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Here in one monumental volume are all 21 of the stories, novellas and novels making up Heinlein's famous Future Historythe rich, imaginative architecture of Man's destiny that many consider his greatest and most prophetic work. Contents: * Introduction - Damon Knight * Life-Line * The Roads Must Roll * Blowups Happen * The Man Who Sold the Moon * Delilah and the Space-Rigger * Here in one monumental volume are all 21 of the stories, novellas and novels making up Heinlein's famous Future History—the rich, imaginative architecture of Man's destiny that many consider his greatest and most prophetic work. Contents: * Introduction - Damon Knight * Life-Line * The Roads Must Roll * Blowups Happen * The Man Who Sold the Moon * Delilah and the Space-Rigger * Space Jockey * Requiem * The Long Watch * Gentleman, Be Seated * The Black Pits of Luna * "It's Great to Be Back!" * "—We Also Walk Dogs" * Searchlight * Ordeal in Space * The Green Hills of Earth * Logic of Empire * The Menace from Earth * "If This Goes On—" * Coventry * Misfit * Methuselah's Children


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Here in one monumental volume are all 21 of the stories, novellas and novels making up Heinlein's famous Future Historythe rich, imaginative architecture of Man's destiny that many consider his greatest and most prophetic work. Contents: * Introduction - Damon Knight * Life-Line * The Roads Must Roll * Blowups Happen * The Man Who Sold the Moon * Delilah and the Space-Rigger * Here in one monumental volume are all 21 of the stories, novellas and novels making up Heinlein's famous Future History—the rich, imaginative architecture of Man's destiny that many consider his greatest and most prophetic work. Contents: * Introduction - Damon Knight * Life-Line * The Roads Must Roll * Blowups Happen * The Man Who Sold the Moon * Delilah and the Space-Rigger * Space Jockey * Requiem * The Long Watch * Gentleman, Be Seated * The Black Pits of Luna * "It's Great to Be Back!" * "—We Also Walk Dogs" * Searchlight * Ordeal in Space * The Green Hills of Earth * Logic of Empire * The Menace from Earth * "If This Goes On—" * Coventry * Misfit * Methuselah's Children

