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Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century

Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve


By William H. Patterson, Jr.

Epigraph for the book:

"To be overwise is to ossify; and the scruple-monger ends by standing stock-still. Now the man who has his heart on his sleeve, and a good whirling weathercock of a brain, who reckons his life as a thing to be dashingly used and cheerfully hazarded . . . keeps all his pulses going true and fast, and gathers impetus as he runs, until, he he be running towards anything better than wildfire, he may shoot up and become a constellation in the end . . . .

"A spirit goes out of the man who means execution, which outlives the most untimely ending. All who have meant good work with their whole hearts, have done good work, although they may die before they have the time to sign it. Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind . . . . The noise of mallet and chisel is scarcely quenched, the trumpets are hardly done blowing, when, trailing with him clouds of glory, this happy-starred, full-blooded spirit shoots into the spiritual land."
Robert Louis Stevenson, Aes Triplex

From the introduction:

Heinlein's job, as he conceived it, was to keep before us those perennial values, those essentially American values that belong even more to the world and to the future. Robert A. Heinlein was our bridge to the future, no less now, twenty years after his death, than during his life, begun so very long ago. Early in the last century, during that time of unimaginable ferment that was the Roaring Twenties, he collected hard questions for himself. His books and stories are interim reports on what he learned. His importance for us is that he learned better, he learned how to stand outside the box of assumptions that preoccupy us all.

The first phase of his education on the hard questions took him nearly half his life, the period I have designated his "learning curve."

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This comprehensive biography of Robert A. Heinlein includes a rare opportunity for readers to immediately access the author's original research source materials online at The Heinlein Archives.

The Heinlein Archives, a cooperative project between The Heinlein Prize Trust and the UC Santa Cruz Archives, contains 198,057 pages of documents, manuscripts, letters, and photographs, indexed and searchable, from the archives collections of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Materials may be downloaded for a nominal fee of approximately one penny per page.

Selected source notes from Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve

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"A majestic biography of the grandest of science fiction's grand masters. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the development of science fiction in the twentieth century." —Robert Silverberg

"A fine American biography and a fascinating read. William H. Patterson has crafted a thorough and worthy tribute to one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century." —Greg Bear

"Patterson offers a meticulous life-portrait of America's most pivotal science fiction author. In following Robert Heinlein's journey, step by step, we come to understand the persistent themes of his work. Perseverance, compassion, courage, curiosity, and - above all - a drive to confront the future on its own terms, eye to eye." —David Brin

"Like Carlos Baker's 'Hemingway', this is an essential and exhaustive life." —Joe Haldeman

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