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TUBERCULOSIS CONVENTION GNOME SPECIAL PAPERBACK MIXED

Robert Heinlein wasn't only one of the world's most popular science fiction writers - he was also one of the most influential. As Frederick Pohl wrote on the occasion of his death: "For decades on end Robert Heinlein defined modern science fiction. Robert Heinlein's position in the world of science fiction will become more accepted by the literary world as the full scale of his achievement is appreciated and this will be reflected in the values of his books.

TUBERCULOSIS

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Butler, Missouri on 7 July 1907. He joined the navy and served on board the first modern aircraft carrier until he was invalided out through tuberculosis. After a succession of jobs and a brief flirtation with the world of politics he turned his hand to writing, selling his first story, "Lifeline", to 'Astounding SF' where it appeared in the August 1939 issue. The editor of 'Astounding', John Campbell, was in the process of dragging science fiction out from its infancy into a modern age by promoting such writers as Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt and Theodore Sturgeon, and in Robert Heinlein he found the man who would be the prime mover in establishing what has become regarded as the Golden Age of science fiction.

'Astounding' published most of Robert Heinlein's science fiction stories over the next ten years, including many of his best works like "Solution Unsatisfactory" (May 1941), which foreshadowed the nuclear stalemate, "By His Bootstraps" (October 1941), still one of the most ingenious of all time travel stories, and "Universe" (May SY941), a tale that considered the prospect of generation starships.

A number of novels, which would later appear in book form, were also serialised in 'Astounding' at this time. The most popular was "Methuselah's Children" (July-Sept 1941), which introduced Robert Heinlein's character Lazarus Long, who appeared in so many of his later books. All of the Golden Age issues of 'Astounding' are very sought-after, particularly those issues which contain Robert Heinlein's work.

CONVENTION

In 1939, dedicated American science fiction fans organised an annual World Science Fiction Convention. The third, which was held in Denver, Colorado in July 1941, had Robert Heinlein as its Guest of Honour - a fair indication of his rapid rise to fame and popularity. He delivered a speech entitled "The Discovery of the Future" which was promptly published in a simple mimeographed limited edition of 200 copies by Los Angeles fan Forrest Ackerman. In recent years this small 18-page pamphlet has become a highly collectable item selling for hundreds of dollars in America, especially if it's one of the early printings in green ink. This pamphlet is often classified as Robert Heinlein's first publication.

After the War, Robert Heinlein decided to broaden his market beyond the science fiction pulps and broke through into the serious 'slick' markets of 'The Saturday Evening Post' and 'Colliers'. He also turned his hand to writing for younger readers and the first of his young adult novels, "Rocket Ship Galileo", was published by Scribners in 1947. Scribners went on to publish a dozen of Robert Heinlein's novels for young readers over the next ten years and his effect upon the next generation of scientists was dramatic. Apparently almost all the scientists working on the American space programme had found their early inspiration from reading Robert Heinlein's books in their youth.

The Scribners editions are not amongst the most collectable of Robert Heinlein's books but they are sought-after for sentimental reasons as well as for their bibliophilic value. Robert Heinlein's young adult books are not highly collected in Britain yet, although the one major exception is "The Rolling Stones", originally published by Scribners in 1952. When Gollancz eventually published a British hardback edition in 1969, it was retitled "Space Family Stone" and this variance has increased its collectability, especially in America.

After the war, a number of American ex-servicemen invested their demob money in small publishing firms and for a period several of them flourished. Some realised that very little from the science fiction pulp magazines had been reprinted in hardback form and it was only natural that Robert Heinlein's stories would be one major source of material.

One of the most pioneering of these firms was Fantasy Press, founded by Lloyd Eshbach in Reading, Pennsylvania. He pig-chased the hardback rights to Robert Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon" which had been serialised in 'Astounding' in 1942, and issued it in both a trade edition and a limited edition in June 1948. 3,500 copies were printed, of which 500 included a numbered leaf signed by Robert Heinlein. There was also a variant blue binding of which only ten copies are known to exist.

GNOME

Probably the most influential of the small press publishers was Gnome Press, founded in New York in 1948 by Martin Greenberg and David Kyle. They chose "Sixth Column" as their first Robert Heinlein title - a story that had first appeared in 'Astounding' in 1941. Though not one of Robert Heinlein's own favourites nor one of his most memorable books, Gnome chose to publish it in an edition of 5,000 copies so it is still relatively easy to find.

The third of the leading small press pioneers was Shasta Publishers, run by Erie Korshak and Ted Dikty in Chicago. They were one of the most successful presses and their first Robert Heinlein title was a collection of his early stories, "The Man Who Sold the Moon" (1950). It has long since become an essential Robert Heinlein title, the first of his Future History series, and is highly sought after by collectors. The first print run was 3,000 copies so the book is not too scarce.

SPECIAL

Collectors should note that there was an advance offer to pre-paid subscribers to Shasta with a special edition of 200 copies signed by Robert Heinlein on a tipped-in leaf.

