Robert A. Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907 and died on May 8, 1988.
Heinlein won his first Hugo Award in 1956 for his novel Double Star. He subsequently won three more Hugo Awards for Best Novel for Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Although he has never won a Nebula Award, despite four nominations, Heinlein was the first person designated a Grand Master by the SFWA, in 1975. In 1980 he received the Forry Award from LASFS. He has won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award seven times, for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, Red Planet, Methusaleh’s Children, Time Enough for Love, “Requiem,” and “Coventry.” In 1978, I Will Fear No Evil won the Seiun Award. Heinlein has also won the Retro Hugo Award four times, for “The Man Who Sold the Moon,” Farmer in the Sky, “The Roads Must Roll,” and “If This Goes On…” Heinlein was Guest of Honor at three separate Worldcons, Denvention 1 in 1941, Seacon in Seattle in 1961, and MidAmeriCon in Kansas City in 1976. The only other person to be a Guest of Honor at three Worldcons was John W. Campbell, Jr. In 1998, he was a Posthumous Inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
“Sky Lift” was first published by William L. Hamling in the November 1953 issue of Imagination. Heinlein included it in his collection The Menace from Earth in 1959. The story was selected by Damon Knight for A Century of Science Fiction and was included in Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein. Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski chose to include it in Sentinels: In Honor of Arthur C. Clarke in 2010 and it was also reprinted in New Worlds to Conquer, part of the Virginia Edition, which reprinted all of Heinlein’s works. In addition to its English language publications, it has been translated into Italian twice, first by Hilja Pini for Urania #306 and a new translation, also by Pini using the name Hilia Brinis, for Gamma #14. Fritz Steinberg translated it into German for Unternehman Alptraum. It has also been translated into French twice.
“Sky Lift” is a strangely titled story about a medical supply run to the planet Pluto which has to be conducted under extreme conditions due to the urgency to get supplies to the distant planet (the title used in its first Italian translation, “Accelerazione ‘3g’” is a much better title). Like Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations,” which would be published in Astounding nine months later, Heinlein achieves emotional impact by creating a situation heavily stacked against the protagonists, Joe Appleby and Lieutenant Klueger.