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Heinlein Society

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about

Robert A. Heinlein, his works

by D. A. Houdek

2003 D. A. Houdek Rule - no reproduction or distribution without consent of author. This material may not be copied and put on another website without permission.

Where can I find free copies of Heinlein's books and stories to read on the Web?

You can't. Hopefully, that is. Any free or unauthorized electronic versions of Heinlein's works that appear on the Web are pirated (meaning: stolen) copies and the copyright owners will stomp on them as soon as possible. Go to Amazon.com or Abebooks to buy copies or go to your library.

When Heinlein's works are pirated, the theft is from all of us, and from the future, as the proceeds from sales of Heinlein's works go directly and substantively to our future in space. The Heinlein Prize Trust is using income from Heinlein's works to fund an award that encourages advancement in commercial space programs, as well as other worthy endeavors. The Heinleins, even after their deaths, are still "paying forward" to all of us, and it is our duty to honor their tremendous gifts to us by respecting the copyrights of Heinlein's works and only purchasing authorized copies.

See: The Heinlein Prize

Under what pseudonyms did Heinlein's sf/f stories appear?

Anson MacDonald (Anson is Heinlein's middle name and MacDonald was wife Leslyn's maiden name)

Lyle Monroe (Lyle was his mother's maiden name)

John Riverside (probably from Riverside, California)

Caleb Saunders

Are there any unpublished Heinlein novels?

Yes, he wrote an early novel called "For Us the Living" that was never published. The Heinleins destroyed all copies... or so they thought, an original copy of the manuscript was hunted down by Heinlein Society member, and Heinlein scholar, Robert James. "For Us, the Living" will be published late in 2003.

See: The Finding and Publishing of "For Us, the Living"

Did Charles Manson use "Stranger in a Strange Land" as his 'bible', and did the book connect to the Manson family murders?

No. This story apparently got started because of an anonymously published article. When asked, Charles Manson had never heard of the book. Some of the Manson girls had apparently read it but it had no connection to the murders.

How many Hugo awards does Heinlein have?

4 original Hugos and 3 Retro Hugos

The original Hugos were for:

1956 Novel: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

1960 Novel: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

1962 Novel: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

1967 Novel: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

The Retro Hugos were started to cover works during the years before the Hugo awards were established. The 1951 Retro Hugos were awarded at the 2001 World Con in Philadelphia (Millennium Philcon).

1951 Retro Hugo Awards Heinlein won were:

Best Novel--Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Best Novella--"The Man Who Sold the Moon" by Robert A. Heinlein (from The Man Who Sold the Moon)

Best Dramatic Presentation--"Destination Moon" movie with script by Robert A. Heinlein

How many Nebula awards?

Heinlein received the first Grand Master Nebula award in 1974.

Was Heinlein a racist?

Based on both his fiction and non-fiction writings, and on conversations with people who knew him, my opinion is a firm, no, he was not a racist.

What race is Eunice in "I Will Fear No Evil"?

Reader's choice--Heinlein apparently wrote the novel with pictures of two attractive women above his computer for inspiration, one white, one black.

What race or ethnicity is Juan Rico in "Starship Troopers"?

Filipino.

What race is Rod Walker in "Tunnel in the Sky"?

Black. The clues are in the novel but Heinlein didn't treat race in this novel as an "issue" and so writes all characters regardless of their sex or race as characters, on equal footing.

Heinlein Society member & Heinlein scholar/researcher, Robert James, PH.D. explains further: The evidence is slim but definite. First and foremost, outside of the text, there is a letter in which RAH firmly states that Rod is black, and that Johnny Rico is Filipino. As to the text itself, it is implied rather than overt. RAH often played games with the skin color of his characters, in what I see as a disarming tactic against racists who may come to identify with the hero, then realize later on that they have identified with somebody they supposedly hate. He does this in a number of different places. Part of this may also have to do with the publishing mores of the time, which probably would not have let him get away with making his main character black in a juvenile novel. The most telling evidence is that everybody in "Tunnel" expects Rod to end up with Caroline, who is explicitly described as black. While that expectation may seem somewhat racist to us today, it would be a firm hint to the mindset of the fifties, which would have been opposed to interracial marriages. I think RAH himself would have been infuriated by the suggestion that this was racist; indeed, I think it more likely that this was simply the easiest way to signal a reader from the fifties that he's been slipped a wonderful protagonist who is not white. I have taught this novel many times, and at least twice, a teenage student has asked me if Rod was black without me prompting the possibility whatsoever.

Was Heinlein a sexist?

As a female who grew up reading Heinlein, my opinion is, yes, but in a good way. He believed in the strength, competence, and abilities of women to do or be whatever they chose, and his major female characters are usually portrayed as stronger and smarter than their male counterparts. He did seem to believe that women could still be powerful, in-control career women yet still be female, feminine, and could be--and want to be--mothers and wives.

From reading Heinlein's books I've come to the conclusion he was a devote Christian/absolute atheist. Was he? What were Heinlein's religious beliefs? Did he believe in an afterlife?

