All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein

A story stranger than fiction

“I’m going to tell you the strangest story you ever heard.”

Thus opens a famous fantasy story by Robert A. Heinlein. How could I not read the original story after watching the movie version entitled, Predestination?

As we watched the first fifteen minutes of Predestination (streaming on Netflix), my friend related, “Oh, I read this story as a teen. I think this is the same story. Back then, I thought it was the best short story I had ever read. I think this is it.” After watching for another ten minutes, he paused the movie to explain that the story and characters came from Robert A. Heinlein.

A short fantasy fiction entitled, “All You Zombies.”

Available on Amazon
What is predestination?
"Learner's definition of PREDESTINATION: the belief that everything that will happen has already been decided by God or fate and cannot be changed" Merriam Webster, anEnglish Language Learners Dictionary

pre·des·ti·na·tion prēˌdestəˈnāSH(ə)n/ Google
noun (as a doctrine in Christian theology) the divine foreordaining of all that will happen, especially with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Calvin.”

The subject of predestination, as an article of Christian faith, ruled my life. As a bookish child, I read often. Looking back, my study of the Bible had been colored by the church I attended. I began attending Sunday morning services with my beloved grandmother, Alice. I remained in that church from eight years old until the age of fifteen. As a solemn introvert and serious thinker, I attended Wednesday night Bible study along with friends. As preteens go, we lived in our heads and looked like nerds. In mid-week Bible study, we discussed the idea of predestination. We grappled with why an all-powerful God allowed free will, why that same one God let innocent babies and young children suffer and why God gave humankind the choice to commit violence, war and torture.

Fast forward a year or two, the church that baptized me, split in two! Feeling shocked, hurt and confused, the Bible study group  ask me to choose between them and the mother church. By this time, the Bible study group believed that humanity did not have free will, that God predestined individuals for salvation or damnation. Could I stay where I began my study and belief in Christianity?

Did I believe in predestination?

In hindsight, I chose the wrong church. The new one held the belief that God creates all human beings and either predestines them for salvation or damnation. This idea of God seems twisted and cruel. Why would God send the bulk of all mankind into sin and suffer an eternity in hell? That’s not what I believe now. But the idea that humanity lives without free choice, comes as a premise in the bizarre and fascinating story, All You Zombies.

Robert A. Heinlein at his desk reading
Robert A. Heinlein
Living in a time loop?

After seeing the movie, I got busy and found a paper copy of Robert A. Heinlein’s at my local library. Now I find I want to read all the stories so I will be looking for my paperback copy. Living in a time loop, what would that mean to you? Would you repeat parts of your life to figure out what happened and why? Would you relive your best times over and over? Would you live all the parts of your life, playing different roles, such as your best friend, your father or brother?

By the way, the story opens from the barkeeper point of view with data as to date, and time and setting. The movie opens and ends differently. I liked both versions, the original short story and movie. The only spoiler I will add is that the movie has been stretched into an action thriller. Thus the close character point of view seems weakened, yet I found the end of the movie an example of how to end a story splendidly.

Could you read just one?

 

Predestination, a movie take on All You Zombies-

Ethan Hawke Is A TimeCop

“The most famous story of time travel and predestination is getting a movie adaptation, starring Ethan Hawke. Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” features a guy whose very existence is a time paradox — but the movie looks like more of a gritty, noir-influenced thriller. The movie entitled Predestination comes from Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, the Australian brothers who previously directed Hawke in the futuristic vampire film Daybreakers.” In the movie of Heinlein’s All You Zombies

A bit more that I read on this movie from the site link above:

“Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, the Australian brothers who previously directed Hawke in the futuristic vampire film “Daybreakers.”
The new movie, made from Heinlein’s story, received mixed reviews and a weak response, but we enjoyed it for the story and the bareness of the filming. No special effects were used, an exception to the rule of thrillers. The film focuses on the plot and doesn’t let us marinate in the characters’  internal conflicts, yet the characters become unforgettable.”

You will find available as an Amazon e-book with four other fantasy stories by Heinlein,  “All You Zombies-“: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein Kindle Edition

The image of Heinlein at his desk came from “Robert Heinlein and the Harsh Politics of Science Fiction.”

Thanks for reading and sharing, Deborah Taylor-French

Bonus: Blast from the past band, The Hooters, singing (of course) “All You Zombies.”

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