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The Green Hills of Earth book cover—a story first serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, February 8, 1947.


Heinlein choosing a magazine in Ojai (north of Ventura) around 1947.

October 25, 1946: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

The news that you sold "The Green Hills of Earth" to the Saturday Evening Post is very gratifying for more reasons than the size of the check. I am happy that we have cracked the top slick market; I am particularly happy that it was done with this story, as it is a favorite of mine which has been growing in my mind for five years.

Editor's Note: In the 1930s and 1940s and farther back, the Saturday Evening Post was the elite market of the short story writer. It paid the highest rates and carried the most prestige.

The Post was on every newsstand, and was widely read.

In addition to short stories, and serialized novels, it also ran many articles. To be well-informed, one read the Post. It was sold everywhere; the covers by Norman Rockwell were especially featured. Each issue contained some articles, short fiction, and usually a series of stories concerning much the same cast, and it was the ambition of every short story writer to have one of these series going. Bonus rates were paid for such series.

Selling the Post was a boy's job, and boys would go from door to door selling the Post, with two companion magazines, The Ladies Home Journal, and Country Gentleman. One of Robert's first jobs as a child was being a P-J-G boy.

The Saturday Evening Post carried a column about the authors who appeared in each issue. The column was called "Keeping Posted," and Robert was asked for material about himself and a picture. Because it was his first appearance in the Post with "The Green Hills of Earth" he was included in that column.

. . . sending you on Monday another interplanetary short, intended for slick (the Post, I hope)—the domestic troubles of a space pilot, titled either "For Men Must Work" or "Space Pilot" ["Space Jockey"]. It took me a week to write it and three weeks to cut it from 12,000 to 6,000 [words]—but I am beginning to understand the improvement in style that comes from economy in words. (I set it at 6,000 because a careful count of the stories in recent issues of the Post shows that the shorts average a little over 6,000 and are rarely as short as 5,000.)

Editor's Note: Robert's ambition to write for higher paying and wider markets than pulp magazines caused him to look around for an agent who had good connections with other markets. For this purpose, he consulted L. Ron Hubbard, who introduced him to Lurton Blassingame.

Lurton had come to New York ambitious to write, but discovered that he could not make the grade. So he remained in the publishing center and became one of the most highly respected agents there. His brother, Wyatt Blassingame, sold regularly, if infrequently, to the Saturday Evening Post.

Robert became, eventually, Lurton's star client, but he was preoccupied with "world saving" after the atomic bombs were dropped. The articles he wrote did not sell. He then began the juvenile series of books with Scribner's—starting with Rocket Ship Galileo (working title: Young Atomic Engineers). For some years, he wrote one juvenile per year.

The two men met on one of our trips to New York, and Robert urged Lurton to come to visit us in Colorado. Robert would accompany Lurton on a hunting trip, for elk and antelope and other game. I was asked to join them on fishing trips.

Although Robert neither hunted nor fished, he went on such trips with Lurton. During their trip to Gunnison, Colorado, where they went after elk, Robert "kept camp" while Lurton hunted through the mountains, along with a group of other hunters. Lurton bagged an enormous elk, and we were left with a freezer full of elk meat. It was my impression that Robert went along on such trips for Lurton's company.

Robert's next conquest, assisted by Lurton, was the Saturday Evening Post, with "The Green Hills of Earth," followed by three other stories for that magazine.

The friendship flourished, despite Robert's distaste for doing business with friends. It lasted until Lurton in the late 1970s, thinking of retirement, took on some younger associates. Robert's books are still handled by the Blassingame-Spectrum Agency in New York.

November 12, 1946: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

. . . and I shall get back to work, probably on a story called "It's Great to Be Back!" A couple living in Luna City are about to return to Earth, their contracts completed after three years. They have been homesick the whole time and are always talking about it. They return to Earth and discover that they had forgotten the disadvantages of living on Earth—uncontrolled weather, dirt, colds-in-the-head, provincial attitudes, stupid and ignorant people (the residents of Luna City are of course exceptionally intelligent and civilized because of selection for those qualities—only persons of high IQs and social compatibility would pay the cost of sending them to the Moon and keeping them there), etc., etc. At the end of the story they are more homesick than ever—for Luna City!—and are straining a gut to get back there. The story will be used also to give a picture of Luna City and the conditions of life on the Moon, social and economic, for background and color.

Editor's Note: Between 1947 and 1949, at least ten of Robert A. Heinlein's "slicks" were published; four appeared in the Post and two in Argosy. This was a remarkable achievement, but it was soon eclipsed by the success of his juvenile novels.



Rocket Ship Galileo, in 1947, was Heinlein's entrance to the "big-name" publisher, Scribner's.

Ross, Art, and Morrie plan to start college in the fall, but meantime they are experimenting with model rockets. Then Art's uncle, atomic engineer and Nobel Laureate, Dr. Cargraves, seeing the quality of their work, offers them a chance to work with him. He's going to build the first rocket ship to the moon, atomic powered!

They are soon at work in an abandoned testing site, adapting an old commercial freight rocket, sold at scrap prices, for the new power. And soon they are able to take off and make their landing on the moon. But then their ship is suddenly bombed by another craft. They have landed within a few miles of a base of unreconstructed Nazis, who plan to still win the war by bombing Earth from the moon!

Overcoming the Nazis and getting their ship is quite a problem!

February 19, 1946: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am going to write the juvenile outlined in my last [letter], starting two days hence. You will receive takes and a synopsis, and the finished manuscript should be in your hands about 15 March. [Two friends] convinced me that my own propaganda purposes will be served best by writing a series of boys' books in addition to the adult items previously described. I have purchased several of the popular boys' series novels and feel confident that I can produce salable copy—copy which can be sold to one of these markets: Westminster, Grosset and Dunlap, Crown, or Random House.

March 16, 1946: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I think his [the editor who turned down Young Atomic Engineers] conception of a story of the atomic era is inappropriate. We have entered a period of extreme change. I see two major possibilities—either a disastrous atomic war which will destroy for a long time the present technological structure, followed by a renaissance, the nature of which I am unable to predict, or a period of peace in which technical progress will be so enormously accelerated that only short range predictions can hope to be reasonably accurate. Young Atomic Engineers [Rocket Ship Galileo] is based on the latter of the two assumptions, i.e., a period of peace and unchecked technical progress.

* * *

In doing fiction about the future, I regard myself as a professional prophet—a man who makes an honest attempt to evaluate the probabilities and to write stories setting forth patterns inherent in those probabilities. If I am to be honest, I must prophesy what I think will (or could) happen, not what someone else thinks will happen. If Mr. ---- does not see my concept of the possibilities, he had better write it himself or get a hack writer who is willing to write another man's plot. That should be easy for him to do and I do not disapprove of such hack work—but it is almost impossible for me to do it, and I won't do it unless I'm hungry, which I'm not.

(Young Atomic Engineers contains two conventional deviations from what I believe to be reasonably possible; I have condensed the preparation time for the trip and I have assumed that four people can do work which should require more nearly forty. Otherwise, I regard the techniques used in the story, and even the incidents, to be possible, albeit romantic and in some respects not too likely in detail. But I do expect space travel and I expect it soon. The counterplot is more than a possibility, it is a distinct menace—though it may not turn out to hinge on a base located on the Moon.)

. . . I suppose you are used to the method of having a writer send in a few chapters and a synopsis. I will do that when requested to, but, unfortunately, once I have gone that far with a novel, that novel will be finished about ten days later, or at least with such speed that only the fastest possible response from the publisher can affect the outcome very much. I am sorry, but it is a concomitant of how I work. I work slowly on a novel for the first few chapters only. As soon as I can hear the characters talk, it then becomes a race to see whether I put down their actions fast enough not to miss any of them. It is more economical in time and money and it results in a better story for me to work straight through to a conclusion, rather than wait for an editor to make up his mind whether or not he likes it. Editors are not likely to like my advance synopses in any case, for it is simply impossible for me to give the flavor of a story not yet written in a synopsis.

[(The additional books proposed for this series are: The Young Atomic Engineers on Mars, or Secret of the Moon Corridors, The Young Atomic Engineers in the Asteroids, or The Mystery of the Broken Planet, The Young Atomic Engineers in Business, or The Solar System Mining Corporation

And at least two more.)]

* * *

Editor's Note: September 24, 1946. Letter of this date says that editor at Scribner's liked Young Atomic Engineers.

