(Short Stories for Students)

Science and Technology
Ultimately, most works of science fiction deal with the theme of science and technology, and especially with how humanity deals with the technology it has created. In ‘‘Waldo,’’ Heinlein seems to express some concern that humanity is creating technology too quickly and not testing it thoroughly enough. Because of human carelessness, then, technology becomes harmful, causing a physical deterioration of the human race. He compounds this theme with a warning against becoming too intellectual and not balancing both the physical and intellectual aspects of human life. By equating the overly intellectual Waldo with technology (Waldo’s creation of the waldo and his home, Freehold) and then having Waldo become independent of that technology (both his waldoes and Freehold), Heinlein warns against relying too heavily on technology and instead reminds readers to live life without being dependent upon it.

Individual vs. Machine
Heinlein modifies this theme somewhat in ‘‘Waldo,’’ as Waldo really is part machine in the beginning of the story. Since he cannot move easily on his own, Waldo creates machines (which bear his name, further emphasizing his connection and dependence on machines) that will help him manipulate the world around him. He also builds Freehold, nicknamed ‘‘Wheelchair,’’ the space station in which he lives. Freehold has earned...

(The entire section is 472 words.)