Robert A. Heinlein American Literature Analysis
The hard science underlying Heinlein’s fiction is more that of the engineer than of the researcher or theoretical scientist. Many science-fiction writers show the gadgets and institutions of a possible future; Heinlein shows how they work. It is his skill in integrating scientific explanation with the dialogue and plot of his stories that makes him one of the most reknowned science-fiction writers.
Paradoxically, however, this “hard science,” nuts-and-bolts science-fiction writer introduced the term “speculative fiction” as a wider-ranging name for his field, in order to include nonscientific fantasy. In his fiction, Heinlein bridges the gap between pure science and pure fantasy by offering the incredible “magic” of fantasy fiction but providing plausible scientific explanations. For example, one finds a fire-breathing dragon in Glory Road (1963), yet when the hero laments the reek of the flammable ketones in the dragon’s breath, the reader must admit that it is possible to ignite the by-products of digestion.
Further, in The Number of the Beast, one encounters denizens of the Land of Oz and other fictional characters, but their “real” existence is attributed to the nature of infinity. Although Heinlein’s purpose in that novel is satirical, he makes it clear that a ship which can travel through space and time can follow an infinite number of time lines, making all worlds accessible.
(The entire section is 5911 words.)
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