Robert Heinlein Fans: Want To Own His Second-Best Bed?

By Joelle Renstrom | 7 years ago

Heinlein's bedAre you sure? Do you know who, or what, has been in there? Or is it the possibility that some alien or other creature slept in that bed that makes you want to buy it?

This is one of the stranger (yes, there’s a Heinlein pun for you) sci-fi news bits I’ve read in a while. The “second-best” bed of esteemed sci-fi author Robert Heinlein will soon be for sale. As with any bed, though, some history is in order to explain why this piece of furniture might sell for $1 million. Or maybe $10. Somewhere in there.

In 1974, Heinlein was pronounced the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master (don’t worry, it’s far less Klan-ish than it sounds), and along with Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, he comprises the triumvirate known as the “big three” of science fiction. He won four Hugo awards (Double Star, Starship Troopers — the book and the movie bear little resemblance to one another — Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) and three Retro Hugos (Farmer in the Sky, The Man Who Sold the Moon, and Destination Moon), which are far cooler and come with bell bottoms.

stranger in a strange land

It’s hard to say which of his massive collection of works is the most famous, but I’d have to go with Stranger in a Stranger Land, a sci-fi take on the Jungle Book in which Valentine Michael Smith, a human, grows up on Mars, but then returns to Earth and…well, starts a cult called the “church of all worlds” that practices, among other things, free love. Lots and lots of free love.

And we’re back to Robert Heinlein’s bed. His second-best bed, I mean. Doesn’t that make you wonder what happened to his very best bed?

Heinlein designed and built the bed himself. After his wife died in 2003, it was passed on to the Heinlein Society, who couldn’t find a home for it in a museum and decided to put it on eBay. The auction will start on August 29. And just an FYI, I’m pretty sure eBay doesn’t accept bitcoins.


The bed holds a queen-sized mattress (of course), and has four drawers, additional storage compartments, and a light fixture housing.

This isn’t Heinlein’s first crack at designing a bed — he actually described waterbeds before they were invented (not surprisingly, they appear in Stranger, among other works). Ill with pulmonary tuberculosis, Heinlein spent much of the ’30s bedridden, which is when he attempted to “design the perfect hospital bed by one who had spent too damn much time in hospital beds.”

I have to wonder if this bed has some kind of latent powers, or if one who sleeps in it will more fully grok the mysteries of life. Still, I’d rather buy a stamp to remember him. But if we’re talking about items owned by favorite authors, I’m holding out for Ray Bradbury’s typewriter.

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