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Robert A. Heinlein's Books

I own more books by Heinlein than any other author (48 by last count, which does not include books dedicated to his work). Without going overboard, I would say that he has made a profound impression on my way of thinking and although I tend to disagree with many of his ideas, his thought-provoking prose has been a pleasure to read and re-read over the years.

This page provides reviews of some of RAH's works. The list does not include all books that I've read (all of RAH's publications) but only the ones I've read recently. I will update it as soon as I re-read the other novels (which I will most definitely be doing very soon). I made no attempt to separate the works in the canonical juvenile-adult categories (too restrictive and made-up), or even list them chronologically: Everything is in alphabetical order.

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Robert A. Heinlein

The Books

Between Planets (1951)
Don's father is a native of Earth, his mother is from Venus, and he was born on a spaceship in transit. When the Venus colony revolts against the Federation of Planets, Don's loyalties are divided and he has to choose which side to join even as he gets dragged into an interplanetary war.
Beyond This Horizon (1942)
Humanity practices gene selection, but Hamilton questions his own existence and the need for the human race to survive. This uneven novel is actually a collection of several short stories with mostly unrelated plots thinly disguised as a coherent whole.
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985)
Something of a loose sequel to "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", this novel pulls together various characters from other RAH works, especially the Multiverse and the World as Myth series. The first half is a fast-tempo detective/adventure story told with the familiar gusto and featuring incredible dialogue, the second half slows down and gets bogged in philosophical ramblings, and RAH's late days shock-value assaults on conventional sexual morality.
Citizen of the Galaxy (1957)
When Baslim, the crippled beggar, bought Thorby at a slave auction, little did the boy know that he was setting out on an adventure that would teach him the meaning of freedom. On his journey toward his dream of ending the slave trade, Thorby becomes a prisoner of the free, a free volunteer in the military, and a fabulously rich tycoon on Earth.
The Door Into Summer (1956)
Dan Davis is a talented engineer whose invention, a household robotic appliance, promises a bright future for him and everyone else. Until, that is, his beautiful fiancee tricks his partner into helping her dispose of Dan. Waking up 30 years later from suspended animation, Dan finds out that time travel is possible. Revenge is a dish best served cold... if at all.
Double Star (1956)
The Great Lorenzo is an out of work actor, whose life changes when he is offered the role of the lifetime: impersonating a kidnapped politician. The protagonist evolves as the plot unfolds and finally becomes a public servant.
Farmer in the Sky (1950)
Bill and his family emigrate to Ganymede after his mother's death. They become farmers and face the rigors of frontier struggle for survival. Bill has to accept his new life, new family, and new challenges.
Farnham's Freehold (1964)
Following the nuclear war, Hugh and his family find themselves in a distant future, in a world ruled by blacks where whites are slaves and cattle. Hugh struggles to achieve his freedom, while members of the family succumb to their new existence. Highly controversial, this novel is definitely not a light read.
Friday (1982)
Friday is a genetically engineered woman, and a courier for a clandestine organization. The novel traces her involvement with political intrigue, war, and her attempts to define herself and find a place among humans. The strong female protagonist and a lively narrative make this one of the best RAH works.
Glory Road (1963)
Oscar Gordon, a veteran of the "unWar" in Vietnam, answers to a newspaper ad and accepts a job as Hero and chamption of lady whom he names Star. They walk the Glory Road amidst implausible dangers, scientific witchcraft, fire-spewing dragons, Horned Ghosts, until Oscar battles the Soul-Eater to recover the Egg. But when the truth about Star is finally uncovered, Oscar finds that the "Happily Ever After" ending is not for Heroes.
Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984)
Alex is a fundamentalist minister who finds himself in an alternate reality where he is a shady character having a love affair with the Danish maid Margrethe. He falls in love with her and the two are tossed from one reality to the next in a gigantic heavenly joke until the Final Days arrive and he finds himself Saint Alex in Heaven. But what is Heaven without Marga?
Have Space Suit, Will Travel (1958)
Kip Russell has a used spacesuit, which gets him in trouble when he picks up a distress signal and a spaceship lands nearby. Kip helps the pilot of that ship, an alien in flight from another alien species. The adventure unfolds as Kip travels to various planets and finally has to defend the worth of the human race before a universal court.
Podkayne of Mars (1963)
Podkayne and her brother Clark travel to Venus with their uncle only to become involved in a plot against Terran encroachment, a scheme with many enemies. The siblings get kidnapped, their uncle is blackmailed, and finally Poddy and Clark make a daring attempt to escape. The new edition has the original ending in the back of the book.
Red Planet (1949)
Jim Marlow befriends a furry Martian named Willis and takes him along to his school. There he finds out about a plot to deprive the colonists of their right of annual migration. Jim and another friend trek back to the colony and help thwart the Company's plan with the help of the Martians.
Rocket Ship Galileo (1947)
Several improbably skilled teenagers build a rocket ship with the help of an uncle, who is a nuclear physicist. They reach the Moon only to discover that someone has beaten them to it. They have to battle the evil and hostile presence there. Really one of the weaker novels.
The Rolling Stones (1952)
Hazel Stone, her twin grandsons, and their parents leave their home on the Moon, travel to Mars, the asteroid belt, and to Titan. The novel is light on plot but is written in a very engaging and lively style. The scientific ruminations can become somewhat tiresome, but the exploration of the solar system is believable.
Sixth Column (1949)
The Asians conquer the world, but in the US, a crack team of scientists invents a weapon that can be target humans depending on their race. The freedom fighters then establish a religious cult as a front for their activities and manage to drive the invaders out of North America. Thinly concealed racial stereotypes make this a very controversial, and unfortunately weak, novel.
Space Cadet (1948)
Most of the novel deals with the training of young cadets, which involves several highly stereotypical characterizations. There's really not much going on in terms of action and the book ends just when there's promise of an interesting event. This is RAH's second book in the juvenile series.
Starman Jones (1953)
After his widowed mother remarries to a man he hates, Max leaves Earth aboard the starship Asgard using fake credentials. When the ship is lost in uncharted space, Max's unique memory allows him to replace the dead Chief Astrogator and guide her back to safety.
Starship Troopers (1959)
Juan Rico joins the Mobile Infantry in order to gain the privileges of citizenship through his service and contrary to the wishes of his wealthy family. After grueling boot camp, he finds himself in the whirlwind of an interstellar war with an unknown enemy. In this controversial classic novel Heinlein explores the meaning of duty and morality, while following the transformation of a kid into a citizen.
Time for the Stars (1956)
Using the discovery that twins can telepathically communicate instantaneously regardless of distances, mankind rushes into exploration of space with one twin on board the starship, and the other staying on Earth to establish the link. While the space-bound twin experiences all sorts of adventures in the span of several months/years, the earth-bound twin ages much faster.
Tunnel in the Sky (1955)
One of the best RAH juvies, this is the story of Rob Walker who has to undergo a survival test. Something goes wrong and he, along with many classmates, ends up on another planet and has to overcome all odds in order to survive. Potentially a rip-off of Golding's "Lord of the Flies" (which itself is potentially a rip-off of Verne's "The Mysterious Island"), this novel showcases RAH's unique ability to build credible communities.

