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Expanded Universe

Robert A. Heinlein

  Expanded Universe

  Robert A. Heinlein

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 1980 by, 2003 by The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust

  Life-Line © 1939 by Street & Smith Pubs. Inc., ©1967 Robert A. Heinlein; Blowups Happen © 1940 by Street & Smith Pubs., Inc., © 1967 Robert A. Heinlein; Solution Unsatisfactory © by Street & Smith Pubs., Inc., © 1968 Robert A. Heinlein; They Do It With Mirrors © by Better Publications, Inc., © 1974 Robert A. Heinlein; Free Men © 1966 Robert A. Heinlein; No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying— © 1973 Mankind Publishing Co.; Nothing Ever Happens on the Moon © Boy Scouts of America, © 1976 Robert A Heinlein; Pandora's Box, A different version under the title of Where To?, © 1952 by Galaxy Publishing Corp.; Cliff and the Calories © Teens Institute, Inc. 1950, © 1977 Robert A. Heinlein; The Third Millennium Opens © 1956 Ziff Davis; "Pravda" Means "Truth" © 1960 American Mercury; Searchlight © 1962 by Carson Roberts, Inc.; The Pragmatics of Patriotism © 1973 Conde Nast Publications, Inc.; Paul Dirac, Antimatter, and You © F. E. Compton Company, a division of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 1975

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

  A Baen Book

  Baen Publishing Enterprises

  P.O. Box 1403

  Riverdale, NY 10471

  ISBN: 0-7434-7159-8

  Cover art by Stephen Hickman

  First Baen printing, October 2003

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Heinlein, Robert A. (Robert Anson), 1907–1988

  Expanded universe / by Robert A. Heinlein.

  p. cm.

  ISBN 0-7434-7159-8 (hardcover)

  1. Science fiction, American. I. Title.

  PS3515.E288E96 2003

  813'.54—dc22 2003014260

  Distributed by Simon & Schuster

  1230 Avenue of the Americas

  New York, NY 10020

  Production by Windhaven Press, Auburn, NH

  Printed in the United States of America


  Beyond This Horizon

  Orphans of the Sky

  Assignment in Eternity

  Farnham's Freehold

  Glory Road

  The Green Hills of Earth

  The Man Who Sold the Moon

  The Menace From Earth

  Podkayne of Mars

  Revolt in 2100 & Methuselah's Children

  Sixth Column

  Expanded Universe


  To William Targ

  Warning! Truth in advertising requires me to tell you that this volume contains The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein, published 1966. But this new volume is about three times as long. It contains fiction stories that have never before appeared in book form, nonfiction articles not available elsewhere, a 30-year updating on my 1950 prognostications (as well as the 15-year updating that appeared in The Worlds of R.A.H.), with the usual weasel-worded excuses as to why I guessed wrong—and (ruffles & flourishes) not one but two scenarios for the year 2000, one for people who like happy endings and another for people who can take bad news without a quiver—as long as it happens to somebody else.

  On these I will do a really free-swinging job as the probability (by a formula I just now derived) that either I or this soi-disant civilization will be extinct by 2000 A.D. approaches 99.92+%. This makes it unlikely that I will again have to explain my mistakes.

  But do not assume that I will be the one extinct. My great-great-great-grandfather Lawrence Heinlein died prematurely at the age of ninety-seven, through having carelessly left his cabin one winter morning without his gun—and found a buck deer on the ice of his pond. Lack of his gun did not stop my triple-great-grandfather; this skinful of meat must not be allowed to escape. He went out on the ice and bulldogged the buck, quite successfully.

  But in throwing the deer my ancestor slipped on the ice, went down, and a point of the buck's rack stabbed between his ribs and pierced his heart.

  No doubt it taught him a lesson—it certainly taught me one. So far I've beaten the odds three times: continued to live when the official prognosis called for something less active. So I intend to be careful—not chopped down in my prime the way my ancestor was. I shan't bulldog any buck deer, or cross against the lights, or reach barehanded into dark places favored by black widow spiders, or—most especially!—leave my quarters without being adequately armed.

  Perhaps the warmest pleasure in life is the knowledge that one has no enemies. The easiest way to achieve this is by outliving them. No action is necessary; time wounds all heels.

  In this peaceful crusade I have been surprisingly successful; most of those rascals are dead . . . and three of the survivors are in very poor health. The curve seems to indicate that by late 1984 I won't have an enemy anywhere in the world.

  Of course someone else may appoint himself my enemy (all my enemies are self-appointed) but I would not expect such an unlikely event to affect the curve much. There appears to be some unnamed ESP force at work here; the record shows that it is not healthy to hate me.

  I don't have anything to do with this. The character can be more than a thousand miles away, with me doing my utter best to follow Sergeant Dogberry's advice; nevertheless it happens: He starts losing weight, suffering from insomnia and from nightmares, headaches, stomach trouble, and, after a bit, he starts hearing voices.

  The terminal stages vary greatly. Anyhow, they are unpleasant and I should not be writing about such things as I am supposed to be writing a blurb that will persuade you to buy this book despite the fact that nearly a third of it is copy you may have seen before.

