After the fall of the American Ayatollahs as foretold in Stranger in a Strange Land and chronicled in Revolt in 2100, the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All. No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it cost them; nothing could make them forswear those truths they hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality…
©1958 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I read this growing up, and found it interesting to revisit. Impressions:
1. This is absolutely not a criticism of Heinlein, for obvious reasons, but these days the reason that the Howard families need to leave Earth comes across as what Roget Ebert used a call an idiot plot, that is, a plot that only works if someone acts like an idiot. Genetics has come a long way since 1940.
2. Some clever writing and clever ideas. No surprises there.
3. One of the things I liked best in early Heinlein was his attempts to transcend his culture, and culture in general. He'd seen a huge amount of technological and social change since he was a boy, and it opened his eyes, just as change, and contact with other cultures, led to the Enlightenment discovery that you could talk about religion and culture in the abstract.
You can see Heinlein constantly stretching himself. For example, he alludes to the Crusades in passing as a bunch of ignorant savages (Europeans) bringing down a much more sophisticated culture. Here, and particularly in later books, the results are uneven; he tries to get past the idea of race, for example, but doesn't really understand a lot of things. The women in this book are much more first-class citizens than they tended to be in 1940, but when it comes down to it Heinlein tends to talk about humankind in terms of men.
Regardless, Heinlein deserves full points for what he's trying to do, and, personally, I'm very grateful for having this particular influence growing up.
4. This extends to the aliens the Howard families come across. Psychologically and culturally they're fundamentally different from us apes. With a few exceptions, human beings are constitutionally unable to live as they do, and ultimately find it dangerous to be around them. But these aliens are also shown as welcoming and as having advanced, viable cultures, and there's no sense that they're hostile or at fault, or wrong, for that matter.
5. A lot of sentence start with words like "Huh?" Makes sense to me. If you record people actually talking, that's the way it tends to go. You can't actually write the way people speak, as Sinclair Lewis found, but this is a nice snappy way of giving a little of the flavor of it.
6. Heinlein isn't particularly convincing about some of the science here, but it's just there to move the story along anyway. He does seem to have had at least some contact with general relativity, and is much less naive about some issues, like simultaneity, than most science fiction writers are to this day.
As for the narration, it gets you from Point A to Point B without too much trouble. Lazarus is given a somewhat stagy country accent, but it sort of works. The Australian accents are silly, but there isn't much of that anyway. Mostly the narration is a little flat, but the book doesn't call for much more than that.
Even if we found a way to extend human life, I doubt I will ever live long enough to get tired of the grand old master of science fiction. I have been reading him since I was eight years old. :)
Yes, I had find it be great listening too.
Well, none really. All of it was good. Couldn't put it down.
This is one of those stories you can read over and over, and always find some new tidbit that makes you think. Heinlein was a master at making his characters human and believeable. Crusty old Lazarus is my favorite science fiction character, and i say that the day Spock actually did pass away. Spock is my other favorite, as I grew up with him and captain Kirk. This book, along with time enough for love are some of the best writing Heinlein ever did. i actually listened to this entire book during the course of a single day. Once started, you cannot tear yourself away. The narrator was also excellent on this one. Time well spent.
One of Robert A. Heinlein's best. I was fascinated from the start. It highlights the distrust between human beings that are different and the lengths posing will go through for equality.
Too often very large decisions are made without any real thought or debate. The concept behind the book is good, and the opening chapters promising, but things fall apart soon after
Heinlein creates memorable characters. He tells a great story. This is one of his best.
Lazarus Long's interactions with people are terrific. Chutzpa should be his middle name rather than Wilson.
Andrew Libby is also a terrific character. I don't understand why Heinlein changed him into a woman in one of his later books.
Life-long reader, 10 years listening
I don't know that an audio edition really adds much to this book, a long-time favorite. But this was better, in the sense that it didn't seem as silly/outdated, than *The Number of the Beast*, which was my first RAH audiobook attempt (returned that mess to Audible).
The narrator used more of a corn-pone/hick sort of accent for Lazarus than I would have preferred, but overall he did a good job.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.