Tramp Royale available from Amazon.com

or used from

 ABEBOOKS.com

Godbody by Theodore Sturgeon is available used from  Amazon.com

or used from

 ABEBOOKS.com

His religious beliefs were his own, personal and private and only subject to guesswork and opinion at this point. He was raised a Methodist and in the non-fiction "Tramp Royale" claims Methodist as his religion as of that writing in 1953-54. One of his last novels, "Job: A Comedy of Justice" shows a deep and thorough knowledge of, and study of, the Christian Bible and beliefs, though this is coupled with a strongly satirical treatment of those beliefs. Then there's "Stranger in a Strange Land" with a tale of a messiah and the foundation of a new religion. The LDS religion often appears in his books (i.e. in "The Sixth Column") and is generally portrayed positively.

The closest Heinlein came to revealing his own, personal opinion on religion and the afterlife comes from the introduction to Theodore Sturgeon's "Godbody". 

From reading Heinlein's books I've come to the conclusion he was a Fascist/Libertarian/liberal/conservative. Was he?

People with particular slants seem to latch onto one work or another that suits their opinions or biases and take it as being representative of all of Heinlein. "Starship Troopers" is regarded by some as 'fascist' (particularly after the hideous distortion presented in the movie version), it isn't . "Stranger in a Strange Land" became a banner book for liberals--yet it was written at the same time as "Starship Troopers" so couple the contradictions together on that account. Libertarians adore "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" with the anarchistic type of society that works so well, yet Heinlein came along with "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" and smashed that same perfect setup to bits, showing the potential unpleasant outcome. For every political or social stance you care to choose to assign to Heinlein you can probably find something in his writing to support that opinion... and something else to contradict it.

Which version of "Stranger in a Strange Land" is better, the 'as originally published' or the later 'uncut' version, and why are there two versions?

See: Stranger VS Stranger by G. E. Rule

Is there a real Church of All Worlds ala "Stranger in a Strange Land"?

Yes, but Heinlein, himself, had nothing to do with it or its founding.

Did Poddy die at the end of "Podkayne of Mars?"

In Heinlein's original writing, yes, she did, but the publisher objected so in was rewritten and published with Poddy surviving. Recently a new edition has been released with both endings.

Did Lazarus Long die at the end of "Time Enough For Love"?

Somewhat speculatively, yes he did, in the book's original intent... until "Number of the Beast" was written and Lazarus appears therein, alive and well. So ultimately, the answer is "no," Lazarus did not die.

Is Lazarus Long his own ancestor?

No. He does go back in time, meets and has intimate relations with his mother, but himself as a child is present as well in the story.

From "Time Enough For Love," what does "E.F. or F.F" mean?

Eat First or F--k first. With the answer "both" making perfect sense.

What's the best book to recommend to introduce someone to Heinlein?

The juveniles are usually safe bets. They're good science fiction and good adventure without some of the more shocking and/or controversial elements of later novels. However, it's an individual thing--I've met people who started with later novels like "Cat Who Walks Through Walls" and become enamored.

What are the "Lost Three" stories?

These are three short stories published in the early 1940s that are rather hard to find. Heinlein called them "stinkeroos". The stories are:

  • Beyond Doubt, (co-author Elma Wentz), Astonishing Stories, April 1941, Republished in Beyond the End of Time (ed Fred Pohl, 1952), Political Science Fiction (ed Martin H. Greenberg and Patricia S. Warrick, 1974), Election Day 2084 (ed Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, 1984).

  • My Object All Sublime, Future, February 1942

  • Pied Piper, Astonishing, March 1942 (never republished)

Which Star Trek episode was Heinlein involved with, and why?

"The Trouble With Tribbles"--the producers noticed that the Tribbles bore a decided similarity to Heinlein's Martian flatcats in "The Rolling Stones" and so asked Heinlein's permission for the concept (according to "The Trouble With Tribbles" author David Gerrold). Heinlein asked only for an autographed copy of the script.

From "Starship Troopers," what is the origin and meaning of "Shines the name, shines the name of Roger Young"?

It's from a ballad chronicling the real actions of an infantry private in World War II. Private Roger W. Young, 148th Regt. 37th Infantry Division, 25 years old, 5'2" tall, with bad eyesight and nearly deaf, single-handedly attacked a Japanese machine gun nest that had his unit pinned down. Pvt. Young was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Link: The Story of Roger Young

The Ballad of Rodger Young

by

PFC Frank Loesser

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.

No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,

But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry

Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name--Rodger Young!

Fought and died for the men he marched among.

To the everlasting glory of the Infantry

Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.

 

Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen--

Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom--

Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen

Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.

Volunteered, Rodger Young!

Fought and died for the men he marched among.

In the everlasting annals of the Infantry

Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young.

 

It was he who drew the fire of the enemy

That a company of men might live to fight;

And before the deadly fire of the enemy

Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.

 

On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons,

Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell

That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons,

Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well.

Sleeps a man, Rodger Young,

Fought and died for the men he marched among.

In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry

Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young.

 

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry,

No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,

But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry

Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name--Rodger Young!

Fought and died for the men he marched among.

To the everlasting glory of the Infantry

Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.

 

   

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The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, to "pay forward" the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein to future generations of "Heinlein's Children."