My Virginia Edition of the Complete Works of Robert A. Heinlein arrived and has a new home on shelves in my office!
My goodness… with as many things having to do with Heinlein and his legacy I’ve been involved in (Heinlein Archives, Heinlein Society, Heinlein Prize Trust, and more), I didn’t think a book set could cause a squeeing fangirl reaction for me, but the Virginia Edition did!
The Virginia Edition is exciting and beautiful, and I’m pleased and proud to have it in my home.
Here’s how it came about…
The set just arrived is actually the second set my husband and I bought. Years ago, in 2007, we bought a Library Edition to donate to Robert Heinlein’s hometown library in Butler, Missouri. At the time we figured it was a good place to have “our” Virginia Edition set live. It would go to a good cause, enrich many lives, and we could drive down and ‘visit’ it every few years. But we haven’t been to Butler since–though we’re still very pleased to have a VE set we donated live there–and, with the collection completed and hearing the reactions of other VE owners, the craving was too strong to deny.
The Great Arrival started far too early in the morning for us, with the doorbell ringing. It was FedEx and they left a note about a delivery, but did not leave the boxes. As anxious as we were to have the books, we were glad to know the Virginia Edition is not being left unattended on doorsteps, or out in weather.
The next morning, when the doorbell rang, we were ready and signed for our delivery. The Virginia Edition came in three boxes totaling 22 pounds. At least that’s what the FedEx deliveryman said, they seem heavier to me. The packing is strange. It all works, but it struck me as a little odd. Three boxes of different sizes containing more boxes which had no rhyme or reason to which books were in which of the three boxes.
No matter, though, as all the books arrived in good shape, well packed and protected. And – bonus – lots of good boxes for the cats to enjoy!
I cleared shelf space and started unpacking the books. By chance, the first of the inner boxes I opened contained volumes 22-26 and they were shrinkwrapped all together. It turned out they were the only ones shrinkwrapped in a group. Every other book was individually shrinkwrapped. It was a bit of a chore to free the volumes from their wrapping. Eventually, I used a knife to nick the paper-side of the plastic open, as I was being excruciatingly careful not to damage the leather bindings! Though it was pesky to get the shrinkwrap off each individual book, I offer my absolute kudos to the publisher for shipping them this way. Each book was protected from damage, including water, very well.
How hard it was to resist sitting down and opening each book to read as I unpacked them. Every Heinlein fan will understand that reaction. These books are a treasure not meant to languish on a shelf as decor (with my apologies to our Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire collection) but need to be read and loved. And they will be. The new content is compelling and interesting. I know several people who are reading the set through in its entirety, in order. One VE collection owner commented to me that he’d use his weight allowance to take the Virginia Edition to a new colony world! How true, and how appropriate. Perhaps our set will one day occupy treasured shelf space in the Luna City Library. It’s a wonderful thing to contemplate.
Then, while unpacking, came a moment of panic. Volume #42 wasn’t there. I resisted the impulse to send the email about it being missing and bravely continued to unpack the rest. Thank goodness! Volume 42 was packaged out of order and was in another box. The labels on the interior boxes indicated this was correct and expected.
At last the complete Virginia Edition was on the shelves of its new home. As soon as I took the last photo, Geo Rule snatched up the volume with the Campbell/Heinlein correspondence, volume #39, as that’s one of the volumes he had a significant hand in bringing about. I got lost for a while in the Time Enough For Love volume. While I’ll still be taking an old, tattered paperback copy of these books to the lake, or to read in the tub, I will be pulling out the Virginia Edition copies to read and savor.
I hope our Virginia Edition collection becomes a gift to the future, and I hope it’s the sort of future the Heinleins dreamed of!
You can order your own 46 volume, limited collector’s Virginia Edition at www.virginiaedition.com.
Deb Houdek Rule
October 1, 2012
Thanks so much for this article, it was the clincher for me and I ordered the Virginia Edition. Delivery was surprisingly prompt and the unboxing was just about as you indicated here. The books look wonderful; on my shelves. I wish I could add a photo but they are between a shelf with an Oxford Collected Mark Twain and one with the latest Folio Society’s leather-bound Charles Dickens. I hope RAH would approve of the placement!
The only thing I would add to your review is that the books actually look and feel better than they photograph! The leather binding is very nicely done and makes each book a joy to hold and read. The gilt spines and the little icons on the covers are very nice touches. The ribbon markers are high quality and I don’t think they will split and unravel with usage as I have seen happen with less sturdy fabrics.
Well, I still have 43 volumes to read, thanks again!
(By the way are there any active Forums these days where I might find others who have bought or are interested in this edition? The Nexus Forum seems a bit empty…)
Thank you for saying so, Neil. You’re going to love the Virgina Edition!