.

His ideas and reflections, have been poured into his hundred Plus Works, that remain relevant today.

Heinlein has always had great fun pointing out human oddities and foibles as he did in his most famous novel, “Stranger in A Strange Land,” showing in it, for example Michael Smith trying to grok the world around him, while creating an enjoyably nasty future world.

In an interview, Heinlein is said to have snickered over the idea that a religion had been founded upon Stranger in a Strange Land.

Heinlein does have a tendency to lecture and harangue, but generally does an excellent job of making palatable some challenging ideas.

Heinlein is, in fact, the author of the Libertarian battle cry TANSTAAFL! (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch)

If nothing else, science fiction is always going to be grateful to Robert Heinlein for giving us this word.


Heinlein was clearly passionate about the things he believed, but Heinlein is not for everyone; he was not “Politically Correct.”

But if you find him too preachy in novels such as “Time Enough for Love,” then you should probably stop there; latter Heinlein is not for you.

It’s a generally-held tenet that the novels of Robert Heinlein are better before 1970 than afterwards, and with few exceptions, his earlier works are his masterworks.

At his intellectual best, and his most provocative, Robert Heinlein is formidable.

He integrates a systematic and unique philosophy in his writing, and it is generally believed that Heinlein is one of the giants on whose shoulders modern SF authors stand; but giants don’t get much admiration in their own time.

Heinlein is the only author to have won four Hugo awards for best science fiction novel during his lifetime, for Double Star, Starship Troopers (1959), Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and was given the first Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement.

He was also awarded three more posthumous Hugo Awards

Heinlein is just the kind of author who writes some books you love, and some you probably hate, but every writer since Heinlein has learned from him.

I know that I have.

Robert A. Heinlein Biography

Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein Interviewed by Walter Chronkite

on the day of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Robert A. Heinlein Guest of Honor Speech at “1976 Worldcon.”

Robert A. Heinlein 1973 speech to The Naval Academy

AUDIO:  Volume is lower during the 2 minute introduction of Heinlein, but much higher when he speaks