September 27, 1946: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Young Atomic Engineers—I am delighted to hear that Alice Dalgliesh [editor at Scribner's] likes this ms. In my letter of 16 March 46 you will find a list of titles for a proposed series of sequels and considerable discussion of what I would like to do in re juveniles, as well as what I think might be done further to exploit this story. I expect to be guided by you in all those matters—my opinions are not final. I certainly would be willing to rewrite to editorial order and to plan stories to fit editorial desires in order to have my book brought out by so distinguished a house as Scribner's.

February 1, 1947: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I have signed the contract as you advised, but I am returning the contract to Scribner's through you in order that you may reconsider whether or not to ask them to make any changes in the contract . . . The manuscript has been revised and is now being retyped. It will be delivered to Scribner's by the tenth of February.



Space Cadet, Scribner's, 1950. Cover art by Clifford N. Geary.

The training of cadets for the Interplanetary Patrol takes place in Colorado, in space, and on actual patrol. Following some violent physical tests to see whether an aspirant is able to undergo the rigorous environment of space, the cadets go to training in the school ship.

They learn how to handle themselves in free fall in addition to the required academic subjects. Senior cadets take the younger ones in hand to teach them the traditions of the Patrol.

As a part of their training, they go as very junior officers on a patrol ship, and Matt and Tex run into an adventure in Venus jungles . . .

* * *

July 18, 1947: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Miss Dalgliesh and I agree with you on Space Cadet, but I won't write it until later this year.

February 17, 1948: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

No danger of Scribner's turning down Space Cadet.

August 1, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

There is a correction to be made in Space Cadet, which I have already given Scribner's for the second edition; it occurs to me that it should be made in the Norwegian, Italian, and Dutch editions. Will you relay it for me? It is quite simple: on the very last page there is a line of dialog: "Never lead with your left." It should, of course, read, "Never lead with your right."

Editor's Note: This mistake resulted from the manuscript's having been read by me, Lurton (who was left-handed), and several editors at Scribner's (none of us knew anything about boxing).

January 5, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I have written Miss Dalgliesh about the TV scripts [Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.] Did you read them? If so, you know how bad they are; I don't want an air credit on that show (much as I appreciate the royalty checks!) and I am reasonably sure that a staid, dignified house like Scribner's will feel the same way. It has the high moral standards of soap opera.



Red Planet, Heinlein's 1949 juvenile for Scribner's, began the conflict between Heinlein and his editor Alice Dalgliesh.

Jim Marlowe, a teenaged Martian colonist, takes his pet Willis, a Martian bouncer, away to school with him. The headmaster impounds Willis, since pets are not allowed at school. Jim rescues the bouncer, and he and his friend Frank run away from school,taking Willis with them.

After a wild cross-country trek which includes a visit to a Martian building, the three are able to thwart a plot to prevent the colonists from making their annual migration. Thanks to Willis's ability to record exactly voices and words that he has heard, the colonists revolt against the plan, not wishing to live through an extremely cold Martian winter in high latitudes.

November 18, 1948: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Enclosed is a copy of notes for a new novel [Red Planet] for Miss Dalgliesh, plus a copy of the letter to her . . . Read the letters, read the notes as well, if you have time. Advice is welcomed.

The decision to postpone the ocean-rancher yarn [Ocean Rancher was supposed to be the third book in the Scribner's series, but it was never written.] called for a revision of my writing schedule. These are my present intentions: while Miss Dalgliesh is making up her mind, I intend to do one short story, 4,000 words, intended for adult, slick, general market, with Post, Colliers, Town and Country, This Week, and Argosy in mind. I should be able to show this to you by the middle of December.

If Miss Dalgliesh says yes, I will write the boys' novel next, planning to complete it before January 31. While she is looking it over, I expect to do another 4,000-word slick, following which I will revise the novel for Miss Dalgliesh. That should take me up to the end of February.

March 4, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

There is actually no need for you to read this letter at all. It will not inform you on any important point, it will contain nothing calling for action on your part, and it probably will not even entertain you. I may not send it. I have a number of points to beef about, particularly Miss Dalgliesh; if Bill Corson [a friend who lived in Los Angeles] were here, I'd beef to him. He not being here, I take advantage of your good nature. I have come to think of you as a friend whom I know well enough to ask to listen to my gripes.

If Miss D. had said Red Planet was dull, I would have had no comeback. We clowns either make the audience laugh or we don't; if we entertain, we are successes; if we don't, we are failures. If she had said, "The book is entertaining but I want certain changes. Cut out the egg-laying and the disappearances. Change the explanation for the Old Martians," I would have kept my griping to myself and worked on the basis that the Customer Is Always Right.

She did neither. In effect she said, "The book is gripping, but for reasons I cannot or will not define I don't want to publish it."

I consider this situation very different from that with the publisher in Philadelphia who first instigated the writing of Rocket Ship Galileo. He and I parted amicably; he wanted a book of a clearly defined sort which I did not want to write. But, from my point of view, Miss Dalgliesh ordered this particular book; to wit, she had a standing arrangement for one book a year from me; she received a very detailed outline which she approved. She got a book to that outline, in my usual style. To my mind that constitutes an order and I know that other writers have been paid their advance under similar circumstances. I think Scribner's owes us, in equity, $500 even if they return the manuscript. A client can't take up the time of a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect, under similar circumstances without paying for it. If you call in an architect, discuss with him a proposed house, he works up a floor plan and a treatment; then you decide not to go further with him, he goes straight back to his office and bills you for professional services, whether you have signed a contract or not.

My case is parallel, save that Miss Dalgliesh let me go ahead and "build the house," so to speak.

I think I know why she bounced the book—I use "bounced" intentionally; I hope that you do not work out some sort of a revision scheme with her because I do not think she will take this book, no matter what is done to it.

I think she bounced the book from some ill-defined standards of

literary snobbishness—it's not "Scribner's-type" material!! I think that point sticks out all through her letter to me. I know that such an attitude has been shown by her all through my relationship with her. She has spoken frequently of "cheap" books, "cheap" magazines. "Cheap," used in reference to a story, is not a defined evaluation; it is merely a sneer—usually a sneer at the format from a snob.

She asked me to suggest an artist for Rocket Ship Galileo; I suggested Hubert Rogers. She looked into the matter, then wrote me that Mr. Rogers' name "was too closely associated with a rather cheap magazine"—meaning John Campbell's Astounding S-F. To prove her point, she sent me tear sheets from the magazine. It so happened that the story she picked to send was one of my "Anson MacDonald" stories, "By His Bootstraps"—which at that time was again in print in Crown's Best in Science Fiction!


Dalgliesh's infamous example of Hubert Rogers' cover for the "cheap" magazine, John W. Campbell's Astounding, featuring "By His Bootstraps" by Heinlein's own alias, Anson MacDonald.

I chuckled and said nothing. If she could not spot my style and was impressed only by the fact that the stuff was printed on pulpwood paper, it was not my place to educate her. I wondered if she knew that my reputation had been gained in that same "cheap" magazine and concluded that she probably did not know and might not have been willing to publish my stuff had she known.

Rogers is a very fine artist. As an illustrator he did the trade editions of John Buchan's books. I am happy to have one of his paintings hanging in my home. In place of him she obtained someone else. Take a look at the copy of Galileo in your office—and don't confuse it in your mind with the fine work done by [Clifford N.] Geary for Space Cadet. The man she picked is a fairly adequate draftsman, but with no ability to turn an illustration into an artistically satisfying composition. However, he had worked for Scribner's before; he was "respectable."

I think I know what is eating her about Red Planet. It is not any objection on her part to fantasy or fairy tales as such; she is very proud of having published The Wind in the Willows. Nor does she object to my pulp-trained style; she accepted it in two other books. No, it is this: She has fixed firmly in her mind a conception of what a "science fiction" book should be, though she can't define it and the notion is nebulous—she has neither the technical training nor the acquaintance with the body of literature in the field to have a clearly defined criterion. But it's there, just the same, and it reads something like this: "Science has to do with machines and machinery and laboratories. Science fiction consists of stories about the wonderful machines of the future which will go striding around the universe, as in Jules Verne."

