All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein (1958)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror May 5, 2015
Times zones, a hermaphrodite, a barkeep that is a temporal agent for the “bureau,” and a time machine. This sci-fi short story by Robert Heinlein is a mesmerizing one. The title “zombies” didn’t mean the same thing in 1958 that it does these days. We are at Pop’s Place in 1970 and in walks a man who identifies himself as a magazine writer of true confessions by the name of “unmarried mother.” The barkeep is fascinated, but he clearly knows more than he’s willing to reveal about “unmarried mother.”
Read this story once and you’ll have lots of questions. Read this story twice and you find it has layered mysteries. The action loops (that is not to say it’s loopy although I wanted to call it that during the second reading). A third reading, and yeah some things began to fall into place. I am not an avid sci-fi reader but this one was amazing.
Here’s a line that really got me: “The Snake That Eats Its Own Tail, Forever and Ever. I know where I came from – but where did all you zombies come from?”
Try watching the film Predesination with Ethan Hawke.
Robert Heinlein is said to be one of the best fiction writers of all time. He was awarded the first SFWA Grand Master Nebula Award in 1975.
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