"Science fiction writer," said the obituaries. If ever anyone deserved that description, it was Robert Heinlein. In the days when hacks cranked out potboilers about Bug-Eyed Monsters, this engineer-turned-author revolutionized sf with solid stories based on hard science.
But Heinlein was far more than simply a sf writer. He was among this country's first real futurists. He would take an idea—life extension, nuclear power plants, moon colonization—and work out its possible social and political implications. The point was not to predict the future but to anticipate possible consequences of new developments by thinking them through in advance.
For many of us, discovering Heinlein at an early age served as a kind of lifeline. His strong-minded individualism, his great respect for thinking and competence, and his exciting visions of the future inspired me, as they did millions of others. Heinlein was the first libertarian thinker many of us ever encountered.
Publishing REASON offers many rewards—and one was my invitation to the Heinleins' house in Santa Cruz 14 years ago. What began as an afternoon visit turned into dinner and an evening of lively conversation—as well as many autographs. I'll always remember him saying that REASON was one of the few magazines he saved intact.
Now, the man who created Lazarus Long is gone, at age 80.