From the early 1940s until his death in 1988, Robert A. Heinlein reigned unchallenged as the most influential contemporary author of science fiction. His first few stories turned the field upside down, and set new standards of narrative and scientific excellence. He was justly credited with introducing narrative techniques which are now taken for granted, but were revolutionary at the time. This book was the first full-length critical analysis of Heinlein's work and his place in modern science fiction. Like Damon Knight, Mr. Panshin works on the assumption that the ordinary standards of literature apply with full force to science fiction; a vaulting imagination does not excuse bad writing or foolish plotting. In addition there are criteria of narrative technique and scientific plausibility that are peculiar to science fiction. Rigorously applying these standards, Mr. Panshin discusses Heinlein's fiction and analyzes its strengths and weaknesses; he traces the constants and the variables in Heinlein's interests and viewpoints; and he offers a suggestion as to the ultimate significance of Heinlein both in science fiction and in literature as a whole. Neither adulatory nor carping, this is a study in depth which is both readable and comprehensive.
With bibliographies of Heinlein's works up to 1968.