"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

My Top Five Science Fiction Authors #4: Robert Heinlein

Midshipman Heinlein, from the 1929 U.S. Naval ...

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Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), called “the dean of science fiction‘ and one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers (along with Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov) was one of the most influential science-fiction authors of the modern era.  He is especially known for his novels Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

He was the primary initiator of the trend toward “social science fiction,” the addition of politics and sexuality to the traditional science fiction, and led the movement toward including more literary themes.

Heinlein, the scientist he was, also predicted some things in his work, but not as authors such as Wells or Asimov might.  Heinlein’s specialty was simply seeing the much wider effects of advances in technology or other changes to the current state of society.  On a more logistical note, he did foresee international nuclear stalemate (the Cold War), nuclear power dangers, and interstate highways.  Inventions foreseen include mobile phones, waterbeds, screen savers, teleconferencing, and hand dryers.

Robert Heinlein was the realist of the major science fiction authors.  While he exhibited many characteristics of the other writers, he had a much more worldly style, showing much more of the grittier, dirtier side of science fiction.  He very much complemented other authors such as Asimov and Clarke.

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