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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 (404 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
3.8 (371 )
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Story
3.8 (367 )
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
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Performance
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  •  
    House book adict Westport, CT 03-07-13
    House book adict Westport, CT 03-07-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "So bad I had to stop ---and I never do that"
    Would you try another book from Robert A. Heinlein and/or the narrators?

    no


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Black House by Stephen King


    What aspect of the narrators’s performance would you have changed?

    They did the best they could


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

    Disappointment


    Any additional comments?

    The slowest most dragging plot (is there a plot?) --no narrative pace. Inane dialogue, and sophmoric humor --even an obsession with nudity ("ooooo they aren't wearing clothes"). Jeeez. How this could be described as "the wickedest and most wonderful science fiction story ever..." completely eludes me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aden LAFAYETTE, CO, United States 02-26-13
    Aden LAFAYETTE, CO, United States 02-26-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It. Never. Ends."

    I have most of Heinlein's work in print or audiobook. This is the worst one for so many different reasons.

    Story:
    Allah have mercy. I feel like I've done an N-space jump into universe of arrested pubescent development. "Stranger In A Strange Land," is brilliant because it rode high on the crest of the 60s counter-cultural movement, challenging nearly every moral bedrock of Western society. It is superb and does what Sci-Fi does best. This work isn't even an echo in an out-house of the mind that created "Stranger," or "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress." The story is as juicy as a packing peanut.

    The dialogue in this book is pointless, too. I feel like I'm being treated to the discarded remnants on the cutting floor of "Time Enough For Love." The characters in this book are the same as Laz/Lor/Athena/Gallahad without the hook-laden narrative of Lazarus Long or great storyline.

    I'm a loyal masochist so I suffered through the whole recording the same way I listened to Robert Plant's solo work simply because I'm a Led-head and thought, "At some point, this will get good." I had hope, so much hope. Now I just have scars.

    Performance:
    It's a good thing I don't have a yard arm and a length of rope or I may be swinging in the breeze. I'm having a hard time describing this performance without using expletives. Horrible is a compliment. Female narrators should not try to imitate male voices by lowering theirs. [Under any circumstances]. Seriously. There should be a law. This was like listening to a woman with traumatic brain injury but without the benefit of being a public service announcement. Someone should be held accountable.

    I now have a soundtrack for the waiting room in Hades...

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cherie 12-21-12
    Cherie 12-21-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Horrific narration"
    Would you try another book from Robert A. Heinlein and/or the narrators?

    I love Heinlein - and have read this book many times but thought I'd try the audible version - narration was a painful listen! None of them were good. Two of them were AWFUL.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is great - narration really ruins it however


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    *I* could've done it better - can't imagine anyone worse


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noel 10-05-12
    Noel 10-05-12 Member Since 2009

    Compulsive reader, compulsive listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beloved Story, Inconsistent Performance"
    Where does The Number of the Beast rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I rarely hear REALLY well-done Heinlein titles. I don't think they get their best narrators for it, so I wasn't too disappointed. The one exception is Bernadette Dunne, who did an AMAZING job as Sharpie. Not surprising, as her rendition of Maureen Johnson was one of the best Heinlein audiobooks I've had the pleasure of listening to. She groks how to narrate a Heinlein woman!


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

    The story itself was written for Heinlein fans who were also nostalgic about Golden Age science fiction. It's one of my favorites as a "fun" read.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    They got a poor match for Deety. While they needed a "young" voice, the character WAS a strong-willed genius. Also, her rendition of male voices really didn't work out well.


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

    It's a Heinlein novel. Of COURSE we'll screw it up.


    Any additional comments?

    If you were a fan of the book, you'll probably still enjoy the performance. As a fan of audiobooks in general, I just don't expect much of the performance for the Heinleins. Pity...

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois Mechanicsburg, PA, United States 09-23-12
    Lois Mechanicsburg, PA, United States 09-23-12 Member Since 2011

    catbird1950

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Audio version of an old favorite not disappointing"

    This has always been one of my favorite Heinlein books. The philosophy and mathematics discussed in it are very interesting and many issues are discussed about human nature and human motivation. I love the different timelines he outlines in the book and often get a chuckle out of the "what if" factor in the differences between the timelines.

    The different characters having different readers gave the book a personal feel that just reading the book does not. Each character is filled out by their narrator and the interaction between the characters really comes alive.

    Definitely recommend this book to other Heinlein fans.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Laconia, NH, United States 09-10-12
    Jonathan Laconia, NH, United States 09-10-12 Member Since 2013
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    8
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    "A great book performed well"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Number of the Beast to be better than the print version?

    As a fan is the written word I was not sure how I would like a group performance, but i was pleased and enjoyed it as much as I did when I first read this long ago.


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

    It is difficult to compare this book to others but it is a spirited journey through this and many other states of reality.


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

    I am unsure if these performers have narrated any other books I've listened to but I would recommend their work. A wonderful listen. At


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

    Breakfast on Mars, dinner in OZ and still time for the stars.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Heinlein is always a great piece of entertainment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer TN, United States 09-03-12
    Amazon Customer TN, United States 09-03-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Sad lack of enjoyment"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Find another book. The story started out with an interesting premise but the characters and the unraveling plot got in the way. Not one of heinlein's better works.


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

    The book became bizarre. The characters constantly bickered. It became work to listen. The author reprised characters from previous books.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrators did not seem to fit the characters. That's my opinion anyways.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    NO.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Otto Yucaipa, CA, United States 07-18-12
    Otto Yucaipa, CA, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Time travel, alternate universes, and more!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Number of the Beast the most enjoyable?

    As is typical of a Heinlein yarn, this one has free-thinking, lusty characters who engage in far-ranging philosophical discussions, occasional battles, and ties to much of his earlier work. I remember reading it when it was new, and while some parts are holdovers from the early 1970s, it aged well and any disparity was swept away by the end.


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

    I am not generally a fan of books with multiple narrators, and while the narration was certainly well done and in character with the way the book was written, I believe I would have enjoyed the experience more with a single gifted narrator such as Dick Hill.


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

    This was not a book that could be absorbed in one sitting. There were parts that simply induce sleep.


    Any additional comments?

    Heinlein managed to pay homage to many of his contemporaries and inspirations in this book. By that point, I was tired of listening to it, and simply wanted it to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Virginia Beach, VA, United States 05-31-12
    James Virginia Beach, VA, United States 05-31-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Comedy not good Sci-Fi"

    I very surprised that the rating were high when I bought it. I love Heinlein's Sci-Fi that not a joke. This a comedy and party continues

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven A. Ellsworth Martinez, Georgia 05-31-12
    Steven A. Ellsworth Martinez, Georgia 05-31-12 Member Since 2010

    Moose

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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    "Where's the Sci-Fi"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A different story.


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

    My first Heinlein book, thought he was a master of sci-fi but it was all nudity, incest, wife swapping etc. Where's the sci-fi!! He is an award winner so maybe I just don't get it, but I still don't know the "number of the beast"!


    How could the performance have been better?

    They did the best they could with what they had to work with.


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

    All but the first.


    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
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