All You Zombies

"'—All You Zombies—'" is a science fiction short story by American writer Robert A. Heinlein. It was written in one day, July 11, 1958, and first published in the March 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine after being rejected by Playboy.

The story involves a number of paradoxes caused by time travel. In 1980, it was nominated for the Balrog Award for short fiction.[1]

"'—All You Zombies—'" further develops themes explored by the author in a previous work: "By His Bootstraps", published some 18 years earlier. Some of the same elements also appear later in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985), including the Circle of Ouroboros and the Temporal Corps.

"'—All You Zombies—'"
AuthorRobert A. Heinlein
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Publication date1959


"'—All You Zombies—'" chronicles a young man (later revealed to be intersex) taken back in time and tricked into impregnating his younger, female self (before he underwent sexual reassignment surgery); he thus turns out to be the offspring of that union, with the paradoxical result that he is his own mother and father. As the story unfolds, all the major characters are revealed to be the same person, at different stages of her/his life.

Narrative order of events

The story involves an intricate series of time-travel journeys. It begins with a young man speaking to the narrator, the Bartender, in 1970. The two of them relate in that both of them are from unmarried parents. The Bartender remarks that no one in his family ever gets married, including him. He wears an Ourobouros ring. The young man is called the Unmarried Mother, because he writes stories for confession magazines, many of them presumably from the point of view of an unmarried mother.

Cajoled by the Bartender, the Unmarried Mother explains why he understands the female viewpoint so well: he was born a girl, in 1945, and raised in an orphanage. While a fairly ugly teenager in 1963, she was seduced, impregnated, and abandoned by an older man. During the delivery of her child, doctors discovered she was intersex, with internalized male sex organs as well as female sex organs. Complications during delivery rendered the female organs unviable and forced them to give her a gender reassignment. The baby was kidnapped by a mysterious older gentleman, and not seen again. The Unmarried Mother then had to adjust to life as a man, despite an upbringing which left him unqualified for "men's" jobs; he had planned to get into space as a sex worker for male workers and colonists. Instead he used his secretarial skills to type manuscripts, and eventually began writing.

Professing sympathy, the Bartender offers to take him to the abandoning seducer, whom the Unmarried Mother wishes revenge on. The Bartender guides him into a back room, where he (Bartender) uses a time machine to take them to 1963, and sets the young man loose. The bartender goes forward eleven months, kidnaps a newborn baby and takes it to 1945, leaving it in an orphanage. He returns to 1963 and picks up the Unmarried Mother, who was instinctively attracted to his younger female self and has seduced and impregnated her. The Bartender nudges him to connect the dots, and realize that the seducer, the young woman, the baby, and the time traveler are all him.

The Bartender then drops the Unmarried Mother at an outpost of the Temporal Bureau, a time-traveling secret police force that manipulates events in history, to protect the human race. He has just created and recruited himself.

Finally the Bartender returns to 1970, arriving a short time after he left the bar. He allows a customer to play "I'm My Own Grandpa" on the jukebox, having yelled at the customer for playing the song before he left. Closing the bar, he time travels again to his home base. As he beds down for a much deserved rest, he contemplates the scar left over from the Caesarean section performed when he gave birth to his daughter, father, mother, and entire history. He thinks, "I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?"


The title of the story, which includes both the quotation marks and dashes,[2] is actually a quotation from a sentence near the end of the story itself (taken from the middle of the sentence, hence the dashes indicating edited text before and after the title).

Chronological order of events

As the story is told as a disjointed point of view reference by several other points thereafter, this is the actual chronological history of "Jane" according to the story, although the story itself is still a classic example of a time paradox.