30 review for The Past Through Tomorrow

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Conveyor Belts: "The Past Through Tomorrow" by Robert A. Heinlein (Original Review, 1980-10-13) People have complained about roads as conveyor belts as represented in Heinlein's THE ROADS MUST ROLL as being an inefficient means of transportation because of a number of reasons, some of those being energy efficiency and the problems of handicapped people using them. Instead of building them as a single conveyor belt, how about building If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Conveyor Belts: "The Past Through Tomorrow" by Robert A. Heinlein (Original Review, 1980-10-13) People have complained about roads as conveyor belts as represented in Heinlein's THE ROADS MUST ROLL as being an inefficient means of transportation because of a number of reasons, some of those being energy efficiency and the problems of handicapped people using them. Instead of building them as a single conveyor belt, how about building them as a variable speed conveyor belt (by this I mean a conveyor belt that at different locations on it can have different speeds).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    On the afternoon of Saturday, October 4th, 1975, having just turned thirteen years old a few weeks before, I rode my bicycle about 2 1/2 miles to the nearest bookstore to my house that sold science fiction books--the long-defunct Books & Friends in Oakton, VA. I know this not because I remember the event, but because I wrote it in the back of a paperback copy of "The Past Through Tomorrow," an 830-page collection of Robert Heinlein's "Future History" stories. What I do remember is that I On the afternoon of Saturday, October 4th, 1975, having just turned thirteen years old a few weeks before, I rode my bicycle about 2 1/2 miles to the nearest bookstore to my house that sold science fiction books--the long-defunct Books & Friends in Oakton, VA. I know this not because I remember the event, but because I wrote it in the back of a paperback copy of "The Past Through Tomorrow," an 830-page collection of Robert Heinlein's "Future History" stories. What I do remember is that I didn't start reading the book right away, but got absorbed in it the next year during a long family car trip from Virginia to Louisiana. This book, along with some "Archie" and "Superman" comics, helped make the trip bearable for me. Virtually all the stories in this collection were written between 1939 and 1949, with a couple of them dating from, or having been revised, about ten years later. Since the stories appear in "chronological" order (from the point of view of Heinlein's telling of history), but they were not written in that order, one can't help but conclude that Heinlein had an outline of his history already in mind 1939; and indeed this is confirmed in the introduction by Damon Knight, which quotes one of Heinlein's editors writing in February 1941: "...Heinlein's science fiction is laid against a common background of a proposed future history of the world and of the United States. Heinlein's worked the thing out in detail...he has an outlined and graphed history of the future with characters, dates of major discoveries, etc., plotted in." Indeed, a version of this graph is reproduced in the book. What astounds me is that this was a work of imagination almost equivalent to Tolkien's history of Middle Earth, and yet it is not nearly so well known. That seems a shame to me. The stories begin with present-day (that is, 1939) America, and the invention of a machine that can tell how long someone is going to live ["Life-Line"]. In retrospect this story almost looks like it doesn't belong in the collection, since the machine is destroyed shortly after it is unveiled, and its inventor Dr. Pinero is killed. Only much later, in the final story, does the main character refer back to the machine and to Pinero, making a nice closure for the reader. There is a stately progression through the short stories, which tell of the invention of moving roadways between American cities ["The Roads Must Roll," "Blowups Happen"]. These stories don't have a major impact on the rest of the history, but the roads are mentioned in passing in later stories. Then the real meat of the timeline gets started with what I call the Harriman Cycle--stories about space pioneer Delos David Harriman--that document man's first steps into space, landing on the moon, and establishment of permanent lunar settlements (all done by private companies, I'll add, and not by governments). These stories are "The Man Who Sold the Moon," "Delilah and the Space Rigger," "Space Jockey," and "Requiem," by the end of which travel between Earth and bases on the moon was, if not commonplace, more common that Space Shuttle launches at the height of that program. The series continues with "The Long Watch," "Gentlemen, Be Seated," "The Black Pits of Luna," "'It's Great To Be Back!'," "--We Also Walk Dogs," and "Searchlight." These stories all describe life on the Moon, politics between Earth and the cities on Luna, and the evolving technology of the late 1900s and early 2000s, as Heinlein saw it (boy, don't I wish). Man moves further afield in "The Green Hills of Earth" and "Logic of Empire," which tell of human settlements on Mars and Venus--both of which worlds have indigenous life. So too, one could say, does the Moon by now, with whole generations of humans being born and living their lives there, as shown in "The Menace From Earth." The progression of civilization--in particular, American civilization, since other nationalities are rarely mentioned in any of the above stories--into space seems to be abruptly interrupted with a story that, at first read, doesn't seem to belong in this collection at all. "'If This Goes On--'" is the tale of an American theocracy ruled by a Prophet from the city of New Jerusalem (Kansas City, I think). Only slowly does it become clear to the reader that the US suffered a sort of coup around 2016 and this new government was set up, with all the trappings of a heaven on Earth but in reality a police state very similar to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia (which, considering the story was written in 1940, it was not prescient per se but extremely timely and shows that Heinlein was acutely aware of developments and conditions across the world). The story deals with events that would later be incorporated into the collection "Revolt in 2100," which is about when it takes place. SPOILER ALERT: The Prophet is overthrown in this story, and a new government set up which is clearly descended from the old US Republic, but is a more Utopian-minded form. Throughout "'If This Goes On--'" and the following story, "Coventry," the new society in America is examined in some detail but barely any mention is made of other countries, Luna, or the colonies on Mars and Venus. Space travel appears to be banned by the Prophet and all traces of it expunged from the history books. This is explained to a small degree in "Methuselah's Children," the final story in the collection and the first appearance of the famous (and immortal) character Woodrow Wilson Smith, aka Lazarus Long. I didn't mean for this review to be a detailed explication of Heinlein's Future History, which is a good thing because I've gone on too long already. There are plenty of scholarly discussions of Heinlein's work, and this collection in particular, online--along with descriptions of stories he meant to include but never wrote, stories that were written but left out, and so on. Let me just say in closing that if you are a Heinlein fan and want to immerse yourself in the universe that seems to have been his main playground of imagination, get a copy of "The Past Through Tomorrow" and dive in. Some of the stories are a little dated in their language and social mores by today's standards, but remember when they were written and enjoy the genius of the man who was able to project the technology and society of 1940s America and project it, plausibly, centuries into the future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Rodaughan

