The Heinlein Centennial Convention


An Old Friend
Dec 6, 2004
Gulf Coast
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]A hundred years of Heinlein [/font]
[font=verdana,arial,sans-serif]Plans were announced today for a convention to be held in Kansas City, Missouri to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of American SF author Robert Heinlein.[/font]

[font=verdana,arial,sans-serif]Heinlein's birth on 7/7/1907 will be celebrated on the weekend of 7/6 - 7/8/2007, with a series of events on the centennial day, Saturday, 7/7/2007.

The Heinlein Centennial Convention will be an event celebrating Heinlein's life, works and influence. Around 3,000 professional and amateur attendees from the US and around the world are expected to participate in tracks focusing on Heinlein's contributions to science fiction, American literature, the American aerospace industry and commercial development of space, and film and television.

The Hyatt Regency Crown Center & Westin Crown Center hotels, adjacent to the Crown Center complex in downtown Kansas City, have been selected as the site of the Heinlein Centennial Convention. All three venues will host various Convention events. The convention is sponsored and organized by Heinlein Centennial, Inc., a California nonprofit corporation.

Robert Anson Heinlein, born in Butler, Missouri on July 7, 1907, became known by the 1940s as one of the premier writers of speculative fiction and was later widely credited as an influence on postwar American literature and the US space program. Heinlein grew up in Kansas City and later attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was commissioned with a background in naval engineering in 1929 and served as a line naval officer until his medical discharge in 1934.

Heinlein worked at a variety of trades, including grassroots political work, until 1939, when he turned to writing as a profession. Within two years, he was one of the most highly regarded authors in science fiction. During World War II, he returned to naval aircraft engineering as a civilian, spending the war years at the Naval Air Experimental Station in Philadelphia.

It was in the decades immediately following the war that Heinlein wrote the works for which he is most highly regarded, including the award-winning and controversial novels Starship Troopers (1959) and Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), the latter of which introduced the word "grok" to the language and strongly influenced the counterculture of the 1960s. He also wrote twelve novels for young adults that helped redefine and refine the notion of "juvenile literature," and some 40 other important novels and book-length works. Several of his novels have been turned into feature films, with his other works in frequent option for development.

Robert Heinlein died on May 8, 1988 in Carmel, California, leaving a substantial literary and philosophical legacy that was managed by his widow Virginia until her death in 2003, and is now managed by the Heinlein Prize Trust (, among whose aims is to continue Heinlein's lifetime championing of space progress by presenting the US$500,000 "Heinlein Prize" for advances in commercial space development. Heinlein also left millions of readers and admirers worldwide, with his works translated into most of the world's major languages. Seventeen years after his death, the majority of his published works are still in print and selling briskly.

Much more than a "science fiction writer," Robert Heinlein was an American philosopher and thinker. His impact can be discerned in postwar through present-day American fiction, current political circles, and perhaps most importantly, on the US space program. His writings from 1945 through 1960 are credited with influencing a generation of engineers that went on to build Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and the Space Shuttle. Near the end of his life, he was still involved with space policy, contributing to discussions on the military uses of space.

Heinlein Centennial Inc. is a nonprofit organization formed to help further understanding and appreciation of Robert Heinlein's contributions to literature, aerospace development, politics and society. The Heinlein Centennial Convention is the keystone of its initial efforts, which also include plans to develop documentary material about Heinlein's life and work, and to help scholars and researchers build on the existing legacy of understanding.

Board Chairman William H. Patterson Jr is in his second term as Heinlein Scholar at University of California, Santa Cruz, where Heinlein's working materials are archived. He is the co-author of The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (Nitrosyncretic Press, 2001), and the official Heinlein biographer, with the first volume of the work now in press. He currently resides in Santa Cruz, California.

Board Secretary/Treasurer James Gifford has been involved in the study of Heinlein's work for more than a decade. He is the founder and principal of Nitrosyncretic Press ( and the author of the Hugo Award nominee Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion (Nitrosyncretic Press, 2000), an annotated bibliography of Heinlein's works. He resides in Sacramento, California.

Also on the Convention Executive Committee, which is responsible for shaping the Centennial Convention's events and content, are Alan Koslow, M.D., of Des Moines, Iowa (and Peter Scott of Victoria, British Columbia. An array of support people, celebrities, scholars and engineers are involved with the development of the Heinlein Centennial Convention. An expanded list of involved parties, chairpersons and speakers, as well as a preliminary schedule of events, will be released soon.

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