One of the few things that
everyone agrees on where Robert Heinlein is concerned is that from an
point in his career until his death, he was the dominant writer of
He has been highly influential upon both the literature and his
But what his work actually means has been another question.
polarizes opinion. If you love and respect him above all other men,
the expression of any question, reservation or doubt can seem
On the other hand, if you can't stand Heinlein and abhor the very tone
of his prose, any positive regard or serious discussion can seem to be
more than the man merits.
Much of the argument was
set up by Heinlein himself. He wrote with apparent certitude
a variety of subjects, and yet his writing was extremely tricky under
outward guise of plain speaking. Heinlein was a man who was
of talking about the usefulness of lying with a straight face and of
the truth in such a way that it won't be believed.
The result of this is that
people can be very sure of their own opinions about Heinlein and what
had to say and regard them as self-evident. But somehow
to agree with anyone else. Firmly held belief coupled with
disagreement leads to quarrels.
My own book,
in Dimension, written in 1965, was the first
attempt at a comprehensive
account of Heinlein's work -- and can still be a subject of contention
on the Heinlein newsgroup,
But this seems the wrong place to get stuck. The book itself
that it is just one person's opinion, an attempt to begin a
And in the twenty years after it was published, Heinlein went on to
seven more novels that are full of formal and metaphysical problems
the scope of my book.
If we're going to deal with these questions,
if we're going to come to terms with the nature and meaning of
work, and if we're going to make an accurate assessment of the times in
which we've lived and the nature of Heinlein's relation to them, then
have to develop a frame of reference and a set of tools equal to the
A new criticism as expansive,
multi-faceted and imaginative as SF itself is called for. And
we are over our heads here, we need to be flexible, inclusive and
As part of my contribution
to this task, I've written about the work of Robert Heinlein on a
of occasions before and after Heinlein in Dimension.
However, since these pieces didn't all look alike and appeared at such
different times and places, sometimes for small or special audiences,
common end hasn't necessarily been apparent.
This page offers an opportunity
to gather them together in one place. From time to time, as
to do it, I mean to post here in the Critics Lounge all of the pieces
Heinlein that I've written during the last forty years.
I also intend to print
useful, creative and original comments by others. Thoughtful
and letters of comment are welcome.