Robert Heinlein made an immediate impact on the fledgling science fiction world with his first story, Life-Line, published In 1939 in Astounding Stories magazine. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were regarded as three of the leading authors in science fiction’s Golden Age.
One of Heinlein’s innovations, since adopted by innumerable others, was what was called his ‘Future History’. This was a loosely organized history in which many of his stories played a part. Typical amongst these was If This Goes on --, his first novel (co-opting what I regard as the ultimate science fiction story title), which postulated a religious dictatorship in the United States and the movement and organization required to overthrow it.
Heinlein was one of the first American authors to emerge from the so-called ‘pulp ghettos’, writing for The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. In the 1950s Scribner published a dozen of what were termed Heinlein’s juvenile novels, some of which have fairly adult themes. Many hold up surprisingly well after 60+ years.
Heinlein began the 1960s with a pair of Hugo winning novels. Starship Troopers paved the way for the much imitated military powered armor. Stranger in a Strange Land became the first science fiction novel to make the New York Times best seller list and became a mainstream classic of the 60s. It challenged conventional American mores and introduced ‘grok’ to the English language. He ended the 1960s with his last Hugo winner, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a classic that moves an American Revolution type setting to the Moon, casting it with a Libertarian slant along with a self-aware computer.
In the 1970s, poor health led Robert and Virginia Heinlein to set out to help reorganize and reenergize the blood donation system in the United States. In the 1980s he again turned to writing, publishing another five novels before his death in 1988.
As teenagers, my sister and I grew up on Heinlein’s work. To this day, Heinlein remains a popular author for the con-going public and online shoppers. You can check out our current listings here.