Robert Anson Heinlein (7 July 1907 – 8 May 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he wrote sometimes controversial works which continue to have an influential effect on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.
"Robert Heinlein, author and social critic, was born in 1907 in Missouri. He was one of the century's most important writers of science fiction. ... Heinlein’s award-winning science fiction spanned five decades and paved the way for a new era in the genre. Indeed, his works constitute some of the most commercially successful libertarian fiction of all time. ... He continues to hold the record along with Lois McMaster Bujold for the most Hugo Awards won for science fiction novels. Chief among these works was The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, written in 1966."
"Depending on who you ask, science fiction grand master Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was either a conservative, a fascist, or a left-wing hippie. But to those who knew him best -- and to those who read any of his 47 books -- Heinlein was a libertarian who glorified individualism, progress, honor, and responsibility."
"The author of compelling science fiction with individualist themes was the entry point for millions of readers into rabid, late-night arguments about rights, responsibilities, the state, and really alternative sexual practices. If you don't grok Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Time Enough for Love, you just plain can't grok anything."
"By the time [Konkin] reached the University of Wisconsin ... he was a confirmed science fiction fan and was particularly enamored of the works of Robert A. Heinlein. One of Heinlein's novels in particular had impressed him – The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966) – in which a group of rebellious colonists on the Moon, under the leadership of a renegade computer and a white-haired political philosopher named Bernardo de la Paz, who advocates something he calls 'Rational Anarchy,' foment a successful revolution."
"In the year 2076, the inhabitants of a prison colony on the moon rebel and demand their freedom, sparking a war for independence against all of Earth. This is the story of Robert Heinlein's classic novel, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. ... [It] was published in 1966, when the despots in and apologists for the Soviet Union were still claiming the productive superiority of Marxist 'scientific' central planning, five year plans, conscript labor, indoctrination, and collectivization. Heinlein scorned it all."
"'An armed society,' wrote libertarian science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, 'is a polite society.' An armed people is a people who have taken a personal interest in keeping their society civil. David Kopel reports that 81 percent of the good Samaritans' who help victims of violent crime are gun owners."
Robert A. Heinlein: the universe as fiction, by William H. Duquette, ex libris reviews
Short reviews on some favorites, such as Glory Road, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land, and list of others with links to longer reviews
"Robert A. Heinlein is sometimes referred to as the Master by his fans, and the title is only deserved. Heinlein's career began during the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction in the 1940's and continued until his death some four decades later. Moreover, even the more dated of his books are still quite readable. He's best known for his 1960's work Stranger in a Strange Land, and through that book and others has been remarkably influential."
"Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), the science fiction writer who showed all the other science fiction writers How To Do It, was all about competence. Facing reality. Getting things done. Moving ahead. Not moping. Complaining was okay, and Heinlein did his share. He had lots of health problems, for one thing. And he didn't always like how things were going in the world, for another thing. But then came optimism."
"A pioneering master of speculative fiction, Robert Heinlein has captured the imagination of millions for liberty. Five of his novels chronicle rebellion against tyranny, other novels are about different struggles for liberty, and his writings abound with declarations on liberty. ... 'When the Science Fiction Writers of America began to hand out their Grand Master Awards in 1975, Heinlein received the first by general acclamation,' noted Isaac Asimov, himself the respected author of more than 300 books, including much science fiction. "
"LeFevre exuded such charisma that personal contacts often had profound consequences. ... Indeed, the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein is said to have found LeFevre so compelling that he became the model for Professor Bernardo de la Paz, the anarchist hero who leads a Lunar revolution in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. [Comments: ] ... the two men met each other due to their connection to Goldwater, and remained friends thereafter. Indeed, for about a decade, they lived in basically the same neighborhood. The SF writer J. Neil Schulman, who knew Heinlein very well indeed, simply states the modeling of Paz as a fact that is accepted by the Heinlein Society."
