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American science fiction writer
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  • Robert A. Heinlein

    Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) was an American science fiction author. Sometimes called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the "Big Three" of English-language science fiction authors. Notable Heinlein works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers (which helped mold the space marine and mecha archetypes) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.


    Heinlein, Robert (1907-1988), by Amy H. Sturgis, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical and bibliographical essay
    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.
    Related Topic: Government


    Robert Heinlein - The Advocates
    299x288 GIF, grayscale


    7 Jul 1907, Robert Anson Heinlein, in Butler, Missouri


    8 May 1988, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

    Awards Received

    1983 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    1987 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For Stranger in a Strange Land
    1996 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For Red Planet
    1997 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For Methuselah's Children
    1998 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For Time Enough for Love
    2003 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award, by Libertarian Futurist Society, Prometheus Hall of Fame Award
    For Requiem

    Web Pages

    Robert A. Heinlein -
    Short profile and links to essays, videos and other resources about Heinlein
    Robert Heinlein was a prolific science fiction writer, who built a career on weaving the ideas of liberty into the fantastical tales he spun.
    Robert Heinlein - The Advocates
    Biography, picture and quotes
    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.


    35 Heroes of Freedom, by Reason, Reason, Dec 2003
    "Eclectic, irreverent" list of individuals "who have made the world a freer, better, and more libertarian place by example, invention, or action", as chosen by Reason editors (includes the unknown martyr of Tiananmen Square and "The Yuppie")
    Robert Heinlein. 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.
    Jeff Riggenbach on Samuel Edward Konkin III, by Jeff Riggenbach, Freedom Network News, 2004
    Lengthy biographical and memorial essay
    By the time [Konkin] reached the University of Wisconsin later [in 1968] ... 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.
    Lunar prisoners fight for freedom in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Howard Baetjer, 1 Feb 2017
    Discusses Heinlein's (and book character professor Bernardo de la Paz's) views on government and anarchism in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with several excerpts, and ending with "Don't miss it"
    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.
    The Right to Life Equals the Right to Possess Firearms, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 1994
    Discusses U.S. legislation or proposals to restrict, register, license or ban gun ownership, countering that these controls go against the basic right of self-defense, itself a corollary of the right to life
    It stands to reason: if most people are armed both with guns and the knowledge of how to use them, violent crime is deterred. In our time, we have seen just those results in Florida and Oregon after those states liberalized their license-to-carry laws. "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 - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    Biographical profile published by The Daily Objectivist
    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.
    Robert A. Heinlein's Soaring Spirit of Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jul 1997
    Biographical essay, including multiple quotes from fellow authors and significant excerpts from Heinlein's novels and stories
    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 ... [He] is the world's most celebrated science fiction author ... "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 ... Heinlein is the only author to have won four "Hugo" awards ...
    Robert LeFevre, Paying a Debt Backward, by Wendy McElroy, 6 Nov 2014
    A tribute to Robert LeFevre, highlighting his solution to ensuring private justice
    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 ... [H]e 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.
    Total Victory: How Sweet It Is!, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Libertarian Forum, 1983
    Lengthy account and commentary on the 1983 Libertarian Party presidential convention
    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. In Time Enough for Love (p. 110), he has Lazarus Long say:
    "Reform politicians not only tend to be dishonest but stupidly dishonest—whereas the business politician is honest ... I don't mean that a business politician won't steal; stealing is his business. But all politicians are nonproductive ... But a reform politician has no such lodestone ... After he gets hardened to this, he's capable of cheating at solitaire."
    Vonnegut, Heinlein, Kipling, and Others Battle It Out for a Libertarian Award, by Jesse Walker, 17 Jan 2017
    Discusses the Libertarian Futurist Society Hall of Fame awards and lists the 2017 finalists with brief descriptions of each
    This year's [Prometheus Hall of Fame Award] nominees are unusual in that they're all short stories rather than novels. From the press release: ... "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.
    Was Robert A. Heinlein a Libertarian?, by Jeff Riggenbach, 2 Jun 2010
    Biographical essay, focused on attempting to answer the title question; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" of 18 May 2010
    Heinlein, who was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, a small town ..., 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" ...
    What is ... grok (a definition)
    Includes definition with relevant quote from Stranger in a Strange Land and links to other Robert A. Heinlein resources
    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." Today, grok sometimes is used to include acceptance as well as comprehension—to "dig" or appreciate as well as to know ... In common usage, "Do you grok?" seems close in meaning to "Do you get it?"
    Why this libertarian is voting to re-elect George W. Bush, by J. Neil Schulman, 21 Oct 2004
    Explains Schulman's rationale for casting a vote for Bush in the 2004 presidential election
    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.'


    CBS News - Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke interview with Walter Cronkite – Apollo 11, 20 Jul 1969
    Walter Cronkite hosts Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke to discuss the achievement of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, an hour before the module hatch was due to be opened and the first moon walk was to take place
    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.

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Robert A. Heinlein" as of 13 Jan 2023, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.