There are a lot of his books that I like and several that I love. If I had to pick one as my favorite, though, I guess I’d have to go with 1958’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. The image at right is of the version I read as a kid. It was probably my first Heinlein book, though I can’t be sure. It was one of what are called his “Juveniles”, and one of the thing I was always most fascinated by in those books was how he made engineering seem so cool.
No small feat, that.
I certainly didn’t always agree with all of the political and social themes present in his books, and as I got older and began reading more of his more-adultish books, I became a bit disenchanted. I’ve long wondered how much impact ‘Stranger in a Strange Land‘ had on the Sixties, for instance. Even as a youngster, I wasn’t buying a lot of what he was selling when it came to how to live your life, at least practically speaking. Sure, “love everyone” is something to aim for. But to physically “love everyone” just isn’t on my list. Even if it was, who has that kind of time?
But one quick trip back to a juvenile and all was right again.
Two of the things Heinlein coined are “grok” (from ‘Stranger’) and “TANSTAAFL” (from ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress‘). The latter rears its ugly head in many of the discussions I find myself in, particularly when it comes to the military. I suspect that TANSTAAFL is at the root of everything everywhere.
The list of runners-up to ‘Spacesuit’ as my favorite Heinlein book is long and storied, so I won’t bother listing them all. But many of them are Juveniles, and I can’t think of one Juvey I wouldn’t recommend.
I’m sure many MO readers have their own favorite Heinlein books. So what are they? And, for bonus points, why are they your favorites?
UPDATE: Mike at New Wars reminds Murdoc of an adaptation of ‘Between Planets’ that ran in Boy’s Life in the late 70s. I’m pretty sure I got at least the tail end of that run as a youngster. Link to sample at New Wars.