I couldn't get through 8 hours.
four readers. one talks through her teeth. another whines half the time. when you have a cast of four and only four major characters that spend their time together speaking to one another, why not produce something like a radio play instead of each reader reading all characters with completely different takes on how the character speaks (and that's not done in a clever 'differing perspectives' kind of way, more like amateur time)
The performance is interesting, with the round-robin of narrators reading the chapters as told from the various characters' points of view, and the narrators do very good jobs, but it's ultimately Heinlein himself who lets us down. The concept of the story is good, but the story itself is just a hot mess. Jerry Pournelle once said that Heinlein's biggest problem was that he became too big to edit, and this story is proof of that statement.
A Science Fiction fan since I could read.. and to a lesser degree Fantasy.... I however enjoy many types of books......
"Read the paperback as a teenager. Now in my late 40's forgot what a long convoluted and ultimately unsatisfactory story."
Great performances but this story doesn't really translate to audio. Better in print. The huge amount of dialogue between characters becomes very tedious.
This fits in well with Heinleins other later works. I first read it a long time ago, possibly when it came out.
It is the story of four or five people. They are all very clever but also impressively individualistic (selfish) and have some rather bizarre personal politics .
On fact, all of Heinleins books show his politics to be right wing and libertarian, in the US usage of the term.
As a child, I never noticed the politics of this excellent story and would recommend it.
You might benefit from having read some of his earlier books first though.
The voices were wrong, IMHO. Zeb's voice was too old, Jake, not "professor-ish" enough. The story, for me, was strong enough to overcome, but the voices were distracting.
To start with I've enjoyed everything from this author so far. I did not know that this book was part of a series. Saying that, the book is wonderful until the main characters meet the characters from the series other books. The book just looses focus, and goes off in unentertaining ways. The book never recovers.
Elderly Republican men and time-traveling bit players from 1950's romantic comedies, or perhaps teen-age boys whose parents are too strict to let them read anything written after 1970.
As I don't know which was which, I probably won't risk it. Most of them were fine, just two were grating -- and one might have been overacting a part even *she* was too irritated by to read straight.
I loved Heinlein when I was a teenager, 40 years ago. I dismissed the feminist critics who claimed his women characters were products of misogyny -- as I still do. Nonetheless, pneumatic multilingual sex kittens with PhD's in Math get wearisome. I made the mistake of trying to read both this (The Number of the Beast) and Time Enough for Love at the same time, and overdosed. Between RAH's unfathomable pregnancy fetish and the endless bickering of the married characters, the pouting coyness (or coy poutiness?) of one of the female readers and the wheezing of one of the men, I couldn't finish it. I hate returning books -- I always think, "well, I'll give it another try," but not this one. I can re-read Starship Troopers one more time and remember why I loved this writer. Now I realize what made it so great -- no women at all for Heinlein to portray in his singularly bizarre way.
Heinlein 's women where always written light in the personality heavy in the loins. When narrators voice there woman to sound like a fawning dits, those characters collapse completely.
The story started off interesting, and the idea of multiple universes in this context was unique. That aspect of the story was very enjoyable, however, the end of part three and all of part four have no drama. The story devolves into a polygamous sex orgy that I did not find either enjoyable or purposeful. It is nice that the multiple different stories of Heinlein are merged in this story, but nothing meaningful or resolute comes from it, other than that they are all now husbands and wives in the Long family and have lots of sex with each other.
The several different narrators gives the audio performance a nice touch, and it keeps things interesting until the latter part of part three and into part four. At that point, only a change in the story could save things. The Cat That Walks Through Walls makes more sense now though, which is nice. I'm a fan of Heinlein, but this book just didn't do much for me.
First the book: This is a great addition to the set of Heinlein's works for those who loved Lazarus Long and wanted more in that vein. The book is largely character driven, plot is uncomplicated, but enjoyable if you can come to enjoy the people in it.
Next the reading: This could have been stunning. An ensemble cast reading of this book... the idea took my breath away. That is not, precisely, what this is. The book is, with an exception or two, written from the perspective of the four major characters, each one voicing a chapter at a time. One reader takes each chapter, so you have Hilda's voice... and Hilda's reader doing Zeb's voice... anyone familiar with audiobooks is accustomed to that, but it was a strange choice. One voice is a bit grating as other reviewers have indicated. The two main male voices are pleasing, but were mis-cast, they should have been reversed.
I am a great lover of this book, so I still enjoyed this reading, but I couldn't help but reflect regularly as it went on that it could have been so much better than it is. If a flawed choice in reader or readers ruins an audiobook for you, I do not recommend this recording.