Related Reading

Gifford, James. 2000. Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion. Nitrosyncretic Press.
This is the result of Gifford's painstaking research in RAH's archives. The book presents the most detailed list of RAH's work, along with amusing information about each story, novel, or speech. The publication data also make this an indispensable reference. This is a must for RAH fans.
Patterson Jr., William H., and Andrew Thornton. 2001. The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land." Sacramento: Nitrosyncretic Press.
Although RAH claimed he wrote to entertain his readers, some have taken him quite seriously. This book is the best example of going overboard with analysis. On the other hand, if you ever wondered about the significance of names in SIASL, here's your reference (however doubtful it might be.)

External Links

The Heinlein Society
A large resource with programs that promote Heinlein's work in contexts he would have approved of. They promote RAH-related research and try to make his work available in libraries too.
Heinlein: Dean of Science Fiction Writers
A humongous site loaded with book reviews, essays, sound bites, a definite stop. Also has scans of book covers, including foreign editions.
James Gifford's RAH Site
One of the oldest RAH sites on the Net, has a biography, complete bibliography, a FAQ, tons of useful informative essays, and even pictures of the Heinlein crater on Mars.
The Heinlein Reading Group
Hasn't been updated for a while, but there are still some very detailed book synopses, with critical commentary.
The Heinlein Ring
THe entry page to the Robert Heinlein web ring, maintained by Mama Maureen.
The Critics Lounge
A place dedicated to dissecting the work of the grand master. Maintained by Alexei Panshin, one of the better-known RAH critics, who has published much on the subject. Some of it useful.
Quotable Heinlein
An immense repository of quotes from the master, all of it legal and authorized by Virginia Heinlein (as far as I know).