Her definition is all right as far as it goes, but it fails to include most of the field and includes only that portion of the field which has been heavily overworked and now contains only low-grade ore. Speculative fiction (I prefer that term to science fiction) is also concerned with sociology, psychology, esoteric aspects of biology, impact of terrestrial culture on the other cultures we may encounter when we conquer space, etc., without end. However, speculative fiction is not fantasy fiction, as it rules out the use of anything as material which violates established scientific fact, laws of nature, call it what you will, i.e., it must [be] possible to the universe as we know it. Thus, Wind in the Willows is fantasy, but the much more incredible extravaganzas of Dr. Olaf Stapledon are speculative fiction—science fiction.

I gave Miss Dalgliesh a story which was strictly science fiction by all the accepted standards—but it did not fit into the narrow niche to which she has assigned the term, and it scared her—she was scared that some other person, critic, librarian, or whatever, a literary snob like herself—would think that she had published comic-book type of material. She is not sufficiently educated in science to distinguish between Mars as I portrayed it and the wonderful planet that Flash Gordon infests, nor would she be able to defend herself from the charge if brought.

As a piece of science fiction, Red Planet is a much more difficult and much more carefully handled job than either of the two books before it. Those books contained a little straightforward descriptive astronomy, junior high school level, and some faked-up mechanical engineering which I could make sound authoritative because I am a mechanical engineer and know the patter. This book, on the other hand, has a planetary matrix most carefully worked out from a dozen different sciences all more complicated and esoteric than descriptive astronomy and reaction engines. Take that one little point about how the desert cabbage stopped crowding in on the boys when Jim turned on the light. A heliotropic plant would do just that—but I'll bet she doesn't know heliotropism from second base. I did not attempt to rub the reader's nose in the mechanics of heliotropism or why it would develop on Mars because she had been so insistent on not being "too technical."

I worked out in figures the amount of chlorophyll surface necessary to permit those boys to live overnight in the heart of a plant and how much radiant energy would be required before I included the incident. But I'll bet she thought of that incident as being "fantasy."

I'll bet that, if she has ever heard of heliotropism at all, she thinks of it as a plant "reaching for the light." It's not; it's a plant spreading for light, a difference of ninety degrees in the mechanism and the point that makes the incident work.

Between ourselves there is one error deliberately introduced into the book, a too-low figure on the heat of crystallization of water. I needed it for dramatic reasons. I wrote around it, concealed it, I believe, from any but a trained physicist looking for discrepancies, and I'll bet ten bucks she never spotted it!—she hasn't the knowledge to spot it.

Enough of beating that dead horse! It's a better piece of science fiction than the other two, but she'll never know it and it's useless to try to tell her. Lurton, I'm fed up with trying to work for her. She keeps poking her nose into things she doesn't understand and which are my business, not hers. I'm tired of trying to spoon-feed her, I'm tired of trying to educate her diplomatically. From my point of view she should judge my work by these rules and these only: (a) will it amuse and hold the attention of boys? (b) is it grammatical and as literate as my earlier stuff? (c) are the moral attitudes shown by the author and his protagonists—not his villains—such as to make it suitable to place in the hands of minors?

Actually, the first criterion is the only one she need worry about; I won't offend on the other two points—and she knows it. She shouldn't attempt to judge science-versus-fantasy; she's not qualified. Even if she were and even if my stuff were fantasy, why such a criterion anyhow? Has she withdrawn Wind in the Willows from the market? If she thinks Red Planet is a fairy tale, or a fantasy, but gripping (as she says) to read, let her label it as such and peddle it as such. I don't give a damn. She should concern herself with whether or not boys will like it. As a matter of fact, I don't consider her any fit person to select books to suit the tastes of boys. I've had to fight like hell to keep her from gutting my first two books; the fact that boys did like them is a tribute to my taste, not to hers. I've read a couple of the books she wrote for girls—have you tried them? They're dull as ditch water. Maybe girls will hold still for that sort of things; boys won't.

I hope this works out so that we are through with her. I prefer pocketing the loss, at least for now, to coping with her further.

And I don't like her dirty-minded attitude over the Willis business. Willis is one of the closest of my imaginary friends; I loved that little tyke, and her raised eyebrows infuriate me. [Willis is the young Martian adopted as a pet by the hero; it's Willis who often gets him out of trouble.]

March 15, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

First, your letter: the only part that needs comment is Miss D's remark about getting a good Freudian to interpret the Willis business. There is no point in answering her, but let me sputter a little. A "good Freudian" will find sexual connotations in anything—that's the basis of the theory. In answer I insist that without the aid of a "good Freudian" boys will see nothing in the scene but considerable humor. In Space Cadet a "good Freudian" would find the rockets "thrusting up against the sky" definite phallic symbols. Perhaps he would be right; the ways of the subconscious are obscure and not easily read. But I still make the point that boys are not psychoanalysts—nor will anyone with a normal healthy sex orientation make anything out of that scene. I think my wife, Ginny, summed it up when she said, "She's got a dirty mind!"

Somebody around this controversy does need a psychoanalyst—and it ain't you and it ain't me and it ain't Willis.

March 18, 1949: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Book will have to be changed before it can go on the recommended library list. There is a certain amount of censorship in the juvenile field. Publishers must sign an affidavit when asking for books to be purchased by libraries, saying there is nothing in them which will offend either youngsters or parents. Dalgliesh is sending list of changes needed in Red Planet. Once those changes recommended by the juvenile librarian are made, Scribner's will take book. Scribner's is a respected house and excellent connection for RAH.

Editor's Note: Around this time, Robert was looking for an idea for the story "Gulf," which he had promised to John W. Campbell, Jr. for the special November 1949 issue of Astounding. We approached this task in a fashion today known as brainstorming. I would put up an idea and Robert would knock it down.

The title, "Gulf," was the hitch. Eventually I suggested that it might be possible to do something like the Mowgli story—a human infant raised by a foreign race, kept apart from humans until he reached maturity. "Too big an idea for a short story," said Robert, but he made a note about it.

Further brainstorming resulted in the notion Robert wanted to do a superman story for "Gulf." What did supermen do better than their peers? "They think better," I replied. So another note was made.

Then Robert disappeared into his study and wrote eighteen pages, single spaced, of notes on ideas which the Mowgli suggestion had started rolling in his brain. He worked on those pages the whole night, and came out with a batch of papers titled The Man from Mars [Stranger in a Strange Land].

The Man from Mars was then set aside, and "Gulf" was written to meet JWC's deadline, as it must be sent off to New York before we departed for Hollywood. We planned to drive to California at the end of May, and had no idea just when we would return to Colorado.

March 24, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I agree to all changes [on Red Planet]. Let's go ahead with the contract. Please ask her to send me the original manuscript. Please ask her to make her instructions for revision as detailed and as specific as possible. She should bear in mind that, since these revisions are being made to suit her taste and her special knowledge of requirements of the market, my taste and my limited knowledge of them cannot be a guide to me in making revisions—else I would have submitted a manuscript satisfactory to her in the first place.

* * *

I note with wry amusement that she no longer speaks of the book as "fairy tale quality," "not our sort of science fiction," "lack of controlled imagination," "strange shaped Martians," etc. The only point she still makes which she originally made is about Willis and (pardon my blushes!) s-x. Okeh, s-x comes out; it was probably a mistake on the part of the Almighty to have invented s-x in the first place.

I capitulate, horse and foot. I'll bowdlerize the goddamn thing any way she says. But I hope you can keep needling her to be specific, however, and to follow up the plot changes when she demands the removal of a specific factor. I'm not just being difficult, Lurton; several of the things she objects to have strong plot significance . . . if she takes them out, the story ceases to be. Removing the details objected to about Willis is a much simpler matter; it's offstage stuff and does not affect the story line until the last chapter.

If she forces me to it, I'll take out what she objects to and then let her look at the cadaver remaining—then perhaps she will revise her opinion that it "—doesn't affect the main body of the story—" (direct quote).

I concede your remarks about the respect given to the Scribner imprint, the respect in which she is held, and the fact that she is narrowly limited by a heavily censorship-ridden market. I still don't think she is a good editor; she can't read an outline or a manuscript with constructive imagination.

I expect this to be my last venture in this field; 'tain't worth the grief.

April 18, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

The revised version of Red Planet will be in your hands by the end of the month and you may tell Miss Dalgliesh so. I am complying with all her instructions and suggestions.

