... is scheduled
as the guest speaker for the 156th meeting of the Karl Hess Club, to convene
on June 18, 2007.
on "Robert A. Heinlein: Centennial Man"
This year marks the 100th anniversary
of Robert Heinlein's birth. Among libertarians, Heinlein is most
honored for his 1966 novel, The
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, often cited as providing a vision statement
for the modern libertarian movement. No such thing existed when Heinlein
wrote the book, only a renewed interest in a long and proud American tradition
of cranks and radicals (us, in short).
But Heinlein was larger than the
libertarian movement, and we share him with the rest of the world.
He was pivotal to four 20th century cultural developments: science fiction
as a vocabulary for coping in an increasingly technological present while
we live in the future; the counterculture that renewed the vital American
tradition of social experimentation; the libertarian movement, with its
strong minority voice in the liberal values that Heinlein carried forward
in everything he did; and the space movement -- the Heinlein estate's entire
focus is on a cash prize (modeled on the Orteig Prize that galvanized Lindberg
in 1927) for commercial space development.
And that doesn't count Heinlein's
minor good works: pioneering the all-volunteer blood donor force in the
U.S., and his contribution to the articulation of the Strategic Defense
Initiative and the end of the Cold War.
Heinlein's commercial reputation
remains strong; all his books remain in print, 20 years after his death.
His reputation in academia is flourishing. And we will be gathering
in a few weeks in Kansas City to commemorate Heinlein.
In this Centennial year, it's
appropriate to celebrate Heinlein's legacy.
About Bill Patterson
William H. Patterson, Jr. is a
science fiction specialist who enjoys the title, The Heinlein Scholar,
bestowed by the Heinlein Prize Trust. He is founding editor &
publisher of The Heinlein Journal since 1997, and was chosen by
Virginia Heinlein to write the definitive biography, The
Man Who Learned Better: Robert A. Heinlein in Dialogue with His Century.
In 2000 Patterson won the James
Branch Cabell Prize for The Heir of James Branch
Cabell: The Biography of the Biography of the Life of Manual (A Comedy
of Inheritances). He co-authored The
Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert Heinlein's Stranger
In a Strange Land (2001).