World – Heinlein

Heinlein (World 12)

Robert Heinlein (1907 – 1988; first SF publication, 1939) wrote about many people and places, but in all of it, it is clear that he highly values those who accept and fulfill their individual responsibilities, government that respects individual liberties, and nonconformist philosophies of all sorts. It’s not surprising that his stories clearly espoused philosophies that disgusted and angered many (myself included, from time to time).

He introduced the terms “grok” (in Stranger in a Strange Land) and “waldo” (in Waldo), and popularized “TANSTAAFL” (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress), “pay it forward” (Between Planets) and even “speculative fiction” itself. He wrote three major series, that often dovetailed together: Future History, Lazarus Long (about a family of incredibly long-lived people generated by selective breeding) and his juvenile stories, including Starman Jones, Space Cadet, Podkayne of Mars and (most well known) Starship Troopers. Other favorite stories include Farnham’s Freehold  and The Puppet Masters.


“— And He Built A Crooked House —” (in The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag) features Quintus Teal, a frustrated architect, who is challenged to build a tesseract house. (A square has two dimensions, a cube has three dimensions, a tesseract has four dimensions.) He succeeds to the extent possible in a three-dimensional world, then an earthquake applies the finishing touch, folding the house in on itself. When he and his clients enter the house (now looking like a cube, but all the rooms are overlapping), they barely escape when another earthquake strikes. (Memo to self: don’t build tesseract houses in fault zones.) Meanwhile the house folds in on itself one more time, and disappears.


 The Worlds of “What If …?”
 Shelley (61)  Piper (21)  Cherryh (41)
 Verne (62)  Norton (22)  Gibson (42)
 Wells (63)  Dick (23)  Clayton (43)
 Williamson (64)  Silverberg (24)  Card (44)
 de Camp (65)  Biggle (25)  Hogan (45)
 Laumer (66)  Wilhelm (26)  Longyear (46)
 Bradbury (11)  Le Guin (31)  Brin (51)
 Heinlein (12)  Niven (32)  McDevitt (52)
 Pohl (13)  Killough (33)  Moon (53)
 Knight (14)  Foster (34)  Bujold (54)
 Schmitz (15)  Pinkwater (35)  Roberts (55)
 Anderson (16)  Robinson (36)  Asaro (56)