April 19, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Alice Dalgliesh

The manuscript of Red Planet is being returned, through Mr. Blassingame. You will find that I have meticulously followed all of your directions, from your letter, from your written notes, and from your notations on the manuscript, whether I agreed with them or not. I have made a wholehearted attempt to make the changes smoothly and acceptably and thereby to make the story hang together. I am not satisfied with the result, but you are free to make any additional changes you wish wherever you see an opportunity to accomplish your purposes more smoothly than I have been able to do.

Most of the changes have been made by excising what you objected to, or by minor inclusions and variations in dialog. However, on the matter of guns, I have written in a subscene in which the matter of gun licensing is referred to in sufficient explanatory detail to satisfy you, I think.

The balance of this letter is side discussion and is in no sense an attempt to get you to change your mind about any of your decisions concerning the book. I simply want to state my point of view on one matter and to correct a couple of points.

At several different times you have made the point that this book was different from my earlier books, specifically with respect to colloquial language used by characters, with respect to firearms, and with respect to aggressiveness on the part of the boys. I have just checked through Rocket Ship Galileo and Space Cadet—as published—and I do not find any of these allegations substantiated. In both books I made free use of such expressions as "Yeah," "Nope," "Huh", "Stinker," and similar sloppy speech. In both books the boys are inclined to be aggressive in the typical, male-adolescent fashion. See pages 8, 23, 42, 107, 200, and 241 of Space Cadet and all of Rocket Ship Galileo from page 160 to the end—not to mention a couple of minor brushes earlier. In re guns, Space Cadet cannot be compared with the other two books as all the characters are part of a military organization from one end to the other, but Rocket Ship Galileo can be compared with Red Planet. In Rocket Ship Galileo they are handling dangerous explosives in chapter one. From page 62 to the end they are all heavily armed at all times—and no mention is ever made of licensing them. On pages 165-6 Art and Ross each kill a man; a few pages later Morrie kills about eighty men. On page 167 dialog makes clear that they are long used to guns. I bring up these points to correct matters of fact; I do not like being accused of having switched the mixture on you.

Now, as to matters of opinion—You and I have strongly different evaluations as to the best way in which to handle the problem of deadly weapons in a society. We do not seem to disagree in any important fashion as to the legitimate ways in which deadly weapons may be used, but we disagree strongly as to socially useful regulations concerning deadly weapons. I will first cite two points which sharply illustrate the disagreement. I have one of my characters say that the right to bear arms is the basis of all human freedom. I strongly believe that, but you required me to blue-pencil it. The second point concerns licensing guns. I had such licensing in the story, but I had one character strongly object to it as a piece of buttinsky bureaucracy, subversive of liberty—and I had no one defending it. You required me to remove the protest, then build up the licensing into a complicated ritual, involving codes, oaths, etc.—a complete reversal of evaluation. I have made great effort to remove my viewpoint from the book and to incorporate yours, convincingly—but in so doing I have been writing from reasons of economic necessity something that I do not believe. I do not like having to do that.

Let me say that your viewpoint and evaluation in this matter is quite orthodox; you will find many to agree with you. But there is another and older orthodoxy imbedded in the history of this country and to which I hold. I have no intention nor any expectation of changing your mind, but I do want to make you aware that there is another viewpoint that is held by a great many respectable people, and that it is quite old. It is summed up in the statement that I am opposed to all attempts to license or restrict the arming of individuals, such as the Sullivan Act of the State of New York. I consider such laws a violation of civil liberty, subversive of democratic political institutions, and self-defeating in their purpose. You will find that the American Rifle Association has the same policy and has had [it] for many years.


Heinlein's Expert Rifleman medal, from his naval days.

France had Sullivan-type laws. When the Nazis came, the invaders had only to consult the registration lists at the local gendarmerie in order to round up all the weapons in a district. Whether the authorities be invaders or merely local tyrants, the effect of such laws is to place the individual at the mercy of the state, unable to resist. In the story Red Planet it would be all too easy for the type of licensing you insist on to make the revolution of the colonists not simply unsuccessful, but impossible.

As to such laws being self-defeating, the avowed purpose of such laws as the Sullivan Act is to keep weapons out of the hands of potential criminals. You are surely aware that the Sullivan Act and similar acts have never accomplished anything of the sort? That gangsterism ruled New York while this act was already in force? That "Murder, Inc." flourished under this act? Criminals are never materially handicapped by such rules; the only effect is to disarm the peaceful citizen and put him fully at the mercy of the lawless. Such rules look very pretty on paper; in practice they are as foolish and footless as the attempt of the mice to bell the cat.

Such is my thesis, that the licensing of weapons is subversive of liberty and self-defeating in its pious purpose. I could elaborate the arguments suggested above at great length, but my intention is not to convince, but merely to show that there is another viewpoint. I am aware, too, that even if I did by some chance convince you, there remains the unanswerable argument that you have to sell to librarians and schoolteachers who believe the contrary.

I am not inexperienced with guns. I have coached rifle and pistol teams and conducted the firing of millions of rounds from pistols to turret guns. I am aware of the dangers of guns, but I do not agree that those dangers can be eliminated nor even ameliorated by coercive legislation—and I think my experience entitles me to my opinion at least as much as schoolteachers and librarians are entitled to theirs.

* * *

I am sorry to say in answer to your inquiry that I do not expect to be able to come east soon. If Miss Fowler passes this way, we shall be very glad to see her and to show her some of the sights if she wishes.

May 9, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

As to the name on Red Planet ms., no, I'm not adamant; I'll always listen to your advice and I'll lose a lot of sleep before I will go directly against your advice. But I feel rather sticky about this point, as I hate like the deuce to see anything go out under my own name, without even sharing responsibility with Miss Dalgliesh, when said item includes propositions in which I do not believe. The matter of style, plot, and the effect on my literary reputation, if any, I am not adamant about, even though I am not happy about the changes—if you say to shut up and forget it, I'll shut up. It's the "Sullivan-Act-in-a-Martian-frontier-colony" feature that I find hard to swallow; from my point of view I am being required to support publicly a doctrine which I believe to be subversive of human liberty and political freedom.

Editor's Note: Because of the necessity of editing Red Planet to suit the sensibilities of librarians (who, at that time, were mostly elderly ladies), Robert seriously made the suggestion that Miss Dalgliesh's name be added to the book as an author. This suggestion might have been made over the telephone—the files are incomplete on this point.

But the storm blew over, and Red Planet, firearms or no, Willis' sex or no, became very popular. It was one of Robert's most popular books for juveniles.

May 17, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I'll have to give some thought to the Scribner's beef over the name. I can't see why Alice Dalgliesh's name, tacked on, should be a handicap. Maybe they would like to send the script back for reworking to my ideas. It seems to me that if she insists on rewriting the story by remote control, then she should expect to share the blame.

On the other hand, it is fairly evident that you feel that the story is just about as good now as it was before. I am sorry to say that I don't think so; maybe it's good but it ain't a Heinlein story; it's been denaturized, had its teeth pulled. But I am very reluctant to go against your advice. I think it will damage my reputation and I know that it includes ideas of which I violently disapprove. What do you think, Lurton? Lay it on the line.



Heinlein wrote Farmer in the Sky for Scribner's in 1949 during the hold-ups of filming "Destination Moon."

Bill Lermer, a Boy Scout, and his widowed father decide to emigrate from Earth to Ganymede. In order to be eligible, the father must marry. This story tells about Bill's adjustment to his new step-mother and stepsister, their voyage to Ganymede, and how all four work to build a farm in an inhospitable environment.

The new home is built, a farm started amid the wonderful sight of Jupiter and its other moons, lo, Europa and Callisto. Bill finds that his scouting is universal—a troop is formed in the space ship Mayflower, continued on Ganymede, amid many adventures. Bill and his family learn survival.

September 8, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am up to page 150 in the first draft of my current story ["Farmer in the Sky"], intended for Boys' Life and for juvenile book, and should have this draft finished in ten days. It will probably take another month to shape it up into a satisfactory serial version and book-length version.

September 24, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

The first draft of the Boys' Life and juvenile trade book job is finished, but the motion picture [Destination Moon] has developed daily crises which will probably continue until the shooting is over, about the end of November. As there is a long, tedious job of cutting to do to turn the book into a 20,000-word serial, I don't know when I will be sending in the manuscript. You may tell Crump [editor of Boys' Life] if you like, that the story is finished, but it may be a month or six weeks until it is ready. My situation here is unclear; my contract is up next week, the movie not yet shot, and myself unwilling to extend the contract on its present terms. We'll see.