    Re-reading a classic from my youth. Proceeding with most recent read at the top of the list. 24/Mar/20: 5. Delilah and the Space-Rigger: Up next... 24/Mar/20: 4. The Man Who Sold the Moon: A driven man achieves everything except for his deepest, truest desire. Sad, almost elegiac in the end. 5 'Heart of the Explorer,' stars. 23/Mar/20: 3. Blowups Happen: Put a man next to a machine that if he fails to tend it properly will not only kill him, but could destroy the world and you'll break the man. So Re-reading a classic from my youth. Proceeding with most recent read at the top of the list. 24/Mar/20: 5. Delilah and the Space-Rigger: Up next... 24/Mar/20: 4. The Man Who Sold the Moon: A driven man achieves everything except for his deepest, truest desire. Sad, almost elegiac in the end. 5 'Heart of the Explorer,' stars. 23/Mar/20: 3. Blowups Happen: Put a man next to a machine that if he fails to tend it properly will not only kill him, but could destroy the world and you'll break the man. So what to do when the machine is essential for 'life as we know it?' 4 'avoiding the end of the world,' stars. 18/Mar/20: 2. The Roads Must Roll: A cautionary tale about allowing political zealots to run critical industrial infrastructure. What could go wrong when a political fundamentalist brings society violently to a stop by throttling a transport choke point? Apparently everything, bar the actual apocalypse. 4, 'give the engineers guns,' stars. 13/Mar/20: 1. Life Line: If you disrupt the biz, the biz will disrupt you. There's always a vested interest that loves the status quo. Innovators beware, corporate assassins are on your six! 4 'I know when you'll die.' stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    I recently learned that back in 1966, when the attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention chose Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" books to receive a special Hugo Award for the best sci-fi series of all time, what came in second was Robert A. Heinlein's "Future History" series. For those who don't know, it's a collection of several dozen short stories and novellas that he published in random order and in a myriad of different magazines over twenty years, but that nonetheless are all set in the I recently learned that back in 1966, when the attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention chose Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" books to receive a special Hugo Award for the best sci-fi series of all time, what came in second was Robert A. Heinlein's "Future History" series. For those who don't know, it's a collection of several dozen short stories and novellas that he published in random order and in a myriad of different magazines over twenty years, but that nonetheless are all set in the same persistent alternative future and share a common timeline, major occurrences and major characters, an impressive feat that became all the more so when they were finally collected and put in chronological order in a single massive thousand-page volume in 1967. And so I thought this would be a perfect way for me to start what I hope to be a pervasive overview of Heinlein's entire career over the next couple of years; after all, most of these stories were published in the 1940s and '50s decades when he was establishing his bona fides for the first time, and I've been told heavily influence his later more mature novels like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls that he's much better remembered for at this point. So what a profound shock, then, to start in on this earlier this year and realize that they are barely readable now, 50 to 70 years after they were originally published, not just dated but so objectively awful that it took me literally six months to finally force myself to choke my way through to the end. The main problem here is that Heinlein is famously known as one of the first popular proponents of what's now known as "hard science fiction," in which actual plausible scientific notions from our own age are implanted into fiction set in the future; but since he was one of the first people in literary history to do this, his technique for implanting this modern science is so awkward and blocky as to be ludicrous, with many of these stories essentially containing only a few paragraphs of actual fictional narrative, to serve as an excuse for Heinlein to write another 20 pages of nonfiction discourse about the latest the human race knows about nuclear fission, or jet fuel, or the effect of weightlessness on the human body. Then when he finally gets out of his own way and manges to actually write some narrative fiction, these particular stories turn out to be textbook examples of everything atrocious that made sci-fi such an unrespected and hacky genre in these years -- the characters are largely cardboard cutouts, the dialogue as stilted as a Tommy Wiseau script, gleefully embracing every sexual and racial stereotype that even existed in the Mid-Century Modernist era, setting the stage for the James Kirk "rah rah white males" trope that dominated this genre for decades after. If this was considered in 1966 to be one of the best science-fiction projects that industry had ever produced, then it's a profound reminder of just how far science-fiction has progressed and matured in the half-century since, as well as a virtual poster-child for how necessary the so-called "New Wave" of sci-fi that was in full swing at the time actually was for the revitalization of this genre. In this, then, reading The Past Through Tomorrow in the 2010s can be a very instructive experience, an enlightening look at why it took so long for sci-fi to gain mainstream acceptance and admiration in our society. But if you're simply looking to read some great work by Heinlein, do yourself a favor and skip this entirely, and go straight to the books from the late '60s through early '80s when he was at the height of his creative powers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a compilation of 21 Heinlein short stories in his 'Future History'. If you've never read Heinlein & want a good introduction, this is probably the best single book of his works you can buy. You'll see quite a range of his best. The paperback is as fat as one of Jordan's books & contains some novella length stories - two, "Revolt in 2100" & "Methuselah's Children" were published as novels. Others are title stories from other short story collections "The Green Hills of Earth" This is a compilation of 21 Heinlein short stories in his 'Future History'. If you've never read Heinlein & want a good introduction, this is probably the best single book of his works you can buy. You'll see quite a range of his best. The paperback is as fat as one of Jordan's books & contains some novella length stories - two, "Revolt in 2100" & "Methuselah's Children" were published as novels. Others are title stories from other short story collections "The Green Hills of Earth" & "The Man Who Sold The Moon", for example.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Al "Tank"

