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All You Zombies

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  5,422 ratings  ·  558 reviews
First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction - March, 1959 - the story involves a number of paradoxes caused by time travel. It further develops themes explored by the author in a previous work, "By His Bootstraps", published some 18 years earlier. ...more
ebook, 13 pages
Published March 1959 by The Heinlein Archives
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  5,422 ratings  ·  558 reviews

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Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just as the limerick, “There once was a man from Nantucket –“ is the foulest yet most recognized of all, and just as the classic “Why did the chicken cross the road?” is the best joke, so is Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies-“ it is hands down the best time travel short story.

Published in 1960, a reader and fan can see the early ideas for Time Enough for Love and I Will Fear No Evil. Was Heinlein a dirty old man? Yes, and in 1960, at the still young age of 53, he was just learning to fill ou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american, sci-fi
Never an Episode of Star Trek...

... And why not? Consciousness creates itself according to Heinlein. Forget about the mythical divine genesis stuff or that Darwinian evolution bunk. This is the real thing, the theory with oomph: time travel comes with the Homo sapiens territory, at least for the ones who can hack it (it’s the rest who are zombies). The perks are pretty spectacular - picking when and where you’re born for a start. And none of the neurotic consequences of family life. Literally no
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm speechless!
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I’m not really into too many short stories or Zombie sci fi ones at that!
However I did see a comedy British film with Zombies in it, does that count?

Anyways, this is a bartender travelling thingy as well.

It only took me half an hour to read.

Why did I read it?
Because my two grown adult children said the film came out in 2014 and I should watch it. They think I’ll enjoy it.

Not sure!
But I’ll give it a go
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
A man walks into a bar. (Hah.) He gets into a conversation with the bartender, who wears a ring shaped like the worm Ouroboros. The barkeep is actually a "temporal agent." (What that means is revealed over the course of the story.)


The two men talk of many things: writing "true confession" stories, love lives, cads who love em' and leave em'... It turns out the guy at the bar is intersex (born with both sex organs, raised as a woman but now a man). Introduce time travel and a paradox or three an
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Re-read 6/2/18:

Nostalgia hits again. :) Thinking about doing a lot more Heinlein reads fairly soon. :)

Original Review:

I had to reread this after just watching Predestination on which it was based. I was impressed with the movie but even more so with the story. I guess I picked up more nuances this time. It was all the more impressive because of how the character study really played out and what wasn't said but could be deduced. I think I can thank the movie more for that aspect, although one sto
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Next up on my Book then Movie list was this 1950’s short story that was later adapted into Predestination in 2014.

This Sci-Fi time travelling paradox was so bizarre that even at its modest page count really makes an impact.
It’s the type of story that I really enjoy!

The story starts with a young man walking into a bar and strikes up a conversation with the time-traveling bartender.
The reader soon learns how the two are connected and the significance of snake-swallowing-his-tail ring on the barke
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
simply mind blowing, one of the most unusual and thought-provoking stories I've read this year!
Jason Koivu
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
An uber meta time travel short in which I, the reader, get mind-fucked.
Althea Ann
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a time paradox story. It's not specifically *about* gender, but Heinlein's deeply sexist assumptions about how gender affects personality and his assumptions about how even a future society's sexism will not change in any way, are fully on display here. (In the future, women don't become 'spacemen,' they are sent to be 'comfort women' for lonely spacemen who can't control their 'urges.' The possibility of a woman being a competent astronaut isn't even considered.) (view spoiler) ...more
Shoa Khan
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this short story by legendary Sci-Fi writer Robert A. Heinlein thanks to its movie adaptation (that came out recently and which I happened to watch just last week): Predestination, starring Ethan Hawke as the time-travelling Temporal Agent.

I have always been fascinated by the Time-travel genre, but this was simply mind-fuck of the highest order! O.O
OMG! This is just wrong on so many levels. A science fiction, time travel, short story that will have you scratching your head.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just ... wow.

A man walks into a bar ... in this case that is NOT a joke. *lol*
The man is a writer and was born female. He has frequented the bar for the past few years but only now is talking to the bartender, telling his/her story of getting pregnant and ending up then and there.
The rest is a very surprising, mind-boggling time travel story full of paradoxes that makes perfect sense.

According to my research, Heinlein wrote this story in one afternoon. It's amazing if one considers all the
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: It's fewer than ten pages goddammit. Read it!