Editor's Note: Robert had done the script for Destination Moon with Rip Van Ronkel in Hollywood in 1948. George Pal purchased the script, and Robert was to do technical direction on it.

The normal delays ensued. We arrived in Hollywood in early June 1949— shooting was supposed to begin soon thereafter. However, with rewrites, preproduction, and all the things that go on in Hollywood, actual shooting did not start until around October or November.

While waiting for the film production to begin, Robert wrote Farmer in the Sky.

November 20, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

. . . I'm working fifteen hours a day; the book-length version of Farmer in the Sky is now with the typist and the serial length for Boys' Life is being cut—slowly, because I have so little time. I've got it down under 40,000; there will be much tedious work before I can get it down to 20,000 and probably will not finish it until after the picture is finished. I'm working seven days a week and getting six hours of sleep, and I can't speed it up beyond that.

March 6, 1950: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Boys' Life found suspense problem. Scribner's very pleased with book.

April 24, 1950: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am glad to hear that [Boys' Life editor] Crump is taking the serial [published in Boy's Life as "Satellite Scout"], since I need every cent I can scrape up for [house] building. Nevertheless, I would turn down his bid of $750 if I could afford to. It occurs to me, however, that, if he had me in a squeeze before. I have him in a squeeze now. He has scheduled it for the August issue; the makeup date must be staring him in the face, particularly as he is ordering a color painting for the cover from [Chesley] Bonestell.

* * *

And please be sure to tell him that I am certainly entitled to as much time to make up my mind whether or not I like his offer as he is to make up his mind whether or not he likes a story that he ordered from me in the first place. And tell him that I am proud, mean, stiff-necked, and that you doubt very much if you can get me to accept a lowered word rate, since I have been known in the past to pass up sales rather than take a cut.

Don't quite let the sale get away from you—but if you can get him on the hook and keep him there, we may be able to squeeze a couple of hundred dollars' worth of blood out of this stone. I don't care whether he gets sore or not; this is my swan song with Crump; sales to him are not worth the trouble and worry.

Don't get yourself in bad with him; blame it all on me.

Even if you have cashed the check already, I hope you will call him up and twist his arm a bit.

April 21, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

. . . The transformation from Farmer in the Sky to "Satellite Scout" [the Boys' Life version] took five drafts and consumed most of six weeks . . . whereupon I was left in suspense while [Crump] made up his mind whether or not he liked my condensation.



Between Planets was given a working title of The Rolling Stones. Heinlein soon after used The Rolling Stones as the title for another book. Art by Clifford Geary. Scribner's, 1951.

Don's parents suddenly order him to join them on Mars, bringing with him an odd, plastic ring of no apparent value. He leaves his school on Earth for the space station where he's to catch his ship. He meets and befriends a Venus "dragon," Sir Isaac Newton. But his ship is intercepted by Venus, no longer willing to be a mere property of Earth. Willy-nilly, Don is shipped to Venus.

There he finds work washing dishes. Several attempts are made to steal the ring. Then Earth armed forces land and ravage the town. Don joins the Venus army. Much later, he is ordered to report—to Sir Isaac. The dragon needs the ring, which contains the clue to a scientific discovery made secretly on Earth. With it, they can build an ultrafast ship and weapons to force Earth to relinquish control of the planets. Don gets to Mars on that ship—a hero!

January 18, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am 14,000 words into the new boys' book [Between Planets] and the villains are way ahead. The first part always goes slowly; I have to get acquainted with the characters.

March 15, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I've just answered a nite letter from Miss Dalgliesh asking for a synopsis of Between Planets (formerly The Rolling Stones). [The Rolling Stones was a working title, later used for another book.] She wants the finished manuscript by the first—I can't make it, by at least a week, but I am pushing night and day.

March 17, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Between Planets is rolling nicely; I expect to finish it by a week from today, or even sooner. However, the necessity of smooth-typing it will keep me from sending it on earlier than about the first week in April. I have told Miss Dalgliesh.

April 1, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Herewith two copies of Between Planets. In this same mail I have sent Miss Dalgliesh an airmail postcard telling her that the ms. will arrive in New York at the same time she receives the card (or should). Since they are so anxious to have it at the earliest possible date, will you please send the original over to her at once?

May 31, 1951: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Word from Blue Book taking Between Planets, paying $1,000. Scribner will publish about 1 November, allowing Blue Book to schedule story for September or October issue.

June 3, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Good news indeed about the sale of Between Planets to Blue Book. Please tell Kennicott [Donald Kennicott, editor of Blue Book, who knew nothing of science fiction except H. G. Wells's title] that there is no resemblance at all between Wells's War of the Worlds and my Between Planets—also that he should read Wells's book; it's a dilly. The move-overs should resemble in appearance the mythological fauns or satyrs, the "goat-men," but should avoid too close a resemblance, i.e., avoid terrestrial musculature, articulation, and physiognomy, both of goats and men. Faunus veneris is a biped, horned, and smaller than a man, but its appearance merely suggests the faun of Greek mythology. It is not actually related to any earthian life form; there is plenty of elbow room for the artist to use his imagination.

June 28, 1951: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein (telegram)

Scribner's proofs on their way airmail special delivery.



Heinlein tried to make The Rolling Stones wholesome, but Dalgliesh saw some Freudian connotations in Heinlein's creation of "Flat Cats."

Castor and Pollux Stone, seventeen-year-old twins, go into space with their unusual family in a secondhand spaceship, called The Rolling Stone. They take along a cargo of battered bicycles to trade to settlers on Mars.

Grandmother Hazel and their father, Roger Stone, support the project by writing episodes for The Scourge of the Spaceways, one of whose characters is the Galactic Overlord. Three episodes a week is their normal output.

The twins buy a Martian flat cat, Fuzzy Britches, a creature most people enjoy petting. In transit they find that flat cats multiply with extreme rapidity, given sufficient food. They are forced to put the creatures into deep freeze.

In the asteroid belt, the twins create a demand for the flat cats, now thawed, selling them to lonely miners.

December 1, 1951: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

The boys' novel Rolling Stones is about a quarter finished, smooth draft—and an unsatisfactory story line thereafter. The trouble is that I am trying to do domestic comedy this time with nothing much in the way of revolutions and blood—and I find comedy harder to write. Oh, I can keep up wisecracking dialog all too easily, but the characters have to do something too, something important. With space warfare and intrigue ruled out by the nature of the story I find that a problem. Story centers around twin boys and their eccentric family. Family goes to asteroids in family spaceship, get into various sorts of trouble, get out again.

January 5, 1952: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

The new boys' novel, The Rolling Stones, is rolling along. I am hard at work seven days a week.

January 15, 1952: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I heard from Miss Dalgliesh about Rolling Stones; she is enthusiastic.

March 8, 1952: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am sorry to say that I am again having "sex" trouble with Miss Dalgliesh—she has decided (from her Olympian heights as an amateur Freudian) that The Rolling Stones contains some really dangerously evil connotations. Her letter was rather horrid and I was quite offended. I am not asking you to front for me this time; I answered her myself. Since the business matters are all completed, it is strictly an author-editor matter and you have troubles enough without being put in the middle on this. But enough is enough and I do not intend to tolerate any more of this sort of thing. The Rolling Stones may be the last juvenile I will do, or, if I do another, perhaps we will offer it to ---- rather than to Miss Dalgliesh.

I consciously intend to write wholesome stories for boys and mean to leave out entirely the sophisticated matters which appear in my writings for adults. In addition, Mrs. Heinlein went over this one most carefully, trying to find things Miss Dalgliesh might object to. When we were both satisfied that it was as pure as Caesar's wife, we sent it off. I feel sure that you would have returned it to me for revision had you seen anything in it which could have been construed as dirty. So she liked it and signed a contract for it—and now decides that it is dirty. The anecdote about the Vermonter who made a pet of a cow, "—same as you might a good hunting dog—" Miss Dalgliesh says suggests "certain abnormal sex practices." Well, it doesn't suggest anything to me except that my wife has made a pet out of a horse next door, which was what it was based on—and I am dead certain it won't suggest anything horrid to my boys and girls. But I gave her a revision—because we decided that the anecdote was not dirty but was dull.