    This is a huge tomb: 830 pages and and inch-and-three-quarters thick. It contains 21 stories, some of which are novel-length for that time (50,000 words). The last story, "Methuselah's Children" has been published as a stand-alone novel (yes, I have it). I won't try to review all of the stories for fear of boring everyone. It's enough that most of them are highly entertaining, even by today's standards, and all fit within Heinlein's "future history" timeline. Of the stories, "Methuselah's This is a huge tomb: 830 pages and and inch-and-three-quarters thick. It contains 21 stories, some of which are novel-length for that time (50,000 words). The last story, "Methuselah's Children" has been published as a stand-alone novel (yes, I have it). I won't try to review all of the stories for fear of boring everyone. It's enough that most of them are highly entertaining, even by today's standards, and all fit within Heinlein's "future history" timeline. Of the stories, "Methuselah's Children" is my all-time favorite. It leads into a huge tomb of it's own, "Time Enough for Love", which Heinlein published later. Both feature his favorite character (I suspect he's RH's alter ego), Lazarus Long (Woodrow Wilson Smith), an irascible curmudgeon. My other favorite story is "The Menace from Earth" about a teenage couple and a good-looking woman from Earth who threatens to lure the boy away. I've read this tomb so many times that the pages are starting to fall out (mass market paperback). I had to glue it back together this time through.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    A worthy read for Heinlein's fans. The quality of the stories varies a bit, as they were written at different times, but having them in this collection and chronologically ordered helps keep the "future history" timeline straight. The stories suffer from Heinlein's usual flaws (i.e. female characters) but also showcase his strengths (e.g. pushing new social and political ideas, a love and veneration of science). This collection is a good example of why Heinlein is considered one of the big three A worthy read for Heinlein's fans. The quality of the stories varies a bit, as they were written at different times, but having them in this collection and chronologically ordered helps keep the "future history" timeline straight. The stories suffer from Heinlein's usual flaws (i.e. female characters) but also showcase his strengths (e.g. pushing new social and political ideas, a love and veneration of science). This collection is a good example of why Heinlein is considered one of the big three (even if I did forget whether I was reading Future History or Robot and Empire occasionally).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This is probably one of Heinlein's greatest works in terms of weaving together many stories with a self consistent story line. In it he introduces his best known character, Lazarus Long. Probably his next best character in terms of references to the character in other stories, would be D.D. Harriman. And to be honest, in many ways Harriman was a more likable character than Lazarus Long. Lazarus Long is sexist (gets much worse in other books and isn't all that noticeable in this one), selfish, This is probably one of Heinlein's greatest works in terms of weaving together many stories with a self consistent story line. In it he introduces his best known character, Lazarus Long. Probably his next best character in terms of references to the character in other stories, would be D.D. Harriman. And to be honest, in many ways Harriman was a more likable character than Lazarus Long. Lazarus Long is sexist (gets much worse in other books and isn't all that noticeable in this one), selfish, self centered and looks out for himself and those he chooses to look out for such as wives and kids. I think my favorite story is "The Long Watch" which is straight patriotic adventure with a wonderful hero. Although I love "The Menace from Earth" for the concept of flying as an individual sport on the moon. The characters in that story irritate me though. Heinlein came up with many sci fi concepts in these stories that have at least some bearing in reality. For example, lights that turn themselves off when no one is in the room. We have that concept in reality now, many decades after Heinlein created it. I have read this before but apparently never written it up on Goodreads for some reason. I think I'm going to toss my copy and make use of the space. I don't think I'll read it again. As I have mentioned in other reviews, Heinlein's political philosophy bothers me. Although he did seem to admit in the story "Coventry" that there had to be some government no matter how much he would rather do without it. Really, Coventry is a surprise coming from Heinlein. I still have a number of Heinlein books to go through in my collection but I can tell you I vastly prefer Heinlein's "juveniles" to his adult books. I think he was more creative in those books and did more "real" science fiction than in his adult books. This is definitely worth reading but I can't see rereading this book again. Too many different stories and too many pages (830) and time needed to read this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Whyte

    https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2910459.html Heinlein's mammoth future history: 21 stories published as a collection in 1967, though in fact all but two originally came out between 1939 and 1949, outlining the future development of humanity through the coming centuries. Heinlein misses a lot of things - notably the rise of information technology; his 23rd century spaceships are still running with slide rules. Some of these are a bit too sentimental, some based on concepts that don't really https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2910459.html Heinlein's mammoth future history: 21 stories published as a collection in 1967, though in fact all but two originally came out between 1939 and 1949, outlining the future development of humanity through the coming centuries. Heinlein misses a lot of things - notably the rise of information technology; his 23rd century spaceships are still running with slide rules. Some of these are a bit too sentimental, some based on concepts that don't really resonate today, and the last, "Methuselah's Children", is pretty weak - 100,000 people surviving on a spaceship built for a much smaller number??? But the idea of framing a future history based on technological advance rather than, say, the mysticism of Olaf Stapedon remains engaging. In particular, the theocratic America of If This Goes On- is rather closer to the bone now than it was in the 1940s. The whole collection is one of those taproot texts of the genre that remains well worth reading.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Russell Fletcher

