I have been reading Robert Anson Heinlein since I was about 10 years old. To this day, I remember my mom bringing home a copy of Starship Troopers, and while I was completely unprepared for the philosophy which Heinlein was presenting with that book, there was something in it which clearly caught my interest. That said, herewith I would like to put forward my favorite RAH works and a bit about them:

  • Stranger in a Strange Land

    This is likely the most (in)famous of Heinlein's works. It is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the sole survivor of the first expedition to Mars. Michael is genetically human, but raised in the utterly alien Martian culture, before his return to Earth as a young adult. The book makes powerful statements about culture, religion and sexuality, and it deserves your notice.

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

    In 2075, the moon is a penal colony which is also being used to grow crops for mostly Terran tables. In the midst of all this, a computer handyman, a rabble rouser, a rational anarchist and a sentient computer plot a revolution together. This one is GREAT fun.|

  • Time Enough For Love

    This is the second of the Lazarus Long books, the first being Methuselah's Children, though you needn't read it to enjoy Time. It is mostly the memoirs of Lazarus Long, the world's and indeed the galaxy's oldest man, born in 1912 and still cranking over three-plus millennia later! Particularly worthy of note in this work is "The Tale of the Adopted Daughter."

  • Job: A Comedy of Justice

    If Stranger in a Strange Land mocked evangelical religion more than a little, Job is positively ruthless in how it attack and derides Christianity in general. It does so through the eyes of Alexander Hergensheimer, a fundamentalist preacher / fund-raiser who gets pushed through the Job scenario, though with a lot more twists and far better humor. I personally think it should have been Heinlein's fifth Hugo award winner.

  • The Star Beast

    From where I sit, this is the best of Heinlein's juvenile novels. It is the tale of John Thomas Stuart XI and Lummox, an eight-legged creature from "out there" who is far more than s/he appears to be. This is a "boy and his alien" tale like you have NEVER read before. I think it deserves the silver screen treatment, and I would give real money to see that happen.

These are the best Bob gave us, though there are plenty more which are due more than a passing glance. I find he has a unique and engaging voice, as well as a positive and optimistic view of the world and at least some of the humans who inhabit it.  He also has a talent for making you think and making you question your own assumptions about how the world and the denizens who inhabit it work and behave.  I have delighted in his characters and his stories for almost as long as I've been able to read. Do please give him a look.

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I would have included "The Door into Summer" for its excellent treatment of time travel, as well as his spot on portrayal of cat behavior. Also, "The Number of The Beast" for its novel method of travelling into different universes...

The Door Into Summer was a slick bit of work, for sure, and certainly deserves to be ranked among Heinlein's best juveniles.  If I'm a bit less than enthusiastic about The Number of the Beast, it's because of his use of "lifeboat rules" and "white mutiny" and how they were used against Jake.  Was Jake EVER in the military?  Not established that I know of, yet he was hammered with both mercilessly when the needed lessons could have been administered with far more diplomacy than was used in those instances.

My memory is poor, but I remember enjoying The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, although I can't remember any details.  I may have read some more of Heinlein's, but can't remember.  It's been 30-40 years since I stopped reading science fiction and my memory's not up to it.

I also enjoyed Variable Star very much. It´s an unfinished work by Heinlein, finished by Spider Robinson, but I have no idea how much each put in.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is still great, a bit difficult to read for me because of the written dialect, but oh! the optimism of the 60s!

I read Variable Star as well, and though it was somewhat reminiscent of his earlier works, it did have its own identity, and I enjoyed what Spider brought to it.

As for Moon, one thing I got a kick out of was how much Russian I learned as a result!




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