Book Review: All You Zombies and Other Stories by Robert A. Heinlein

A small collection of weird short stories with sci-fi elements. The tone of the stories reminded me of Ray Bradbury, maybe because there was this slightly off-beat and melancholia to them. All the stories ponder some sort of concept and run away with it to play; I love that because you can see the openness of Heinlein to all the possibilities of reality and human variety. That’s why I have always loved science fiction: the openness to all. In sci-fi, all humans, whatever form they come, are accepted and lifted to the center of the story as fully formed and loved actors. For example, in this collection, All You Zombies don’t shy away from playing with both time travel and gender. I can say no more to ruin the story for you. Oh, of course, we can see some of the dust of the decades compared to how things have changed, but with Heinlein and most old-school sci-fi writers, you can see the compassion and inclusion for all.

There are five stories in this collection. All of them are relatively short. I went in wanting to read All You Zombies, but I fell in love with “They—” and “—And He Built a Crooked House”. That’s because time travel doesn’t currently tickle my nerves. With They—, I loved the dichotomy of insane and sane. Again I would love to rant about medical conditions connected to this short story and how Heinlein has played with it here, but I would give away too much. With the —And He Built a Crooked House, Heinlein combined my two favorite things: M. C. Escher’s pictures and space and time continuum. Our Fair City was an okay read. I liked the political aspect of it and the tongue-cheek tone. Last, there was The Man Who Traveled with Elephants with a bitter-sweet story of love and creating the life you want for yourself. I love the idea, but for some reason, the story itself doesn’t speak to me. Maybe it was not the right time for me, or I was too distracted when I read it. 

Like with all short story collections, there are hits and misses, but I wonder here if I was more biased towards some, not because of the quality but because of my current mood. I love Heinlein’s writing style. It has always worked for me. There is this dreamy quality to it, and he always throws in some concept you can contemplate. Just the way I like my stories.

Thank you for reading, and have a beautiful day ❤ 

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