The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein

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Continuing my "Reread Heinlein" project. This is pretty minor, "for completists only": a collection of six works that didn't appear elsewhere. A 40¢ Ace paperback I picked up back in the mid-1960s. As I type, I notice someone's trying to get US $8.70 for their used copy on AbeBooks. E-mail me, I'll fix you up for slightly cheaper than that.

But if you find a copy of Expanded Universe, I think all the stories here are also there.

So these are mostly of historical interest:

"Pandora's Box" — an essay originally written for Galaxy magazine, appearing in 1952, about the world of the far future: 2000 AD. With an addendum RAH wrote for this volume. (Mid 1960s, remember.) Anyone wishing to write down their forecasts 50 years into the future would do well to read this, and see how badly some predictions can go embarassingly wrong. (He thought we'd all be cool with casual nudity in 2000. Unless I'm missing something, we weren't then, and aren't now.)

"Free Men" — a tale of Occupied America, kind of like Red Dawn, except with middle aged men instead of high school students. Faced with a comrade who wants out. Things do not go well.

"Blowups Happen" — imagine a single nuclear power plant, just barely stable, the slightest malfunction can send the entire planet into radioactive flinders. The operators invariably go crazy from the stress. What to do? Could a technical fix be found just in time?

"Searchlight" — Heinlein's last short story, so it says. A blind child musician's rocket crashes on the Moon! Can an ingenious method be devised to save her just in time?

"Life-Line" — the insufferable Hugo Pinero invents a gadget that can predict, infallibly, the date and time of anyone's death. Heinlein's first published short story. It doesn't end well for Hugo, but you can't say he didn't see it coming.

"Solution Unsatisfactory" — a pretty grim tale from 1941, imagining that WWII would be ended with the ultimate WMD: not the bomb, but radioactive "dust" that can quickly be spread over enemy population centers, killing anyone there, and rendering the area uninhabitable. The war ends when the "good guys" spread it over Berlin. But proliferation quickly becomes an issue, and the "solution" to that problem is, indeed unsatisfactory. Never thought I'd be grateful that we wound up with nuclear weaponry instead.

Last Modified 2024-01-13 1:00 PM EDT