Along with Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein is part of the “holy trinity” of science fiction writing. Heinlein is particularly noted for his skill at mixing hard science with fictional elements. He also uses the genre to explore a variety of socio-political issues, though many critics disagree as to exactly what his beliefs and politics were. Heinlein’s early works bear the influence of his socialist beginnings, yet others such as his novel Starship Troopers can be read as right-wing and even fascistic propaganda. And countering both of those positions are his countless works that explore radically liberal ideas of gender, race, and sexuality. Part of what made Heinlein so unique was the way he eschewed categorization and defied expectations.
- Heinlein’s forward-thinking novel Stranger in a Strange Land proved to have major social influence beyond the world of science fiction. The book introduced the notion of polyamorous relationships—that is to say, romantic relationships among more than two people.
- As a young man, Heinlein became heavily involved in Upton Sinclair’s leftist social concerns and unsuccessful campaigns for elected office. At one point, Heinlein himself tried to run for office but was defeated.
- Among Heinlein’s more unusual contributions to the world is the water bed, an idea he came up with during one of his many hospitalizations.
- Grumbles From the Grave is a collection of Heinlein’s personal writing that was published posthumously by his widow.
- Heinlein won an astonishing seven Hugo Awards. Of those, three were awarded retroactively for key works from his lengthy career.