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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

3.8 (434 )
5 star
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3.8 (393 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Liberty Dunedin, FL, United States 10-12-12
    Liberty Dunedin, FL, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris midvale, UT, United States 06-04-12
    Chris midvale, UT, United States 06-04-12 Member Since 2008

    Dr. Christopher W. Roberts Ph.d I am a Computer Geek working around the U.S. and the world. I have a lot of Air miles to listen to audible titles.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    108
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    "Must listen before cat that walks through walls"

    The sory in this book besides a homage to the authors of the golden age of SF & F is the ultimate multiverse story. The two following novels form RAH "The cat who walks through walls" which also has the prerequisite of "The Moon is a harsh mistress" the novel "to sail beyond the sunset" is also based on the result of this book. A must listen for Hienlien fans.
    Great listen

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holdfast 05-05-15
    Holdfast 05-05-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Well worth the re-read!"

    This fits in well with Heinleins other later works. I first read it a long time ago, possibly when it came out.
    It is the story of four or five people. They are all very clever but also impressively individualistic (selfish) and have some rather bizarre personal politics .
    On fact, all of Heinleins books show his politics to be right wing and libertarian, in the US usage of the term.
    As a child, I never noticed the politics of this excellent story and would recommend it.
    You might benefit from having read some of his earlier books first though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra M. Miller 05-02-15 Member Since 2013
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    10
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    "Love the Story"

    The voices were wrong, IMHO. Zeb's voice was too old, Jake, not "professor-ish" enough. The story, for me, was strong enough to overcome, but the voices were distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam ARNOLD, MO, United States 03-12-15
    Adam ARNOLD, MO, United States 03-12-15 Member Since 2014

    thebluecanary

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    "About 80% of a good book."

    To start with I've enjoyed everything from this author so far. I did not know that this book was part of a series. Saying that, the book is wonderful until the main characters meet the characters from the series other books. The book just looses focus, and goes off in unentertaining ways. The book never recovers.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Skian 01-04-15
    Skian 01-04-15

    skianmcguire

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    2
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    "This Heinlein didn't age well"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Elderly Republican men and time-traveling bit players from 1950's romantic comedies, or perhaps teen-age boys whose parents are too strict to let them read anything written after 1970.


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    As I don't know which was which, I probably won't risk it. Most of them were fine, just two were grating -- and one might have been overacting a part even *she* was too irritated by to read straight.


    Any additional comments?

    I loved Heinlein when I was a teenager, 40 years ago. I dismissed the feminist critics who claimed his women characters were products of misogyny -- as I still do. Nonetheless, pneumatic multilingual sex kittens with PhD's in Math get wearisome. I made the mistake of trying to read both this (The Number of the Beast) and Time Enough for Love at the same time, and overdosed. Between RAH's unfathomable pregnancy fetish and the endless bickering of the married characters, the pouting coyness (or coy poutiness?) of one of the female readers and the wheezing of one of the men, I couldn't finish it. I hate returning books -- I always think, "well, I'll give it another try," but not this one. I can re-read Starship Troopers one more time and remember why I loved this writer. Now I realize what made it so great -- no women at all for Heinlein to portray in his singularly bizarre way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin 12-30-14
    Justin 12-30-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Heinlein wrote women thin."

    Heinlein 's women where always written light in the personality heavy in the loins. When narrators voice there woman to sound like a fawning dits, those characters collapse completely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross Bradley 12-23-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Very interesting ideas, but hard to finish."

    The story started off interesting, and the idea of multiple universes in this context was unique. That aspect of the story was very enjoyable, however, the end of part three and all of part four have no drama. The story devolves into a polygamous sex orgy that I did not find either enjoyable or purposeful. It is nice that the multiple different stories of Heinlein are merged in this story, but nothing meaningful or resolute comes from it, other than that they are all now husbands and wives in the Long family and have lots of sex with each other.

    The several different narrators gives the audio performance a nice touch, and it keeps things interesting until the latter part of part three and into part four. At that point, only a change in the story could save things. The Cat That Walks Through Walls makes more sense now though, which is nice. I'm a fan of Heinlein, but this book just didn't do much for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy R. Snyder 09-06-14

    J.R. Snyder

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    "Misses greatness, but still enjoyed it"

    First the book: This is a great addition to the set of Heinlein's works for those who loved Lazarus Long and wanted more in that vein. The book is largely character driven, plot is uncomplicated, but enjoyable if you can come to enjoy the people in it.

    Next the reading: This could have been stunning. An ensemble cast reading of this book... the idea took my breath away. That is not, precisely, what this is. The book is, with an exception or two, written from the perspective of the four major characters, each one voicing a chapter at a time. One reader takes each chapter, so you have Hilda's voice... and Hilda's reader doing Zeb's voice... anyone familiar with audiobooks is accustomed to that, but it was a strange choice. One voice is a bit grating as other reviewers have indicated. The two main male voices are pleasing, but were mis-cast, they should have been reversed.

    I am a great lover of this book, so I still enjoyed this reading, but I couldn't help but reflect regularly as it went on that it could have been so much better than it is. If a flawed choice in reader or readers ruins an audiobook for you, I do not recommend this recording.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Fountain Valley, CA, United States 07-10-14
    Keith Fountain Valley, CA, United States 07-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "So disappointing, because I know it's a good book"

    I've read the book, long ago, so I know it is good. Listening too this version was painful. I had to stop after a few hours. Just couldn't take it any longer. The narration was not working well at all. Timing and emphasis seemed all way off. Made it difficult to follow and impossible to enjoy. Wish it were otherwise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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