I enjoy Spider Robinson's sorry stories way more than his books..... until now.
Like many geeks who grew up in the 80s. I wanted to start my own Callahan's, I wanted to find Mary and her lovely home, I wanted to fit in. Spider gave me hope that I could.
Robert Heinlein introduced me to the greatest man who never lived (Jubel Harshaw), and the greatest man who never dies (Woodrow Wilson Smith) and concepts about love and life that I thought were only mine.
Alas, Robert Heinlein refused to be Laurie Lazarus Long and crushed my dreams of one more story, and nearly 20 years later, Spider came in and brought me hope once again. Thanks Spider for a perfect job writing the "best Spider Robinson story based on Robert Heinlein's notes"
If your ever in Portland, I owe you a drink.
Spider Robinson speaks way too fast. I had trouble following the story because of the breakneck speed of the narration. Parts of the story seemed familiar, containing many puns and phrases RAH used in other novels. Not sorry I bought it, and I want to thank Nr Robinson for completing it for us.
I would definitely read more books by Heinlein, but I don't think I would try Spider Robinson again. The story had great potential--it had a sound plot, some very witty/funny moments and interesting Sci-Fi elements. The potential, sadly, was ruined by unnecessary, disjointed rantings on contemporary political issues that had nothing to do with the story.
They should edit out the entire political ranting scene at the end that was clearly meant to be nothing but criticism of the war in Iraq. Politics or personal feelings aside, it really ruined the book and left a very bad taste in my mouth. The rant was unnecessary. Looking at it almost ten years after the book was written, the rant also badly dated the book. It was a completely unnecessary distraction that ruined the book. I'm also not sure that Robert Heinlein would have agreed with direction that Spider Robinson took that part of this postmortem book--it really made this book less "Heinlein" and more "Robinson"...I would have felt better about it if the book had been credited as by Spider Robinson with ideas borrowed from Heinlein...I didn't think it was fair to Heinlein to stick his name on a book with such rapid political statements without definitely knowing what his feelings would have been on the issue.
I've never read a print version of this book, but I can safely say that the narration made this book come to life in a way not possible in print.
Most of the characters either weren't very likeable or not developed enough to truly appreciate them. The main character had my sympathies, and by the end of the book I was rooting for him, but I'm not sure how much I actually liked the guy. My favorite characters were probably Sol(omon) and Ms. Rob, as they both seemed quite interesting and very likeable, but they weren't developed enough to know them as much as I would have liked.
He was incredibly engaging. As with all narrators, there is the obligatory random distraction of wondering about their voice, accent and inflections, pronunciations, and pauses. Having the knowledge that the narrator was also a co-author, it was easy just to relax into the idea that you were listening in on the true inner-monologue and speaking cadence of the main character, allowing you to just accept the voice quirks and listen to the story.
I had a very extreme reaction to this book. First, I have to say this is the best first chapter of a book I have ever read. Dickens may have written the best first line in a book, but Spider Robinson's verbal delivery of the first chapter had me nailed to my spot and weeping. Do not take to heart any comments about his singing voice until you have actually heard it for yourself. I can only assume there is something about his voice that you will either love or hate. I am mystified by other reviews picking at his voice and trashing his singing. I found the lyrics and their delivery haunting.
Also, this book has convinced me that I have to read another Spider Robinson novel immediately. I have never even heard of the guy until I bought this audiobook, and now I anticipate he will be another favorite.
Do not take any reviews to heart until you've read the first chapter or three for yourself.
Heinlein's name drove the decision to purchase this book even though I knew that it was really written by Spider Robinson. The story is simple. The ending is happy, so to speak. All in all - I enjoyed listening to the story but it's not something I would go back again and again, like some other Heinlein's books.
While knowing it wasn't Classic Heilein, what I had anticipated was that it would at least attempt to hold mostly true to the man's memory. What I got was L. Ron Hubbard-like story that essentially venerated Bhuddism/Zen instead of Scientology, all the while spewing nothing but vile contempt at mono-theism, mostly directed at Christian and Islamic religions.
There were some interesting thought-provoking theories explored like the possibility that the force behind the destruction of Sol and all its planets might not have been from aliens who wanted to destroy humankind at all but who were at such a higher sentience level than humans that they gave humankind as much thought as humans give the killing of millions of microbes when taking a shower; only then to use that to segue into why the remaining hundred or so humans left should not hate these aliens and ends up making Truther claims out of whole cloth that purport to show where nothing good would come of it.
As to the protagonist and the other characters, there was very little interesting in them; mostly banal and endless discussion of puppy love gone awry eventually leading to his decision to venture off-planet to escape and then the long, dreary droning of every day life on a constrained ship on its passengers 20 year journey to an uncharted planet.
The prose writing style and the author's jocular narration of it was truly an epic example of two blase skills combining to make suffering through the story as grating to my tolerance threshold as any narrated novel as I've ever experienced.
70+, been reading SF since 1953. Vision is going so have switched to Audible.
This is at least the fourth time I have enjoyed this book. I started SF in second grade and by the end of sixth grade I had read every SF book in the Los Angeles County Library system. My mother signed a special release so I could check out "adult" books. I have watched and read many SF writers over the years and feel that Spider Robinson has definitely captured the essence of Heinlein in the completion of this book. I re-read/re-listen to many of the books I have in my library, and this will be one of them, not because I don't remember the story line but because each time I find that I have missed or was not yet receptive to the material being presented. I believe that is why people call me a "young 70"
A new Heinlein novel! Way cool. And, who better to write it than Spider Robinson. A perfect blend of two magnificent authors. Heinlein would be proud.
There were several memorable moments. Not necessarily "plot" moments, but "Heinlein" moments. Spider was able to, through his thorough knowledge of Heinlein's work, combine his own unique style with Heinlein's universe. I could imagine him saying, "What would Heinlein do with this character?"
Listening to a Spider Robinson book in his own voice is always a special treat. I have enjoyed his Callahan novels, and am currently listening to a Heinlein classic, "Rocket Ship Galileo," performed by Spider.