    The Past Through Tomorrow is a book of short stories by Robert A. Heinlein. It is my favorite science fiction book. (It may be my favorite book period.) Even though there are plenty of other things to read, I have to reread.it every year or two. The character D.D. Harriman is certainly an inventor ahead of his time, even though in his timeline he had different inventions to get into space. Now for divergent thoughts not in this book but brought on by thinking about this book. Speaking of inventors The Past Through Tomorrow is a book of short stories by Robert A. Heinlein. It is my favorite science fiction book. (It may be my favorite book period.) Even though there are plenty of other things to read, I have to reread.it every year or two. The character D.D. Harriman is certainly an inventor ahead of his time, even though in his timeline he had different inventions to get into space. Now for divergent thoughts not in this book but brought on by thinking about this book. Speaking of inventors ahead of their time NOT IN THIS BOOK the other day I was thinking about how advanced that Star Trek (the original series) was in predicting science innovations. Too bad the more recent versions of Star Trek have not been as innovative. The original Star Trek series was like one version of The Past Through Tomorrow. (What we see now and what we may see in the future). Some of the things science has come up with that were portrayed on TV are as follows: *Dr. McCoy's hypo spray = needle-less vaccination guns used in hospitals. *Captain Kirk's handheld computer on the bridge = Microsoft's Tablet PCs. *Captain Kirk's communicator = cell phones minus miniature bomb.. *Motion sensors in ships doors = pocket doors in hospitals & grocery stores. *One function of the communicator = GPS in a cell phone with the Google Locater program enabled so others can see where you are located. *The episode where Worf is completely paralyzed and has to have special gizmos at various spots along his legs to get the muscles or nerves to fire right and help him learn to walk again = on TV news I saw the exact same time of thing. A lady in a wheelchair was going to get to walk for the first time with the same type of gizmos Worf had. The news channel recorded it znf us viewers got to see it. It was pretty exciting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

    Though I greatly enjoy Heinlen's writing, I didn't think I'd read very many of his short stories. Surprisingly, I had read "Life-Line", which is the first story in this book. But I didn't mind re-reading it one bit! One thing I had not realized before was that it was the first short story Heinlen had ever submitted for publication. I think the book is worth getting for it alone. Now, not only is this book just an incredible collection of plain good 'ole fashioned story-telling at it's best, but Though I greatly enjoy Heinlen's writing, I didn't think I'd read very many of his short stories. Surprisingly, I had read "Life-Line", which is the first story in this book. But I didn't mind re-reading it one bit! One thing I had not realized before was that it was the first short story Heinlen had ever submitted for publication. I think the book is worth getting for it alone. Now, not only is this book just an incredible collection of plain good 'ole fashioned story-telling at it's best, but the stories actually proceed in chronological order in the same timeline, which creates an incredible fluidity between stories. You find yourself trying to figure out how far in the future from the last story you read you are in the one you've just started. I think of the stories in the book, "Life-Line", "The Green Hills of Earth", and "Methuselah's Children" are my favorites, though I think I enjoyed every one of them. And you have characters that flow from one story to the next, so every now and then you get to spend more time with a character that you found you enjoyed. Do I recommend this book?! Absolutely! And despite it's thickness, it's actually great for people who aren't much into big books - because it's a collection of short stories. You can sit down and read for a half an hour or an hour and then put it down without regret. Awesome book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    The best of Heinlein's classic future history short fiction. Arguably the best single-author collection of science fiction ever. I'd say that these stories did more to shape modern sf than any other works.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Zoop

    Entertaining on the whole but Heinlein's high handed opinion of men, coupled with his disdain /annoyance of women, children, and parents got old. It feels like SciFi based Ayn Rand diatribe with a hatred of heavy handed government meddling in the affairs of get-the-job-done men.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    I got this for a song at the roadside. I never knew that it was a compendium of stories describing Heinlein's future universe: its development through time and space. Very enjoyable reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

    I think Heinlein was a better SF writer at shorter lengths, though this book is over 800 pages long. Methuseluh's Children is the best of them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Battaglia

