Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: 1907-1948 Learning Curve
I wasn’t sure I would read Volume One. I was interested in Heinlein the writer, not so much the man, so I read Volume Two. But Patterson wrote an interesting book, and I found myself drawn back. Volume One covers the early years of Heinlein’s life. From Heinlein’s Missouri childhood, his pre-war Navy career, his involvement in California politics during the Depression, his WW-II work, and his early writing career. The story is one of American history seen through the eyes of one of her greatest writers.
Heinlein is a flawed human. Patterson doesn’t flinch from showing Robert’s oddities, mistakes, and shortcomings. Patterson had full access for this authorized biography, and he used it to build a detailed portrait that recreates Heinlein for the reader. There are almost a hundred pages of footnotes, which I appreciated when I wanted to know more about a side story. From Heinlein’s letters we see the source for many his stories and characters.
Any fan of Robert Heinlein needs to read this set.
Amazon Book Preview of “Robert A. Heinlein”
Excerpts from my Kindle:
Heinlein had shared with him (Barrett ‘Cal’ Laning) his suspicion that there was a Big Secret of some kind that the adults were hiding from them—things just couldn’t be as messy as real life or as irrational as the explanations he was handed. The two of them and classmate Gus Gray thought it would be a fine idea to pass to each other any clue they discovered to the Big Secret. They called this The Quest. All sorts of things went into The Quest—anything that might bear on the real reality. In their last semester at the Academy, Laning gave Heinlein a book that was to have a major shaping influence on his life, Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice, by James Branch Cabell.
Science Fiction was socially useful, he said, because it trained its readers to know, on a very deep level, that tomorrow is going to be different. And with this knowledge, humankind at last possessed the tools to shape its own future. Science-fiction readers were thus at the leading edge of a great wave in human evolution—an important part of Wells’s Open Conspiracy.