Steal This Plot: A Writers Guide to Story Structure and Plagiarism (Classic Wisdom on Writing)

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Navy, also recruiting Isaac Asimov and L. As the war wound down in , Heinlein began to re-evaluate his career.


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The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , along with the outbreak of the Cold War , galvanized him to write nonfiction on political topics. In addition, he wanted to break into better-paying markets. That made him the first science fiction writer to break out of the "pulp ghetto". In , the movie Destination Moon — the documentary-like film for which he had written the story and scenario, co-written the script, and invented many of the effects — won an Academy Award for special effects.

Also, he embarked on a series of juvenile novels for the Charles Scribner's Sons publishing company that went from through , at the rate of one book each autumn, in time for Christmas presents to teenagers. He also wrote for Boys' Life in Heinlein had used topical materials throughout his juvenile series beginning in , but in he interrupted work on The Heretic the working title of Stranger in a Strange Land to write and publish a book exploring ideas of civic virtue, initially serialized as Starship Soldiers.

In , his novel now entitled Starship Troopers was considered by the editors and owners of Scribner's to be too controversial for one of its prestige lines, and it was rejected. He had told an interviewer that he did not want to do stories that merely added to categories defined by other works. Rather he wanted to do his own work, stating that: "I want to do my own stuff, my own way". Beginning in , Heinlein had a series of health crises, broken by strenuous periods of activity in his hobby of stonemasonry : in a private correspondence, he referred to that as his "usual and favorite occupation between books".

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In the mids, Heinlein wrote two articles for the Britannica Compton Yearbook. At that Worldcon, Heinlein hosted a blood drive and donors' reception to thank all those who had helped save lives.

Beginning in and including an episode while vacationing in Tahiti in early , he had episodes of reversible neurologic dysfunction due to transient ischemic attacks. The problem was determined to be a blocked carotid artery, and he had one of the earliest known carotid bypass operations to correct it. Heinlein and Virginia had been smokers, [44] and smoking appears often in his fiction, as do fictitious strikable self-lighting cigarettes.

Policy recommendations from the Council included ballistic missile defense concepts which were later transformed into what was called the Strategic Defense Initiative , or "Star Wars" as derided by Senator Ted Kennedy. Asked to appear before a Joint Committee of the United States Congress that year, he testified on his belief that spin-offs from space technology were benefiting the infirm and the elderly. Heinlein's surgical treatment re-energized him, and he wrote five novels from until he died in his sleep from emphysema and heart failure on May 8, At that time, he had been putting together the early notes for another World as Myth novel.

Several of his other works have been published posthumously. Based on an outline and notes created by Heinlein in , Spider Robinson has written the novel Variable Star. Heinlein's posthumously published nonfiction includes a selection of correspondence and notes edited into a somewhat autobiographical examination of his career, published in under the title Grumbles from the Grave by his wife, Virginia; his book on practical politics written in published as Take Back Your Government ; and a travelogue of their first around-the-world tour in , Tramp Royale.

The novels Podkayne of Mars and Red Planet , which were edited against his wishes in their original release, have been reissued in restored editions. Stranger In a Strange Land was originally published in a shorter form, but both the long and short versions are now simultaneously available in print. The collection includes manuscript drafts, correspondence, photographs and artifacts. A substantial portion of the archive has been digitized and it is available online through the Robert A.

Heinlein published 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 collections during his life. Four films, two television series, several episodes of a radio series, and a board game have been derived more or less directly from his work. He wrote a screenplay for one of the films.

Heinlein edited an anthology of other writers' SF short stories. Three nonfiction books and two poems have been published posthumously. Four collections have been published posthumously. Over the course of his career Heinlein wrote three somewhat overlapping series. Heinlein began his career as a writer of stories for Astounding Science Fiction magazine, which was edited by John Campbell.

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The science fiction writer Frederik Pohl has described Heinlein as "that greatest of Campbell-era sf writers". Alexei and Cory Panshin noted that Heinlein's impact was immediately felt. In , the year after selling 'Life-Line' to Campbell, he wrote three short novels, four novelettes, and seven short stories. They went on to say that "No one ever dominated the science fiction field as Bob did in the first few years of his career. He says that "We find ourselves not only in a world other than our own, but identifying with a living, breathing individual who is operating within its context, and thinking and acting according to its terms.

The first novel that Heinlein wrote, For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs , did not see print during his lifetime, but Robert James tracked down the manuscript and it was published in Though some regard it as a failure as a novel, [20] considering it little more than a disguised lecture on Heinlein's social theories , some readers took a very different view. In a review of it, John Clute wrote:.


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  8. I'm not about to suggest that if Heinlein had been able to publish [such works] openly in the pages of Astounding in , SF would have gotten the future right; I would suggest, however, that if Heinlein, and his colleagues, had been able to publish adult SF in Astounding and its fellow journals, then SF might not have done such a grotesquely poor job of prefiguring something of the flavor of actually living here at the onset of For Us, the Living was intriguing as a window into the development of Heinlein's radical ideas about man as a social animal , including his interest in free love.

    The root of many themes found in his later stories can be found in this book. It also contained a large amount of material that could be considered background for his other novels. This included a detailed description of the protagonist's treatment to avoid being banned to Coventry a lawless land in the Heinlein mythos where unrepentant law-breakers are exiled.

