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The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  858 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Robert A. Heinlein, the dean of American SF writers, also wrote fantasy fiction throughout his long career, but especially in the early 1940s. The Golden Age of SF was also a time of revolution in fantasy fiction, and Heinlein was at the forefront. His fantasies were convincingly set in the real world, particularly those published in the famous magazine Unknown Worlds, inc
Paperback, 342 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by Tor Books (first published 1999)
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May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't read this particular collection before, but have read all the stories in it a number of times. It's been a long time, though. Nice to revisit them even if I don't consider several fantasy stories. They're very good for the most part.

"Magic, Inc." (1940) - is my favorite fantasy story by RAH, but it's also one of the few that I consider a fantasy. The idea of a world where magic is a science, told from the point of view of the owner of a building supply owner & contractor is great. I th
Ed Erwin
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I haven't read much by Heinlein before, but now I'm motivated to do so. Many of these stories were delightful and they show a great range.

"Waldo" starts out seeming like pure SciFi, but takes a turn for Fantasy in the middle. You could still call it SciFi if you want since he tries to offer a possible physical explanation for the magic. If you think of Star Wars as SciFi despite the magical "Force", then so is this.

"The Unpleasant Profession..." was delightful. Reminded me of Cocteau's film vers
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, short-story
I've reviewed each of the stories individually below, but my rating for the collection as a whole would be a 4/5, as most of the stories were very enjoyable, but also very thought-provoking. I am very interested in reading some of Heinlein's novels.

"Magic, Inc." 3/5
This isn't my favorite in the collection of short stories I've read by Heinlein, but it was interesting. It's a take on politics and political questions, but from a fantasy standpoint so he can cover whatever viewpoint he wants. He ev
1943 Retro Hugo Finalist for Best Novella

“The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” by John Riverside (Robert A. Heinlein) (Unknown Worlds, October 1942)
“Waldo” by Anson MacDonald (Robert A. Heinlein) (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1942)
Jul 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Call me a rube, or a jerk, or whatever, but if these are Heinlein exemplars, I don't want to read his novels. In this book the longer stories just get soggier as they go on, the twists and turns seeming more like DETOUR signs. "Magic, Inc." reads like three stories mashed into one, and the shaggy-dog story about political process bloating out the middle wasn't worth the punchline. "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" (what a great, anapestic title) could stand to lose thirty pages for sw ...more
Raymond Rugg
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-reviews
Robert A. Heinlein is known as the dean of science fiction, and was the first Grand Master of the genre. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are collectively known as the ‘Big Three’ of science fiction. Just the other day, I saw someone mention in a blog that they had read a science fiction story by Heinlein, and then they mused that the comment was redundant, since all stories by RAH are science fiction stories.

But the fact is, Robert Heinlein actually does have some fantasy in his lite
Norman Cook
Magic, Inc.
Retro Hugo Award Finalist (1940) 80pp. 3 stars
This is a rare foray into fantasy for Heinlein, an early "urban fantasy" that uses fantasy tropes to illustrate one of Heinlein's typical problem-solving men. It's an entertaining enough story, but it's fairly predictable if you know how Heinlein writes. One thing that mars the story considerably is some racist language.

"—And He Built a Crooked House"
Did not read.

Did not read.

Retro Hugo Award Finalist (1942) 88pp. 3 stars
It's a
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I came for "—And He Built a Crooked House" & "—All You Zombies—"...and to be honest, those were the best parts of the book

The other stories just didn't age as well
"Magic, Inc" is a protection racket scheme but set in a world with MAGIC. The exceptionally dated language was pulling me out of it constantly.
The rest of the stories biggest weaknesses were the final few pages. It would set up a fantastic concept (like in both "They" and "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" there's a mindfuck
William Bentrim
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
I tracked down this book because I have fond memories of Glory Road which was the only other fantasy, I recalled written by Heinlein. This was disappointing, not that the stories but the fact that I didn’t really see them as fantasies. It was more lip service with mention of magic. I guess they could be considered early urban fantasy but I felt they fit more with his general body of work than in the fantasy genre.
My impression of Heinlein was that he was a fr
Ryan Patrick
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not always a big fan of short story collections -- if it's a good story I want it to keep going -- but all of these were pretty good, and about the right length.
Austin Wright
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cool collection! Rare and Forgotten stories!
Anna Hawes
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved almost all, especially Magic Inc, Waldo, and They
Michael Emond
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of Heinlein and this book helps complete my almost complete Heinlein collection. It was a pleasant surprise how much I enjoyed this collection of short stories and novellas and I will do a quick blurb on each one:
Magic Inc (novella): An interesting take on a world where magic is commonplace and practitioners of it are hired like skilled laborers. It is really a fantasy that is taking aim at the Mob and unionization with even a touch of Mr. Smith goes to Washington to lobby (and f
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Read this for "All You Zombies", but "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" was also excellent.
Avery Engstrom
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: want-to-own
I liked this a lot honestly, there are some great stories in here. My favorite was "And he built a crooked house--" because it was just so interesting. I'm all for strange things like that, and it reminded me of "Mimsy Were the Borogoves."

The only thing that really weirded me out was the last story. I watched the movie that was based on it before reading it, and the whole time I was just screaming in my head. As amazing as it was with plot twist after plot twist, I felt like they handled trans
Thomas Fackler
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
A smattering of Heinlein's fantasy oeuvre. Of particular interest to me were The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, He Built a Crooked House, and Waldo. The first is interesting for its development of a character who knows nothing about himself. The second is great of its explanation and use of four dimensional geometry. The last is an intriguing thought-experiment in parallel universe.

