Heinlein Prize Trust working to sustain author’s legacy, spread liberty with digital archive, books, publishing contracts in Russia, China

By Michael Grossberg

With the late great Robert Heinlein having won more Prometheus Awards than any other author (including in 2023 for his story “Free Men,” inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame), LFS members and other Heinlein fans naturally should be interested in finding out more about organizations working to sustain his legacy.

Ginny and Robert Heinlein at their home in the 1980s (Photo from Heinlein Trust archives)

One of the most notable, visible and interesting groups is the Heinlein Prize Trust, established by Virginia (Ginny) Heinlein soon after her husband’s death in 1988.

Since then, the organization has published several books furthering commercial development in outer space, reprinted Heinlein’s entire body of writing in a deluxe leather-bound 46-volume edition, published graphic novels of two Heinlein classics and completed the preservation of Heinlein’s writings and memorabilia in a comprehensive digital archive.

Perhaps the most promising and newsworthy developments are the Trust’s recent efforts to make Heinlein’s stories and novels available around the world – including in countries under dictatorships.

“Only 15 to 20 percent of the world can be considered free, under even the most liberal interpretation of that world. That mans that about 80 percent of the world population today lives under an authoritarian government,” said Art Dula, primary trustee of the Heinlein Trust.

HEINLEIN FICTION NOW IN RUSSIA, CHINA

Thanks to the Trust’s efforts, Heinlein now has a publisher in Russia, where all of his fiction is now available.

Dula also announced that the Trust has signed a contract this year to publish all of Heinlein’s works in China.

“I think we’re infecting that tyranny with Heinlein’s ideas,” Dula said.

For the past two years, when Heinlein fiction has been inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, the annual Prometheus awards ceremonies have included brief discussions of Heinlein’s legacy in acceptance speeches by Art Dula, primary trustee of the Heinlein Trust.

A patent attorney, space lawyer and Heinlein’s literary executor based in Houston, Dula spoke last year about Heinlein’s novel Citizen of the Galaxy, the 2022 Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction, and last month (August 2023) spoke about Heinlein’s story “Free Men,” the 2023 winner.

But this year, Dula went into much more fascinating detail in his remarks about the impressive work of the Heinlein Trust itself.

Robert Heinlein in the 1920s (Photo courtesy of Heinlein Trust archives)

THE HEINLEIN ARCHIVES

Dula announced that the Trust has digitized and made available to the public all of Heinlein’s vast archives, including letters, articles, manuscripts, photos and other memorabilia. The archive is based at the University of California.

“It’s full of amazing things,” Dula said.

Besides all of Heinlein’s texts and writings, the archive includes countless photos of Heinlein and by Heinlein.

Pictures of Robert Heinlein in childhood (From the Heinlein Trust Archives)

“Robert was an enthusiastic amateur photographer,” Dula said.

To share just one example of what’s available now to the public from the archives during his 2023 Prometheus Awards acceptance speech, Dula read and commented on excerpts from one of Heinlein’s most revealing and autobiographical letters, written in 1947 to a newspaper reporter planning to do a profile of Heinlein on the verge of publication of his first novel.

A 1947 Heinlein letter from the archives (Click on image to expand)

Heinlein letter February 1947

“This letter, and tens of thousands of other documents and photos, are now in DORA [Digital Online Research Archives]. I even think he saved his report cards. They will all be online soon,” Dula said.

“We’re now re-releasing all of it so Heinlein’s archives can be more public,” he said.

THE COMPLETE HEINLEIN

The “Virginia Edition” of Heinlein’s complete works of fiction

Meanwhile, the Trust continues to sell its published 46-volume set of Heinlein’s complete works of fiction.

“We’ve sold about 1,200 sets and have a few hundred left,” Dula said.
“Anyone who buys the complete set also gets free lifetime access to the digital archives,” he said.

The Trust also has published graphic novels of two Heinlein sf-juvenile novels: Have Spacesuit Will Travel and Citizen of the Galaxy, inducted in 2022 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

BOOKS ON SPACE DEVELOPMENT

Robert Heinlein in 1969 examining his library (From the Heinlein Trust archives)

Besides republishing Heinlein’s entire set of stories and novels in 46 leather-bound editions, dubbed “The Virginia Edition,” The Trust also has published three other books directly related to Heinlein’s lifelong interest in humanity venturing beyond the bounds of Earth to populate our social system – and beyond.

One book is the primary reference on space solar power; another book, a comprehensive reference work on space elevators, edited by Peter Swan and John Knapman.

“And the third book is the first and only comprehensive work, published so far, on space mineral resources. We did all this because it’s clear that Heinlein wanted us to,” Dula said.

“These are the things that will drive us into space. We’re seeing it happen right now,” he said.

Note: Robert Heinlein (1907-1988), a mentor to several generations of younger sf writers, ultimately became the author most recognized by the Prometheus Awards, with a record nine awards as of 2023.

All of his awards are for classic works inducted into the Prometheus Hall of Fame, include his bestselling novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (in 1983), Stranger in a Strange Land  (in 1987), the novel Red Planet  (in 1996), the novel Methuselah’s Children (in 1997), the novel Time Enough for Love (in 1998), the story Requiem  (in 2003), the story “Coventry” in 2017, the novel Citizen of the Galaxy in 2022 and the story “Free Men” in 2023.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE:

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch  videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights, individuality and human dignity.

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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