  • On September 20, 1945, the Bartender drops off baby Jane at an orphanage. She grows up there. She dreams of joining one of the "comfort organizations" dedicated to providing R&R for spacemen.
  • Nearly 18 years later, the man who refers to himself as "an unmarried mother" is dropped off at April 3, 1963, by the Bartender. He meets and, after some weeks of dating, seduces and impregnates the 17-year-old Jane, who has an intersex condition. From Jane's point of view, he then disappears. Actually, he has been retrieved by the Bartender, and taken to 1985 (see sixth bullet point).
  • Jane learns that she is pregnant by the now-missing unknown man. After giving birth by C-section, she is found to be a "true hermaphrodite" who has been severely damaged by the pregnancy and birth; on waking she learns that she has been subjected (without her consent) to a "sex change" which reassigns her sex to male.
  • On March 10, 1964, the Bartender kidnaps the baby and takes her/him back in time to the orphanage (see first bullet point). Jane, now male, becomes a stenographer, and then a writer. Whenever he is asked his occupation, he replies, somewhat truculently, "I'm an unmarried mother—at four cents a word. I write confession stories." He becomes a regular at the bar where the narrator, the Bartender, works, but does not interact with him significantly for six years.
  • On November 7, 1970, the Bartender meets the Unmarried Mother, yells at the customer playing "I'm My Own Grandpa", conducts the Unmarried Mother into the back office, and takes him back to 1963 to "find" (and, ostensibly, get revenge upon) the man who got him pregnant (see second bullet point). He returns to the bar, seconds after going into the back room, and allows the customer to play the song. From his own point of view, he has carried out his mission of ensuring his own existence.
  • On August 12, 1985, the Bartender travels to 1963 and retrieves the Unmarried Mother -- whom he had left there (then?) during the events of the fifth (and second) bullet point(s) -- to the Rockies base and enlists him (actually a younger version of himself) in the Temporal Bureau.
  • On January 12, 1993, the Bartender, who is also Jane/mother/father/Unmarried Mother, arrives back at his base from 1970 to think about his life.


Philosopher David Lewis considered " '—All You Zombies—' " and "By His Bootstraps" to be examples of "perfectly consistent" time travel stories.[3] Stating that it and other Heinlein time-travel stories "force the reader into contemplations of the nature of causality and the arrow of time", Carl Sagan listed "All You Zombies" as an example of how science fiction "can convey bits and pieces, hints and phrases, of knowledge unknown or inaccessible to the reader".[4]

Film adaptation

The Spierig brothers directed the Australian science fiction film Predestination (2014) based on the story. The film starred Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook.[5]

See also

Other stories about being descended from oneself
In television


  1. ^ "Locus Magazine award index, 1980 Balrog". Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  2. ^ The Illustrated List of Heinlein Fiction
  3. ^ Lewis, David (April 1976). "The Paradoxes of Time Travel". American Philosophical Quarterly. 13 (2): 145–152. JSTOR 20009616.
  4. ^ Sagan, Carl (1978-05-28). "Growing up with Science Fiction". The New York Times. p. SM7. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  5. ^ "Arclight Films Snags the International Rights for the Spierig Brothers' Predestination". Retrieved 3 July 2017.


External links

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Amore (The Hooters album)

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Another Round at the Spaceport Bar

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Burnt Sugar

Burnt Sugar, also known as Burnt Sugar, the Arkestra Chamber, is an American improvisational band. The band's music combines the influences of funk, jazz, rock, reggae, soul, hip hop, heavy metal, and 20th century classical music. It has been described by one critic as a "funk-rock-electronic-samba-soul-jazz-fusion-whatever ensemble". One critic wrote that Burnt Sugar's music "is not the easiest thing to describe", while another critic wrote that "Burnt Sugar sounds like a big cloud".Burnt Sugar was founded in 1999 by guitarist and writer Greg Tate. Among the band's influences are Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, Funkadelic, Bad Brains, Band of Gypsys, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi, and Material.The membership of Burnt Sugar is fluid. As many as 40 musicians have passed through the band and are available to play with it, although the group's core consists of about 12 musicians. Notable musicians who have played with Burnt Sugar include guitarists Pete Cosey, who played in Davis' band during the early 1970s, and Vernon Reid, guitarist for the funk metal band Living Colour. Other members of the group have included pianist Vijay Iyer, saxophonists Avram Fefer and Matana Roberts, and trumpeter Lewis "Flip" Barnes.Tate serves as Burnt Sugar's leader, using a system called "conduction" to direct the musicians as they improvise. Conduction, which was developed by Butch Morris, is a series of hand and baton signals that cue various musical themes or musicians. Tate said that under conduction, "the band becomes the instrument of the conductor's will." He has described his role as conductor as:

akin to Mickey Mouse in the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" section of Fantasia. Diddling with forces he doesn't quite understand, snapping his fingers, opening the floodgates, occasioning a deluge. Drowning the room in the music of African ascent.

