I noticed this thread about my favorite sf author and thought you might find this excerpt from the final volume of Dr. Asimov's autobiography, "I. Asimov", of interest. The book was published posthumously in 1994, and Asimov speaks more frankly than he had done in the past.
In this passage from pp. 76-78 Asimov goes into some detail about his "friendship" with Robert Heinlein and also talks about his and Heinlein's writing styles.
My friendship with Heinlein, by the way, did not follow the smooth
and even course that marked all my other science fiction friendships.
That this would be so appeared almost at once when we worked together at the NAES. I never openly quarreled with him (I try never to
quarrel openly with anyone) and I never turned my back on him. We
greeted each other warmly when we met right down to the end of
There had to be a certain circumspection in the friendship, how-
ever. Heinlein was not the easygoing fellow that other science fiction
personalities I knew and loved were. He did not believe in doing his
own thing and letting you do your thing. He had a definite feeling
that he knew better and to lecture you into agreeing with him. Campbell did this too, but Campbell always remained serenely indifferent if
you ended up disagreeing with him, whereas Heinlein would, under
those circumstances, grow hostile.
I do not take well to people who are convinced they know better
than I do, and who badger me for that reason, so I began to avoid
Furthermore, although a flaming liberal during the war, Heinlein
became a rock-ribbed far-right conservative immediately afterward.
This happened at just the time he changed wives from a liberal
woman, Leslyn, to a rock-ribbed far-right conservative woman, Virginia.
Ronald Reagan did the same when he switched wives from the
liberal Jane Wyman to the ultraconservative Nancy, but Ronald Reagan I have always viewed as a brainless fellow who echoes the opinions
of anyone who gets close to him.
I can’t explain Heinlein in that way at all, for I cannot believe he
would follow his wives’ opinions blindly. I used to brood about it in
puzzlement (of course, I never would have dreamed of asking Heinlein—I’m sure he would have refused to answer, and would have done
so with the utmost hostility), and I did come to one conclusion. I
would never marry anyone who did not generally agree with my political, social, and philosophical view of life.
To marry someone at complete odds with myself in those basics
would be to ask for a life of argument and controversy, or (in some
ways, worse) one that comes to the tacit understanding that these
things were never to be discussed. Nor could I see any chance of
coming to agreement. I would certainly not change my own views just
for the sake of peace in the household, and I would not want a woman
so feeble in her opinions that she would do so. No, I would want one
compatible with my views to begin with and I must say that this was
true of both my wives.
Another point about Heinlein is that he was not among those writers who, having achieved a particular style, cling to it during their
lives, despite changing fashions. I have already mentioned that E. E.
Smith was such a clinger and so, I must admit, am I. The novels I have
been writing lately are the kind I wrote in the 1950s. (I have been
criticized for this by some critics, but the day I pay attention to critics
is the day the sky will fall.)
Heinlein, on the other hand, tried to keep up with the times, so that
his later novels were “with it” as far as post-1960s literary fashions
were concerned. I say “tried” because I think he failed. I am no judge
of other people’s writings (or even of my own) and I don’t wish to
make subjective statements about them, but I am forced to admit that
I always wished that he had kept to the style he achieved in such
stories as “Solution Unsatisfactory” (October 1941 ASF), which he
wrote under the pseudonym of Anson Mac Donald
, and such novels as
Double Star, published in 1956, which I think is the best thing he ever
He made a mark outside the limited magazine world of science
fiction too. He was the first of our group to break into the “slicks,”
publishing “The Green Hills of Earth” in The Saturday Evening Post.
I was quite envious of this for a while till I reasoned out that he was
advancing the cause of science fiction generally and making it easier
for the rest of us to follow in that direction. Heinlein was also involved
with an early motion picture that tried to be both sensible and science-fictional—Destination Moon. When the Science Fiction Writers
of America began to hand out their Grand Master Awards in 1975,
Heinlein received the first by general acclamation.
He died on May 8, 1988, at the age of eighty to an outpouring of
sentiment from even the non-science-fiction World. He had kept his
position as greatest science fiction writer unshaken to the end.
In 1989, his book Grumbles from the Grave was published posthumously. It consists of letters he wrote to editors and, chiefly, to his
agent. I read it and shook my head and wished it hadn’t appeared, for
Heinlein (it seemed to me) revealed, in these letters, a meanness of
spirit that I had seen in him even in the NAES days but that I feel
should not have been revealed to the world generally.