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag has the least number of cracks in its structure, but is the mos
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Heinlein is a master chef. He mixes science fiction and fantasy so adroitly that those people who are fans of one but not the other are still able to appreciate his work. His comments on our society, (still valid from the 1940’s) are remarkable and given with so much humor that the required self reflection tastes less like medicine and more like a gourmet meal. This short story collection is awesome. I don’t know of other fantasy writers (other than Ursula Le Guin) of the time who sewed so many ...more
Pedro L. Fragoso
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yep, the years pass but this doesn't change: There's Heinlein and then there's everybody else; good to the point of it being unbelievable.

(In Chimoio, Mozambique.)
Stephen Beecroft
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
An outstanding collection of Heinlein's short stories and novellas. "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" is just a gem; almost seventy years later, it stands up very well indeed. "Waldo" is an entertaining look at what the technological future seemed to hold two or three generations ago. "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" was sweet and surreal. I remember reading "...All You Zombies" in high school and found it chilling. Less so at 49, but still clever and creative. My fond memories of ...more
I've always been a fan of Heinlein - but until now I'd never read any of his short stories. To be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy them, as I couldn't imagine Heinlein's genius being quite as powerful in short stories as in his novels. While it's true that the majority of these stories didn't delve as much into philosophical issues as his novels - they were still fantastic. Each one had it's own little moral, some are quite obvious and others left up to the reader to muse on. It's hard ...more
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: heinlein
This is some of the most mediocre / dated Heinlein out there.
I had to read it, there were 2 or 3 stories in there I had not read in any other compilations, so some of it was re-read too.

The stories are the kind that feel very much from the era they were written, which is not JUST to say they were dated, they were. But also, they give a kind of nostalgia for an era I never knew - kind of like playing a game of fallout 3 and listening to the music while running around in the wastes - somehow it gi
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Heinlein short stories. Some appear in other collections: Magic, Inc.; "-And He Built a Crooked House;" Waldo; The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag; Our Fair City; and The Man Who Traveled in Elephants. Always a pleasure to revisit old friends. Two stories were new to me: "-They" and "-All You Zombies-". Both were less than 15 pages and not as much fun as most Heinlein. (The first was on a Truman-Show theme, the second involved time travel and paradoci.) And certainly not worth purchasing ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'd gone off Heinlein, for his cold-war crazy, low opinion of my half the species, and tendency to front-load his stories with politics. But I am very glad I read this collection. Even the annoying stories are pretty good, and a couple of them are wonderful. The Man who Traveled in Elephants is a sweet, touching, delightful story; Our Fair City is hilarious; The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag is a nutty Nick and Nora style detective story; All You Zombies is some time-travel twistiness. ...more
Aug 29, 2014 rated it liked it
This was all right -- I think Heinlein's fantasy stories are probably as good as his science fiction. Most of the pages in this one are occupied with three novellas. The first is worth its space (Magic, Inc.) because of the good job Heinlein put into his world building, making it seem like people had gotten fully used to the existence of magic. The second (Waldo) drags after a while, and the third (The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag) should really have been a short story, especially sinc ...more
Lis Carey
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf
A very nice collection of Heinlein's fantasy stories. I had never read "The Man Who Trave led in Elephants" or "Our Fair City" before. "Magic, Inc.," "Waldo", and "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" are all well worth rereading. I will confess that I find "--All You Zombies--" a little bit more annoying every time I read it, but hey, it's only one story, and the last one in the book.

Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I originally had only planned to read this for the "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" because I had heard so much about it and I'd been told to read it over the years - plus it was just recently announced as an upcoming film adaptation. I had already cracked open the book, there was no way I could stop myself from reading the other stories.

Little did I know I would end up enjoying the other stories more than "TUPoJH".
Steven Keith
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think I had read all these stories, in one collection or another but not in the last 20 or 30 years.

All read differently at this stage of my life.

It is interesting how many of these stories have inspired other authors ("All you Zombies" core developed by David Gerrold into "The Man who Folded Himself").

I had new appreciation for "Magic. Inc." showing the protagonists dabbling in that blackest of Dark Arts - politics.
Benjamin Kahn
May 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Some of these stories were excellent - funny, enthralling - and some were just so-so. The best of the stories "And he built a crooked house-", "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" were great, but some of the others were predictable or just average. I'd read the book for the two aforementioned stories and possibly "Our Fair City" but not bother with any of the other pedestrian fair in this book.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not a big one for science fiction or fantasy titles. However a friend of mine kept after me to try Heinlein ("you'll like him. He's awesome..") Found this book in the local library and boy am I glad. The book contains 8 short stories which were published anywhere from 1940 to 1959. They're not long, they're fun and they definitely have me wanting to read more Heinlein. If you were ever wanting to read Heinlein but were afraid to put in the time, start with this one. It's worth the time!
Aug 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I think I would have found the stories to be more enjoyable if they didn't all have the theme of paranoid schizophrenia running through them. That being said, The Man Who Dealt in Elephants was very touching, if obvious; All You Zombies blew my fucking mind. I listened (audiobook version) to it three times to really wrap my poor, blown apart mind around it. Most excellent stuff in that story.
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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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