Talk:All You Zombies

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OK, what's the official version of the title of this story? Is it:

  • "All You Zombies"
  • "All You Zombies..."
  • "-All You Zombies-"
  • "All You Zombies-"
  • "All You Zombies-

or what? Certainly, including the double quotes in the article title goes against the Wikipedia manual of Style (although double quotes are used around short story titles within articles) -- unless, of course, there's some special reason for including them. -- The Anome 23:12, Dec 4, 2004 (UTC)

They are part of the title. Same thing as Bob Dylan's "Love and Theft" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Captain Wacky (talkcontribs) 08:54, 25 February 2006 UTC.
In my copy of The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag it's given variously as
  • "All You Zombies"
  • "-All You Zombies-"

It was originally published in F&SF in 1959, but I know what issue. Lefty 01:52, 2005 Feb 1 (UTC)

Err -- "don't know", I mean. Lefty 04:53, 2005 Feb 1 (UTC)

The title should carry an em dash at the end, all enclosed by single quotation marks (to denote that it's an excerpt from the narrator's final speech), the whole enclosed by double quotation marks (as usual for for short story titles):

" 'All You Zombies—' "

This is how it appears in the 1963 anthology The Worlds of Science Fiction, edited by Robert Mills. It also appears in this form in Alexei Panshin's Heinlein in Dimension (1968); see Panshin's own posting of this book at It would be nice if all Wikipedia mentions of this title (including those not editable by users) were switched to this form. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:11, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

I own a copy of _The Magazine of Fantasy And Science Fiction_ for March of 1959. The title is in double quotes with one em-dash as: "All You Zombies-" DonPMitchell (talk) 22:11, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Page moved but content unchanged?[edit]

The page moved from "—All You Zombies—" to "All You Zombies—", but the article itself still includes both the beginning and ending mdashes. I don't know which punctuation is correct, but whichever one it is, we should be consistent between the name of the page and the text in the page. --Psiphiorg 20:42, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

What the hell? If the consensus is for "—All You Zombies—", then the article belongs there! "All You Zombies—" doesn't seem to be right, and I can't find any consensus on that one (without the first dash)... I tried moving, but the other page exists. ☢ Ҡiff 16:25, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

The title (yet again)[edit]

So what is the official title?

My copy of The Best of Robert Heinlein 1947-1959 lists it in the table of contents as All You Zombies (no quotes, no dashes), but the first page of the story shows it as "--All You Zombies--".

My copy of The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag lists it in the table of contents as "All You Zombies" (with quotes, but no dashes), but the first page of the story shows it as "--All You Zombies--".

James Gifford's Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion gives the title as "All You Zombies--".

In a letter to Lurton Blassingame excerpted on page 156 of Grumbles From The Grave, Heinlein refers to it as "All You Zombies" (in quotes, no dashes). (As casual correspondence, though, I'm not sure that this reference counts.)

How did we settle on "All You Zombies--"? -- Jim Douglas (talk) (contribs) 05:07, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

The best reference sources on the net appear to show that the title in the original magazine used the mdash style at the end & not the begining of the title (ie. "All You Zombies--"). The article is now consistant to that form. There is inconsistency of subsequent use - but the "first edition" is the one to quote. If anyone has access to that edition of the magazine they could check for us. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 12:16, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
As I just added to the article itself, the odd form of the title is not inconsequential. It is a deliberate author choice to make the textual form of the story follow the content form of the protagonist's life. The title is a quotation -- from the story itself, from nowhere else. --Rpresser 19:53, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it should appear on wikipedia the same way it appears in the table of contents or the story page in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mar 1959 - unless there is some other standard that is followed here. Rpresser's views are interesting, but not supported (currently) by any evidence. Suppafly (talk) 22:32, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

I took out this apparent original research added by User:Wellspring[edit]

"An alternative explanation for this final line is that the narrator is reminiscing about his love for two unique and pivotal characters from his life: his older male lover and his young female paramour. Although both of them are actually the narrator himself, he has experienced each as if they were another person. In effect, the man has met himself three times, each time as a stranger. In this interpretation, the story becomes a metaphor for the alienation of the self from one phase of life to another."