  Aside from this foreword the items in this book are arranged in the order in which written, each with a comment as to how and why it was written (money, usually, but also— Well, money)—then a bridging comment telling what I was writing or doing between that item and the next.

  The span is forty years. But these are not my memoirs of those four decades. The writing business is not such as to evoke amusing memoirs (yes, I do mean you and you and you and especially you). A writer spends his professional time in solitary confinement, refusing to accept telephone calls and declining to see visitors, surrounded by a dreary forest of reference books and somewhat-organized papers. The high point of his day is the breathless excitement of waiting for the postman. (The low point is usually immediately thereafter.)

  How can one write entertaining memoirs about such an occupation? Answer: By writing about what this scrivener did when not writing, or by resorting to fiction, or both. Usually both.

  I could write entertaining memoirs about things I did when not writing. I shan't do so because a) I hope those incidents have been forgotten, or b) I hope that any not forgotten are covered by the statute of limitations.

  Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this. The fiction is plainly marked fiction; the nonfiction is as truthful as I can make it—and here and there, tucked into space that would otherwise be blank are anecdotes and trivia ranging from edifying to outrageous.

  Each copy is guaranteed—or double your money back—to be printed on genuine paper of enough pages to hold the covers apart.

  —R.A.H., 1980



  The beginning of 1939 found me flat broke following a disastrous political campaign (I ran a strong second best, but in politics there are no prizes for place or show). I was highly skilled in ordnance, gunnery, and fire control for Naval vessels, a skill for which there was no demand ashore—and
I had a piece of paper from the Secretary of the Navy telling me that I was a waste of space—"totally and permanently disabled" was the phraseology. I "owned" a heavily-mortgaged house.

  About then Thrilling Wonder Stories ran a house ad reading (more or less):

  GIANT PRIZE CONTEST—Amateur Writers!!!!!!

  First Prize $50 Fifty Dollars $50

  In 1939 one could fill three station wagons with fifty dollars worth of groceries. Today I can pick up fifty dollars in groceries unassisted—perhaps I've grown stronger. So I wrote the story "Life-Line." It took me four days—I am a slow typist. But I did not send it to Thrilling Wonder; I sent it to Astounding, figuring they would not be so swamped with amateur short stories.

  Astounding bought it . . . for $70, or $20 more than that "Grand Prize"—and there was never a chance that I would ever again look for honest work.

  The chairman rapped loudly for order. Gradually the catcalls and boos died away as several self-appointed sergeants-at-arms persuaded a few hot-headed individuals to sit down. The speaker on the rostrum by the chairman seemed unaware of the disturbance. His bland, faintly insolent face was impassive. The chairman turned to the speaker and addressed him in a voice in which anger and annoyance were barely restrained.

  "Dr. Pinero"—the "Doctor" was faintly stressed—"I must apologize to you for the unseemly outburst during your remarks. I am surprised that my colleagues should so far forget the dignity proper to men of science as to interrupt a speaker, no matter"—he paused and set his mouth—"no matter how great the provocation." Pinero smiled in his face, a smile that was in some way an open insult. The chairman visibly controlled his temper and continued: "I am anxious that the program be concluded decently and in order. I want you to finish your remarks. Nevertheless, I must ask you to refrain from affronting our intelligence with ideas that any educated man knows to be fallacious. Please confine yourself to your discovery—if you have made one."

  Pinero spread his fat, white hands, palms down. "How can I possibly put a new idea into your heads, if I do not first remove your delusions?"

  The audience stirred and muttered. Someone shouted from the rear of the hall: "Throw the charlatan out! We've had enough."

  The chairman pounded his gavel.

  "Gentlemen! Please!"

  Then to Pinero, "Must I remind you that you are not a member of this body, and that we did not invite you?"

  Pinero's eyebrows lifted. "So? I seem to remember an invitation on the letterhead of the Academy."

  The chairman chewed his lower lip before replying. "True, I wrote that invitation myself. But it was at the request of one of the trustees—a fine, public-spirited gentleman, but not a scientist, not a member of the Academy."

  Pinero smiled his irritating smile. "So? I should have guessed. Old Bidwell, not so, of Amalgamated Life Insurance? And he wanted his trained seals to expose me as a fraud, yes? For if I can tell a man the day of his own death, no one will buy his pretty policies. But how can you expose me, if you will not listen to me first? Even supposing you had the wit to understand me? Bah! He has sent jackals to tear down a lion." He deliberately turned his back on them.

  The muttering of the crowd swelled and took on a vicious tone. The chairman cried vainly for order. There arose a figure in the front row.

  "Mr. Chairman!"

  The chairman grasped the opening and shouted: "Gentlemen! Dr. Van Rhein-Smitt has the floor." The commotion died away.

  The doctor cleared his throat, smoothed the forelock of his beautiful white hair, and thrust one hand into a side pocket of his smartly tailored trousers. He assumed his women's-club manner.

