As startling and provocative as his famous Stranger in a Strange Land, here is Heinlein’s grand masterpiece about a man supremely talented, immensely old, and obscenely wealthy who discovers that money can buy everything.
Johann Sebastian Bach Smith was immensely rich—and very old. Though his mind was still keen, his body was worn out. His solution was to have surgeons transplant his brain into a new body. The operation was a great success—but the patient was no longer Johann Sebastian Bach Smith. He was now fused with the very vocal personality of his gorgeous, recently deceased secretary, Eunice—with mind-blowing results! Together they must learn to share control of her body.
Once again, master storyteller Robert A. Heinlein delivers a wild and intriguing classic of science fiction. Written at the dawn of the 1970s, this novel is the brilliantly shocking story of the ultimate transplant.
©1970 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Magnificent. A science fiction masterpiece.” (Galaxy)
I've been working my way through all the Heinlein I can over the last few years. Early period, late period, middle period. The sexual politics of it have always been troublesome, but I'm willing to make some allowances for a 'historical' or idiosyncratic point of view. Heinlein at his best wrote some of the best Science Fiction written.
I Will Fear No Evil is sadly quite a long way from that. I haven't finished it yet and I'm struggling with whether I can get through it at all. It's making my skin crawl frankly. Heinlein was often guilty of projecting a kind of perfect woman/sex doll/fantasy archetype on his lead female characters. I've kind of skipped over it in the past with a wince. It's impossible to do that here as this is the WHOLE BOOK! The plot is summarised elsewhere so you can work out for yourself whether that is interesting enough as a curiosity to read yourself. I'm not recommending that you do that.
Anthony Heald is normally a superb narrator. He handles the male voices with great skill and gravitas. Sadly the female voices are more of a challenge and as they dominate the second half of the book that can become quite....difficult to listen to. Imagine an old transvestite telling you about his sexual fantasies and that's pretty much what this sounds like. I mean no disrespect to Heald in saying this, the book does him few favours. He's normally a narrator that I seek out.
I may take a rest from Heinlein for a while.
I discovered the joy of audiobooks several years ago when I got a job which is a 45 min drive one way. It continued to keep me mostly sane.
I enjoy some Heinlein novels and this is one of them. I read it many times, but I never enjoyed it half so much as when I listened to it. My hat is off to Anthony Heald, who juggled a LOT of characters and made us love them all. For the time in which it was written, I'm eternally surprised that the subject matter didn't shock folks, as it's 85% about sex. Regardless, "I Will Fear No Evil" is a fanciful, intelligent tale and Anthony Heald is a narrating genius!
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
There are a number of harsh reviews here regarding Heinlein's depiction of women. I wish I could give a hearty rebuttal, but this is not a book I got deeply attached to. On the other hand, I think the critics are forgetting that the attitudes shown accurately depict a significant segment of liberated women in the 1960s, and that we really haven't moved that far beyond that as you can tell from just a glance at TMZ. Moreover, I don’t think Heinlein was writing for posterity. As far as extrapolating from the time of writing, I think the book was fairly prescient in describing what the 1970s would be like.
On a side note, his fake news stories of the future are dead on accurate in describing the current events of our own time. I don't know if that is hilarious or just intensely sad.
At this distance, it's hard not to wish that Heinlein had been interested in exploring different questions. However, the issues he focused on (gender relations, overpopulation, class privilege, environmental pollution) were the issues of that time. And as far as the depiction of human relationships is concerned, he does an excellent job of capturing the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of his time. It's never clear whether the author perceives them as such. Too bad. Would that we all could perceive the hypocrisies of our own time as clearly.
There is a hint near the beginning of the book that the whole story could merely be a fantasy constructed by a brain cut off from contact with the outside world. But this isn't supported by any further exposition within the text itself. Still, it's interesting to note that every book is essentially a fantasy constructed within the mind of the author.
I can't help wondering how the book would have come across if read by a female narrator. So much of the book takes place within the mind of a woman, and the dated expressions seem especially incongruous being spoken by a man.
The central theme that Heinlein seems to have been interested in was how to get a totally frank conversation between genders without any of the masks or defenses that customarily get in the way. To that end, he created a rather unique scenario. Sadly, I think his solution was of more interest to him and his readers at the time than it will be to readers of our own time.
Sorry Robert but this story was boring.
The whole thing
Very good reader
From chapter 2 to THE END
I like most Heinlein books but this one just had no plot. Kind of get tired keeping track of who was bedding who. The basic premise of the book was interesting but it went no where. If it wasn't for the very good reader, and the idea that there must be a story in here some where I would have deleted it after the first hour.
The author's views on gender and sexuality are so out of date that it makes me sick. Sure, the book is old, but it's not nearly old enough to be forgiven.
This story is rather like a late night fantasy of some hormonal teenager who simply doesn't know yet how people work (or doesn't care, for the sake of the fantasy). Such manuscripts should be buried at the bottom of the drawer, found 15 years later by the author, read with great agony and embarrassment, and then burned.
I picked this up at a sale, otherwise I might have noticed the earlier reviews. I thought I couldn't go wrong with picking a Heinlein. I was wrong.
I was bored with this book. Not a lot happens once the transplant occurs. There's a mildly interesting court hearing and a ton of mildly interesting sex. Unlike most of Heinlein 's work, the future society is not particularly interesting and there aren't any entertaining philosophical diatribes or characters (other than the protagonist).
The narrator did an wonderful job of giving each character a distinct voice and keeping them separate, even when the lines came machine gun style.
As we approach the end of our lives, we all wish to live it with our greatest loves close to us. But honestly, the ending becomes almost ridiculous.
This is not Heinlein's most famous novel, but perhaps it should be better known. I find Heinlein's style to be magical but I can't explain exactly why.
The main focus of the novel appears to be sexual open-mindedness. I guess this was a shocking concept to most people in 1970, and I guess this is still shocking to most people in 2012.
I like the warning about overpopulation. The problem was already bad in 1970 and has gotten worse since. I am happy when authors try to open the eyes of the public to this threat.
The narration is very good.
John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
This book, while well written isn't Heinlein's best. The book has a grand premise and wonderful characters, but seems to be a little to centered on and preachy regarding sex. I'm not a prude and don't mind books with a sexual undercurrent or even theme, but in this case it detracted a little from the masters story for me. Granted Heinlein was rebelling against a rather puritanical society at the time and in that light it is understandable.
However, even with that criticism, this book is a great read. Exploring the psychology of being thrst into a new body, let alone one of the opposite sex is fascinating.
Read it, just don't make it your first Heinlein novel!
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