    I don't know if Robert Heinlein had the first "future history" as we (and John Campbell) understood it, although he was probably one of the more extensive ones that had come down the pike thus far in the world of SF. While other writers may have written stories that appeared to happen in the same universe, no one had really taken a series of stories spread out chronologically over hundreds of years and explicitly set them in the same timeline (the closest I can think of is maybe Olaf Stapleton I don't know if Robert Heinlein had the first "future history" as we (and John Campbell) understood it, although he was probably one of the more extensive ones that had come down the pike thus far in the world of SF. While other writers may have written stories that appeared to happen in the same universe, no one had really taken a series of stories spread out chronologically over hundreds of years and explicitly set them in the same timeline (the closest I can think of is maybe Olaf Stapleton but that's basically two books and literally millions of years so he's in another class altogether, with a scope that even Heinlein might have found daunting). Later on Cordwainer Smith would do something similar with his stories that also benefited from a helpful chart and even later constructing your own timelines as to the future would become pretty standard for both fans and writers, with the fans perhaps being even better at it if the profusion of wiki pages devoted to various SF settings are any guide. What does link the better ones, at least in my mind, over histories that have been kind of stitched together after the fact, is how the stories and the histories themselves work to reflect the author's concerns about where we are but we're going. Just like Smith's showcased his interests in Eastern philosophies and modes of storytelling (among other things) Heinlein's future would allow him to work through problems in technology that he saw coming as well as the rise of religious fervor and the necessity of libertarian solutions to such problems. If you've ever heard the words "science-fiction" I hope I don't to explain who Robert Heinlein was but for those coming in fresh he was one of the giants of the genre during its Golden Age, his career spanning from when SF was considered juvenile "pulp" stuff to when it started being taken more seriously, with quite a bit of that new public perspective coming due to his efforts. Among today's audiences he's probably more famous for his later works like "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and if you like problematic adaptations of works that are themselves perhaps thematically disconcerting, "Starship Troopers". Even so, I don't know how well known his name is among the general public nowadays, and its quite possible that beyond the big guns, the average SF fan hasn't read too much more of his work. The stories collected here fall into his earlier period, around the forties and fifties, ranging from tales like his very first ever published story "Life-Line" to stories with lots of moving parts like "Methuselah's Children" that point the way toward what was to come later. At this point he wasn't pushing boundaries excessively but the stories don't have quite the young adult vibe that the "juvenile" novels would have and most of the time seem pitched toward an audience that could grasp the engineering and social issues being debated. What's impressive to me over sixty years later is how assured the writing is and how well constructed the stories are . . . while its hard to tell these days with the stories published in isolation from their original magazines, I imagine that one flipping through one of those old pulps would find these stories would stand out quite strongly in relation to what was surrounding them. He expanded the vocabulary of SF and did his best to relay the world in specifics without bogging down the reader in exposition. Even if you perhaps didn't want to live in his future, there was no doubt it felt like a real future. But even well written SF stories from the forties are still stories from the forties, with concerns in the context of that time. So how do they hold up today to modern eyes? Fairly well, for the most part . . . readers of today may crave a little more sophistication in the actual writing but you have to keep in mind these are short stories written for SF magazines, where efficiency was probably at a premium. Most of the stories are set around some technical or social problem, like "The Roads Must Roll" or "Blowups Happen" and the crux of the story is trying to navigate a problem caused by the future and what possible solutions that same future might uncover to resolve it. A number of the stories are centered around opportunities that the future might bring, like "The Man Who Sold the Moon" or even the darker aspects of that future, like the capitalistic slavery of "Logic of Empire". A lot of the issues raised are still fascinating even today, if you can discount how dated some of the science is, especially all the stuff having to do with Venus (before probes visited the planet, a lot of SF writers got mileage out of the idea of aliens living there or that we'd be able to live there ourselves someday) . . . most of the time he's able to bridge the gap between "explaining" and "entertaining" with a clarity that's probably even more amazing if you were able to see what his competition was. What's fun in these stories is tracing the gradual evolution of society in his history, especially the establishment of the Lunar colony (who already show the libertarian leanings that he would massively expand in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"), our spread throughout the solar system and his depiction of a theocracy that erupts and crashes (we see the tailend in "If This Goes On-") before giving way to the "Coventry" government. Along the way he makes stops for smaller, more personal crises, like "Requiem" (a fitting sequel to "The Man Who Sold the Moon"), "The Black Pits of Luna", "The Menace From Earth", and "The Green Hills of Earth". If there's any downside to these, despite all of them being entertaining, its that some might find the parade of standard Heinlein "compotent heroes" a bit wearying after a while. He does his best to vary personalities and maybe I'm just a cynical man of the twenty-first century but after the tenth or so story solved by sheer pluck and brains and Yankee know-how you start to wish for almost anything else, although the variety you do get tends to be balanced by mentor characters who are on-hand to explain everything to our green protagonists with the wisdom of the grizzled veteran that holds their hands to guide them through ("Coventry" and "If Goes On-" both have this scenario, although in the latter you can sense Heinlein toying with the notion of being more provocative when it comes to pushing sexual mores). Taken in isolation its probably not as noticeable (the juvenile novels often have same mentality and I don't remember it bothering me that much when I first read them, but it may be more charming when stretched out over an entire book) but a steady diet only highlights how often he goes back to that same basic character trait. The moralizing and philosophizing that sometimes bogged down the late period novels isn't too much in evidence, although he skirts the edge of it sometimes when characters seem to be acting as mouthpieces for whatever views Heinlein held at the time. And while he's known for his strong female characters, that's not as much in evidence here, although part of that may be a consideration toward the times when even the most competent ladies still went dizzy for a man (probably the biggest flaw in the otherwise fun "The Menace From Earth"). All that means is that you have a slew of stories that may not be masterpieces (although some are close and closing story "Methuselah's Children" manages to pack a ton of ideas and sports the rare feat of coming just shy of making Lazarus Long over-confidently annoying) but are the work of a SF Grand Master both learning and flourishing in his craft while laying out a broad vision that had been mostly absent thus far in the genre. Its hard to see how groundbreaking all of this was today (my modern sensibilities probably gravitate more toward the aforementioned Cordwainer Smith, whose stories hit more like a gut punch) when just about everyone since then has ripped off some portion of it and while some of the interest in this is purely wanting to give props to the innovator, as it were, its rare that you can get any collection from a SF author in this era that is as top to bottom consistent, that is as frequently concerned with testing both his own limits and the limits of the genre. That Heinlein got better is an understatement. That he was head and shoulders above his peers almost from the get-go may be a revelation to some people that this book happily provides.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darth

