Remembering Robert Heinlein, 25 Years Later

May 8, 2013 marks 25 years since the passing of Robert A. Heinlein.

Rather than a cause of sadness, this milestone reminds us of the strength and lasting impact of Heinlein, his wisdom, and his works, and how they are, and will, reach into the future. Heinlein has never been out-of-print, and thanks to the Citizen of the Galaxy graphic novel program, is poised to reach out to a new generation in a new way.

Following Robert Heinlein’s death in 1988, his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Heinlein continued to work on his estate and his legacy. Though she was left with a comfortable inheritance on which to live, Ginny lived quite simply, working hard to build the estate and her husband’s publishing legacy to the point where it would not only be self-sustaining, but would allow their shared dream of humankind’s future in space to be supported and encouraged in substantial ways.

Ginny Heinlein’s efforts on behalf of Robert’s legacy thrive today in six forms:

  • The Heinlein Society
  • The Heinlein Prize Trust
  • The Heinlein Archives
  • The Heinlein Chair at the USNA
  • The Heinlein Foundation
  • The Virginia Edition of the Complete Works of Robert A. Heinlein

The Heinlein Society, founded by Virginia Heinlein, is a non-profit organization, operated by unpaid volunteers, dedicated to Heinlein’s principle of PAY IT FORWARD.

The Heinlein Society has established programs to:

Hold blood drives – Robert Heinlein was a devoted supporter of blood drives, blood donations having saved his own life. Heinlein Society-sponsored blood drives are some of the largest and most successful in the world.

As well as the Educators CD and Lesson Plans, the Heinlein Society sponsors two scholarships for college students majoring in engineering, math, or physical sciences (e.g. physics, chemistry), or in Science Fiction as Literature, with hopes to sponsor more and larger scholarships in the future.

Supports and encourages research and writing on Heinlein and his works, including supporting the Heinlein Journal.

Participate in and support Heinlein-themed panels at science fiction conventions.

The Heinlein Prize Trust represents the bulk of Heinlein’s literary and financial estate. The Heinlein Prize Trust is dedicated to encouraging and rewarding progress in commercial space activities, and to support and encourage educational endeavors.

To that end, The Heinlein Prize Trust:

Created the Heinlein Archives, a publicly accessible, electronic archive of Robert A. Heinlein’s manuscripts, papers, personal records, photographs, and more in the Heinlein Archives. This online Archives is open to the public who may download any of almost 200,000 pages of Heinlein material at a nominal fee.

Has awarded The Heinlein Prize® for accomplishments in commercial space activities, with a substantial cash award to:

Given awards to numerous business start-ups, and research programs, working in areas related to commercial space activities, including latest winner of the 2013 Heinlein Space Commercialization Award.

Sponsored and supported international space activities competitions in Europe with the Flight Into the Future competition, and in Asia with the Flying Into the Future competition.

Supported educational activities including:

Continue support of the Heinlein Chair at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, founded by Virginia Heinlein, and now supported by the Heinlein Prize Trust.

Supported the writing and research of the Heinlein Biography, by the first Heinlein Scholar, William H. Patterson, Jr.

Supported the Virginia Edition Publishing Company in the production of the 46 volume definitive collector’s edition of the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein.

Authorized and supported the Citizen of the Galaxy graphic novel.

The Heinlein Foundation is the foundation which supports the Butler Public Library, in Heinlein’s hometown of Butler, Missouri. The Heinlein Foundation and Butler Public Library operate from funds received from a few Heinlein titles, plus public support. Your donations of money and books are welcomed.

Butler Public Library is home to the Heinlein Room, with books and collections. Visitors are welcome.

The Virginia Edition is a landmark publishing project, publishing the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein in versions as close to the original, or intended, versions as possible. Along with Heinlein’s books and short stories are new, informative introductions, plus volumes of never previously published works, such as television scripts, and volumes of personal correspondence. These archival volumes are made to last. One day, it is to be hoped, the Virginia Edition may grace the library shelves in Luna City, and beyond.

It is from those letters, Virginia Edition Volume 41, page 36, that you may find this quote from Heinlein on his view, rarely expressed in public, on his own genuine belief in an afterlife…

“If, when I die, I am hauled up for judgment before an Omnipotence in a white nightshirt and a long beard, I would find such outcome most surprising. But my own utter extinction I would find much more surprising. Either this universe is extremely complex and not at all by accident –or I’ve been having an awfully bad dream and will wake up and find that I Myself am in charge.” – Robert A. Heinlein to his editor for Stranger in a Strange Land, April 9th, 1961.

Thank you, Robert, for sharing your vision and your wisdom. We’ll keep working for a better future. We miss you.

Robert A. Heinlein:
July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988
Live with gusto, die with dignity.

One Response

  1. Thinker says:

    Deb – This is beautiful and a wonderful way to honor Heinlein on the 25th year after his passing. Thank you very much for your support of ‘paying it forward’ and the six activities you described above.

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