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I Will Fear No Evil | [Robert A. Heinlein]

I Will Fear No Evil

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“Magnificent. A science fiction masterpiece.” (Galaxy)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (346 )
5 star
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3.4 (290 )
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Story
4.0 (281 )
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3 star
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2 star
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  •  
    Lisa Whiting, IN, United States 05-06-11
    Lisa Whiting, IN, United States 05-06-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Not Heinlein's best - but still good"

    I am an admitted Heinlein fan. I own the entire canon in paper, everything available in e-book format, and everything Audible carries in audio. But this is not his best novel. He wrote it at a low point in his career. The story is still entertaining, but the characters are not his most compelling. So why purchase this book?

    Heinlein, as always, provides interesting commentary on our culture. Many of his ideas are coming to pass today. There are creditable observations on how America is moving to a fractured society run by corporate interests and political thugs. Remember that his ideas about the relation of medicine to law were written over 30 years ago. His vision is impressive and thought provoking.

    The performance and recording are superb. I was unfamiliar with Anthony Heald until this work. I will seek out his other performances - he's outstanding.

    And it's a fun listen. Look, the sex scenes will seem silly. The metaphysical ideas are really out there. But it's still an enjoyable way to spend hours. You won't be bored.

    Thank you Blackstone Audio and Audible for adding this masterwork to your collection.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Halethorpe, MD, United States 11-12-12
    David Halethorpe, MD, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2010

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "If you're a Heinlein fan, don't ruin it, run away!"

    ...Heinlein

    what were you thinking?

    I don't even know where to begin.


    Okay, I can forgive Heinlein a lot. I forgave him for "Friday." By the end of his career, the Old Man was pretty much just churning out whatever he felt like. But he gave us "Starship Troopers" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Podkayne of Mars" (I know, that last one rarely makes anyone's list of Heinlein favorites, but I liked it), and a lot of other fantastic science fiction, much of which is actually teen-friendly and teen-accessible.

    I had never read this abomination, though. This... appalling distillation of the very skeeviest crevices of that dirty old man's id, dredged from the depths of early 20th century gender stereotypes and glossed with the 1970s "free love" aesthetic Heinlein had going on. The result is "I Will Fear No Evil", in which a 90-something-year-old man has his brain transplanted into the body of his hot secretary and promptly turns into the girliest girl who ever spent most of a novel running around tee-heeing that she's not wearing any panties.

    yeah seriously did we take a left turn at Piers Anthony here?


    And it's not like Heinlein didn't have the writing chops to make this interesting, or that he couldn't explore mind-bending ideas, including gender reification which when he wrote this in 1970 still was barely out of the realm of science fiction.

    (But Ursula Le Guin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969 so Heinlein you have no excuse!)

    So, I already told you the plot. Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is a billionaire, born long enough ago to remember the Great Depression, but the book is set in the early 21st century. Smith's ancient body is only being kept alive by life support, so he arranges to be the "donor" in the world's first brain transplant operation. By sheer coincidence, his gorgeous young secretary, Eunice Branca, is murdered a few days later, and Smith's brain is transplanted into her body.

    So, a lifelong heterosexual male born almost a century ago exploring life in the body of a nubile young female. Could be interesting, right? Even if not handled precisely... ah... sensitively? It could still be a good story, especially in the hands of Robert Heinlein, who for all his faults (every single one of which oozes across the pages in this book) was a darn good storyteller.

    But I Will Fear No Evil is not a good story. It's an endless series of conversations between Johann and Eunice (who somehow still "inhabits" Johann's mind even though her brain is gone) about sex. Johann, without even hesitating, embraces the role of becoming a male fantasy, giggling frequently to Eunice that being a girl is so much fun! As "Joan" he goes about kissing, fondling, and doing pretty much anyone who holds still long enough. But mostly men. Always the men. She strips and flaunts and teases and seduces because that's what girls are for — always with Eunice's wholehearted psychic approval, because Eunice herself, as she describes repeatedly in wanky detail, was also fond of jumping anything with a pulse, especially if it was male.

    Of course, all the men "Joan" is fooling around with know that it's actually their nonagenarian boss occupying that body, but none of them hesitate for a moment either. Just as Johann immediately accepts that he's now a girl, so does everyone else.

    I haven't even gotten into the spanking and the lessons on how women must always be super-hot and sexually available but never forget to clean the toilet and the impregnating herself with his seed and

    yeah seriously


    Everything — everything — you have ever heard about Heinlein's "problematic" gender issues and skeevy sex roles is spread in stark glossy airbrushed glory across this book. I Will Fear No Evil is a course in anti-Heinleinism: "Why Robert A. Heinlein was a Skeevy Old Man 101." Everything you need to know about why he has so many detractors. Minus the alleged fascism and libertarianism, because the minimal worldbuilding is just another representation of a crumbling overpopulated socialist-capitalist state. There's a bit of Heinlein's usual ruminating about individualism, but then Joan is off to flash some other dude, and we're back to the main plot of the novel, which is how many different conversations Joann can have about sex in between having sex. Threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, girls, boys, at least she didn't get around to bestiality but there was serious contemplation of incest and a tempting little thirteen-year-old...

    yeah seriously that is the plot


    Honestly, I wouldn't have hated this book quite so much (though I'd still have mocked the heck out of it) if it had a plot.

    For the love of Hugo Gernsback, do not read this novel if you've never read anything else by Heinlein, because I promise you'll never want to read anything else by him. I can't see how even the most ardent Heinlein fan could love this book. (I've read some of the 5-star reviews, trying to figure out what those readers saw in it, and... no, I still don't get it.)

    Heinlein wrote some great books. Even some of his really problematic books (well, they were probably all problematic in some fashion) were great books. But this? It made my skin crawl. And worse, it bored me. It. Stank.