Her other objection was this: "Flat cats seem to me a trifle too Freudian in their pulsing love habits." Since I intentionally desexed them entirely, even to parthenogenesis, I found this a bit thick. I always called a flat cat "it" rather than "he" or "she" and gave the only named one a name with no sex connotation. These things I did because I knew she was hipped on the subject—but it was useless; she is capable of seeing phallic symbolism in Jack's beanstalk.

Another objection she made has nothing to do with sex, but I find it illustrative of how far afield she has gone to find trouble: she objected to my naming a prospector "Old Charlie" because the first name of Mr. Scribner is Charles! How silly can one get?

I don't expect you to do anything but wished to inform you because you may hear reverberations. I rapped her knuckles most sharply. There are types of behavior I won't tolerate for any amount of money. I retaliated in kind (which is why I left you out of it); I took one of her books for girls and subjected it to the sort of analysis she gave mine. I know quite as much Freudian, bogus "psychology" as she does; from the criteria she uses, her book was dirty as hell—and I told her so, citing passages. If she is going to leer and smirk at my perfectly nice kids' book, I can do the same to her girls' stories. Amateur psychoanalysts make me sick! That impressive charlatan, Dr. Freud, has done quite as much harm as Queen Victoria ever did.

March 7, 1952: Robert A. Heinlein to Alice Dalgliesh

1. If you are going to make changes, I prefer to see them in advance of proof.

2. "Old Charlie"—I happen to like the name Charlie better than the name Danny, but the issue raised strikes me as just plain silly. "Charlie" is a very common nickname; there is probably at least one character named Charles in over half of currently published novels. Are we to lay off the very common names "Bob" and "Alice" because you and I happen to have them? In any case, nine-tenths of my readers are quite unaware of the name of the publisher; children very rarely pay attention to the name of the publishing house. It would be just as reasonable to place a taboo on "Harry" and on "George" and on "Joe" because of the names of the President, the late King, and the Russian dictator.

3. Flat cats and Freud—no, I most emphatically do not agree to any changes of any sort in the flat cats or anything about them. I am considerably irked by the phrase "—a bit too Freudian in their pulsing love habits." What love habits? I remember all too clearly the advice you gave me about Willis in Red Planet and how I should "consult a good Freudian"—in consequence, I most carefully desexed the creatures completely. I used the pronoun "it" throughout (if you find a "he" or "she", it is a fault of my proofing); the circumstances make it clear that the first one, and by implication, all the others, reproduce by parthenogenesis. Do you object to the fact that they like to be petted? Good heavens, that can't come out; the whole sequence depends on it—so don't tamper with it. In any case, I set up a symbiosis theory to account for them being such affectionate pets.

If you choose to class the human response to the flat cats (the desire on the part of humans, particularly lonely humans, for a pet which can be fondled and which will show affection)—if you class this tendency (on which the sequence turns) as a form of sex sublimation, I will not argue the classification. By definition "sex" and "libido" may be extended to almost any human behavior—but I do not agree that there is necessarily anything unhealthy, nor queasily symbolic, in such secondary (sex?) behavior.

Following your theory, I really must point out that the treatment of Rusty in Along Janet's Way [written by Miss Dalgliesh] is extremely significant (to a good Freudian) and highly symbolic, both in secondary sex behavior and in sublimation phenomena—in fact, not the sort of book to put into the hands of a young girl. That business with the nightgown, for example. From the standpoint of a good Freudian, every writer (you and I among others) unconsciously uses symbols which are simply reeking with the poisonous sexual jungles of our early lives and our ancestries. What would a half-baked analyst make of that triangular scene between the girl, the young man, and the male dog—and the nightgown? Of the phallic symbolism and the fetishism in the dialog that followed? And all this in a book intended for young girls?

Honest, Alice Dalgliesh, I don't think that you write dirty books. But neither do I—and lay off my flat cats, will yuh? Your books and your characters are just as vulnerable to the sort of pseudoscientific criticism you have given mine as are mine. So lay off—before I haul Jinks into this argument.

About Freud: Look, Freud was not a scientist; he was simply a brilliant charlatan. He did not use scientific methodology, and his theories are largely unsubstantiated and are nowadays extremely suspect. From a practical standpoint the practitioners of his "psychoanalysis" have been notably unsuccessful in curing the mentally ill. Christian Science has done as well if not better—and is about as well grounded in scientific proof. I grant you that Freudian doctrine has had an aura of scientific respectability for the past generation, but that aura was unearned and more and more psychiatrists are turning away from Freud. I concede that, among other damages, Freud and his spectacular theories have helped to make the layman in our maladjusted culture extremely sensitive to sex symbols, real or false, and this situation must be taken into account by a writer. But we shouldn't go overboard in making concessions to this artificial situation, particularly because it is impossible to write any story in such a fashion that it will not bring a knowing leer to the face of a "good Freudian."

(Let's look at another aspect of the problem; it is to be hoped, I suppose, that the readers of your list of books will presently graduate to Scribner's trade books for adults. Let us suppose that I manage to keep my readers sealed in cellophane, sterile in vitro—then comes the day when they start reading other Scribner's books. I'll mention a few: Hemingway—with his painful reiteration of the emasculation theme—From Here to Eternity, which needs a glossary of taboo words to explain its taboo situations, Europa and Europa Revisited, which combine communist propaganda with pornography in a most curious fashion. I am not panning Scribner's adult list; my point is that the gradient from one list to the other can be ridiculously steep.)



With Starman Jones in 1953, Heinlein and Dalgliesh had fewer conflicts, though she still asked for changes.

When Max finds living with his new stepfather impossible, he leaves for Earthport, taking the books of navigation tables left by his uncle, a former officer on the interstellar ships, hoping to find work on the ships. But the board refuses, taking the books from him, but giving him the deposit money on them. Sam, a former spaceman, persuades him to use the money to get them false papers as crewmen.

Aboard the Asgard, his relationship to his uncle is discovered, and he is bumped to chartsman trainee. There he reveals that, with his trick memory, he's memorized all the tables. Then a mistake leaves the ship lost. The nearest planet has a dangerous life-form. All higher officers are dead and the navigation books are lost. Only Max's memory is able to bring the Asgard back to known space.

The future of Max as a spaceman and officer is assured.

March 24, 1953: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

[Scribner's] wants some minor changes in the novel [Starman Jones] and hopes you won't mind making them. These are limited to the first chapter and the last. In the first chapter, [Dalgliesh] says the stepfather sounds like the conventional pulp-paper villain, since he comes in and wants to beat the boy the first night he is married to the boy's mother. . . .

For the last chapter, she thinks that some of their readers wouldn't fully understand all that you are saying so briefly in the scene where the hero is back at the farm. How much time—earth time, that is—has elapsed? She also wants a bit more made of the fines, or whatever way the hero pays for the fact that he started out as a liar. It might help here if the powers that be keep the hero as an astrographer (sic) . . . because he had the moral fiber to admit his error and since then acted in every way as a man.

These aren't serious and I hope you won't mind making them.

March 25, 1953: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Now, about the changes Miss Dalgliesh wants: I think that it is necessary that [she] write directly to me, explaining in detail what changes she wants and why and specifically what she wants done to accomplish those changes. Offhand, she certainly has not asked for much; nevertheless, on the basis of what you have relayed to me, I am not convinced that the changes are either necessary or desirable.

. . . I don't say that I won't make this change [i.e., the "stepfather" change], but I do say that I am going to need a helluva lot of convincing . . . In my opinion it would badly damage the dramatic timing of the story to make this change. What I have now accomplished in six pages would, with the proposed revision, require tacking on a couple of chapters, change the opening from fast to very slow, and in particular (this is what I hate most) change the crisis in the boy's life from a dramatic case of having the rug jerked out from under him in a matter of minutes into a situation in which he simply becomes increasingly annoyed with an unpleasant situation.

* * *

The suggested revisions in the ending are not difficult, and the last chapter as I wrote it is certainly open to criticism. But (as usual!) I have comments. I kept that last chapter short because the story actually ends with the next to the last chapter, i.e., the character change is complete.



The Library Journal threatened to lambaste Heinlein if he didn't withdraw The Star Beast because of its suggestion that children could divorce their parents.

John Thomas Stuart XI has a pet-Lummox—brought back from a space trip by an ancestor. "Lummie" began as a tiny pet, but over the generations (by earth standards) has grown huge, and is everlastingly in trouble. Lummie's race locates him, and demands his return.

