Critical Insights: Robert A. Heinlein
Considered the "Dean of Science Fiction," Robert A. Heinlein helped define the genre of science fiction-and more specifically, speculative fiction-as a serious form of social, political, and cultural commentary during the mid-20th century. Titles discussed in this volume include Heinlein's novels The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Podkayne of Mars, as well as a variety of his short stories and early pulp magazine appearances.
Heinlein is best known for the evolution of science fiction from the mid-twentieth century onward. He may not have been the first to envision, say, the generation starship, the closed time-loop, or the powered military exoskeleton, but his early treatments have become the classic standards. In addition, his fiction explores not only “hard” science but also, at times, magic, spirituality, sociological systems, and methods of government.
This title is divided into four main sections:
1.Career, Life, and Influence
This section discusses Heinlein's career and certain themes of his writings in fairly broad terms, along with a biography about the man behind the literature. The rest of the text examines the writings of Robert A. Heinlein and their growing legacy.
2. Critical Contexts
These essays help to inform and set up readers' understanding of Heinlein and his art.
3. Critical Readings
A ten chapter section of critical readings explore the many carious facets of the stories, novels, and occasional pieces of non-fiction. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other original essays that explore a number of schools of thought. Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
The volume's appendices offer a section of useful reference resources, including:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index