Neutral Wording?[edit]

"Here Heinlein is indulging in yet another of his trademark themes, that of solipsism." This is not what I would call "neutral" wording. I have rephrased it--replacing "indulging in yet another" with "revisiting one"--to remove the pejorative tone. Thanks. 15:50, 27 March 2007 (UTC)Sergei Alderman

Hermaphrodite vs. intersex[edit]

I think that we should use the term that is used in the actual story. Will someone look this up in the story and make the change? — Val42 17:04, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Neither is actually used in the story. The idea is explained to the narrator by a doctor in a couple sentences. 13:30, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Then, for explanation in this article, we should use the wording used in the story. Two sentences should be "fair use". — Val42 21:33, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Page moved?[edit]

I just noticed this was moved quite a while ago (during the edit warring over spoiler tags, when I'd unwatched it), and I'm a bit curious why, as well as why the redirect was deleted. It seems to me like the title actually includes the quotation marks, which would mean they should be part of the article title, unlike for other short stories where the quotation marks are used simply for proper grammar. Am I understanding that correctly, or not? If I am, should it be moved back to where it was? -Bbik 20:02, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Agree that it should include the quotation marks; this was obviously a significant element of the title to Heinlein. It makes sense, too; the author isn't calling us zombies, he's quoting his protagonist.
By doing so, he has of course made life difficult for those of us trying to properly punctuate The title, especially since it's given in various ways In different collections. But I'd have to go with the title as given in the edition of Hoag I have in my hands at this moment (in all places but the title page, argh), which is: "'—All You Zombies—'" . It's an excerpt taken in mid-quotation, so the em-dash should be on both sides.
...and as above, the quotes need to be converted to single quotes within articles, since the title itself needs to be placed in quotes. But I think Heinlein himself would appreciate the effort taken to get it right.--NapoliRoma (talk) 18:09, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Who are the Zombies?[edit]

At the end of the summary I see that the zombies referred to are incorrectly identified. The "zombies" in question are not his younger selves (that's ridiculous, he IS them) nor the readers, but all people born "naturally". He knows where he comes from more intimately than any other person possibly can because he was directly involved in every aspect of his birth. A closed time-like curve. Therefore he is intrigued by anyone not having this knowledge. (talk) 06:07, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

But surely the readers are the naturally born ? -- Beardo (talk) 17:30, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
This is original research and doesn't belong in the article unless you can find a reference. Any of the three interpretations are valid opinions but require citations.
For my own part, I think he means his other selves. From the point of view of Jane as a 17 year old girl, the love of her life was a mysterious older man, a stranger. We can't know for sure what his viewpoint was at age 30 of the 17 year old girl he slept with (especially since, unlike his 17 year old self, he knew what was happening, at least partially). Then as an old man he encounters his young, angry self and sets in motion the entire relationship. From an intellectual standpoint, of course, all three are the same person so there's no ambiguity.
But consider the experience from his point of view. The love of his life, the understanding older man he met as a young girl, is forever lost to him. Every time he meets himself, he experiences his own identity as another distinct person. The story isn't just a meditation on solipsism. It also explores the fact that, due to the changes that come with aging, even you are a stranger.
Hence the quote at the end. He remembers being exploited by a grown man, the pain of having a child, the seduction of a young girl, outwitting a naive and angry young man, and kidnapping a infant. But only from one point of view at a time. So who are the man, the child, the girl, the man and the infant? He knows intellectually that they are also him, but he experiences them as Someone Else.
Wellspring (talk) 19:25, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

First intersex character?[edit]

Is Jane the first intersex character to appear in american fiction? There are some earlier charecters who have been both man and woman like Woolfe's Orlando, but they undergo a magical transformation and are not biologically interesexed.Litch (talk) 20:05, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Is it medically possible?[edit]

I know one could have both sets of organs, but would the gametes or chromosomes or whatever in the testes and ova work out properly? I'm sure there are some worms and frogs and such that could get this thing done, but could a human? I mean, assume the existence of a functioning time machine, has there ever been a human that could pull this caper off?

