About Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 - May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular and respected science fiction authors of the 20th Century. By setting a high standard for science and engineering plausibility, he helped raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first writer to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s with unvarnished science fiction. He was also among the first authors of bestselling novel-length science fiction in the modern mass-market era.
Four of Heinlein's novels (Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) won Hugo Awards in the years they were published. In 2001, another novel (Farmer in the Sky) and a novella (The Man Who Sold the Moon) received "Retro Hugos&qut; for the year 1951, and the movie Destination Moon, which was based on a Heinlein story, received the "Retro Hugo" for best dramatic presentation. He was the first writer to be named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America for lifetime achievement.
Heinlein was known as the "Dean of Science Fiction Writers," but he was much more. He was a philanthropist who helped many charitable causes and individuals. When asked how he could be repaid for his help, he would reply, "You can't pay me back, you have to pay it forward."
One cause that was of great importance to him was blood donation. Having a rare blood type himself (AB+), he was a frequent donor and a supporter of the National Rare Blood Club, which was an integral part of his novel I Will Fear No Evil. In 1976, at the 34th World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, he helped organize the first of many science fiction convention blood drives. In 1977, he did the same at the San Diego Comic-Con, and 2016 marks the 40th year of the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Blood Drive as an integral part of that event, and the 10th year at WonderCon.
The Heinlein Society was formed in 2000 to preserve the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein by "paying it forward." One of the ways the society is doing this is by promoting blood donation around the world. The group began this effort with an Internet blood drive, encouraging fans to donate at their local blood banks and send their names to the society to be entered into its honor roll, presented to the late Mrs. Virginia Heinlein.
In 2001, at the 59th World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, the society sponsored its first onsite blood drive, with the Red Cross collecting 60 units of blood. Since then the organization has sponsored more than 170 drives, generating more than 26,000 units of blood and saving potentially tens of thousands of lives.
You can learn more about Robert Heinlein and the Heinlein Society at www.heinleinsociety.org. Please join us in "paying it forward" by donating blood at WonderCon.