    This is a collection of the core Short Stories & Novellas that are collectively known to make up Robert Heinlein's "Future History" Since these were written in the early days (many in the 1940's and 50's) much of the "future" part is now past tense at least in terms of the year on the calendar. Also, most of these have that feeling to them I would describe as pulpy, which I think most people would consider fair, since they were actually first published (not all but many) in magazines. You hear This is a collection of the core Short Stories & Novellas that are collectively known to make up Robert Heinlein's "Future History" Since these were written in the early days (many in the 1940's and 50's) much of the "future" part is now past tense at least in terms of the year on the calendar. Also, most of these have that feeling to them I would describe as pulpy, which I think most people would consider fair, since they were actually first published (not all but many) in magazines. You hear a TONNE of superlatives bandied about these days - sometimes it is hard to sort through them to the real truth that underlies, and of course it doesnt help that writing is subjective, and something that rings true or is interesting / moving etc... All that said, the words that people use to describe Robert Heinlein do not begin to do him justice. Not every story is perfect, and in most the science is pretty speculative based on the period. Of course we know no one is whipping out a slide rule in the future, but he couldnt possibly have known. The stories really grabbed me, and never let go. Some are poetic and almost high art / drama type, some are just silly little blurbs about next to nothing. They all have people at the core, and the technology / science is largely window dressing for the characters - though there is plenty of the rocket ships to the moon and beyond to keep your attention if that is what you are there for. It is SOOOO easy to read this, then almost pick an author and tell what you guess his favorite Heinlein was. Like Kim Stanley Robinson wrote the Mars trilogy very much in the fashion of The Man Who Sold the Moon... I got the feeling Niven / Pournelle had a soft spot for Jackpot and the one with the guy, the 2 kids and the bum (I forget the title) Easily understandable, this collection is probly home to the most influential set or works you can assemble in this field (including the classic Doc Smith works that Lucas turned into Star Wars) Words do not do it justice. It is classic, it inspired a generation of authors, and it probly gave the US government the idea to fake the moon landings - if you like Sci-fi - read this book. Thank me later

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This, along with "Time Enough for Love" (currently reading) is Heinlein's magnum ous. This volume has some 800 pages of small-type stories, novellas and novels, culminating in '"Methuselah's Children" (which I have already read - see my review- and found out subsequently that there was a great number of stories that antedated that novel. These are published in this volume in the order given in a table close to the beginning of "Methuselah's Children" but somewhat out of order in terms of This, along with "Time Enough for Love" (currently reading) is Heinlein's magnum ous. This volume has some 800 pages of small-type stories, novellas and novels, culminating in '"Methuselah's Children" (which I have already read - see my review- and found out subsequently that there was a great number of stories that antedated that novel. These are published in this volume in the order given in a table close to the beginning of "Methuselah's Children" but somewhat out of order in terms of publication dates., which begin in the mid-30's. This looks at not only the longevity addressed in "Methuselah's Children," but the development of space travel, the establishment of a colony "Luna City" on the Moon, and, especially, tracing a number of intriguing characters and their influences upon these processes. I found myself going back and forth to the aforementioned table numerous times, for it traces not only the characters, but also the developments in technology and space travel, but also social changes, upheavals, wars, etc., in a wide panorama. I found this collection extremely entertaining and would recommend it highly. I have started "Time Enough for Love," the conclusion of this work, fun stuff. More when I get done with that one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This is probably the third time I have read this book, but it has been many, many years since the last read. What I found most interesting is...the stories were written in the 30's and 40's. The science was different then but so was the attitude towards women...and ethnic groups...and smoking! Overall this bunch of stories is very good for a lot of reasons. They certainly speak to how people generally interacted with each other. If you have a bit of a scientific bend...then all the references This is probably the third time I have read this book, but it has been many, many years since the last read. What I found most interesting is...the stories were written in the 30's and 40's. The science was different then but so was the attitude towards women...and ethnic groups...and smoking! Overall this bunch of stories is very good for a lot of reasons. They certainly speak to how people generally interacted with each other. If you have a bit of a scientific bend...then all the references will thrill you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carena Wood beimler

    Some of the stories are better than others, what I really enjoyed about this was that the books and short stories were in chronological order, so the young fellow wanting to go to the moon many pages ago eventually invents space flight, and then several stories later does get to go. It makes you feel like you have more invested in the series, as well. One day I want to own all of the books and to read them all in linear order.

