I'm a new Heinlein fan and also an FTL (faster-than-light) fan. Did he write any books where FTL was possible? All the ones I've read so far have been intra-system (Sol) only.

  • This is not an off-topic list question, because it is limited to the finite universe of Heinlein novels.
    – user14111
    Mar 23, 2018 at 21:30
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    According the the answer (accepted and upvoted 17-0) to the meta question {Are all list questions off-topic?](scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2638/…), " finite and well-scoped list questions are allowed here." I suppose that's why all those questions asking "How many alien women has Kirk slept with" or "How many people has this superhero killed" were not closed as off-topic.
    – user14111
    Mar 24, 2018 at 0:00
  • Heinlein wrote about 35 novels, a finite number.
    – user14111
    Mar 24, 2018 at 0:06

5 Answers 5

  • Methusaleh's Children featured an experimental FTL drive by one of the characters that was essential to the plot; in Time Enough for Love, its sequel the same FTL drive is discovered to also work as a time-travel drive.
  • The Number of the Beast, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset all have a universe-hopping device that serves as an FTL stand-in
  • Starship Troopers involves FTL, as Michael indicated, the book doesn't really get into details.
  • Tunnel in the Sky and, I think, Have Spacesuit - Will Travel and Starman Jones all involve FTL or similar systems, at least peripherally.
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    Forgot Starman Jones (only read it once). Have Spacesuit-Will Travel is my all-time favorite though! hand-slap
    – Michael
    Jan 14, 2011 at 16:02
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    Have Spacesuit - Will Travel most definitely does have an FTL drive (although not until the latter part of the book).
    – cjm
    Sep 26, 2011 at 8:43

From the Faster Than Light and Normal Space Starship and Spaceship Drive List ...

  • Number of the Beast. Based in a 6-dimensional space, you can instantaneously travel to where you want to go provided you know the proper vectors.

  • Starman Jones. The starship in question accelerated to the speed of light where it jumped elsewhere.

  • The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, To Sail Beyond The Sunset. Drive is size of a sewing machine case and can instantaneously place the vessel anywhere, anywhen, in any universe with a velocity up to the speed of light. Computer controlled and uses virtually no power.

  • Future History. In one of the Lazarus Long stories an inertialess drive is used to go FTL.

Possibly Starship Troopers and Citizen of the Galaxy...but I don't remember the references.

  • Ah, your answer didn't show up until I posted mine! I think you're right about Citizen of the Galaxy, but I'm not certain. Jan 14, 2011 at 1:20
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    @neilfein My 20+ year old copy of Citizen is around here somewhere.....I'll dig out a ref if I find the bloody book.
    – Rusty
    Jan 14, 2011 at 1:35
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    Definitely right about Citizen. Jan 14, 2011 at 12:13
  • technically Number doesn't use FTL travel as no actual speed is involved :)
    – jwenting
    Feb 22, 2013 at 15:06

In addition to those already mentioned:

  • Friday
  • Citizen of the Galaxy
  • The Star Beast

I believe Starship Troopers had FTL, but I am unclear as to how it works. The book dealt more with planetary assaults than with space travel. They were definately on other planets, though. Another book of his had "gates" to other planets, through which colonization expeditions proceeded. I do not recall the title - please edit or leave a comment if you know it. It was Tunnel in the sky.

  • 'Tunnel in the Sky' was a good one. I've read this one and didn't even think of gate travel as FTL. Technically it is, but I've got FTL=spaceship stuck in my head. :)
    – Stewbob
    Jan 14, 2011 at 17:11

I think Time for the Stars is the only one no-one else has mentioned. After they've spent most of the book travelling relativistically, an FTL drive is introduced at the end of the book.

  • Variable Star by Spider Robinson, based on an outline by RH, also has FTL pop up later in the book.
    – sueelleker
    Jan 8, 2014 at 14:38
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    The book revolves around FTL communication on STL sharships.
    – user2490
    Feb 24, 2014 at 3:45
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    @BenCrowell That's true, but at the end the communications leads to a breakthrough in FTL travel and they all get retrieved off the ships.
    – pjs
    Aug 17, 2014 at 19:49

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