    One. Star.

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Springfield, MO, United States 02-17-13
    James Springfield, MO, United States 02-17-13 Member Since 2010

    New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.

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    "Shorter Verison of David's Review"

    David's review of run, don't read is a great review, only a little long.

    I am a Heinlein fan. I loved The Green Hills of Earth, Starship Troopers, Starman Jones, Have Spacesuit Will Travel and Double Star. This book is crap.

    I did not like Friday or Stranger in A Strange Land. This book is in that category.

    This 90 year old man gets his brain transplanted into a 20 something hot chick's body. As a man he was a man's man and loved women. Once he is in a female body, he becomes a airhead. He wants to sleep with everybody including his best friend. He is so pretty he makes gay men want to go straight. I am pretty sure that if tomorrow my best friend's brain ends up in Beyonce's body, I am going to be too weirded out to have sex with him/she. Heinlein believes that a change in body will change our gender, yet studies show that it is the brain that determines the sex.

    The worst part is that this is 19 hours long. I could handle eight to ten hours of it, but not 19. After the surgery is over, the book reads like a cheap romance. Lots and lots of girl talk. Hours of girl talk. Mind numbing middle school girl talk with adult situations thrown in.

    Please do not let this be your first Heinlein.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Saell 12-13-11
    Jan Saell 12-13-11 Member Since 2002
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    "My brain work in images"
    What did you love best about I Will Fear No Evil?

    My brain work in images.

    This can sometimes lead to confusion or misses. When I first saw the Lord of the Ring movie, I was so surprised and annoyed when they cam to Rivendal as it, in my minds picture, was on the other side of the river.

    So when I read a book I can se most of the story played in my mind and that gives me great pleasure in reading.

    At the moment im reading the book - well listening to the audiobook - I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Hainlein. It was fist published in 1970 so its a bit old but its a very nice book.

    The plot is that billionaire Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is dying, and wants to have his brain transplanted into a new body. His beautiful young female secretary, Eunice Branca, is murdered, so her body is used, since Smith never thought to place any restriction on the sex of the donor.

    For some strange reason the spirit (or whatever you want to call it) is Eunice is still with Johann when he wakes up after the transplantation in the new body.

    The book then continues to follow the 2 minds as they experience a , for Johann, new world and new body. And a new sex. Yes the book steams of sex. Actually its not written that much and there are no explicit writing of it, just what leading up to it and feelings and so on. But as my mind is very graphical its very sexy for me.

    I would say that this is one of the most trilling books I have read in a long while.


    What about Anthony Heald???s performance did you like?

    The vocal artists are doing a wounderfull job. Even when you started to hear the words from Eunice, you cluld here that it was here before you got the explanation it was her.

    So the characterization of the characters in the book is very nice and its hard to put it down.


    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristie Seattle, WA, United States 06-20-12
    Kristie Seattle, WA, United States 06-20-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Escape into Luxury and the Female Mind"
    What did you love best about I Will Fear No Evil?

    Riding the bus, or walking wet dark streets, my mind was taken to a place where money buys everything, but love wins even more.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Heinlein is the master of course, and he keeps a half dozen sub plots spinning around the main line. I felt invited into the world of men from a woman's perspective. Only Heinlein can write a story where the heroine has both a tender and loving heart, and a backbone of steel.


    What about Anthony Heald’s performance did you like?

    His voice is warm and welcoming. His inflection is very pleasing, and he seems to understand each of the many cast of characters to deep degree. This book sounds like I heard it in my head the first time I read this book many years ago.


    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Dubai, United Arab Emirates 10-02-12
    Scott Dubai, United Arab Emirates 10-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "classic scifi from a master story teller"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would gladly recommend I WILL FEAR NO EVIL as I read the book 20 years ago and was impressed by the topic Heinlein developed around what would my world look like after a brain transplant and how would I reorganize 'who am I' with my new body.

    I was impressed by the reader who has a great range of voices for this story.

    I find that I listen to Audible in my car as I do a fair bit of driving (appointments, errands, business meetings,...) and I look forward to some stories more than others. I WILL FEAR NO EVIL is one of those stories that I looked forward to getting back into the car and listening to the balance of the story.

    Heinlein's is a legend in sci fi and I find I WILL FEAR NO EVIL is still relevant today as it was when it was written decades ago.

    ENJOY!


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sammy RALEIGH, NC, United States 06-26-14
    sammy RALEIGH, NC, United States 06-26-14 Member Since 2010

    vandy fan

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    "Interesting story."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Maybe? If the friend likes hard core military, space Sci-Fi then definitely not; however, if the friend likes cerebral, "what if" Sci-Fi then maybe.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Seemed appropriate but wasn't great.


    What about Anthony Heald’s performance did you like?

    Excellent performance.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Johann was talking to Eunice about being a virgin but neither was but yet it was Johann's first time having sex as a woman. I don't know if the moment moved me or if it was just a very well-written passage.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy Walnut Creek, CA, United States 06-21-14
    Jeremy Walnut Creek, CA, United States 06-21-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Not what I expected"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This was not the same as most of Heinlein's other works. It was boring and I felt like it was just an expression of 'free sexuality' that he was exploring in his later life. No action. No real mystery.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was fine.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Heinlein does know how to craft interesting characters and paint vivid pictures of possible futures.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simon Fraser NYC 06-12-14
    Simon Fraser NYC 06-12-14 Member Since 2009

    Draws comics

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    "I feel so sorry for the narrator of this one."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tami Port Allegany, PA, United States 06-03-14
    Tami Port Allegany, PA, United States 06-03-14 Member Since 2009

    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.

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    "Amazing Gender Bender with awe inspiring narration"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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