Mr. Kiku, Under-Secretary for Spatial Affairs, finds that Lummox has no wish to leave for his home without his "pet," John Thomas to return to her ancestral home . . . she has been raising "John Thomases" for a long time, and wishes to continue doing so . . .

August 27, 1953: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

. . . the new boys' book [The Star Beast] is, for the present, going nicely. I've gotten no farther than the first chapter, but that puts me over the worst hump. I had a pretty well worked out story with a juicy new extraterrestrial character but, while I thought it could be written and sold, I was not satisfied with the plot line. Things were in too low key, not enough action and not enough conflict. Ginny came up with a new way to start the story, which I believe has fixed that difficulty. In any case, I am writing it.

December 21, 1953: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein (Sent to Sydney, Australia)

Scribner's wants new title for book, Lummox (original title) still on stands as title of another book. Or a subtitle. Hopes this won't interfere with elbow-bending.

March 11, 1954: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein (Sent to Honolulu, Hawaii)

In conference with [Scribner's] about new book. Idea that children can divorce parents horrifies her. It would be bad for book club sales. But she loved book, and this is only complaint.

Editor's Note: Blassingame allowed changes (see letter of October 8, 1954).

October 8, 1954: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

As soon as I can get the travel book [Tramp Royal] out of the way I will start on a novel. It should be my annual boys' novel, but I may make it an adult novel instead. I am finding the nonsense connected with juveniles increasingly irksome. The latest is a hoorah over Star Beast which has occupied much too much of my time lately. It was not a business matter, so I did not bother you with it while it was going on—but it has left an extremely bad taste in my mouth and made me quite reluctant to continue the series with Scribner's. I have a full file on it but a brief summary will be enough to show my viewpoint: A Mr. Learned T. Bulman, reviewing it for the Library Journal, wrote Miss Dalgliesh a letter saying that I had "destroyed" the book by including the notion that children might be "divorced" from unsatisfactory parents through court action and placed in the hands of guardians; Mr. Bulman in effect demanded that the book be withdrawn and revised, under pain of being lambasted in the Library Journal.

(The man did not even seem to realize that the procedure referred to in my story was a legal and accepted part of our own social structure; the only new element lay in calling such a court action a "divorce.")

You will remember that Miss Dalgliesh had qualms about this point and got permission from you to revise as she saw fit during my absence. The published version is as she revised it. But, instead of answering Mr. Bulman and standing up for the book as she edited and published it, she conceded his whole case and tossed it in my lap—this, from her point of view, constitutes "defending" me.

I concede that she is a nice person in many ways, that she is a good editor and highly respected, and that she sells books to libraries. I readily concede that I might be much worse off with another juveniles editor. But what irks me are the very conditions of writing for kids at the present time. My books do not cause juvenile delinquency; I consider it irrelevant that horror comics and crime television (may possibly) do so. Obviously, the juvenile delinquency in some New York City public schools is disgraceful and dangerous—but to tackle the matter by searching for minute flaws in teenage trade books strikes me as silly and as inappropriate as treating cancer with hair tonic.

Yet this fluff-picking goes on with unhumorous zeal. Mr. Bulman wrote to me that he did not object to the idea of "divorce" for unfortunate children in itself, but that one of the characters was "flippant." This epitomizes the nature of the objections; these watchful guardians of youthful morals do not want live characters, they want plaster saints who never do anything naughty and who are always respectful toward all the shibboleths and taboos of our present-day, Heaven-ordained tribal customs.

I could write such books, of course—but the kids would not read them.

I feel that I am caught in a squeeze between the really difficult job of being more entertaining than a comic book or a TV show and the impossible task of doing the first while pleasing a bunch of carping elders whose whims and prejudices I am unable to anticipate. I realize that there is no way to get rid of these pipsqueak arbiters of morals and good taste—but I would prefer to think that I had the backing of my editor once said editor approved the final form of a book. I do not feel that I have it from Miss Dalgliesh.

In the first place, she seems to me to be overpoweringly anxious to appease these knotheads, and for reasons pragmatic rather than moral, i.e., she has told me repeatedly that she did not herself do this and that [it was done] because of librarians and teachers. I always followed her advice, although often most reluctantly as it seemed to me that the censoring was often trivial and silly—like calling a leg a "limb" so as not to shock dear old Aunt Mamie. I knew that the changes meant nothing at all in re the protecting of the morals of children—but I went along with her in such matters because it was represented as pragmatic economic necessity.

But when appeasement goes so far as to disavow me and my works instead of standing up for me, I get really burned up! This Bulman wrote to her, not to me. I think she should have told him politely to go to hell, i.e., that we were doing the best we could and that if he did not like it, it was unfortunate but we could not please everyone all the time. I think, too, that she could have told him that Scribner's published the book, believed in it, and stood behind it. I do not expect from her Olympian aloofness when the fight starts; I expect her to be partisan—on my side. She's my editor—and this attack comes from the outside directed at our joint production.

Instead she seems to follow the policy that "the customer is always right"—she promptly agreed with Bulman in his criticism and claimed (quite incorrectly) that the stuff he objected to had stayed in the book over her protests at my insistence. Then she "defended" me by making a mild plea for freedom of expression.

I do not know as yet whether I will do another juvenile book or not. If I decide to do another one, I do not know that I wish it to be submitted to Scribner's. I have taken great pride in being a Scribner's author, but that pride is all gone now that I have discovered that they are not proud of me.

I've had bids from other editors for my juveniles, one from a major house only two weeks ago. In the past I have given these overtures a polite no. Possibly I could now find an editor who takes a strong stand against this sort of nonsense . . . or possibly not. Miss Dalgliesh tells me that I will find that she is more broad-minded than most of the other juveniles editors, and she may well be right. This knuckling under to petty minds may be a common practice in the trade.

I've taken great pride in these juveniles. It seemed to me a worthwhile accomplishment to write wholesome stories which were able to compete with the lurid excitements of comic books. But I am really very weary of being required to wipe my feet and straighten my tie before being allowed in the house by those who stand between me and my juvenile readers. I am rather strongly inclined to let Mr. Bulman and his ilk write their own adventure stories for boys, since they know exactly how it should be done—and Miss Dalgliesh can edit them.

I have neglected adult writing in order never to miss getting my annual boys' books in on time . . . which has possibly been a mistake. But the response to the boys' series has been so warm that I have given them priority. But right now I am undecided whether to go ahead with them, or to drop them and concentrate on adult novels, where I can say what I think and treat any subject I please without being harassed by captious chaperones.

October 15, 1954: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

You're not in as much of a squeeze as you think. We'll have to see whether the Library Journal lambastes you, and sales. If sales stay up, the squeeze wasn't tight enough to hurt.



Lurton Blassingame thought that Tunnel in the Sky had "slick" possibilities. Heinlein had cracked the tough slick market with "The Green Hills of Earth."

The class in "Advanced Survival" is taking their final exam, but Rod and his class fail to return to earth, as the "gate" through which they went for the test failed to work. This is the story of how the youngsters really survive on another planet, uninhabited except for strange life species.

Rod becomes the leader of the group, which sets up its own encampment. They meet strange beasts, odd vegetation, and see how pioneers live.

October 25, 1954: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am starting a novel [Tunnel in the Sky] as soon as I finish this letter. That is to say, that I start walking up and down and swearing at the cat; I should start the first chapter any time between midnight tonight and two weeks from now.

Look, I did write to [Learned T.] Bulman just once and no more—I have not answered his answer and do not intend to. The thing that made writing to Bulman so extremely difficult and time wasting was that (Scribner's) had written to him also, conceding all of his objections, but telling him that she was writing to me and that I would explain where I stood. That is what made it so damn difficult—I have to write to him and refute his nonsense without calling her a prevaricator . . . or worse.

So far as I am concerned I have dropped the matter, do not intend to write to him again, and have not answered her last letter about it. But it is not out of my mind, as I feel equally strongly impelled to write another boys' book and not to write one. I like that series, am proud of it, and it has paid well, but I have a very sour taste about my relations with Scribner's. I agree that Miss Dalgliesh must sell books and should stay on as good terms with librarians as possible, but it does not strike me as good business to kowtow to everything that any librarian wants.

December 11, 1954: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Just a quick report—

I finished boys' book Tunnel in the Sky at 3 a.m. today. Must be cut and retyped; ms. should be in your hands by end of January.

