Heinlein's "Future History" Reading Order Flowchart

Mike J Nagle

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Hello.

In 2016, I created a reading-order flowchart for Eric Flint's Ring of Fire (1632) series. I posted it at Baen's Bar (which is currently on hiatus, unfortunately) back then as my introduction to the forums.

Since 2016, I have created over a dozen reading-order flowcharts that are similar in design to that one for other popular series by other authors. One of those other series was Robert A. Heinlein's "Future History" series.

This flowchart covers all of Heinlein's novels and short stories in the series. It also connects some of Heinlein's stories that are peripherally related to Future History but not, strictly speaking, part of Future History.

I hope you all find the flowchart useful and pleasing.

Comments, corrections, questions, and criticism are always welcome.

Later,

Mike

Future_History_Flowchart.jpg
 
That looks like an interesting addition to a chart which I saw in the 1970s. Not sure if it was in one of the future history collections or a sf encyclopedia. Will have to dig out the books.

Thanks.
 
Hitmouse,

My primary source for the flowchart was the Future History chart that Heinlein made and gave to John W. Campbell while Campbell was the editor for Astounding (now Analog).

Just for reference, I'm including Heinlein's chart in this post. Of course, I have added many stories that had not yet been written when Heinlein created the chart.

Heinlein's Future History chart was also published in The Past Through Tomorrow and Revolt in 2100. You may have seen it in one or both of those books.

Regards,

Mike


978-0-671-65589-1_m01.jpg
 
Hello, again.

Since my initial post in this thread, I have made a couple of corrections to the Future History Reading-Order Flowchart.

In my posts to Baen's Bar, I usually include a link to download each image at box.com, where I store my images. Since each image has its own unique URL, I can store updated versions at the exact same address as the original image, so the file downloaded at the link will always be the most up-to-date one.

I improved the flowchart by adding Variable Star, which I had missed including earlier. Although Variable Star was actually written by Spider Robinson, it was based on a novel outline that Heinlein created around 1955. It belongs on this flowchart just as much as Time for the Stars. I also added a note in the bottom section explaining the origin and significance of Variable Star.

On the other hand, The Number of the Beast and The Pursuit of the Pankera are very similar to each other, but although both stories are based on the same premise, the story in The Pursuit of the Pankera has no connection to Future History, but The Number of the Beast does have a connection to Future History that is quite significant.

So Variable Star belongs on the flowchart, but The Pursuit of the Pankera does not.

All of my reading-order flowcharts are works in progress, and presumably will never be conclusively "finished". I always seems to find details I missed in the first pass that need to be added for accuracy. I store the images for all my flowcharts at box.com, and the most up-to-date version is always available for download. The URL to download the latest version Future History flowchart is, (and will be as long as box.com and I last,) here:


This link, and the links to other flowcharts, will always point to the latest versions.

I'm considering listing all of my flowcharts together in a single thread for convenience' sake. There are fifteen of them so far, and I am currently working on a sixteenth for Patricia Briggs' "Mercy Thompson" universe. As well, I had to leave about 132 shorter stories in Mercedes Lackey's "Valdemar Saga" out of the flowchart for that series. I hope to be able to add an auxiliary flowchart covering those stories.

Anyway, here is the updated Future History chart, current as of today (7 July 2021).

Future_History_Flowchart.jpg


I hope you all like the flowchart.

Mike
 
I have a copy of Pankeera but haven't read it because Ginny didn't want it to be published. Should I read it anyway?
 
I have a copy of Pankeera but haven't read it because Ginny didn't want it to be published. Should I read it anyway?
Jim,

For what it's worth, I enjoyed reading The Pursuit of the Pankera. I also enjoyed reading The Number of the Beast, except for its last chapter—but for different reasons.

The last chapter of Number was something of a non sequitur to all of the previous chapters. It also was a mishmash of characters from Heinlein's other stories, and all of Heinlein's earlier stories were pulled into the last chapter to tie them into an overarching unified universe. As well, the last chapter of Number really did not provide a satisfactory ending to the novel—at least it did not have an ending that was satisfactory to me.

On the other hand, I found the ending of Pankera to be satisfying.

Beginning with I Shall Fear No Evil, which Heinlein published in 1970, he seemed to follow a pattern of writing steadily away at a novel until he got tired of writing, and then he would end each book with a final chapter that had anything but a satisfactory wrapping up of the story. The only two Heinlein novels first after 1970 that I thought had good endings were Friday and The Pursuit of the Pankera; all the others had very weak endings. I am tempted to say that they had "lame" endings.

If you have read—and enjoyed—The Number of the Beast, I predict that you will enjoy reading The Pursuit of the Pankera, as well.

