Today in Literary History – July 7, 1907 – science fiction author Robert Heinlein is born

The eminent science fiction writer Robert Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri. He is the author of dozens of science fiction novels and short stories –such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress— many of which have crossed over into the mainstream of fiction.

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Heinlein’s writing, although well within the science fiction genre (he preferred the term “speculative fiction” which he coined) usually dealt with social and psychological problems such as individuality, social responsibility and the effects of religion on individuals and societies. He grew up in “Bible Belt” America in the years between two World Wars and the clash of idealism and repression became strong themes in his work.

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Heinlein’s graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and became a naval officer on destroyers before being discharged because of a respiratory condition. He began publishing short stories in pulp magazines in 1939 to make a living. In 1947 he published one of his best known short stories, “The Green Hills of Earth” in the Saturday Evening Post, beginning his career of appealing to both science fiction aficionados and general readers.

Despite his respiratory problems Heinlein was a heavy smoker all of his life and died from emphysema in 1988 at the age of eighty.

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