Samuel Edward Konkin III, by Jeff Riggenbach, 29 Jul 2010
Biographical essay; including examination of Konkin's ideas on the Counter-Economy; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 20 July 2010
"[Konkin] had already discovered the science fiction of Robert A. Heinlein, and when the mass-market paperback edition of Heinlein's 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was published in 1968, Sam picked up a copy as quickly as he could manage it and sat down to read. This new Heinlein tale, in which colonists on the moon — Luna — stage a libertarian revolution against the tyranny of politicians on Earth, captured Sam's imagination in a way none of Heinlein's other books ever had. ... in the summer of 1968 ... he was a former advocate of Social Credit newly converted to libertarianism by Robert A. Heinlein ..."
TANSTAAFL, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, by David R. Henderson, 3 Mar 2014
Explains the two meanings of TANSTAAFL: the scarcity of economic resources (and the need for tradeoffs) and the expectation of some kind of reciprocity when something is offered for "free"
"At the start of every class I teach, I give my students what I call "The Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom." ... None of the pillars, of course, is original with me. ... Pillar #1 is "TANSTAAFL." It stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As a Free Lunch." Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein popularized the acronym in his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Of course, to be grammatically correct, it should be "TINSTAAFL": There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. What follows is my exposition and application of this simple, but profound, insight."
"In this connection, Robert Heinlein has written a highly perceptive analysis of the difference between old-fashioned pols, who stress loyalty and integrity, and ideologue 'reformers', who are far more dangerous."
"'Coventry,' by Robert A. Heinlein (first published 1940 in Astounding Science Fiction) envisions the Covenant, a social compact under which breaking the law, as such, cannot be punished unless actual harm to someone has been demonstrated. The story contrasts that society with a lawless 'anarchy' into which those who break the covenant are sent."
"Heinlein, who was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, a small town about 65 miles south of Kansas City, had been in poor health for most of his adult life. ... Isaac Asimov, who knew Heinlein from the mid-'30s on, was convinced that his personal political views were largely a function of the woman he was married to at the time. In the '30s, ... he was married to wife #2, Leslyn MacDonald, whom Asimov describes as 'a flaming liberal' ... Twenty years later, married to wife #3, Virginia Gerstenfeld, he re-emerged as a Cold Warrior fixated on the supposed nobility of the military and newly devoted to a 'free market' ..."
"To grok (pronounced GRAHK) something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself. In Robert Heinlein's science-fiction novel of 1961, Stranger in a Strange Land, the word is Martian and literally means 'to drink' but metaphorically means 'to take it all in,' to understand fully, or to 'be at one with.'"
"I've called myself a libertarian since January 10, 1971, when my mother, a diehard New York Sunday Times crossword-doer, said to me, "Hey your favorite author's picture is in the Times Magazine." I rushed over and sure enough there was Robert A. Heinlein's picture illustrating an article entitled "The New Right Credo—Libertarianism" by Stan Lehr and Louis Rossetto, Jr., and I said to myself, "So that's what the set-up in Heinlein's short story 'Coventry' is all about." I already agreed with the libertarian philosophy. I just needed a label for it."
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, by William H. Patterson, Jr., 21 Oct 2010
Introduced by David Boaz, William H. Patterson discusses his biographical book Robert A. Heinlein Journal: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1, 1907-1948: Learning Curve
"Robert A. Heinlein is regarded by many as the greatest science fiction writer of the 20th century. He is the author of more than 30 novels, including Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and the libertarian classic The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. According to biographer William H. Patterson Jr., Heinlein's writings 'galvanized not one, but four social movements of his century: science fiction and its stepchild, the policy think tank; the counterculture; the libertarian movement; and the commercial space movement.'"
"I find that the only thing that troubles me about this is that people talk about other things and don't realize how big a day this is. This is the biggest day the human race has ever seen. This is the most important day in history. This is the most important thing since the human race learned to talk."