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The Number of the Beast | [Robert A. Heinlein]

The Number of the Beast

The wickedest, most wonderful science fiction story ever created in our - or any - time. Anything can begin at a party in California - and everything does in this bold masterwork by a grand master of science fiction. When four supremely sensual and unspeakably cerebral humans - two male, two female - find themselves under attack from aliens who want their awesome quantum breakthrough, they take to the skies - and zoom into the cosmos on a rocket roller-coaster ride of adventure, danger, ecstasy, and peril.
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Publisher's Summary

The wickedest, most wonderful science-fiction story ever created in our - or any - time. Anything can begin at a party in California - and everything does in this bold masterwork by a grand master of science fiction.

When four supremely sensual and unspeakably cerebral humans - two male, two female - find themselves under attack from aliens who want their awesome quantum breakthrough, they take to the skies - and zoom into the cosmos on a rocket roller-coaster ride of adventure, danger, ecstasy, and peril.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) was the dominant science-fiction writer of the modern era, a writer whose influence on the field was immense. He won science fiction's Hugo Award for best novel four times.

©1980 Robert A. Heinlein. 2003 by the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“One of the grand masters of science fiction.” (Wall Street Journal)

“The most influential science fiction writer of all time!” (Locus)

“[A story] about two men and two women in a time-machine safari through this and other universes. But describing The Number of the Beast thus is like saying Moby-Dick is about a one-legged guy trying to catch a fish.” (National Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (389 )
5 star
 (151)
4 star
 (87)
3 star
 (80)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.8 (357 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (355 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (74)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Michelle Woodstock, GA, United States 05-30-12
    Michelle Woodstock, GA, United States 05-30-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "I've been waiting for this book in audio format..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would have waited even longer to have better narration. I'm two hours into the audiobook. I'm forcing myself to continue on, because I haven't experienced this story since my paperback copy went missing back in the early 90s.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I don't mind ensemble readings. The Godfather was quite enjoyable. But this... I don't know if I'll finish it. I like Bernadette Dunn, usually. I don't care much for her reading of Hilda, but in my opinion, her performance is the best of the group. Deety's narrator makes her sound utterly immature and annoying. Her intelligently-written character becomes whiny and annoying. Zeb is read like he is a doddering old man. Jake's character performance is not memorable either way.


    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Garrison Seattle, WA USA 09-24-12
    M. Garrison Seattle, WA USA 09-24-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book, but some voices were irritating"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The book itself rotates perspective between the four main characters. For the audio, they handled this by having four voice actors, one for each perspective. And so the actor reading as Jacob, for example, would voice the entire chapter written from his perspective, including doing his impression of Hilda's voice when she is speaking, etc. Then when it's a Hilda perspective chapter, you have that voice actor doing their impression of everyone's voices. The total effect was irritating for me, and might had been confusing as well had I not previously read the book in print. It would have been better if they had either:

    1) had each of the actors do their own dialogue in all chapters, and have the actor whose perspective the chapter was do all of the non dialogue.

    Or

    2) just had one person narrate the entire book.


    What three words best describe the narrators’s voice?

    While the male voices were fine, the female voices often came across as overly ditzy or sexual, which detracted from the book as a whole.


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Auset 08-12-12
    Auset 08-12-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "One Aching Pain Short of Heaven"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I love this book - BUT I really recommend waiting until they delete the passages narrated by Emily Durante. I'm so sorry to say it - but her segments are so terribly awful that I have to skip them. It is NO FUN listening with my hand on the button to "Scram" when I hear that voice. It interrupts the flow of the book - abruptly break the mood. It distracts me with thoughts like "nepotism, training wheels" and "at my expense". There is at least one passage where she is actually inoffensive. Thank Goodness I know the book so well. So I just imagine through those parts. We who purchased it should get a credit for the corrected version with Ms. Durante excised and replaced by...Ms. Dunne for example. It pains me to say that of someone's narration - but it pains me to listen to Ms. Durante. For those who've read the other Lazarus Long novels and stories - this entire book is memorable and rather important. Like me, readers may have been waiting for its audio format. I call it Hands-Free reading. It is a torturous shame that they allowed one poor narrator to ruin the overall experience. As may be...the book and the other narrators are all such a pleasure!


    What other book might you compare The Number of the Beast to and why?

    I compare it to...other Heinlein books, especially the Future History works: The Cat Who Walked Through Walls...Time Enough For Love... pick one and insert title here. Why? Because they are part of a larger opus, their elements: content, tone, narration/listening experiences, make comparison to this nearly automatic for me.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

    I might listen to Mark Twain, and other books with a cool, scratchy, country/Southern US twang, by Mr. Runnette; perhaps very short children's books by Ms. Durante, after she's trained up; and Anything by the other Narrators.