December 31, 1954: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Schoolhouse in the Sky [Tunnel in the Sky] went out to be smooth-typed yesterday. I expect to have it in Miss Dalgliesh's hands by 26 January, as requested.

January 24, 1955: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Herewith are the table of contents and the word count on Schoolhouse in the Sky [Tunnel in the Sky]; they were squeezed out yesterday in catching an air express dispatch in order to put the first copy in Miss Dalgliesh's hands as early as possible. . . . It is not exactly a juvenile, although I've kept it cleaned up so that it can pass as a juvenile. It is not the ordinary run of science fiction, either. I don't know what it is . . . well, it's a story.

I hope this reaches you before you have read it, because I want your expert help on one feature. The story has quite a lot of hunting in it. As you know, I know very little about hunting—but I am strongly aware of how easily one can lose the reader through small mistakes that break empathy. If you find anything which you feel does not ring true, will you please point it out to me and I will rewrite as directed to correct the fault.

February 1, 1955: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I am surprised and pleased to hear that you think Schoolhouse [Tunnel in the Sky] may have slick possibilities. I am still more surprised that you passed the hunting scenes without suggesting changes. (I would be most happy to make such changes.) I did not use a central nonhuman character in this book because the book is filled with the killing of animals . . . all perfectly legitimate, of course, but I was afraid of questionable empathy if I let this story shift at any point to a nonhuman viewpoint in view of the necessity of showing them killing for meat. In my next one I will no doubt have a successor to Willis, Lummox, etc.

In the meantime, I have been hung up for a solid week on the new adult novel. It is the Man-from-Mars idea that I first talked about several years ago. It is an idea as difficult as it is strong and one I have had trouble with twice before. If I don't break the logjam soon I'll put it aside and write a different novel. I am not especially distressed about it; if I don't whip it this time, I will some other time, and I expect to deliver an adult novel some time early this year, either this one or another one.



Time For the Stars, Scribner's, 1956. Cover art by Clifford N. Geary. Dalgliesh thought that the hero might be too old for a juvenile novel.

Tom and Pat are identical twins. When tested by the Long Range Foundation, they are found to be telepathically linked. Thus, eventually, Tom is chosen to go to the stars on a torch ship, reporting back to Pat, who remains on Earth (investing their combinedincomes and building in time a financial empire). At almost light speed, time is slowed enormously—as Einstein showed—so Tom seems to stay young while Pat ages. Eventually, Tom can no longer contact his twin, but by then can contact Pat's daughter—and then granddaughter and finally, Vicki, Pat's great-granddaughter. The ship explores new worlds, but finally cannot go on. Then they are rescued by the first faster-than-light ship, made possible by what the ship has revealed of time. Back on Earth, Tom finds Pat is a very old man. But Vicki is just the right age!

December 13, 1955: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I have finished the new Scribner's book, Time for the Stars, and it is today being started by the typist. I expect to send you ms. in January, which should be plenty of time to try to sell serial rights.

Please do not tell Miss Dalgliesh I have finished it, or she will want to see it early—and I don't want her to have any more time to second-guess than her schedule requires. If she asks about it, please tell her that you understand I have it in process and that you are sure that I will be on time as usual . . . all of which is the literal truth.

March 9, 1956: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Now, about Time for the Stars. I don't feel strongly about it at all. If [Dalgliesh] wants to cut some of the opening, she is welcome to do so. If she prefers to have me cut it, tell her to send the chapters she wants cut back to me with specific instructions as to just what parts she wants eliminated and just how many words she wants taken out. Or she can do it herself, if she prefers.

I don't understand the criticism about age group appeal. She complained that I had lost them the Armed Services market in Rolling Stones by making the twins two years under draft age when the story opened, even though they were eighteen when the story closed. So in this story I very carefully made the boy just graduating from high school with an implied age of eighteen—and he is too old, she tells me.

Is Stover at Yale no good for high school kids just because the hero is old enough to be in college?

I can make my central character any age she wants at the opening of the story. But it can only be one age. If she will tell me what age she thinks is best for the market, I can tailor the central character of my next book to fit. But I can't make him simultaneously of draft age and of junior high school age. Nor can I keep him from growing up as the story progresses without limiting myself to a simple action story spanning not more than a few weeks. This is difficult to do in space-travel stories—but I can do it if she wants it.



Alice Dalgliesh considered Citizen of the Galaxy to be Heinlein's best book.

Thorby is a slave, abducted as an infant and suffering all a slave's mistreatment for years. Now he is sold again, this time on Sargon to Baslim, a beggar. But Baslim treats him well, frees him, adopts him, and teaches him all a beggar's tricks. Baslim, he slowly realizes, is really an intelligence agent in a war against slavery. Then Baslim's work is discovered and he is eliminated.

Thorby finds safety for two years among the Free Traders and learns their ways. Then he is taken to the Guard and enlisted. But then he is identified as the lost heir of one of Earth's most powerful families—one secretly supplying the slavers!

It takes more time to learn new ways. Then he forces out the crooked managers and takes over—to use his wealth and life fighting the slave trade.


Citizen of the Galaxy was also serialized in Astounding from September to December 1957, but there were some differences from the Scribner's book edition. Here, cover art by Van Dongen.

December 11, 1956: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

I have completed a draft of the next novel [Citizen of the Galaxy] intended for Scribner's. The present title is The Chains and the Stars. It ran considerably too long, so I have two or three weeks of cutting to do on it. I hope to have the chewed-up copy in the hands of a typist by Christmas, which should enable me to place a copy of it for possible serial sale in your hands around the middle of January. The Scribner's copy will meet Miss Dalgliesh's deadline (what date this year?), but I will send it later, as I want to cut and slant the serial (adult) version slightly differently from the Scribner's (juvenile) version. As usual, it is an ambivalent story, actually adult in nature but concerning a boy and with no sex in it that even Great Aunt Agatha could object to. But I am going to try this time to improve it a little for each market with some changes in emphasis.

February 8, 1957: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Alice Dalgliesh says Citizen Robert's best story to date.

February 28, 1957: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

No more cutting on Citizen—it's a tight story, more can't be taken out. Miss Dalgliesh wants one very small cut, about organized religion.

May 17, 1957: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Thanks for the suggestion about submitting plots for approval to Miss Dalgliesh, but we tried that once or twice and it just caused trouble; she approved the plots in outline but not when she saw the story, even though I had stuck to the plot line. This caused the biggest hassles I've had with her, over Red Planet. . . which has merely turned out to be her biggest seller of the list, even though I refused all of the changes she wanted where they differed from the approved plot. No, if I ever submit to her another story, it will be sight unseen till then and take it or leave it. I know I have not made clear why two changes, admittedly easy and unimportant, threw me into a spin and lost me ten days working time, cum much anguish. I don't know that I can explain it, but it is true. Part of the reason lies in that Chicago lecture of mine you read recently: [Mark Reinsberg arranged this as a seminar of four lectures, which were published as The Science Fiction Novel by Advent Publishers]. I necessarily write science fiction by one theory, the theory of extrapolation and change—but once it reaches the editor (in this case) it is tested by an older theory, the notion that this our culture is essentially perfect and I must not tinker with any part of it which is dear to any possible critic who may see the story. These things have now added up to the point where I feel unable to continue. I may write another. I don't know yet. I can't until some of the depression wears off. But I don't know how to tell her that I probably won't deliver the story she is expecting—I've tried six or eight times, wasted many days, and all the ways I can express it either sound rude or inadequate. I know this sounds silly, but it is true.



Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Scribner's, 1958, became a Heinlein classic.

While Kip Russell is trying out the repairs he has made on the space suit he won in a soaf contest, he hears a voice over his radio: "PeeWee to Junebug!" And he is off on an adventure with PeeWee and the Mother Thing to the stars.

Set down on Pluto, the Mother Thing attempts to communicate with her people, but fails, and Kip must go outside in blistering cold to rescue her. They are then taken to the Lesser Magellanic Cloud where, together with a Roman centurion, lunio, PeeWee, and Kip are put on trial to defend the human race before a tribunal of a highly civilized race.

* * *

November 8, 1957: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Here are three copies of my new novel for Scribner's Have Space Suit—Will Travel. They are intended (I hope) for trade book, American serial, and British serial.

November 19, 1957: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Have Space Suit—Will Travel is a fine story . . . enjoyed all of it.

December 6, 1957: Lurton Blassingame to Robert A. Heinlein

Scribner's enthusiastic about the book.

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