The success of small firms like Gnome and Shasta and the rising tide of interest in science fiction books soon attracted the attention of the leading publishing houses including Doubleday, who launched their own science fiction line in 1950. The first Robert Heinlein book they published was "Waldo and Magic, Inc.", a collection of two short novels, one of which was a fantasy. This hasn't stopped it from becoming a popular title.

Doubleday's second Robert Heinlein book, "The Puppet Masters", has always been one of his most popular titles. It was also his first book to be published in Britain. When Museum Press issued it in 1953, they preceded Sidgwick & Jackson's edition of "The Man Who Sold the Moon" by two months.

During the 1950s, Robert Heinlein's books appeared at the rate of three or four a year:a regular annual juvenile tide from Scribners, an adult tide from Doubleday, and one or more from a small press house. All the latter came in both trade and signed limited editions, the most sought after of which is Shasta's 1953 edition of "Revolt in 2100".

One early title that is of particular interest in Britain is "Orphans of the Sky". This volume of two short novels had first appeared in book form as a paperback from Dell Books in 1951 under the tide "Universe". Its first appearance in hard-back was in Britain from Gollancz in 1963 and this particular edition is very sought-after in America. The first U.S. hardback edition appeared from Putnam a year later.

PAPERBACK

Many of Robert Heinlein's books, however, especially those from the I 96Os, were first published in Britain in paperback form and it was not until the 197Os that hardback editions followed. In a few cases the books had an earlier hardback edition in Britain as part of an omnibus collection. Only "The Robert Heinlein Omnibus" is of special interest to collectors. Published by Sidgwick & Jackson in 1958 in an edition for the British Science Fiction Book Club, it is now quite hard to find. The book was really a double binding of "The Man Who Sold the Moon" and "The Green Hills of Earth', both of which had been published by Sidgwick a few years earlier.

Robert Heinlein's popular early novel "Methuselah's Children" finally appeared as a book when it was published by Gnome Press in 1958. This is a difficult book to identify as a first edition because it was reprinted the following year with no noticeable changes. To further complicate the matter, the first edition had two variant bindings but it is generally thought that those books in black boards came first. Collectors may wish to check the dust-wrapper as later printings had Gnome Press's New York address removed.

Robert Heinlein's first book of the 1960s was also his most successful - and perhaps his most notorious. "Stranger in a Strange Land" was the first science fiction novel to feature on the 'New York Times' best4eller list and it became the bible of the Sixties hippy culture. Its notoriety came through its association with Charles Manson and the Sharon Tate murder. All this has made the first edition a highly desirable item, but copies are not too difficult to find.

MIXED

As the 1960s progressed Robert Heinlein's books received mixed reactions. "Glory Road" was a fantasy when fantasies were not popular and it has been unfairly overlooked since. First editions are fairly hard to come by and in America they often change hands for $300 or more. "Podkayne of Mars" was intended as a novel for young adults but has often been criticised for its deprecating attitude to its young female protagonist.

Of all his books published during the 1960s, the one usually considered the best is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", which won him his fourth Hugo Award. It is also one of his most collectable books.

By the 1970s, Robert Heinlein's status as a best-selling author led to higher print runs for his first editions and copies are consequently much easier (and cheaper) to find in Very Good or Fine condition. One exception, though, is "The Number of the Beast". The first hardback edition of this novel appeared in Britain from the New English Library in 1980, a few months earlier than the first American edition published by Fawcett. The texts differ and the Fawcett edition is illustrated, but it is the NEL edition that is most sought after.

Robert Heinlein always suffered from bad health and in 1978 he was half paralysed by a blockage of the carotid artery, but a by-pass operation was successful and he made a complete recovery. Following his illness, a whole new series of books flowed from his typewriter. Most appeared in special limited and signed first editions from their respective publishers. Of these, by far the most scarce is "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls', of which only 350 slip-cased copies were issued. When the first trade edition was published by Putnam in 1985 a textual error was discovered on page 300 after many copies had already been distributed. An erratum slip was inserted into later printings correcting the error.

A novelty item from this period was "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long", which was only published in America by Putnams in 1978. It appeared in a special edition with hand lettered, or more precisely, hand illuminated characters by D.F. Vassallo. This was not a novel but a collection of sayings and aphorisms by the unique Lazarus Long. Although it isn't particularly collected at the moment, it is a most attractive item and ought to become one of Robert Heinlein's most sought after scarcities in years to come.

Robert Heinlein's last book had a fitting title because a year after Putnam and Michael Joseph issued "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" simultaneously, he died peacefully in his sleep on 8 May 1988. He left behind a science fiction fraternity that was as much Robert Heinlein's child as it was Methuselah's.

A brief word on how this works. If you click on any of the links below, you'll be taken to the page at Amazon where you can buy the book. Because you've linked to there from my site, I get commission on the sale. It's not a lot, but it helps to keep this and my other sites afloat.

