Since I cannot reread Heinlein, I should not read a biography of Heinlein

But I can browse one.  William H. Patterson's Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Learning Curve 1907-1948, would appear to be definitive.  The very thick volume one — over six hundred pages with notes – stops at 1948.  It is very well written and engaging and connects Heinlein to broader American history.  There is plenty on Heinlein and free love, Heinlein and H.G. Wells, Heinlein in the Navy, Heinlein and Missouri, and many other topics.


Do you mean you can't reread Heinlein because you dislike his work? If so, I'm curious - which Heinlein books have you read? Of those, which one did you like the least, and the most?

I have the Heinlein biography in Kindle form, but have just started it. He was a major influence on me, so I'm looking forward to reading it.

My guess is that Heinlein is second only to Ayn Rand in the number of people a single writer converted to free-market or libertarian principles. He was probably more influential than any American writer in getting young adults interested in science and engineering. Almost every engineer I know was a big Heinlein fan and cites him as an influence.

Heinlein must have been tempted at various points to try to set himself up as a cult leader, like Ayn Rand or his friend L. Ron Hubbard, but he largely resisted the temptation.

Heinlein didn't have to set up a religion, others took his stories to heart and did so themselves. I suppose if Heinlein cjose to he may have been able to take his place as the head of the church.]

See religion #6 -

I've found the only problem with being a loner is all the damn people.

Militarism, misogyny, chauvinism... Heinlein has got it all. I read a lot of it when I was a teenager, and was troubled by it even then. His later works were almost uniformly abysmal. SF has grown up, you grok?

Jymbruce, if you think Heinlein was a misogynist, you must not have read many of his books. If by "militarist" you mean "he thought people ought to, and ought to be able to, defend themselves and their society", then you're quite right, but I'm not clear on why that would be troubling.

And do not forget - Heinlein was a child of his century and of his generation. He was contemporary with my parents. You need to compare him to other GI Generation writers to see how well ha stands up.

I'll grant you, history started passing him by sometime in the 1960s as the culture changed and as his heavy-handed attempts to be nonracist and nonsexist looked extremely labored, but "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

As a child of the tail end of that era myself (born 1939) I have a different perspective on it than do people to whom it's the ancient history their grandparents sometimes invoke.

Of course Heinlein was uneven, but, damn, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is stunning and holds up well as a novel (why hasn't it been filmed?) and as subtle and not-so-subtle libertarian agitprop.

I think his contradictions make him interesting as a bio topic and look forward to reading this book. The militarism vs. the anti-authoritarianism is the starkest.

Back to Heinlein and the movies. Too many people judge him by Verhoven's cartoonish "Starship Troopers." If only someone would film "Harsh Mistress," "The Door Into Summer" or any of several other of his better works. Why Phillip K. Dick is the only sci-fi author whose works have been so treasured by Hollywood is beyond me.

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