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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 (468 )
5 star
 (186)
4 star
 (113)
3 star
 (92)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (431 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (427 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (27)
Performance
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  •  
    Jeremy R. Snyder 09-06-14

    J.R. Snyder

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Jon from Reston VA 05-17-14

    Jon

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Heinlein disappointment"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing: the story is drenched in sex and coarse humor. Very disappointing


    What was most disappointing about Robert A. Heinlein’s story?

    Strong sexual content and coarse humor


    What three words best describe the narrators’s performance?

    acceptable


    What character would you cut from The Number of the Beast?

    N/A


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jussi Espoo, Finland 05-01-14
    Jussi Espoo, Finland 05-01-14 Member Since 2013

    nerd, biker, finnish, middle-aged and cool

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Insider joke?"
    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something from Neal Stephenson.


    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    I actually did not dislike the narrator's performance all that much.Even though I did not understand why so many narrators were used in the first place, the narrators were doing a decent job. But why so many?


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

    Throughout the story I had a feeling that the book was an insider joke. Sure, I did recognize many of the references to other fiction, and I even greeted "something from the stranger in the strange land" with a small smile.
    I could not understand the reason why the book was written. Heinlein has done a great work in speculating with sociology and technology of the future, but here, the experiments with nudity taboo and economy did not save the day.


    Any additional comments?

    I gave up listening a couple of times, but there were occasions I had no other book to listen, so I carried painfully on.
    I was happy to get to the end, and even that was an anticlimax.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig West Palm Beach, FL, United States 02-24-14
    Craig West Palm Beach, FL, United States 02-24-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Wonderful voice actors until the last chapter"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    As long as you DO NOT LISTEN to the last chapter, you'll be very happy.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hilda--a true force of nature, funny, sexy, smart, and fierce.


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

    For the four main characters, yes. For the creature that voiced Jubal Harshaw, not in a million years. It will takes years of therapy to undo the damage that man did to my brain. He made Jubal Harshaw sound like Frank Zappa's Thing-Fish.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Print: The final chapter is the only sore spot for me. The book is quite wonderful, and the World as Myth concept is highly engaging.

    Audio: Loved the 4 main characters. The second I heard the voice for Jubal, I wanted to hit my iPhone with a brick until it stopped making that horrible noise. I cannot describe how utterly AWFUL and ridiculous he sounded.


    Any additional comments?

    The voice actor for Jubal--Tom Weiner?--should be forever banned for this performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Berlin, Germany 02-12-14
    David Berlin, Germany 02-12-14
    ratings
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    7
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    "Confusing Reading Style"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes. Interesting Idea of the universe are put forward. But let down by it's presentation


    What did you like best about this story?

    The idea of "free" time space travel, and what could be out there.


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

    Which narrator! This is my big problem with this book there are many narrators and they change each chapter. This makes it very hard to follow who is who, as the whole reading style changes. The narrators ranged from very good to comical. Over all the male narrators did a better job than the female ones, as the women speaking as males were not as believable.BTW is this question even grammatically correct? "narrators' performances". Sorry just a question, I've always had problems with genitive in english


    Was The Number of the Beast worth the listening time?

    For this recording, Listening time NO.But I would attempt it again with a single male narrator. Or just pick up the book and read it myself.

    And I know now to stick to early Heinlein work.


    Any additional comments?

    The story read as if it was out of the 50s or 60s. it's really hard to believe it was written and published around 1980. There is a lot of "our dear husbands", and "now were married". Then later in the book the story drops into FKK, wife swapping and finally into incest. I personally think this is not Heinlein at his best (or anywhere close to it). However I really like the basic premise of mathematics bridging worlds and times and imagination.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kbrink 02-01-14
    Kbrink 02-01-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Heinlein's Death Rattle"

    Do not read this as your first Heinlein book. If you want to really enjoy this book you should at least have read Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Even then "enjoying" may be a struggle. This book is less of a story and more of an exploration of Heinlein's different worlds crashing together. A foursome exploring alternate dimensions in their modified flying car degenerates into the conflict being thrown out the window in the third act and Heinlein lecturing on his social theories.

    I found DT to be one of the worst female characters Heinlein has ever written. She's more interested in talking about her tits and wonderful new husband than any of the science involved. This isn't atypical for Heinlein but I found her to be the worst iteration of sexually liberated smart woman so far.

    Voice performances are rather good, despite the writing. Skip this one unless you're a die hard Heinlein fan. Just getting started in Heinlein? Try Stranger in a Strange Land or Moon is a Harsh Mistress first.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald G. Dennis MD 01-31-14
    Donald G. Dennis MD 01-31-14 Member Since 2014

    Walsfeo

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    "Self indulgent crap"
    What would have made The Number of the Beast better?

    If this book had been broken down into four, or more, other books, each one fleshed out just a bit more, those books could have been excellent.


    What could Robert A. Heinlein have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Allowed an editor to tell him what to cut. Tell one story and focus on it.


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

    I was looking for some science fiction from one of the masters but I was disappointed by senile ramblings. Do not waste your time or credits.


    Any additional comments?

    It wasn't bawdy enough to be exciting or interesting in that way either.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sterling Decatur, Illinois, United States 01-06-14
    Sterling Decatur, Illinois, United States 01-06-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An off the wall story"
    What disappointed you about The Number of the Beast?

    This is not the hard Sci Fi one would expect from Heinlein but a sex obsessed juvenile yarn that took aspects from a multitude of classic tales and spewed them out in a Douglas Adams like story that took itself seriously.


    What could Robert A. Heinlein have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Time and space travel make for great stories. he could have kept the story original not stealing from Larry Niven and the Wizard of Oz. He could have tried for a plot and given an ending to this mess.


    What three words best describe the narrators’s voice?

    All the narrators did a fine job. I just feel bad they were assigned to this project.


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

    Everything from the John Carter of Mars nonsense forward which is 95% of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Don't bother with this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Thornhill, ON, Canada 12-18-13
    Jason Thornhill, ON, Canada 12-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narration so bad this book is impossible to follow"

    I've never read the print version of this book, and I found it impossible to follow this version. They cycle through the voice actors seemingly at random with all the characters being read by all the actors. It's jarring and disorienting. I just learned by reading other reviews they're trying to do each characters perspective, but it fails utterly and this recording is a mess that is painful to listen to.

    Aside from that several of the voice actors (I don't know which) are so inappropriate, they make the characters just sound wrong for the role the character is supposed to fill and the inflections seem to change the nature of each of the characters each time they change readers.

    I'm a huge Heinlein fan, and I think I hate this book, but I really can't tell if it's a good book or not after this reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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