New Heinlein biography forthcoming

SFF Chronicles News

Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2013
20th April 2010 08:23 PM

Elaine Frei

Every once in awhile, I see an announcement for a new book about to be published that makes me sit up and pay attention and think, “I’ve really got to read that.”

That happened when I saw a note announcing that Tor is publishing the first volume of a projected two-volume authorized biography of Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Heinlein, Volume 1: Learning Curve (1907 – 1949), by Heinlein scholar William H. Patterson, Jr. According to Amazon, the book will be published on 17 August 2010.

I’ve been a Heinlein fan since I read one of his juveniles, Red Planet, when I was about eight years old. It is the first full-length science fiction novel I remember reading, aided and abetted by my father, and I haven’t looked back since. Yeah, Heinlein was and remains controversial. There is sex, politics and religion in his books, and he ranged back and forth on the political and social spectrum fairly wildly at different times in his life.

There are things in some of his books (Farnham’s Freehold or Stranger in a Strange Land, anyone?) that range from mildly to extremely objectionable, depending on your point of view. I know people who practically raise their fingers in a cross when Heinlein is mentioned, based on what they know or think they know about his politics.

But the important thing is that Robert Heinlein was a good writer, and it will be interesting to see what this new biography has to say about what his views were and how he arrived at them. Since I’m a writer, I hope it will also have something to say about his writing process and how he came to write the things he did.

I suspect that it might do all these things, considering that Patterson was commissioned personally by Heinlein’s widow to write this biography, and from a few things I’ve read it appears that he had complete access to Heinlein’s archives, which are located at the McHenry Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

So, if you’re a Heinlein fan, mark 17 August on your calendar. This could be an interesting read.

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