Remembering Robert A. Heinlein, the Dean of Science Fiction

John Tommasino, Cybernaut, Van Nuys Branch Library,
Science Fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein against a collage of his books
Photo of Robert A. Heinlein by Dd-b, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alien invaders, genetically engineered humans with extended lifespans, and a Messiah from Mars, these a just a few of the characters readers will encounter when exploring the worlds of Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein (born this day in 1907 and died in 1988) was known as the Dean of Science Fiction Writers and the father of "hard science fiction," emphasizing scientific accuracy over flights of literary fancy. Heinlein's 1968 epic Stranger in a Strange Land is regarded as a masterpiece of the science fiction genre, the story of a human raised by non-corporeal  aliens who later becomes a controversial religious figure on Earth.

Heinlein, born in Missouri and a United States Naval Academy graduate, was also known for addressing complex social, interpersonal, and religious issues. Heinlein also promoted fierce individualism and a noted disdain for Marxism and Communism, ideologies that he believed hampered individual freedoms. The writer is also credited with creating the "Space Marine" genre with his military science fiction novel, Starship Troopers.

With over 66 books to his credit, Heinlein is a writer worth exploring. Here are this blogger's picks of the Best of Heinlein.

Recommended Reading

Book cover of Stranger in a strange land
Stranger in a Strange Land
Heinlein, Robert A.

The descendent of doomed explorers to Mars, Valentine Michael Smith, travels to Earth where his psionic powers attract a cult of followers. This classic sci-fi novel is a must read for any true fan of the literary genre.

Book cover of Starship troopers
Starship Troopers
Heinlein, Robert A.

5,000 years in the future, idealistic Johnny Rico joins the military to defend Earth from bug-like alien invaders. A page-turner from start to finish, the novel explores themes of citizenship and military concepts.

Book cover of Starship troopers
Starship Troopers (DVD)

Director Paul Verhoeven's stylistic adaptation of the Heinlein classic is a tour de force of action sequences and special effects. Starring Caspar Van Dien, Michael Ironside and Neil Patrick Harris.

Book cover of Farnham's freehold
Farnham's Freehold
Heinlein, Robert A.

A white family from the early 1960s is transported in time to an era when they are no longer the majority. A stark cautionary tale about racism and enslaved peoples, one of Heinlein’s best novels.

Book cover of Methuselah's children
Methuselah's Children
Heinlein, Robert A.

Meet Lazarus Long, a genetically-engineered man from a select race of humans with exceptional longevity whose very existence is kept in secret. As word of this super-race is slowly exposed, Long and his kind must escape Earth and flee to the stars.

Book cover of Time enough for love : the lives of Lazarus Long
Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long
Heinlein, Robert A.

Lazarus Long returns in this star-spanning and time-traveling epic. With a lifespan covering 23 centuries, Heinlein relates his own philosophies and views on society, politics,  religion and sex using the witty voice of Lazarus Long.

Book cover of The moon is a harsh mistress
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Heinlein, Robert A.

In the year 2076, the settlers of the Earth’s Moon stage a rebellion against overbearing Earth authorities in a conflict similar to the Revolutionary War. Heinlein’s views on government come to the surface in this novel.

Book cover of Citizen of the galaxy
Citizen of the Galaxy
Heinlein, Robert A.

Thorby is a young slave on the frontiers of space. The slave is sold to a new master who is actually an interplanetary spy who shares his life of adventure with the young boy who discovers his own true identity.