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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 035) Panel Discussion: Robert Heinlein





In episode 35 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester asks the panel of irregulars:

Q: Are the works of Robert Heinlein relevant for science fiction fans and authors today? Are his works dated? Is he simply a relic from a bygone era best left on the shelf collecting dust?

This week’s panel:



About Patrick Hester (527 Articles)
Patrick Hester is a writer, blogger, podcasting dude, Denver transplant and all around Functional Nerd. Don't hate him cuz he has a cool hat.

9 Comments on The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 035) Panel Discussion: Robert Heinlein

  1. Favorite Heinlein books?  Job, and Glory Road.

    Where should someone start?  Probably with one of the juveniles.  Heinlein was often better at short stories than novels, so reading some of his stories is a good place to start, IMO.

    Especially with the entanglement of politics and religion in America the last twenty years, everyone should read “If This Goes On”.





  2. Trish Berry // March 21, 2011 at 5:56 pm //

    Just dusted mine off a couple of weeks ago and making my way back through them.  Started with Starship Troopers and now on The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Does seem dated, but I love the style.

  3. “Relevant” is a word that has been too abused lately, so I can’t answer that part.  But, Heinlein was a master storyteller, which is all that is really important.  Although the technology in the stories, especially the older ones, is dated, the stories are still as fun as when they were written and the ideas are even more provacative.  So as for should they gather dust on a shelf, H*ll no!  Storytelling is everthing – relevancy is irrelevant.

    Two unrelated points.  First, one of panel noted that some people have called Starship Troopers facist because Heinlein required a term of service (not necessarily military) as a condition of full citizenship.  I have known a few people who made this argument, yet every one of them supported the Orwellian “mandatory volunteerism” as a condition of high school graduation.  

    Second, I think one of the pannel (I wish I could recognize voices better) said that Starship Troopers was the only Heinlein work adapted to film.  It’s somewhat obscure but Donald Sutherland starred in a 1994 adaptataion of The Puppet Masters, a loose and somewhat boring version of the story.


    Another great episode.


  4. The Full Cast Audio versions of the YA Heinlein books are a good start.  You could probably download them from your library.


  5. Roddy Reta // March 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm //

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who loved JOB.  


  6. Alexander Dregon // March 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm //

    I just want to say that of course Heinlein will be dated as far as the science of his stories goes. Owing to the fact that he wrote at a time when man had just begun to explore the idea that space travel was even possible,  of course he couldnt get all the facts in any order that would be acceptable these days. But the concepts behind the stories, the gist of them remains as potent as ever. The ideas he presented have been modified,  rehashed and redone in countless books. They supplied many a novice writer with if not a goal than at least the idea that they used to start whatever journey they wanted to go on. To call Heinlein out moded would be like saying that Homer’s Illiad or Moby Dick were just literary phases. Or that Conan Doyle was just a hack. If he’isn’t for you then by all means, look elsewhere. But if you do ask yourself how much does the writer you chose owe to Heinlein And what would he be doing if Heinlein hadn’t been there for him to read as he sought to find his way?  

  7. I believe Heinlein is still relevant to authors and fans today. He’s definately a huge influence to my writing.

    I site, first, Starship Troopers. Heinlein did very well to leave a lot of heavy technology (besides robotic suits of armor) out of the book, which allows readers young and old to enjoy it. I’ve turned many of my military friends on to it, and many of them don’t like science fiction. And the book has sparked HUNDREDS of ideas. The power armor craze today is due, in part, to Heinlein. Some of the biggest Sci-Fi brands draw from Heinlein: Warhammer 40,000 and Battletech. In fact, the creators of Battletech (and at least one sourcebook) cite Heinlein by name as the source for Battle Armor.

    But it’s not just Starship Troopers. While Farmer in the Sky is a bit dated it is still an excellent story about a young man growing up very fast. Space Cadet still has a lot of issues that we’re dealing with today, such as the fear of nuclear weapons and the controversy over a supranational organization controling the sovereignty of it’s collected states.

    Agreed, some of the technology here and there is dated, and things didn’t turn out the way Heinlein thought they would (where’s my flying car!?), but many of the arguments and maxims he writes into his stories are still very relevant today.

  8. I suggest that one start with the collection The Green Hills of Earth.  From there, teenagers should read Tunnel in the Sky, Farmer in the Sky, and Citizen of the Galaxy;  adults should read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Starship Troopers.

    As long as readers value good writing, Heinlein will be relevant.

  9. Heinlein? So twencen! See you later, daddy-o!

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