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Robert Anson Heinlein
1907 - 1988

Author of more than a dozen respected science fiction novels including Stranger In a Strange Land (1961), four-time winner of the HUGO award (one of science fiction's two top prizes) and the first Grand Master of Science Fiction appointed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Heinlein was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a naval lieutenant before contracting tuberculosis and receiving a medical discharge. He studied physics and mathematics at UCLA and began writing stories while selling real estate, an occupation he was soon able to leave for a life of writing.

Books by Robert Anson Heinlein
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Job:A Comedy of Justice (1985)
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Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (1997)
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Stranger in a Strange Land
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Time Enough for Love
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Democracy is not an automatic condition resulting from laws and constitutions. It is a living, dynamic process which must be worked at by you yourself - or it ceases to be democracy, even if the shell and form remains.

1992 - from the posthumously published Take Back Your Government
Of all the nonsense that twists the world, the concept of 'altruism' is the worst. People do what they want to, every time. If it pains them to make a choice - if the 'choice' looks like a 'sacrifice' - you can be sure that it is no nobler than the discomfort caused by greediness... the necessity of having to decide between two things you want when you can't have both. The ordinary bloke suffers every time he chooses between spending a buck on beer or tucking it away for his kids, between getting up to go to work and losing his job. But he always chooses that which hurts least or pleasures most. The scoundrel and the saint make the same choices.

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land
...the slickest way to lie is to tell the right amount of truth - then to shut up.

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land
The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual. Nobody preached duty... the society they were in told them endlessly about their 'rights'

1959 - from Starship Troopers
If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.

1959 - from Starship Troopers
One can lead a child to knowledge but one cannot make him think.

1959 - from Starship Troopers
By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man, man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
A generation which ignores history has no past; and no future.

Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

1959 - from Starship Troopers
...the most expensive thing in the world is a second-best military establishment, good but not good enough to win.

1980 - from Epanded Universe, The Happy Days Ahead
I've never understood how God could expect His creatures to pick the one true religion by faith - it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land
Don't ever become a pessimist; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun -- and neither can stop the march of events.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling ... man, a social animal, could no more avoid government than an individual could escape the necessity of bowel movements. But simply because an evil [is] necessary [is] no reason to term it 'good.'

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land
I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he is picking my pocket. But if he is acting in his own self-interest and says so, I have usually been able to work out some way to do business with him.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

The hardest part of gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche.

Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty.

1956 - from Double Star
People who will not take the trouble to raise children should not have them.

1963 - from Podkayne of Mars
Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, 'this you may not read', 'this you must not see', 'this you are forbidden to know', the end result is tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.

...when it gets down to fundamentals, do what you have to do and shed no tears.

1955 - from Tunnel in the Sky
Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.

1978 - from Notebooks of Lazarus Long
Belief gets in the way of learning.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Politics is just a name for the way we get things done... without fighting. We dicker and compromise and everybody thinks he has received a raw deal, but somehow after a tedious amount of talk we come up with some jury-rigged way to do it without getting anybody's head bashed in. That's politics.

1963 - from Podkayne of Mars
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
...the meek shall inherit the earth, a 6 foot plot above them.

1978 - from Notebooks of Lazarus Long
One way or another, any government which remains in power is a representative government. If your city government is a crooked machine, then it is because you and your neighbors prefer it that way - prefer it to the effort of running your own affairs. Hitler's government was a popular government; the vast majority of Germans preferred the rule of gangsters to the effort of thinking and doing for themselves. They abdicated their franchise.

1992 - from the posthumously published Take Back Your Government
Most Americans do not know why Canadians dislike us (I do not), but they do. The idea that Canadians would ever vote to unite with us boggles the mind.

1984 - from JOB: A Comedy of Justice
Democracy may not be the best system there is, but its the best we have.

1966 - from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
He's an honest politician, he stays bought.

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land
What are the marks of a sick culture? It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the county and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population.

1982 - from Friday
'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure.

1987 - from To Sail Beyond the Sunset
If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that a truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

1978 - from Notebooks of Lazarus Long
The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars.

1979 - in Omni Magazine
Democracy is the most efficient form of government ever invented by the human race. On the record, it has worked better in peace and in war than fascism, communism, or any other form of dictatorship. As for the mythical yardstick of 'benevolent' monarchy or dictatorship -- there ain't no such animal!

1992 - from the posthumously published Take Back Your Government
Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untravelled, the naive, the unsophisticated, deplore these formalities as 'empty,' 'meaningless,' or 'dishonest,' and scorn to use them. No matter how pure their motives, they thereby throw sand into the machinery that does not work too well at best.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Ability is a wonderful thing, but its value is greatly enhanced by dependability. Ability implies repeatability and accountability.

You can have peace, or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at the same time.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
No matter where or what, there are makers, takers, and fakers.

1973 - from Time Enough for Love
Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation.

1978 - from Notebooks of Lazarus Long
A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore.

1961 - from Stranger in a Strange Land