The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

This collection of short stories examines aspects of a potential human future as Robert Heinlein envisioned it in his Future History. The term “future history” was first used to describe Heinlein’s work by John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of Astounding Science-Fiction (which became Analog in 1960).

This 830-page book contains twenty short stories and ends with the novelette Methuselah’s Children (1958; serial form, 1941). “Misfit” (1939), an example of Heinlein’s earliest work, is the story of the early career of the mathematical genius Andrew Libby, who appears again in Methuselah’s Children, the story of the formation of the Howard Families Foundation for the promotion of long life. The Howard Families are a genetic breeding experiment that works. Because of the success of their breeding program, the families must hijack a spaceship and escape persecution from the normal-lived inhabitants of Earth by fleeing the solar system. Methuselah’s Children is the precursor to Time Enough for Love (1973) and is the closing piece of this future history collection.

The first story in the collection, and Heinlein’s first published story, is “Life-Line” (1939). It examines what would happen to commerce and society if it were possible to predict anyone’s date and time of death. This story acts as an introduction to the concept of science fiction as future history and introduces a...

(The entire section is 484 words.)


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

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