    Do you think The Number of the Beast needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    YES!!! A REVISED, CORRECTED VERSION as described above!!! YES!! Follow-up with an APOLOGY! And...Yes - the rest of the Future History Books - and Short Stories. Wake up RAH - rejuvenate him and give him a stiff infusion of modernity and set him back to joyful work!!


    Any additional comments?

    USE NARRATORS THOUGHTFULLY - Example: If Zeb is clearly described to have a deep, resonant voice - don't use the one male talent with the higher-pitched, cool, yet scratchy/twangy, elder sound to voice him. It's not fair to them or to the text. Heinlein's books are Smart - even with his certain "off" views and socio-sexual anachronisms. But they are ultimately smart as all h=ll - and that makes the not-smart choice of any narrator even more off-putting. I truly hope it will be amended.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harry United States 08-13-13
    Harry United States 08-13-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "So disappointing"
    What would have made The Number of the Beast better?

    I loved starship troopers and stranger in a strange land. This one is just weird. The major themes are nudism, breasts, open and insestual marriage, commanding and sci-fi and fantasy books I've not read. When Asimov called Heinlein a "flaming liberal," he wasn't kidding. I kept hoping they would explore clever uses of the continua drive, but nothin. I had to stop listening at the end because it made no sense to me. There should be a required reading list for before you read this book so you could get any of the references. It doesn't work on its own.


    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Batavia, IL, United States 05-31-13
    Jim Batavia, IL, United States 05-31-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well, that was a waste...."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A completely different book


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert A. Heinlein again?

    Yes, I'm working my way through all of his books. I love most of his stuff. LOVE it. Which is the only reason I kept reading this waste of time.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I don't think so.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Number of the Beast?

    The geometry and navigation lessons, the nonsense about command, and any scenes involving the four main characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Heinlein has created a mess of a book. He has created characters I can't stand, a story premise that is unintelligible, and seems to have a fetish for the word "kiss." In almost every scene where someone is leaving, someone else is saying "kiss me." He has done this in other books, but this one is just brutally annoying.

    The only thing I liked was "Gay Deceiver" and the furtherance of the Lazarus Long mythology. But that was the last quarter of the book. The rest - well, read this if you're reading other Heinlein stuff. You'll hate it, but it's like the one course in college you had to take.

    Don't bother reading it otherwise.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liberty Dunedin, FL, United States 10-12-12
    Liberty Dunedin, FL, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Take an exciting ride in Gay Deceiver"

    This book was written for those of us who grew up checking cereal boxes, just in case, because smart girls need spacesuits too! About a year ago I begged Audible for this book. Let's face it, we aren't getting any younger, and no large print editions were available. Experiencing this book in audio is truly a wild ride in the Gay Deceiver as it should be done, voice and ears only! This is a MUST LISTEN for Heinlein fans.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald 10-01-12
    Donald 10-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A Chick Flick,"
    What disappointed you about The Number of the Beast?

    Almost no adventure. You would have almost as much fun listening to your wife and her girls friends talk.


    Has The Number of the Beast turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No he has written a lot of great books, just not this one.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    None


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    Read his older works.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisa Buch 08-30-12
    Elisa Buch 08-30-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Overall Good Story"
    What did you love best about The Number of the Beast?

    I read this book years ago and thoroughly enjoyed listening to this excellent production. I had forgotten how confusing the story could be at times but the cast did a fantastic job and I really enjoyed listening to it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I am not sure who my favorite character is because they were all portrayed so well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, though I did listen to it over a few days.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Schmitt CA 08-06-12
    A. Schmitt CA 08-06-12 Member Since 2009

    asrcav8r

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Number of the Beast the most enjoyable?

    Remembering the story and how it connects to the bigger story of Laz and his family


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hilda Corners-Burroughs.
    She kicked Lazarus' ass


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The meeting with Dora and her crew


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The devil is in the details


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terri B in ME United States 06-19-12
    Terri B in ME United States 06-19-12 Member Since 2009

    Terri B in ME

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    5
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    "Classic late Heinlein."
    Would you listen to The Number of the Beast again? Why?

    Although I will probably listen to this again, as I usually listen to my Heinlein often, it won't be any time soon. Having four narrators was probably the best way to present the four different viewpoints, but the narrator for DeeTee sounded too much like a little girl and didn't pull off the male voices as well as the other female narrator.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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