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.
“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)
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.
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.
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.
2) just had one person narrate the entire book.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
A completely different book
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.
I don't think so.
The geometry and navigation lessons, the nonsense about command, and any scenes involving the four main characters.
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.
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.
Almost no adventure. You would have almost as much fun listening to your wife and her girls friends talk.
No he has written a lot of great books, just not this one.
Read his older works.
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.
I am not sure who my favorite character is because they were all portrayed so well.
No, though I did listen to it over a few days.
Remembering the story and how it connects to the bigger story of Laz and his family
She kicked Lazarus' ass
The meeting with Dora and her crew
The devil is in the details
Terri B in ME
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.
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