Uncovering the Hidden Magic of Perennial Young Adult Literature

Cover for Secrets of the Heinlein Juvenile

Starting in 1948, Robert A. Heinlein wrote a series of science fiction novels for teenage boys—the first of the genre ever written specifically for Young Adults.

In the seventy-odd years since, the Heinlein Juveniles served as perennial points of entry to generations of science fiction fans.

They’ve inspired future authors, astronauts, physicists, and entrepreneurs towards feats of genius that daily enrich our world—from books like Ender’s Game and Alanna: The First Adventure, to the X-Prize (started by Heinlein fan Peter Diamandis and prefigured in Heinlein’s first Juvenile Rocketship Galileo), to the reusable rocketships built by SpaceX (founded by Heinlein fan Elon Musk), to the work of many of the scientists we see on programs like Nova. Of all other fiction from the era written for the teenage audience, perhaps only Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time has proved as evergreen, (if not as influential).

What made them so influential? What made them last? And what secret tools do they hold that writers, teachers, and students of literature might discover and learn to use themselves?

You hold in your hand the first attempt to answer these questions. This volume delves into the story of the Heinlein juveniles, their historical context, their conception and execution, their themes and concerns, their quirky moral vision, and the literary traditions and authorial quirks that led to their construction, and how they eventually created a new literary form that many writers have attempted, but very few have successfully executed. If you’re a writer looking to create lasting Young Adult fiction in any genre, a teacher or homeschool leader who wants to inculcate a love of reading, or genre buff or a Heinlein fan, this book will take you through the looking glass on some of the most influential books of the twentieth century and show you the secrets of building culture in service of the future.

Books covered in this study:

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