    It appears that Heinlein at least attempted to live in a manner consistent with these ideals, even in the s, and had an open relationship in his marriage to his second wife, Leslyn. He was also a nudist ; [3] nudism and body taboos are frequently discussed in his work. At the height of the Cold War , he built a bomb shelter under his house, like the one featured in Farnham's Freehold.

    After For Us, The Living , Heinlein began selling to magazines first short stories, then novels, set in a Future History , complete with a time line of significant political, cultural, and technological changes. A chart of the future history was published in the May issue of Astounding. Over time, Heinlein wrote many novels and short stories that deviated freely from the Future History on some points, while maintaining consistency in some other areas.

    The Future History was eventually overtaken by actual events. These discrepancies were explained, after a fashion, in his later World as Myth stories. It is strange how, among all the justified praise heaped upon Heinlein, what should have counted as one of the most brilliant successes of his entire career is very much overlooked. I talk, of course, about the story " Solution Unsatisfactory ". At the time when the Second World War just got seriously going, the United States and Soviet Union had not yet become directly involved and the world's attention was riveted on the unfolding Battle of Britain , Heinlein was four or five steps ahead of everybody.

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    More than a year before Roosevelt authorized the Manhatten Project , Heinlein correctly foresaw that: a The President of the US would initiate a secret project to develop nuclear weapons and employ scientist refugees from Nazi Europe; b By , the US would have a weapon able to destroy an entire city in one blow from a single airplane - and would use that weapon to end to war; c That with the US having thus won the war, the world would become aware of the realities of a nuclear arms race - without using the term, Heinlein predicted and described in detail the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction ; and d Concretely, the main issue on the agenda in the post years would be whether the Soviet Union would obtain nuclear arms, and if it did - would the Soviets try to launch a surprise nuclear attack on the United States.

    For having predicted all that in - even to accurately predicting the remorse and guilt feeling of the scientists involved - Heinlein deserves much plaudits. In my view, this should have counted for than the Future History - which is entertaining but widely off the mark as, well, future history. Heinlein's first novel published as a book, Rocket Ship Galileo , was initially rejected because going to the moon was considered too far-fetched, but he soon found a publisher, Scribner's , that began publishing a Heinlein juvenile once a year for the Christmas season.

    Many of these were first published in serial form under other titles, e. There has been speculation that Heinlein's intense obsession with his privacy was due at least in part to the apparent contradiction between his unconventional private life and his career as an author of books for children. However, For Us, The Living explicitly discusses the political importance Heinlein attached to privacy as a matter of principle thus negating this line of reasoning.

    The novels that Heinlein wrote for a young audience are commonly called "the Heinlein juveniles", and they feature a mixture of adolescent and adult themes. Many of the issues that he takes on in these books have to do with the kinds of problems that adolescents experience.

    His protagonists are usually intelligent teenagers who have to make their way in the adult society they see around them.

    Robert A. Heinlein

    On the surface, they are simple tales of adventure, achievement, and dealing with stupid teachers and jealous peers. Heinlein was a vocal proponent of the notion that juvenile readers were far more sophisticated and able to handle more complex or difficult themes than most people realized. His juvenile stories often had a maturity to them that made them readable for adults. Red Planet , for example, portrays some subversive themes, including a revolution in which young students are involved; his editor demanded substantial changes in this book's discussion of topics such as the use of weapons by children and the misidentified sex of the Martian character.

    Heinlein was always aware of the editorial limitations put in place by the editors of his novels and stories, and while he observed those restrictions on the surface, was often successful in introducing ideas not often seen in other authors' juvenile SF. In , James Blish wrote that one reason for Heinlein's success "has been the high grade of machinery which goes, today as always, into his story-telling. Heinlein seems to have known from the beginning, as if instinctively, technical lessons about fiction which other writers must learn the hard way or often enough, never learn.

    He does not always operate the machinery to the best advantage, but he always seems to be aware of it.

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    Heinlein decisively ended his juvenile novels with Starship Troopers , a controversial work and his personal riposte to leftists calling for President Dwight D. Eisenhower to stop nuclear testing in Later, in Expanded Universe , Heinlein said that it was his intention in the novel that service could include positions outside strictly military functions such as teachers, police officers, and other government positions.

    This is presented in the novel as an outgrowth of the failure of unearned suffrage government and as a very successful arrangement. In addition, the franchise was only awarded after leaving the assigned service; thus those serving their terms—in the military, or any other service—were excluded from exercising any franchise. Career military were completely disenfranchised until retirement. The name Starship Troopers was licensed for an unrelated, B movie script called Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine , which was then retitled to benefit from the book's credibility.

    Fans of Heinlein were critical of the movie, which they considered a betrayal of Heinlein's philosophy, presenting the society in which the story takes place as fascist. Likewise, the powered armor technology that is not only central to the book, but became a standard subgenre of science fiction thereafter, is completely absent in the movie, where the characters use World War II -technology weapons and wear light combat gear little more advanced than that. Verhoeven commented that he had tried to read the book after he had bought the rights to it, in order to add it to his existing movie.

    However he read only the first two chapters, finding it too boring to continue. He thought it was a bad book and asked Ed Neumeier to tell him the story because he couldn't read it. From about Stranger in a Strange Land to Time Enough for Love , Heinlein explored some of his most important themes, such as individualism , libertarianism , and free expression of physical and emotional love.