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 had read another of Heinlein's books about the same characters (Time Enough for Love) where he was writing about Lazerus Long as he looked back on a v-e-r-y long life. So when I found this one I had to have it. It was a delight as I listened to the beginning of the history of the Howard Family and their fight to survive against their short-lived kin and incidentally became the first people to voyage to the stars. There was some overlap in the two storylines but the details were more fleshed out in Children.
If I had this book in paperback it would probably be in a definitely worn condition because I would want to read it again and again.
Methuselah's Children is a great example of the brilliance of RAH. I am a fan of all his work, beginning with "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and ending with the latest on I've read, "Farhnam's Freehold". RAH is a master of social commentary wrapped in amazing narrative and interesting characters. He did have an "ahead of his time" view on societal norms and taboos, specially sex, so be forewarned that no subject is taboo in his writings.
Methuselah's Children is the first on the series. Read, "Time enough for love" for the next installment. For the complete story line, you should read:
Time Enough for Love
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Unrelated story line that is returned to later.
Stranger in a Strange Land. Unrelated but needed later.
The Number of the Beast. There are rumors that this one was not written by RAH but by his wife. Style is very different although story and characters are brought together from "time enough for love" , "Moon is a harsh mistress" and "Stranger in a strange land".
To Sail Beyond the Sunset. The final chapter of the series
I bought this to add to my Robert A. Heinlein stash of audiobooks. This is the first unabridged recording I have come across, at least that was worth listening to. There was one done as a book for the blind years and years ago, but the woman reading was *horrible*. Is this a good book? Yes, absolutely. Is it a *great* book, no, but I didn't feel cheated listening to it. Much of the "eh" factor was the somewhat 2-dimensional characters, but knowing who Lazarus Long would become in later books helped. The only downside to the audio version is I THINK -- and this may be my faulty memory -- that there was a brief little intro in the printed version describing the beginnings of the Howard Familiies that isn't on the audiobook. I don't have a printed copy to check, so I may easily be wrong.If you're a Heinlein fan, by all means get this. If this is your first Heinlein book, I would recommend Have Space Suit Will Travel or The Rolling Stones above Methuselah's Children as a first read. If you're a fan of Lazarus Long, read Time Enough For Love.
Sadly, the most interesting part of the book was the depiction of how easily society in general -- so-called "normal people" -- can turn from being your friendly neighbors into a mindless mob when they don't get something they want, even if that something doesn't exist!
Mr. Andrews' performance was adequate if not inspired. I've heard better readers but I've certainly heard worse. I'd want to hear more examples of his work before I write him off completely.
Always,,,,, If you have an open mind, not afraid of other opinions, and willing to listen to a story,,,,This could be for you,
If you are familiar with Heinlein and his future history stories, This novel is one of the bedrock stories---an introduction to Lazarus Long and the Howard families, who have the problem of living longer than regular humans. This is due to their parents and grandparents participating in an experiment which encouraged longer-lived people to marry and have children together by the simple inducement of being paid for each child produced.......Surprise!! It worked.
Thoroughly enjoyable and well worth having in my library. Some events in the storyline have flavors of, "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," and "Time For The Stars."
The performance was great--MacLeod Andrews does an excellent job. I've listened to this title several times in the last week and will keep in rotation with Time Enough For Love. I really enjoy having more back-story on Lazarus Long and the Howard foundation.
Again, this is sci-fi that does what sci-fi does best--hold a mirror to our current world. A great work by Heinlein!
I first read Methuselah's Children as a young woman and, although I was already hooked on Robert Heinlein, I fell in love with the characters of the Howard Families. I especially loved the amazing and swashbuckling free spirit, Lazarus Long (Woodrow Wilson Smith.) The story is sheer fun, although the message about the value of life and the importance of knowing it will end and facing that without fear, along with other thought-provoking themes elevated it above just "fluff."
The original story was serialized in a Science Fiction magazine in 1941 (very common in those days.) It was expanded into a novel and published in 1958. It is part of what Heinlein called his "Future History" series. For me, having been alive - albeit very young - in 1958, the anachronisms seem both shocking and hilarious. As wise and "forward thinking" as Heinlein was for his time, there was much he didn't foresee. Two aspects most stand out as products of the time. The first is the ubiquitous smoking everyone was doing, which was hilarious. The second was the role of women, which was less hilarious. Admittedly, they weren't pictured quite as fully second-class citizens as they really were in the first half of the 20th century, but the firm hold of power that the men hold in this story is a stark reminder of what life was like then.
Nevertheless, if you bring your imagination and remember when this was written, you'll enjoy it.
Now I shall begin "Time Enough for Love," the sequel to "Methuselah's Children," and my absolute favorite Heinlein novel (well... along with "Stranger in a Strange Land," my other absolute favorite Heinlein.)
Before getting this, Starship Troopers was unquestionably my favorite thing Robert Heinlein wrote. Now, I'm not so sure.
In a sort of odd quirk, I've read almost all of Heinlein's works in reverse chronological order. This wasn't my introduction to Lazarus Long and the Howards, this was actually the last thing I read about them. It didn't make a difference. The storytelling is fantastic, and even knowing in principle where each leg of the plot would lead, it was still great to watch the details unfold.
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. :)
"My first Heinlein - I'm hooked!"
As a big Arthur C Clarke and, in particular, Asimov, fan, encountering my first Heinlein novel is like discovering a whole new motherlode of my favourite type of science-fiction. Although a little dated in places (people smoke, for example), I was astonished, on finishing the book, to see that it was first published in 1941 so, when the moon landings are mentioned they are in the characters' past but the writer's future.
The plot itself is a little pedestrian - a series of events rather than the build up of tension more typical of modern writing. Perhaps this was because it was originally serialised. Having said that, it raised lots of interesting issues and was full of ideas. It's also not afraid to include "real" science and maths that the reader/listener is unlikely to understand. I like that.
The narration was fine - not a great range of voices though. And the Australian accent in the first part of the book is absolutely hilarious.
Overall, a great introduction to Heinlein - I'm just gutted that the next book in the "Lazarus Long" sequence ("Time Enough for Love") isn't on Audible. I guess I'll have to actually read it then,,,
"Great story! Well portrayed."
Really great unabridged version. Brilliantly read! Loved this author for years and thoroughly enjoyed this version.
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