The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein

The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein

by Robert A. Heinlein

Robert A. Heinlein, the dean of American SF writers, also wrote fantasy fiction throughout his long career, but especially in the early 1940s. The Golden Age of SF was also a time of revolution in fantasy fiction, and Heinlein was at the forefront.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fantasy
  • Rating: 3.90
  • Pages: 342
  • Publish Date: May 17th 2002 by Tor Books
  • Isbn10: 0312875576
  • Isbn13: 9780312875572

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I haven't read this particular collection before, but have read all the stories in it a number of times. I think I also learned more about how our government really works from this story than any civics course I took. "And He Built a Crooked House" (1941) I first read about a tesseract in A Wrinkle in Time, but never really got it & that differs from this one, so I actually looked it up. "Waldo" (1942) is a good story & made even better by today's tech. "All You Zombies" (1959) isn't fantasy at all, but an SF time travel story that blew my mind on several levels the first time I read it in the early 1970s. Even better than "By His Bootstraps" another time travel story of his.

Many of these stories were delightful and they show a great range. If you think of Star Wars as SciFi despite the magical "Force", then so is this.

I am very interested in reading some of Heinlein's novels. "Magic, Inc." 3/5 This isn't my favorite in the collection of short stories I've read by Heinlein, but it was interesting. In the end, it's all a little too neatly wrapped up, although maybe the idea that all of our political problems could only be fixed by magic isn't all that far-fetched. Listening to the description is a bit mind-twisting (pardon the pun), but the story itself is interesting, if a bit creepy. Heinlein's ending takes a more humorous turn than I was expecting from the buildup, more of a "learn from your mistakes before it kills you," but the concept itself is a bit disturbing. The whole idea of self, and that the world is so messed up that it couldn't possibly be real, but all in one person's imagination, speaks to all of us, on one level or another, whether we'll all admit it or not. The ending takes a way a bit from the story, delves more into the sci fi, and is the weak point of the whole thing, but I don't think it destroys the story. "--All You Zombies--" 4/5 I'm starting to think I need a bookshelf for "messed-up," "twisted," or "just plain weird" stories/books.

"Magic, Inc." reads like three stories mashed into one, and the shaggy-dog story about political process bloating out the middle wasn't worth the punchline.

(For scholarly and in-depth discussion of the terminology, I humbly point you toward the works of James Gunn, a Grand Master of science fiction in his own right, and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.) It makes sense to look at the fantasy stories of Heinlein in chronological order, so lets begin with Magic, Inc. This novella was published in the September 1940 issue of the magazine Unknown Fantasy Fiction, under the title of The Devil Makes the Law. Its a nice little story about commerce and corruption in a world where magic is commonplace. Waldo in Astounding MagazineWaldo comes next, a short story that was published in Astounding Magazine in August of 1942, under one of his most frequent pen names, Anson MacDonald. Waldo has the initial trappings of science fiction, but we, along with the title character, soon find that Magic is loose in the world! The title character of this tale also develops mechanical robotic hands, and they are dubbed waldoes, a term used in the real world today for similar remote manipulators, in honor of Heinleins story. On the other hand, Our Fair City, a short that ran in January 1949 issue of Weird Tales, is one of my favorite Heinlein fantasies. Nearly ten years later, his next fantasy story came out in a 1957 issue of Saturn Magazine. In 1999, Tor collected the contents of these two books, eight short stories in all, and published them as The Fantasies of Robert A.

Magic, Inc. Retro Hugo Award Finalist (1940) 80pp. Waldo Retro Hugo Award Finalist (1942) 88pp. This story is certainly more famous for introducing the word waldo into use as a generic term for remote manipulators. And for Waldo to spend years in free fall to alleviate the symptoms of his infirmity would actually be the worst thing he could do, because of the bone density loss associated with long term space flight. Waldo's personality transformation over the course of the story, from a mean recluse to a bon vivant celebrity, is interesting, if not entirely believable.

Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer.