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.
Paid reviewers, after two weeks get 4-8 votes and have that power to strike unhelpful against others. Check their history! Your money!
Boy meets girl, boy is impressed with girl's large breasts, girl and boy along with girl's father and his girlfriend fly to Las Vegas to get married, the same night they first meet. Next morning girl and girl's step mother decide to parade around the house topless. Girl admits to step mother that she would have slept with her dad if he wanted, she loved him so, what was the problem. Step mother admits to admiring step daughter's husband.
Do I need to continue, cause there is more?
As Pure Story It was beyond bad. I almost tossed my hard copy of it into a recycle bin so that, if someone stumbled on it in a used book store or library, it wouldn't be on my account and my conscience would be clear. The characters and their dialogue are so tiresome as to bore Prometheus on his rock. It's inane, sexist, verbose, And Ayn Randishly right wing. I tried reading it as a teenager and found it too preposterous even then. I thought, with age and an audio version, I might be able to appreciate something I missed. I didn't until I thought about it. This is a textbook displaying everything you don't do in writing. When you watch a bit though.... When the "Black Hats" show up, while the Odious main characters are blathering away, you will find examples of excellent writing happening in the background. I think It's a practical joke, and many sci fi forums seem to agree. The talent here lies in how Heinlein could write a brilliant premise so abysmally.
Added an introduction with some hint at, what I think, was the actual intent...Or written a separate textbook and burned the manuscript for this one.
Sure. the narrators aren't at fault for the writing.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My head hurts to think of it.
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.
"Very well done"
A bit too technical - I could have done without all the maths
doing this as separate narrators per person fitted the book exactly and it ran very smoothly. very well done.
mainly irritation at all the wrangling about who was "Captain"
I have had this book in my to listen to pile for a fair while but was a bit nervous about playing it mainly because I did not want to be disappointed as I had re-read the book and found it very hard going. Not to worry ~ I thoroughly enjoyed it (mostly) but all 4 could have done with a good slap at times.
"One of Heinlein's most difficult reads!"
Fortunately this is not typical of Heinlein's work! It is an attempt to examine fiction as history, unfortunately the plot and characters decend into gibberish, with the thread of the book disapearing. I would avoid this book and look at Time Enough for Love, I will fear no Evil, A Stranger in a Strange Land, Friday or Starship Troopers which bettyer represent this very gifted Sci-Fi author. This is definately for Fans only!
"I struggled with this one"
This book has some really good use of language, discussions of theories and I loved how the story switched between characters. I found the narrators ok but not amazing. This is normally enough for me to love a story but I found the whole thing a struggle. It felt long, slow and the only reason I stuck with it until the end was out of some reverence to the author and the hope that it would get much better. The early parts of the book (earth and mars) were really good but anything after chapter 38 became a chore.
I really cannot put my finger on what might have been my least favorite parts I am guessing its just the book wasn’t a good fit for me. As a result of haven’t given the story as a whole a low score.
The best part of the book would have to be the whole mars British vs Russian thing. I would this part of the book the most enthralling. The characters where great and the way the plot worked really kept me going.
the narrators were good and worked well together, some of the males performance seemed to be a bit lacking in enthusiasm from time to time and didn’t always fit the mood of the story.
it could be done and if made faster i would find it entertaining
this book has made me down load john carter of earth and given me a list of other books to down load. all of which were mentioned in this book. i hope once i have listened to or read these that i will return to the number of the beast and find it more enjoyable.
Being a science fiction fan, I thought I had better check out some Heinlein as the author seems to be highly regarded and often mentioned in the same breath as the the great Asimov. For the first couple of hours I thought I must have made a mistake and downloaded the wrong book!
Quite simply this is book is unbelievably bad. The plot, on paper, sounds promising, travel to different dimensions/parallel universes in a home made time machine while being pursued by aliens - all classic sci-fi stuff. However the plot is virtually irrelevant because 90% of the book (not an exaggeration) consists of banal bickering and discussions about trivia between the main characters. The characters (and the author) seem only to have the vaguest passing interest in the plot.
For example the characters arrive on an apparently inhabited Mars in a parallel universe. What's the first thing they do? Explore? Express wonder at their location? No, they have an incredibly long and tedious discussion about sleeping arrangements, how best to program the ships computer, bicker endlessly about the chain of command and even arrangements for going to the toilet!
I won't even mention the dodgy science and the frankly embarrassing (for a sci-fi author) lack of understanding of the capabilities of computers (it's as if this book was written in 1930 not 1980!). The female characters are completely unbelievable and seem to have been created to fulfil the authors adolescent fantasies. Speaking of which the whole book reads like it was written by a 14 year old boy, except a 14 year old boy would have put more action in it!
I can't image how frustrating it must be to read because after half an hour I wanted to slap all the main characters. After 2 hours I could cheerfully have throttled the lot of them and the author to prevent him inflicting any more of this on anyone.
I understand that this book was apparently written while the author was recovering from a serious illness and that his brain may have been starved of oxygen. That might explain a lot because I can see no other way that a supposedly celebrated author could spew out this tripe.
"Confusing and disjointed"
I've enjoyed many of RAHs stories, and so was greatly disappointed not to enjoy this one. I found the plot disjointed, and the storytelling swinging from rushed to tedious and back again.
The audio recording struggled with RAHs decision to tell the tale from 6 different characters' points of view. The decision to give each pov their own narrator is reasonable, but itself adds to the jarring nature of the text as each person applies their own interpretation to the protagonists
"I loved it - but I am a fan boy"
For me it is high up there, BUT I am a mad fan of Robert E Heinlein, and have read it in paperback also.
Deety. And the Beast (well his cameo role). And Lazarus Long making his much loved appearance.
Its a complex book, and a lot of "dialogue" going around in circles, often arguing about abstract mathematical concepts, or tiny errors of conversation which the characters keep trying to trick each other or point out the other persons mistake... BUT if you know Heinlein, you will get it and love it. Sci Fi and Heinlein fans will devour it. But if you stumble across it unprepared, you may sink under the pages of mathematical arguments.. I loved it.
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