Robert Anson Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri. He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and then graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1929. He served as a naval officer until 1934, when tuberculosis forced him out of the service. In 1939, he took to writing science fiction in order to pay off his mortgage and kept on writing even though it was paid off.
His books were on the New York Times Bestseller List six times. Over sixty of his book titles are still in print. Among those novels are his “juveniles,” the first of which was Rocket Ship Galileo, published in 1947. Space Cadet followed in 1948, followed by titles such as Farmer in the Sky (1950), Starman Jones (1953), and Have Space Suit, Will Travel (1958). He won four Hugo Awards, given by science fiction fans for best novel of the year. Those books were Double Star (1956), Starship Troopers (1959),Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1975). Mr. Heinlein was the first Grand Master Nebula winner, given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for lifelong accomplishment.
He once told an interviewer the secret of his writing process: “I start out with some characters and get them into trouble and when they get themselves out of trouble, the story’s over.”
In addition to writing, Heinlein was an inventor. He invented the waterbed, and several words that are in the dictionary, including “astrogation,” “grok,” and “freefall.”
Mr. Heinlein died in Carmel, California on May 8, 1988, at the age of 80.