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"How I first encountered Heinlein..."

David Wright Sr.

I have been a fan of Heinlein since first reading "Between Planets" in the fall of 1953 when I entered High School,although I was a Science Fiction fan from well before that time. That first encounter was followed by every book of Heinlein's that I could lay my hands on during the next 40 or more years until sadly there were no more.

As a teen-ager and through my early college years, I worked in the Atlanta Public Library system where I could be the first to get my hands on any 'new' Heinlein that came in the door. I have probably read every work of his at least 10-20 times over the years.

I credit Heinlein for freeing me from the racially bigoted environment in which I grew up. This was due to a number of themes in Heinlein's works, but, ironically, it was a mis-interpretation of _Tunnel In The Sky_ which was most significant to my thinking. I, like many probably did, identified Rod Walker with myself, that is, a young white boy. It was the relationship between Rod and Caroline, (a very big no-no to my previous way of thinking),and the very great esteem in which I already held Heinlein, that prompted me to re-evaluate my prejudices. I can accept the fact intellectually that Rod was intended to be black, but it is still difficult for me to accept that fact emotionally, since it played such a prominent part of my educaion.

It was that "mis-interpretation" that apparently brought all of the other Heinlein themes dealing with race to a focus.

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The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, to "pay forward" the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein to future generations of "Heinlein's Children."