Robert A Heinlein

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Biography of Robert A. Heinlein

At the age of 17, Heinlein graduated from Central High School in Kansas City, Missouri. He spent one year at the University of Missouri before he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, from which he graduated as the 20th best among the 243 cadets. He spent five years in the Pacific Ocean until he had to retire because of tuberculosis in 1934. After his retirement he had diffrent kinds of jobs: silvermining in Colorado, land-agent, political speech-writer and a failed attempt to become an elected politician. He also married his first wife, 'Leslyn McDonald'.

His first story, 'Lifeline', was written as an entry for a magazine contest offering $50 for the best sf story by a new writer, but he sold it instead for $70 to the magazine 'Astounding Stories', where it was published in August 1939. During WW2 he worked as a research engineer for the navy in Philadelphia but he also wrote 25 novels and short stories. He also met his second wife 'Virginia Gerstenfeld' whom he married in 1948. Not much is known about his personal life. He once said that he wrote seven days a week, six months a year. The other six months he travelled or was lazy. At the end of the 1960s his health became weaker and he had to undergo several treatments. His health improved after a major operation in 1982 but his novel 'To Sail Beyond the Sunset', published in 1987, became his last.


"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". This is an Acronym Heinlein first uses in his novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and is supposedly a mantra of the citizens of Luna. It sums up much of the beliefs and philosophies throughout his novels.

Pay it forward
The term "pay it forward" was coined, or at least popularized, by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951:
The banker reached into the folds of his gown, pulled out a single credit note. "But eat first a full belly steadies the judgment. Do me the honor of accepting this as our welcome to the newcomer." His pride said no; his stomach said YES! Don took it and said, "Uh, thanks! That's awfully kind of you. I'll pay it back, first chance." "Instead, pay it forward to some other brother who needs it."

The expression "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead. More specifically, the creditor offers the debtor the option of "paying" the debt forward by lending it to a third person instead of paying it back to the original creditor. Debt and payments can be monetary or by good deeds.

Mrs. Grundy
Mrs Grundy, a character from Thomas Morton's play Speed the Plough (1798), was considered by English-language authors to be the personification of the tyranny of conventional propriety. Heinlein often uses her as a metaphor for the prude and gossip-prone societies that some of his characters are reared in.

Cats play a large role in many Heinlein novels, and he is said to have been an avid cat-owner (or cat-servent, who can tell?) himself. As he writes in To Sail Beyond the Sunset:
How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in Heaven.

Hear Heinlein speak:

Robert Heinlein comments on the political motives behind his stories Heinlein waxes enthusiastic on the significance of the Apollo 11 moon trip. July 20th, 1969 Heinlein on Stranger in a Strange Land
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Heinlein Related Videos:

A cartoon loosely based (very loose indeed) on Heinlein's novel, "Red Planet"

Discussion with the author of the posthumous Heinlein novel, "Variable Star"
                   Old Tv show loosely based (very loose indeed) on Heinlein's novel, "Space Cadet"

Video about Heinlein's brass cannon