We couldn't very well let the day pass at Blogcritics without noting the birthday of Robert Heinlein, the greatest science fiction writer ever. Born July 7, 1907, today would have been Heinlein's 96th birthday.
His most popular book has been Stranger in a Strange Land. Surely it ranks as one of the most fun and most consciousness expanding books in the history of literature. If you know a young person needing to have their basic thought processes opened up, you couldn't do much better than this.
Over time, though, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has turned out to be my favorite Heinlein book. Stranger is more a work of fantasy. Moon is a more realistic science fiction. The characters thus mean more; they naturally draw out a greater emotional investment from the reader. Also, the themes are more streamlined to address political issues, thus giving stronger intellectual focus and greater depth.
Somehow, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has done more to make the American revolution real to me than any history book. This story about an uprising for lunar independence was designed as a conscious dramatic parallel to our American struggle for independence. Heinlein really did a good job in communicating what it would mean to pledge your lives, fortunes and sacred honor.
Among his slightly less well known work, dig on Job: A Comedy of Justice. Anyone raised among evangelical Christians should particularly enjoy this religious fantasy. Satan and especially Yahweh become truly superb comic characters.
One thing I don't understand: the lack of Heinlein movies. There have been only a few half-assed movies made of any kind for an author of such prolificity and long-lived popularity. In particular, no one ever has made even a lame film of any of his major works. Why?