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Lazarus Long

Lazarus Long is a fictional character featured in a number of science fiction novels by Robert A. Heinlein. Born in 1912 in the third generation of a selective breeding experiment run by the Ira Howard Foundation, Lazarus (birth name Woodrow Wilson Smith) becomes unusually long-lived, living well over two thousand years with the aid of occasional rejuvenation treatments. Heinlein "patterned" Long on science fiction writer Edward E. Smith, mixed with Jack Williamson's fictional Giles Habibula.His exact (natural) life span is never revealed. In his introduction at the beginning of Methuselah's Children, he claims he is 213 years old. Approximately 75 years pass during the course of the novel, but because large amounts of this time are spent traveling close to the speed of light, the 75-year measurement is an expression of the time elapsed on Earth rather than time seen from his perspective. At one point, he estimates his natural life span to be around 250 years, but this figure is not expressed with certainty. He acknowledges that such a long life span should not be expected as a result of a mere three generations of selective breeding, but offers no alternative explanation except by having a character declare, "A mutation, of course-—which simply says that we don't know".In Methuselah's Children, Long mentions visiting Hugo Pinero, the scientist appearing in Heinlein's first published story "Life-Line", who had invented a machine that precisely measured lifespan. Pinero refuses to reveal the results of Lazarus's reading and returns his money.

The promotional copy on the back of Time Enough for Love, the second book featuring Lazarus Long, states that Lazarus was "so in love with time that he became his own ancestor," but this never happens in any of the published books. In the book, Lazarus does travel back in time and is seduced by his mother, but this takes place years after his own birth. Heinlein did, however, use just such a plot device in the short story "—All You Zombies—", in which a character becomes both of his own parents.

A rugged individualist with a distrust of authority, Lazarus drifts from world to world, settling down periodically and leaving when the situation becomes too regimented for his taste-—often just before an angry mob arrives to capture him.

The Lazarus Long set of books involve time travel, parallel dimensions, free love, individualism, and a concept that Heinlein named World as Myth—the theory that universes are created by the act of imagining them, such that even fictional worlds are real.

List of transgender and transsexual fictional characters

Transgender and transsexual fictional characters organized alphabetically.

Literature about intersex

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Nervous Night (album)

Nervous Night is the second studio album by American rock band the Hooters, released in May 1985 by Columbia Records and on CBS Records in Europe. The album features two of the band's biggest and best-known hits, "And We Danced" and "Day by Day", as well as the minor hit, "All You Zombies", which was a rerecorded version of a single that had first been released in 1982.

Predestination (film)

Predestination is a 2014 Australian science fiction thriller film written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, and Noah Taylor, and is based on the short story "—All You Zombies—" by Robert A. Heinlein.

Robert A. Heinlein bibliography

The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) was productive during a writing career that spanned the last 49 years of his life; the Robert A. Heinlein bibliography includes 32 novels, 59 short stories and 16 collections published during his life. Four films, two TV series, several episodes of a radio series, and a board game derive more or less directly from his work. He wrote a screenplay for one of the films. Heinlein edited an anthology of other writers' SF short stories.

Three non-fiction books and two poems have been published posthumously. One novel has been published posthumously and another, an unusual collaboration, was published in 2006. Four collections have been published posthumously.