Virginia Heinlein may have been opposed to publishing Pankera, but it was published anyway. If you have already have bought a copy, why not read it? I promise I won't tell Ginny Heinlein if you do. (She died in 2003, you know. <wink>)

Later,

Mike
 
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"Virginia Heinlein may have been opposed to publishing Pankera, but it was published anyway. If you have already have bought a copy, why not read it? I promise I won't tell Ginny Heinlein if you do. (She died in 2003, you know. <wink>)"

Yes, I know and have no sense of humor about it. I got the phone call shortly after her death. I was expecting the call, but that didn't make it any easier, and I still miss her. She usually looked to the future rather than the past, but during her last stay in the hospital, in the wee hours when she couldn't sleep she reminenced quite a lot about the old days. Refreshing her memories, I think. I have my own vivid memories of that time and how uncomfortable that horrid bedside chair was. I wish I didn't. And I didn't buy my copy of the book.
 
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Mike, my copy of Variable Star is this advance uncorrected proof which is the only version I've read.
Out of curiosity, do you know what the differences are between it and the final published version? (aside from mine becoming a bit tattered and somewhat the worse for wear due to the attentions of my young granddaughter) :)
 

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Mike, my copy of Variable Star is this advance uncorrected proof which is the only version I've read.
Out of curiosity, do you know what the differences are between it and the final published version? (aside from mine becoming a bit tattered and somewhat the worse for wear due to the attentions of my young granddaughter) :)
Jim,

I can't help you with that. I bought my copy of Variable Star in 2007, and I have never read any ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of the novel, so I have no idea what any differences between your advance copy and the final printed version might be.

I would guess that the primary differences between the ARC and the final edition would lie in misspellings and grammatical errors in the ARC, that would have been corrected for the final edition.

However, I did find the final edition quite enjoyable to read.

I'm sorry I can't help you more with this.

Mike
 
I liked it too, and got a particular kick out of some of the character names.
For example, Dr. Amy Louis was a deliberate amalgam of the Heinleins' foster granddaughter Dr. Amy Baxter and her husband Dr. Louis Calderon.
There were other Easter eggs as well.
 
Hello.

In 2016, I created a reading-order flowchart for Eric Flint's Ring of Fire (1632) series. I posted it at Baen's Bar (which is currently on hiatus, unfortunately) back then as my introduction to the forums.

Since 2016, I have created over a dozen reading-order flowcharts that are similar in design to that one for other popular series by other authors. One of those other series was Robert A. Heinlein's "Future History" series.

This flowchart covers all of Heinlein's novels and short stories in the series. It also connects some of Heinlein's stories that are peripherally related to Future History but not, strictly speaking, part of Future History.

I hope you all find the flowchart useful and pleasing.

Comments, corrections, questions, and criticism are always welcome.

Later,

Mike

View attachment 76269
Thank you so much for the work that you have done on this! I am rebuilding my Heinlein collection as possible and rereading all of the books (going crazy trying to find _The Past Through Tomorrow_ without a car or sufficient cash {sigh!}), and this is exactly what I needed.

Just as a side note, I see your point on Pankera, but I'll be adding it mentally to my own version of the chart for one reason only (haven't read it yet) ... according to the blurb it's supposed to be the "parallel novel" to _Number of the Beast_, showing what happens to the characters in a parallel world, I'd consider it as belonging in the same box as _Number of the Beast_. But that's just the way my mind parses parallel worlds in multiverses. :)

At any rate, again, thanks so MUCH for putting this together!
 
Thank you so much for the work that you have done on this! I am rebuilding my Heinlein collection as possible and rereading all of the books (going crazy trying to find _The Past Through Tomorrow_ without a car or sufficient cash {sigh!}), and this is exactly what I needed.

Just as a side note, I see your point on Pankera, but I'll be adding it mentally to my own version of the chart for one reason only (haven't read it yet) ... according to the blurb it's supposed to be the "parallel novel" to _Number of the Beast_, showing what happens to the characters in a parallel world, I'd consider it as belonging in the same box as _Number of the Beast_. But that's just the way my mind parses parallel worlds in multiverses. :)

At any rate, again, thanks so MUCH for putting this together!

You might also find A. Bertam Chandler to be of interest . In particular The John Grimes Space saga. :)
 
Thank you so much for the work that you have done on this! I am rebuilding my Heinlein collection as possible and rereading all of the books (going crazy trying to find _The Past Through Tomorrow_ without a car or sufficient cash {sigh!}), and this is exactly what I needed.

Just as a side note, I see your point on Pankera, but I'll be adding it mentally to my own version of the chart for one reason only (haven't read it yet) ... according to the blurb it's supposed to be the "parallel novel" to _Number of the Beast_, showing what happens to the characters in a parallel world, I'd consider it as belonging in the same box as _Number of the Beast_. But that's just the way my mind parses parallel worlds in multiverses. :)

At any rate, again, thanks so MUCH for putting this together!

Cat,

I am pleased that you like the flowchart. I haven't been working on these flowcharts recently, but, as I said recently, they are all still works in progress.

I wish you luck in finding another copy of The Past through Tomorrow, since most of Heinlein's shorter "Future History" stories are included within it.

Just having people like you express their appreciation for my efforts is all the payment I can expect for my efforts, but that appreciation is all that I can expect, and all that I need.

Regards,

Mike
 
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