  "Mr. Chairman, fellow members of the Academy of Science, let us have tolerance. Even a murderer has the right to say his say before the State exacts its tribute. Shall we do less? Even though one may be intellectually certain of the verdict? I grant Dr. Pinero every consideration that should be given by this august body to any unaffiliated colleague, even though"—he bowed slightly in Pinero's direction—"we may not be familiar with the university which bestowed his degree. If what he has to say is false, it cannot harm us. If what he has to say is true, we should know it." His mellow, cultivated voice rolled on, soothing and calming. "If the eminent doctor's manner appears a trifle inurbane for our tastes, we must bear in mind that the doctor may be from a place, or a stratum, not so meticulous in these matters. Now our good friend and benefactor has asked us to hear this person and carefully assess the merit of his claims. Let us do so with dignity and decorum."

  He sat down to a rumble of applause, comfortably aware that he had enhanced his reputation as an intellectual leader. Tomorrow the papers would again mention the good sense and persuasive personality of "America's Handsomest University President." Who knows; maybe now old Bidwell would come through with that swimming-pool donation.

  When the applause had ceased, the chairman turned to where the center of the disturbance sat, hands folded over his little round belly, face serene.

  "Will you continue, Dr. Pinero?"

  "Why should I?"

  The chairman shrugged his shoulders. "You came for that purpose."

  Pinero arose. "So true. So very true. But was I wise to come? Is there anyone here who has an open mind, who can stare a bare fact in the face without blushing? I think not. Even that so-beautiful gentleman who asked you to hear me out has already judged me and condemned me. He seeks order, not truth. Suppose truth defies order, will he accept it? Will you? I think not. Still, if I do not speak, you will win your point by default. The little man in the street will think that you little men have exposed me, Pinero, as a hoaxer, a pretender.

  "I will repeat my discovery. In simple language, I have invented a technique to tell how long a man will live. I can give you advance billing of the Angel of Death. I can tell you when the Black Camel will kneel at your door. In five minutes' time, with my apparatus, I can tell any of you how many grains of sand are still left in your hourglass." He paused and folded his arms across his chest. For a moment no one spoke. The audience grew restless.

  Finally the chairman intervened. "You aren't finished, Dr. Pinero?"

  "What more is there to say?"

  "You haven't told us how your discovery works."

  Pinero's eyebrows shot up. "You suggest that I should turn over the fruits of my work for children to play with? This is dangerous knowledge, my friend. I keep it for the man who understands it, myself." He tapped his chest.

  "How are we to know that you have anything back of your wild claims?"

  "So simple. You send a committee to watch me demonstrate. If it works, fine. You admit it and tell the world so. If it does not work, I am discredited, and will apologize. Even I, Pinero, will apologize."

  A slender, stoop-shouldered man stood up in the back of the hall. The chair recognized him and he spoke.

  "Mr. Chairman, how can the eminent doctor seriously propose such a course? Does he expect us to wait around for twenty or thirty years for someone to die and prove his claims?"

  Pinero ignored the chair and answered directly.

  "Pfui! Such nonsense! Are you so ignorant of statistics that you do not know that in any large group there is at least one who will die in the immediate future? I make you a proposition. Let me test each one of you in this room, and I will name the man who will die within the fortnight, yes, and the day and hour of his death." He glanced fiercely around the room. "Do you accept?"

  Another figure got to his feet, a portly man who spoke in measured syllables. "I, for one, cannot countenance such an experiment. As a medical man, I have noted with sorrow the plain marks of serious heart trouble in many of our older colleagues. If Dr. Pinero knows those symptoms, as he may, and were he to select as his victim one of their number, the man so selected would be likely to die on schedule, whether the distinguished speaker's mechanical egg timer works or not."

  Another speaker backed him up at once. "Dr. Shepard is right. Why should we waste time on voodoo tricks? It is my bel
ief that this person who calls himself Dr. Pinero wants to use this body to give his statements authority. If we participate in this farce, we play into his hands. I don't know what his racket is, but you can bet that he has figured out some way to use us for advertising his schemes. I move, Mr. Chairman, that we proceed with our regular business."

  The motion carried by acclamation, but Pinero did not sit down. Amidst cries of "Order! Order!" he shook his untidy head at them, and had his say.

  "Barbarians! Imbeciles! Stupid dolts! Your kind have blocked the recognition of every great discovery since time began. Such ignorant canaille are enough to start Galileo spinning in his grave. That fat fool down there twiddling his elk's tooth calls himself a medical man. Witch doctor would be a better term! That little bald-headed runt over there— You! You style yourself a philosopher, and prate about life and time in your neat categories. What do you know of either one? How can you ever learn when you won't examine the truth when you have a chance? Bah!" He spat upon the stage. "You call this an Academy of Science. I call it an undertakers' convention, interested only in embalming the ideas of your red-blooded predecessors."

  He paused for breath and was grasped on each side by two members of the platform committee and rushed out the wings. Several reporters arose hastily from the press table and followed him. The chairman declared the meeting adjourned.

  * * *

  The newspapermen caught up with Pinero as he was going out by the stage door. He walked with a light, springy step, and whistled a little tune. There was no trace of the belligerence he had shown a moment before. They crowded about him. "How about an interview, doc?" "What d'yuh think of modern education?" "You certainly told 'em. What are your views on life after death?" "Take off your hat, doc, and look at the birdie."