  21. 4 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    This is the first Heinlein book I ever read, and I have never looked back since. A fantastic collection of thought-provoking and interconnected stories made for a very excellent read. Personal;ly, my favorite stories were 'Requiem' and 'The Man who sold the Moon'. 'Methuselah's Children' is also part of this collection, introducing you to the Howard Families (and Lazarus Long)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    Always amusing to go back and read classic sci-fi and see which predictions were far-seeing and which ones failed to pan out. I understand why highways were never replaced with "rolling roads", but someone tell me why we haven't colonized the moon yet?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Heinlein's "Future History" all wrapped up in one volume. An important starting point for Time Enough For Love and pretty much all of his later books.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindig

    Spider Robinson be damned, RAH is a closet misogynist and male chauvinist pig, and his later stuff doesn't change that.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fredrick Danysh

    This is a collection of twenty-one vintage Heinlein short stories with a wide variety of plots. This is a great read for the science fiction fan. There are several classics in the collection.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Centrillo

    Another of my all-time favorites. Heinlein,while not as famous as Asimov, is at least his equal. The stories in this book, written over decades, paint a galaxy that is fascinating and complex.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Drew Davis

    This collection of short stories is a great representation of Heinlens writing style. The progression of time from the 1900s to the the future allows for the author to cover a wide variety of topics and it was really interesting to see how everything tied together. Plus there was a wide range of characters to explore and be a part of (although it is clear that Heinlen doesnt write women very well). It did take me a bit to finish this though. Partly because I am doing my masters degree and partly This collection of short stories is a great representation of Heinlen’s writing style. The progression of time from the 1900’s to the the future allows for the author to cover a wide variety of topics and it was really interesting to see how everything tied together. Plus there was a wide range of characters to explore and be a part of (although it is clear that Heinlen doesn’t write women very well). It did take me a bit to finish this though. Partly because I am doing my masters degree and partly because some of the stories lull out at times. However, when they get good they get really good. I especially liked seeing how Heinlen’s interpretation of future looked like without know what we know now.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Norwitz

    Over a period of more than 20 years, Robert Heinlein had in mind a future history of Earth, and he wrote 21 stories (not sequentially) which took place in this history (before it resolved into the Lazarus Long/Howard Families series of novels). This collection completes that series, finalising with "Methuselah's Children." Unfortunately I suspect most of it will be harder going for many readers ... his style and characterisation (particularly of women, before he catches up with feminism) will Over a period of more than 20 years, Robert Heinlein had in mind a future history of Earth, and he wrote 21 stories (not sequentially) which took place in this history (before it resolved into the Lazarus Long/Howard Families series of novels). This collection completes that series, finalising with "Methuselah's Children." Unfortunately I suspect most of it will be harder going for many readers ... his style and characterisation (particularly of women, before he catches up with feminism) will strike many as old-fashioned despite how interesting his ideas are. But anyone wanting to delve into the thought processes of a highly regarded old master of the form will appreciate this book, and the final two stories are my favorites.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Austin Wright

    In 1966, the Hugo Awards presented a one-time award for "Best All-time Series. The 5 candidates were: "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov "Barsoom" by Edgar Rice Burroughs "Future History" by Robert A. Heinlein "Lensmen" by E. E. Smith "The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien Foundation won. I pick up this book and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had almost the entire collection of "Future History" (it is missing 3 stories totaling about 130 pages). There were some jaw-dropping amazing moments, In 1966, the Hugo Awards presented a one-time award for "Best All-time Series. The 5 candidates were: "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov "Barsoom" by Edgar Rice Burroughs "Future History" by Robert A. Heinlein "Lensmen" by E. E. Smith "The Lord of the Rings" by J. R. R. Tolkien Foundation won. I pick up this book and was pleasantly surprised to find that it had almost the entire collection of "Future History" (it is missing 3 stories totaling about 130 pages). There were some jaw-dropping amazing moments, as well as some jaw-dropping sexist bullshit. And though the series ends suddenly (I felt). I'm just going to give it 5-star on principle. My favorite story was "If this goes on", not for it's enjoyment, but for it's scope.

  30. 4 out of 5

    jamesjohn

    This collection of stories IS Heinlein. It's all you need. In this giant volume you can see the development of his famous style and connect together the threads of his signature 'Future History.' Of course it's outdated and some concepts are unworkable, but that's not the point. He started writing eighty years ago. His character-driven optimism about humanity is plainly-written and doesn't pull any punches about the foibles of man. His stories still ring true, even today. I had a hardcover copy This collection of stories IS Heinlein. It's all you need. In this giant volume you can see the development of his famous style and connect together the threads of his signature 'Future History.' Of course it's outdated and some concepts are unworkable, but that's not the point. He started writing eighty years ago. His character-driven optimism about humanity is plainly-written and doesn't pull any punches about the foibles of man. His stories still ring true, even today. I had a hardcover copy of this book and stupidly passed it along... one of the great regrets of my life. I want to read it again but the library systems don't have it available. Santa if you're listening you know what I want.

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