Heinlein's fictional works can be found in the library under PS3515.E288, or under Dewey 813.54. Known pseudonyms include Anson MacDonald (7 times), Lyle Monroe (7), John Riverside (1), Caleb Saunders (1), and Simon York (1). All the works originally attributed to MacDonald, Saunders, Riverside and York, and many of the works originally attributed to Lyle Monroe, were later reissued in various Heinlein collections and attributed to Heinlein.

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Three singles were released from the album, although none of them received a music video. For the first time, Michael Cretu did not work as a producer for the album, as he was reportedly busy producing his new Enigma album A posteriori. Sandra's management first tried to find producers from the United Kingdom, but Sandra didn't like the idea of leaving her family for a long period of time. Finally, Sandra contacted Michael Cretu's "right hand", Jens Gad, who produced the entire album. Sandra, for the first time during her career, now participated actively in composing and writing the album. Therefore, the lyrics of the songs are more personal, with Sandra revisiting her childhood and all her sad experiences in them. She worked at Gad's studio at nights, returning home to prepare breakfast for her twins, and then sleeping until they would come home from school. Also, for the first time, Sandra revealed her new, sexier look in the promotional pictures shot in New York by Bärbel Miebach.

The track "Casino Royale" is an alternative version of a song originally recorded by Polish singer Edyta Górniak, as "Sleep With Me", and later covered by Canadian electronic music outfit Conjure One. Sandra's own alternative version, titled "Sleep", appears as a bonus track on the CD single release of "The Way I Am". The album contains Sandra's second collaboration with Swiss artist DJ Bobo, a song called "Love is the Price". Her first was on their joint 2006 hit single, "Secrets of Love".

The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein

The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein is a collection of science fantasy short stories by American writer Robert A. Heinlein.

The contents of the book are exactly two previous collections of Heinlein's short stories: Waldo & Magic, Inc. (1950) and The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1959), here arranged chronologically in order of publication:

"Magic, Inc." (1940)

""—And He Built a Crooked House—"" (1941)

"They" (1941)

"Waldo" (1942)

"The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" (1942)

"Our Fair City" (1948)

"The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" (1957)

"All You Zombies—" (1959)The hardcover version has 320 pages and was published by Tor Books on November 15, 1999. The paperback version (from the same publisher) has 352 pages and was published on May 17, 2002.

The Hooters

The Hooters are an American rock band from Philadelphia. They combine elements of rock, reggae, ska, and folk music to create their sound. The Hooters first gained major commercial success in the United States in the mid-1980s due to heavy radio airplay and MTV rotation of several songs including "All You Zombies", "Day by Day", "And We Danced" and "Where Do the Children Go". They opened the Philadelphia portion of the Live Aid benefit concert in 1985. In Europe they had success with the singles "All You Zombies" and "Johnny B" but their breakthrough across Europe came with the single "Satellite".

During the late 1980s and 1990s, The Hooters found significant commercial success internationally, especially in Europe, where they played at The Wall Concert in Berlin in 1990.

The Hooters have staged successful tours in Europe and 2007 saw the release of their first album of new material since 1993, Time Stand Still.

The Spierig Brothers

Identical twin brothers Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig ( (listen); born 29 April 1976), known together professionally as The Spierig Brothers, are German-Australian film directors, producers, and screenwriters.Peter and Michael made their directing debut in 2003 with Undead and won a prize for Best Visual Effects at the Australian Film Institute Awards for their second film Daybreakers (2010) starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. They write, direct, and produce their films together, and are heavily involved in the editing, sound, and visual effects of all their work.

Their 2014 film, Predestination, based on the science fiction short story "—All You Zombies—" by Robert A. Heinlein, opened at SXSW in March 2014. It was co-written and co-directed by the twins, and was filmed in Australia during Spring of 2013. It stars Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, and Noah Taylor. The film was positively received by critics, including those of Variety, The Guardian, and IGN Movies.

There Will Be Time

There Will Be Time is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson. It was published in 1972 in a hardback edition by Doubleday and in 1973 in a paperback edition by New American Library.

The story is about a young man who has a genetic mutation that allows him to move through time. It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973.

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