USA
Assignment in Eternity
Between Planets
Beyond This Horizon
Citizen of the Galaxy
Day After Tomorrow
Double Star
Expanded Universe
Farmer in the Sky
Farnham's Freehold
Four Great Classics of Science Fiction
Friday
Glory Road
Great Science Fiction of Robert Heinlein
Green Hills of Earth/Gentlemen Be Seated Tape)
Green Hills of Earth
Grumbles From the Grave
Have Space Suit Will Travel
Robert Heinlein's Works Notes
I Will Fear No Evil
Job: A Comedy of Justice
Menace from Earth
Methusaleh's Children
Orphans of the Sky
Past Through Tomorrow: Future History Stories
Podkayne of Mars
The Door into Summer
Red Planet
Requiem: Tributes to the Grand Master
Revolt in 2100: Methusaleh's Children
Revolt in 2100
Robert A Robert Heinlein
Rocket Ship Galileo
Sixth Column
Space Cadet
Starman Jones
Starship Troopers (Tape)
Starship Troopers
Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land (Tape)
Take Back Your Government
Tenderfoot in Space
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
The Door Into Summer
The Fantasies of Robert A Robert Heinlein
The Man Who Sold The Moon
The Menace From Earth
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
The Number of the Beast
The Past Through Tomorrow
The Puppet Masters (Tape)
The Puppet Masters
The Road to Science Fiction: From Robert Heinlein to Here?
The Rolling Stones
The Star Beast
Time Enough For Love
Time for the Stars
To Sail Beyond The Sunset
Tomorrow the Stars
Tramp Royale
Tropas Del Espacio Premio Hugo 1960
Tunnel in the Sky
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag
Waldo and Magic Inc.
The Menace from Earth (Tape)
Stranger in a Strange Land (Part 1 of 2 - Tape)
Stranger in a Strange Land (Part 2 of 2 - Tape)

Critiques

A Checklist of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
A Guide Through The Worlds of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
Robert Heinlein in Dimension: A Critical Analysis
Robert A. Robert Heinlein: A Stranger in His Own Land
Robert A. Robert Heinlein: America as Science-Fiction
Robert A. Robert Heinlein (Twaynes)
Robert A. Robert Heinlein
Robert Anson Robert Heinlein
The Classic Years of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
The Fantasies of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
The Road to Science Fiction: From Robert Heinlein to Here
The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Robert Heinleiniana

UK TITLES
Assignment in Eternity
Best of Robert Heinlein
Between Planets
Beyond This Horizon
Expanded Universe
Glory Road
Have Spacesuit Will Travel
I Will Fear No Evil
Menace from Earth
Orphans of the Sky
Podkayne of Mars
Red Planet
Requiem and Tributes to the Grand Master
Starman Jones
Starship Troopers
Stranger in a Strange Land
Take Back Your Government! : A Practical Handbook for the Private Citizen Who Wants Democracy to Work
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
The Door in to Summer
The Fantasies of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
The Green Hills of Earth
The Man Who Sold The Moon
The Menace From Earth
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Rolling Stones
The Star Beast
To Sail Beyond the Sunset
Tramp Royale
Tunnel in the Sky

CRITIQUES

Robert A. Robert Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land
Robert A. Robert Heinlein
Robert Heinlein, Stormtrooping Guru : A Working Bibliography
The Classic Years of Robert A. Robert Heinlein
The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Robert Heinleiniana

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The above article was adapted from the August 1989 issue of Book and Magazine Collector (UK.) and was authored by one Mike Ashley.

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Those of you with an ongoing interest in the late Robert Heinlein may wish to join the Robert Heinlein Society. I've had a look myself and there's a wealth of good stuff there. But don't take my word for it!

Philip K Dick Isaac Asimov Edith Wharton Angela Brazil John Fowles Robert Heinlein Raymond Chandler John D MacDonald Wilfred Thesiger Sylvia Townsend Warner Elizabeth Jane Howard Hugh Walpole Nevil Shute Vita Sackville-West Close-ended Questions

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.freedomsnest.com/heirob.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://members.aol.com/rahweb/

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.nitrosyncretic.com/rah/

Robert Heinleinhttp://boondock.com/rahpage.htm

Robert Heinleinhttp://boondock.com/rah_faq.htm

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.quotableheinlein.com/html/home.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.pulpless.com/0150.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://home.t-online.de/home/herbsev/rah.htm

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.luna-city.com/rah/rah.htm

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.catch22.com/~espana/SFAuthors/SFH/Heinlein,Robert.phtml

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~bcd/rah.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.rvt.com/~lucas/heinlein.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.cs.colorado.edu/~main/heinlein.html

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.vintagelibrary.com/scifi/rah/

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.sfsite.com/isfdb-bin/exact_author.cgi?Robert_A._Heinlein

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.dahoudek.com/heinlein/

Robert Heinleinhttp://www.space.com/sciencefiction/heinlein_harshaw_991105.html

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