Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and naval officer. He was born on July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri, and passed away on May 8, 1988, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Heinlein was one of the most influential and iconic writers of science fiction and speculative fiction of the twentieth century. He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. He wrote for juveniles and adults, and created numerous best-sellers and Hugo award winners, such as Stranger in a Strange Land1 and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress1.
Here are ten of Robert Heinlein’s best novels.
- Stranger in a Strange Land: Tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised on Mars, who returns to Earth and struggles to adapt to human culture. The novel explores themes of individualism, free love, and the nature of humanity. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19622. A quote from the novel: “Thou art God, I am God. All that groks is God.”
- Starship Troopers: A military science fiction classic that explores themes of duty, sacrifice, and the nature of citizenship. It follows the story of Juan Rico as he joins the Elite Mobile Infantry to fight a war against giant alien bugs. The novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19602. A quote from the novel: “Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: A masterpiece that explores themes of revolution, individualism, and the nature of freedom. It tells the story of a lunar colony that rebels against Earth’s rule. The novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19672. A quote from the novel: “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”
- Time Enough for Love: A science fiction epic that explores themes of immortality, love, and the nature of humanity. It tells the story of Lazarus Long, a man who has lived for over two thousand years, as he reflects on his life and loves. The novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19742. A quote from the novel: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
- The Door into Summer: A science fiction classic that explores themes of time travel, love, and the nature of reality. It tells the story of Dan Davis, an engineer who invents a time machine and travels to the future to escape his past. The novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19582. A quote from the novel: “The door into summer is open again, just a crack. But the cat knows it’s there. And this time, the cat is going to get through that door, no matter what anyone says or does.”
- The Puppet Masters: A science fiction thriller that explores themes of invasion, identity, and the nature of humanity. It tells the story of Earth’s struggle against parasitic aliens that attach themselves to human hosts. The novel won the International Fantasy Award in 19522. A quote from the novel: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
- Friday: A science fiction adventure that explores themes of identity and freedom. It tells the story of Friday Jones, a genetically engineered human who struggles to find her place in a world that fears and hates her. The novel was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 19832. A quote from the novel: “I’m not a thing, I’m a person. I’m me.”
- Double Star: A science fiction mystery that explores themes of identity and politics. It tells the story of Lawrence Smith, an actor who is hired to impersonate a politician. The novel won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 19562. A quote from the novel: “The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head
- The Rolling Stones: A science fiction adventure that explores themes of family and entrepreneurship. It’s the story of the Stone family as they travel through the solar system on their spaceship, the Rolling Stone. The novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1953. A quote from the novel: “The Moon is a harsh mistress, but the Earth is a bitch.”
- The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: A science fiction mystery that explores themes of identity and reality. It’s the story of Richard Ames, a writer who becomes embroiled in a complex web of intrigue and danger. The novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1986. A quote from the novel: “The most preposterous notion that Homo sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all of history.”