I think one could be her clones mother or impregnate herself, might be even posible now for someone with "right" genes. The clone option is realy the easier one, just have your clone as your child and go back in time to have yourself cloned... Real issue is causality, time and fact person would come from nothing or had always existed, things would get quite messy... -- (talk) 23:08, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
It's conceivable. (So to speak.) Testes and ovaries develop from the same fetal tissue, so it would require the individual to have either intersex gonads which could respond to the corresponding hormones to produce either sperm or ova (this is how hermaphroditic species do it) or to have one of each type, which would also depend on the corresponding hormones being present to work. You'd also need some remarkable reconstructive surgery in between. Assuming that viable gametes were formed, the process of the sperm fertilizing the ovum and the chromosomes pairing up would proceed as usual, and the offspring would certainly end up with the same genes as "both" parents. Since the hormones needed to produce sperm and those needed to produce ova act at cross purposes, a body can't produce both at once, thus requiring a time machine (as well as advanced medical technology). –Jason A. Quest (talk) 19:30, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
It's science fiction. Trankuility (talk) 04:55, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, that's mentioned in the lede. Thanks. -Jason A. Quest (talk) 12:21, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Hooter's Song?[edit]

I'm surprised it's not mentioned anywhere, but there was a popular song by the Hooters from the '80s by the same name (notwithstanding the punctuation issues), described here: [1]. Should that not be included under Outside References? I'd add it myself, but I'm not 100% certain the song is referencing the short story - certainly the lyrics seem to have no relation. (talk) 17:01, 20 January 2012 (UTC)Deadtvs

At the top of the article, you'll see, "For the song by The Hooters, see All You Zombies (song)." Unless there is a reliable source connecting the two topics, that's the only connection we have. - SummerPhD (talk) 02:27, 21 January 2012 (UTC)


Requested move 17 August 2013[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was moved. --BDD (talk) 22:40, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

All You Zombies (short story)All You Zombies – Short story is easily the primary topic; dab page isn't needed for a song that had a low charting. Relisted. BDD (talk) 18:56, 26 August 2013 (UTC)Ryulong (琉竜) 09:04, 17 August 2013 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Oppose - A straight Google search for "All You Zombies" turns up a fairly even mix of the short story and the song. A Google news search, not surprisingly, is all about the song. Google scholar, of course, is all about the short story. What the "primary topic" is seems to be a function of who is looking. - SummerPhD (talk) 14:13, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - surprisingly the single gets significant Google Books print coverage too. While the story has more coverage, it isn't much more, not enough to justify removing a helpful disambiguator: since neither the song audience nor the sci-fi audience are likely to be aware of each other. In ictu oculi (talk) 02:35, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. I'm sorry to be difficult, but in terms of cultural significance, I think a good case can be made for the Heinlein story. When it's made into a film next year, we'll probably get at least equal hits in web and news searches, maybe even more. While that's speculation, and may not happen, think of it as a thought experiment... does it change anything whether or not that happens? I think not. The thought experiment shows that the story is already of cultural significance that the song shows no sign of copying. Andrewa (talk) 15:26, 24 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Support The story has long term staying power, regardless of whether the song still has search results. Th every fact that the story has so many hits after more than fifty years is a testament to its notability. Dovid (talk) 13:42, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. This is a WP:TWODABS situation and it appears that the Heinlein story is the primary topic. I'm getting 1,420 Google Books returns for "All You Zombies" Heinlein versus 117 for "All You Zombies" Hooters. The story was also viewed 6136 times in the last 90 days, compared to 3213 for the song. As per TWODABS, the song will be found just as easily through a hat note as through the disambiguation page, and this removes a step for the majority of readers who are looking for the story.--Cúchullain t/c 13:31, 6 September 2013 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.