RAH's work influenced several generations of young people, including myself
when I was young.
In the Twentyfirst Century, it is easy to look backwards and say: "Well of
course...." and "he was wrong about this," or "...right about that." 20-20 hindsight
just works that way. Looking into the future and guessing right is
another matter entirely. "The Future Ain't What It Used To
Be (tm)" is an understatement.
Heinlein spotted countless trends that are reality today. Not all of them
are good, and not all of them are bad, but in his own way, RAH prepared us
for today when today was still 20-30 years into the
future, just as his visions of hundreds of years from now are just
as likely to be spot on as not.
As this is written there does not yet exist a complete "Collected
Works of Robert A. Heinlein." A representative of his estate assured me long
ago, that there were efforts to make that happen, but RAH wrote for a
great many different publishers who all want the biggest piece of the
republishing pie. Meanwhile you have to haunt the used booksellers like
During a five-decade career that produced 37 novels and 11 short-story
collections, he won an unprecedented four Hugo Awards, (given by popular vote
of science fiction fans) for the best novel of the year.
"Stranger in a
Strange Land" is perhaps his best-known work. It became a favorite of the
'60s generations, for its advocacy of free love and cynicism about organized
religion. RAH turned in a manuscript 800 pages long. To keep production costs
down, and perhaps fearful of some of the contents, including lengthy
descriptions of Martian sex; his publishers, requested a big reduction, of
about 250 pages. In 1990, the unexpurgated, 220,000-word version of
"Stranger" was published by Ace/G.P. Putnam's Sons.
I expect RAH's works to have regular revivals long into the future, as
society and technology continue our fast-forward evolution.
Virginia (Ginny) Heinlein, was Robert's wife, muse and IP guardian. A good
place to learn about the origins of the strong women in RAH's stories is to
look at this tender profile of his wife, an
Obituary from the LA Times, by LA Times Staff Writer
Elain Woo. Virginia passed away in January 2003 at age 86.
Lazarus Long is the main character in several masterful science fiction
novels by Robert A. Heinlein. The character is a human being who has lived for
thousands of years. Heinlein painted Lazarus Long as a very bright fellow
who has, during his very long lifetime, been paying attention and taking notes.
At one point I thought that "Notebooks" was a classic "canonical list" posted
to the net by an unknowable body of tenacious fans, so I made the net posting
into a web page. It turns out that The Notebooks of Lazarus Long is an actual
64-page book (ISBN: 0876544731), so I took the page down. It is is currently
out of print, but you can find copies at meatspace and online used
booksellers. Fair warning:, used copies of this short book are selling for
You can read what others say about it for free, at the
hotlink above which goes direct to the "Notebooks" page on Amazon.com.
Three Fair Use Quotes:
Here then are three quotes from "Notebooks." I believe they are few enough to
fall under the definition of "fair use: quotation and critique."
Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of - but
do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
Specialization is for insects. 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 and die gallantly.
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss.
The Lazarus Long Books
These Robert A. Heinlein Books feature Lazarus Long.
Click to see reader reviews from Amazon.com: