Hugh Farnham is a practical, self-made man, and when he sees the clouds of nuclear war gathering, he builds a bomb shelter under his house, hoping for peace and preparing for war. But when the apocalypse comes, something happens that he did not expect. A thermonuclear blast tears apart the fabric of time and hurls his shelter into a world with no sign of other human beings.
Farnham and his family have barely settled down to the backbreaking business of low-tech survival when they find that they are not alone after all. The same nuclear war that catapaulted Farnham 2,000 years into the future has destroyed all civilization in the northern hemisphere, leaving Africans as the dominant surviving people.
In the new world order, Farnham and his family, being members of the race that nearly destroyed the world, are fit only to be slaves. After surviving a nuclear war, Farnham has no intention of being anyone’s slave, but the tyrannical power of the Chosen race reaches throughout the world. Even if he manages to escape, where can he run to?
©1964 Robert A. Heinlein, 1992 by Mrs. Virginia Heinlein (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Heinlein’s story is as engrossing now as it was in its original form decades ago.” (Midwest Book Review)
This book has some notoriety among Heinlein's legions of critics for being a "reverse racism" story in which a group of white people (and their one black house-servant) are blasted thousands of years forward in time by a nuclear war, and find themselves in a future ruled by black overlords, served by an underclass of subservient whites.
Farnham's Freehold is actually not that bad, nor is the narrative message as ham-fisted as I expected; Heinlein was a progressive for his time, and notwithstanding all those people who claim he was a libertarian, less plausibly, a "right-winger," or absurdly, a fascist, he was clearly trying to make a positive statement about freedom, self-determinaton, and racial coexistence. The story is more complex than some of the more inflammatory reviews give it credit for — most of the characters, white and black, are decent by their own standards but flawed in various ways, and no one is made out to be inherently better or villainous by virtue of their race.
That said, it's understandable that a novel written in 1964 about blacks imposing chattel slavery and racial supremacy over whites — and literally ranching them for food — might be seen as a somewhat less than elevating contribution to the genre today.
As a story, this was okay, but not one of Heinlein's best (though certainly not his worst either). Hugh Farnham is a typical Heinleinian omni-capable Everyman, aided and assisted by a typical Heinleinian woman (hot, willing, smart and capable but knows her place and likes it) as they try to escape from the dystopian nightmare they have found themselves in. Actually, as dystopias go, none of the characters in the book are treated particularly badly, a point made repeatedly by their "Charity"/master, and refuted effectively by Farnham when he points out what the "King's Charity" really means. Like most Heinlein novels, there is food for thought here, and a decent amount of adventure, and a lot of nubile fourteen-year-old sex slaves (who the main character of course is too noble to take advantage of).
Interesting but dated, and not what I would recommend to someone new to Heinlein, but if you like his other, better works, Farnham's Freehold will probably entertain you.
I love time travel novels. If you follow my reviews you will see I have reviewed a lot of them Audible offers. This one is in the lower 3rd of that group. To me, I want a minimum of 3 things in a novel: 1) characters I care about 2) A good plot that keeps me guessing 3) A good pace with enough action to maintain my attention. This book is obviously dated compared to others I have read, which isn't always bad. I feel there wasn't enough time devoted to character development at the beginning, so I didn't really feel any of the emotions of the characters or care what happened to them. Also, it really lacked a decent amount of modern time travel theory. There was some interesting thoughts at times, but I feel nothing was explored or explained enough to be satisfying. There is a real lack of scientific vantage point. The characters quickly end up in another time, but the events that transpired in the future were really boring for the most part. It was heavy on social injustices and taboos but time travel itself was absent for a LONG time. If I would've known what you know now, I wouldn't try this one. Instead, I highly recommend 'Replay - Ken Grimwood', 'Lightning - Dean Koontz' and 'Schumann Frequency - Chris Ride' for the best I've read. I really hope this helps. Later.
I'm sure the storyline must have shocked many when it was first written, but as others have said, it seems a bit dated now. Especially annoying are the vacuous female characters.
Tom Weiner did a very good job narrating and I think he brought to life the character of Hugh Farnham in all his anachronistic glory. He even did a decent job making Ponse believable and even somewhat sympathetic.
One thing that made me laugh was that I kept visualizing the commander from the "Team America" movie whenever Hugh Farnham's character spoke. That's OK though since those characters are really one and the same.
Overall a good job, but not one of my favorites.
I most enjoyed the ending (which I won't explain in detail) because second chances were involved.
I have long been a Heinlein fan and read this story many years ago. It was very interesting to have the characters and narration voiced. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
IF YOU WANT ME
Within the first two hours and chapters, Hugh manages to get three women naked and commit adultery while his wife is drugged on the other side of the curtain. The daughter knows about the adultery and approves, making friends with the woman. She also admits that she would love to sleep with her dad. Three men and three women survive an atomic blast. They live by their selves for months. All the women are interested in the old man Hugh, they have no interest in the two younger men.
HE MADE FAST TIME TO THE SLUT'S QUARTERS
Sluts and Studs are a major part of the second half of this book. There is a science fiction story in this book and I was able to listen to the whole thing, as I wanted to know what was going to happen. Parts of the story bothered me, such as why these survivors never explored to see if anyone else survived. I also knew right away what happened to them, but they came up with two other ideas and never thought of the real one, that you has the reader will suspect right away. We are led to believe that Hugh is okay to commit adultery because his wife is fat and a drunk. We are led to believe it is okay for Hugh to threaten to shoot his own son, cause he is a stupid spoiled mamma's boy. Hugh is pictured as the perfect he-man. His wife and son are not his fault. When you read this you will realize that his wife and son are the way they are, because of Hugh. There was a very tense time, when Hugh's daughter has a baby. This chapter was well written.
My library is now empty of Heinlein books. I will continue to read Heinlein, but it will only be his earlier books and I will check out the reviews, to make sure they are not in the pro incest category. I hope reviewers will be truthful and call a spade a spade. I hope those who are truthful will not be banned to the back pages, by dreamy eyed Heinlein fans that think his #### don't stink.
Typical Heinlein - challanging accepted sexual practicies coupled with period social issues and of course science fiction.
I bought this expecting a realistic account of a man transplanted into a wilderness and his struggle to survive. The book partly delivered that, but I could never get over the conservative values and extreme misogyny continuously trumpeted throughout the book. The hero is an arch man's man and placed in a conservative's wet dream where he must survive by his own strength and wits while commanding those around him with a stern hand. We have two liberal straw men on display in the form of the protaginist's son and wife, the former an atheist fop who eventually comes around to the idea of faith and the latter a social lush who cannot handle reality and craves only her own comfort. Only the main character Hugh has any good solutions to any problems, but he is such a detestable asshole about it, I could never support him. All of the women in this book are weak, emotional children, and entirely dependent on men for any real sort of task and serve only supporting roles. I imagine the likes of Rush Limbagh and Glen Beck would love this sort of tale and find its message entirely appropriate and relevant to today's audience. The only excuse I can give it is that it was written in the 1960's and probably reflected the morality of the times. In fact it has something of an "anti-racist" message. At least I think the book thinks it does. The main character claims not to judge men by their skin color, but then we still see a future ruled by dark skinned cannibals following the extinction of the northern hemisphere. But even if Hugh does not judge a man by his skin color he will judge a person by their gender and has little respect for concepts like equality or democracy or egalitarianism. I guess if you're a die hard conservative, you'll have fun stroking it while listening. For everyone else I can only recommend it as a curiosity
I was told that, "unless you are a white, male, nudist, Heinlein will offend you". This book proves that point. Full of antiquated sentiment, unexplained science (more like masked magic), and way too many hands of Bridge, spending time listening to it felt like a waste.
I'm disheartened by all the bad reviews on the goodreads social network about this book because I absolutely loved it. I started the novel honestly expecting not to like it. I bought it for the Heinlein name and decided to give it a try. This book never has a "twist," but took me on a journey that I never guessed. It was an apocalyptic novel with time travel and parallel universes. I identified with Farnham, the hero of the novel, and his sweetheart-later wife. I didn't read this as a political satire like some of the other reviewers (understandable because that was probably how Heinlein intended it); I just read it like a novel. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it more? I did love how a white author from Mississippi chose to write about a future society that dark skinned humans are the ruling class and light skinned humans are slaves. I think it shows insights to Heinlein's soul.
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