Robert Heinlein was the first science fiction author that I read. Not read as in one book or one story, but read as in going to the library (pre-Amazon days), finding every single piece of his work, and checking them all out early in the summer and using those long, hot days by the YMCA pool to work through what is essentially the sci-fi canon. In the 35 or so intervening years I’ve taken the same approach to Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, Charles Stross, Greg Bear, and others, but Heinlein definitely imprinted a love of the genre.
Scalzi has a blog entry about Heinlein as seen through a new biography of his life, as part of Tor’s online forum dedicated to Heinlein. What I liked about Scalzi’s commentary was the way in which he captured Heinlein’s bad days as a writer. When I half-joked about crossing “writer” off of the potential career list, I did so knowing that there are authors who are more prolific and creative than me, and many late-night slots, plane trips and hours spent in proximity to outdoor water are made wonderful because of them. I never thought that being a writer meant having a bad day at the office. Scalzi shines the same light on science fiction authorship that Rush drummer Neil Peart aims at the rock and rock lifestyle in Road Show.