Study Questions for Robert Heinlein's All you Zombies" [1959]

Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies," along with his "By His Bootstraps" [1941,] is considered one of the most aggressive time paradox science fiction stories ever written. Click on the links to The Heinlein Society and to the other Heinlein sites linked in our syllabus to learn more about the author. Here are some issues to consider while reading Heinlein's story:

  1. Why does the bartender wear a ring depicting the Worm Ourobouros?
  2. After finishing the story, look back to the opening pages and consider how the following phrases are ironic: "no taller than I am," "I didn't like his looks," "he was my boy" [all on 207]; "he had a lethal fighting style of infighting, like a female cop" [207]; "No one in my family ever marries" [208]; and "You don't look any worse than I do" [209]. What other ironic statements can you locate in the story?
  3. What joke is Heinlein playing with the following title of the elite military service corps: Women's Hospitality Order Refortifying and Encouraging Spacemen?
  4. After reading and considering the story, write a short summary of the story [no more than three or four sentences] that begins with the phrase, "Heinlein's"All You Zombies" is about...