September 29, 2003
Robert Heinleins literary estate comes
to UCSC as gift from his late widow
UCSCs new Heinlein Scholar to write
authorized biography of visionary author
By Scott Rappaport
The UC Santa Cruz archive of renowned science fiction writer Robert
Heinlein has received a gift of materials and cash from the estate of
Heinleins late widow, Virginia Heinlein, valued at $300,000.
|Robert and Virginia Heinlein
on the set of Destination Moon, in 1949, above, and at NASA's
Downey, California, facility in the mid-1960s. Photos
courtesy of The Robert A. Heinlein Archive, Special Collections,
The donation was accompanied by a grant to establish the position
of a Heinlein Scholar at the campus, who will work to organize, document,
and promote the scholarly use of the archive, housed in the University
Librarys Special Collections since 1968.
Often referred to as one of the grandmasters of science fiction along
with such colleagues as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein
produced more than 50 novels and collections of short stories over his
He became a pop icon in the 1960s with the publication of his book
Stranger in a Strange Land, one of the most successful science
fiction novels ever published. He also is the author of Starship
Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and The Puppet
The Robert Heinlein Archive at UCSC contains a priceless collection
of the authors original manuscripts, correspondence, and personal
effects. The latest acquisition includes all of his honors and tributes
including his four Hugo awards, plus artwork and other memorabilia,
as well as his extensive working and personal libraries.
William H. Patterson Jr. has been selected by UCSC as the campus Heinlein
Scholar for 2003-04. He is founder of the Heinlein Society, a nonprofit
educational charity that is dedicated to promoting Heinleins social
legacy. Patterson is also the editor/publisher of The Heinlein Journal
and coauthor of the book, The Martian Named Smith, a critical
study of Heinleins Stranger in a Strange Land.
UCSCs head of Special Collections and Archives, Christine Bunting,
noted that Patterson is the perfect man for the job.
He has made documenting Robert Heinlein his lifes work,
Bunting said. He was the trusted confidante of Virginia Heinlein
and had access to many private documents that only Virginia could provide.
And he is well known to Special Collections at UC Santa Cruz, having
worked here for the past three years.
Patterson is also the person designated by Heinleins late wife
to write the definitive, authorized biography of her husband.
She called me on New Years Day, 2001, and asked me to write
his biography, Patterson recalled. Im actually 180,000
words into it. I hope to finish it by spring of next year, and well
seek to have it published by a major commercial press.
Although the public can now visit the Santa Cruz campus to view Heinlein's
original manuscripts, Bunting said that plans are being made to establish
a Finding Aid describing the entire contents of the archive, that will
eventually be accessible through the University of Californias
Online Archive of California web site.
One of our goals is to attract scholarly attention to Heinlein,
Bunting explained. He has a huge popular fan basethere are
a large number of web sites and millions of people interested in him.
But we think there is another side to him, and we want to provide that.
"He's been lumped academically with science fiction, in the pop
culture studies ghetto, but his social impact has always been much broader
than science fiction, added Patterson, particularly with
regard to the counterculture in the 1960s, libertarianism in the 1970s,
and the Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s. You really have to
get out of genre studies and into mainstream American literature, going
back as far as Upton Sinclair (The Jungle) and Harriet Beecher
Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) to find anyone who had a comparable
degree of social impact. He really belongs in American studies."
A controversial figure throughout his lifetime, Heinlein often said
that his dream was to see humanity settling the other planets of this
solar system, and ultimately reaching out to the stars. On the day man
first walked on the moon in 1969, he was a guest commentator with Arthur
C. Clarke on the CBS television networks live broadcast of the
event--hosted by legendary newscaster Walter Cronkite. According to
a biographical sketch published by Patterson, Heinlein managed to
reduce Cronkite to a state of spluttering indignation at the suggestion
that women should have been included in this mission.
From 1967 until 1987, a year before his death, Heinlein lived in Bonny
Doon, a small town in the coastal mountains 15 miles north of Santa
Cruz, where Bunting said he built an architecturally unique and futuristic
home based on a circular plan.
"Heinlein was a man of eclectic interests," Bunting explained.
"He was very much a person of his age, but ahead of his time. He
was as much a scientist as a literary figure, and was tremendously influential.
One of his position papers ultimately became the core of the Strategic
Patterson noted that a new Heinlein book will be published by Simon
& Schuster in November.
Its his very first novel from 1938 about a political utopia,
Patterson said. He put it in his files and later destroyed all
the copies, but a friend of his had kept a copy and it was found last
year. Its called For Us, The Living.
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