Heinlein presents one of the most mind boggling paradoxes presented by, or rather resulted from, time travel. All time travel stories are complicated, they survive on a merry go round of events and a dramatic sequence of effect and consequence. But in “All You Zombies”, Heinlein goes a step farther and designs a story line of an infinite loop, where the interchange of cause and effect lands the reader into a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

You ask who came first. Thematically the story says what do

Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow.
If at Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion.
A Paradox May Be Paradoctored.
It Is Earlier When You Think.
Ancestors Are Just People.
Even Jove Nods.

A long time ago I've seen a movie called Predestination, but just recently I've found out that it was adopted from a short story called All You Zombies, so of course I had to read it. And just like the movie blew my mind, so did this story. The movie did add a lot of amazi
Greta G
May 01, 2016 marked it as only-saw-the-movie-or-series
Predestination is the movie based on this (famous?) short story.
I watched it. I didn't get it. But it was fun.
Nadin Adel
Amazing, Mind-blowing, Thrilling, Fascinating..

Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, sci-fi, short
A Paradox May Be Paradoctored!

I guess it's futile trying to express the true magnitude of Heinlein's imagination structuring this looped paradoxical tale.

**I'd watched the adaptation back in early 2014 when I had no big ideas about time travel, relativity (yeah, maybe a pretty dumb guy) and so was quite confusing but now it's totally different. It's awesome to find life so different in 3 years.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sci-Fi fans
Wow. In the middle of the book I realized that the story is oddly familiar. Then I remembered that I have seen the film with the likewise story: Predestination, which I really loved. The story left me speechless. It is a complex time-travel gender paradox story, asking the question of : what would happen if you go back in time and marry yourself? Damn, it is fascinating.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So good. And totally insane. The best kind of time travel story.
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is like a neutron star: very small but with a weight beyond one's imagination. Terrific. ...more
Sep 28, 2015 marked it as to-read
Time travel can be disorienting.
Very true.

Some time ago I have watched the movie “Predestination” by Michael Spierig, based on the story written by Heinlein.

The characters' structure is, apparently, simple.

In a bar, traumatized male A meets male B.

While talking, B reveals he was a female once, but her ovaries and uterus had been removed and the name has been changed.

B is also traumatized because she’d known a man ( let’s call him B´), and they had a child. …never to be seen again,… after
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story that shows the frightening effects deliberate heinleining(*) can have.
It's about a man – no, wait! – a woman actually, – wrong again! – let's just say it's about a person. But not just any person, because it's the last one, who - no, aargh! - the first, or better the first, last and only one among nine billion, who — No, it's hopeless; I can't get it right. It's about the hen and the egg problem, OK?, and how one can fuck up to solve it. There you have it. I hope I've made myself
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Story of Predestination movie
I recently came across a trailer for a new movie from the Spierig brothers and decided to seek out the source story - to aid in my attempt to read more sci-fi in general and more classic sci-fi in particular. The movie is called Predestination and stars Ethan Hawke as "the Bartender" a time traveling cop. It played at this year's South by Southwest and apparently did really well. Well enough, in fact, to get picked up for distribution.

A quick look-see at the movie's dets shows that it is in fac
Kali Srikanth
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Time travel theory and its paradoxes always elude me and traveling across time (I don't want to go into the future, I can imagine how it will be like/ends, I'm fascinated by the past, I'm inquisitive) remains a curious idea.

It all started with the Bar scene, a reluctant conversation between a man and the bartender, soon turns into an interesting one, then emotional and finally breaks into next level.

First twist of the story, I was like Okay! I am catching up , my expectations were very high (I
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although this Heinlein story probably isn't for everyone, it IS an interesting exercise in figuring out how someone could be their own father _and_ mother through the mechanism of time travel. What makes this good to read is the writing; in a time travel story you have more flexibility in the order you write the scenes, and Heinlein's arrangement keeps the suspense while effectively doling out the story in an order one can keep up with and understand. I've read this one before (last year, I thin ...more
Kushal Gorti
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Ever hear the expression 'A ruined Woman'?
"Mmm, years ago, Doesn't mean much today."
"I am as ruined as a woman can be; .... "

So, much depth in these three lines , completely change the story!
If you thought Inception was 'mindfuck' , I think this book/ short story gives it a tough competition.
The movie adaptation of this book 'Predestination' is one of those movies which actually do justice to the original! The movie is an extended version of this book and is way better!

But, the book is one of t
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The absolute paradox about time traveling - simply mindblowing.
Loved it - though sexist :)

(view spoiler)

P.S. the movie Predestination was inspired from this short story - I recommend it too (may even clarify some things)

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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre

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