To Sail Beyond the Sunset: The Life and Loves of Maureen Johnson (Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady) Audiobook | Robert A. Heinlein | Audible.com
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To Sail Beyond the Sunset: The Life and Loves of Maureen Johnson (Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady) | [Robert A. Heinlein]

To Sail Beyond the Sunset: The Life and Loves of Maureen Johnson (Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady)

Maureen Johnson, the somewhat irregular mother of Lazarus Long, wakes up in bed with a man and a cat. The cat is Pixel, well-known to fans of the New York Times best seller The Cat Who Walks through Walls. The man is a stranger to her, and besides that, he is dead.
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Publisher's Summary

Maureen Johnson, the somewhat irregular mother of Lazarus Long, wakes up in bed with a man and a cat. The cat is Pixel, well-known to fans of the New York Times best seller The Cat Who Walks through Walls. The man is a stranger to her, and besides that, he is dead.

So begins Robert A. Heinlein’s To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Filled with the master’s most beloved characters, this compelling work broadens and enriches his epic vision of time and space, life and death, love and desire. It is also an autobiographical masterpiece—and a wondrous return to the alternate universes that all Heinlein fans have come to know and love.

©1987 Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein, trustees (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Thoughtprovoking…. Considerable wit and energy!” (Newsday)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (185 )
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  •  
    William Nyack, NY, United States 02-11-12
    William Nyack, NY, United States 02-11-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Do not make this your first Heinlein!"

    This book is the culmination of Heinlein's Future History series, unifying his earliest published works with his Lazarus Long novels. As the full title suggest, the book tells the story of Maureen Johnson, mother of Lazarus Long, from her youth in the late 19th century to her old age in one of the alternate future that Heinlein created for the stories he wrote in the 1940s.

    Unfortunately, it's also one of his weakest. Heinlein is controversial for his depiction of what strong female characters should be, and in "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" he pulls out all the stops. There are sex-positive polyamorous women; I've met a few. But none of them are like how Maureen Johnson is depicted: not only accepting incest, but actively promoting it among her own children.

    Frankly, there were points while I listened that I was embarrassed for the reader, Bernadette Dunne. She's the best female audiobook reader I've heard (I hope it isn't sexist to say so). However I cringed every time I heard her read Maureen Johnson's opinions of what it means to be a woman, on the character's desires for her father, and (what was probably worst of all) how raising 17 children was merely an exercise in household management. Dunne reads all of this in the tone of the character, but I couldn't help but think about Dunne's internal reaction as she did a professional job as an audiobook reader.

    I also cringed at the few passages in which Heinlein indulges in some right-wing educational and political philosophy. But since I'm one of those bleeding-heart tax-the-rich liberals, you should take my reaction with a grain of salt.

    Setting that aside (and it's a lot to set aside!) "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" still shows Heinlein near the peak of his skill with words. He paints his future and alternative worlds with an economy of phrase that many of his contemporaries never mastered.

    If you'd like to listen to Heinlein's Future History, I strongly recommend other audiobooks: The Green Hills of Earth and The Menace From Earth; after that perhaps Time Enough Fro Love; all these books are prequels to this one. For the best Heinlein, try listening to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Job: A Comedy of Justice, or Stranger in a Strange Land.

    I recommend you only come to this one after you listened to other works by Heinlein, so you can accept how some of his fantasies got ahead of reality near the end of his life.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alysa TACOMA, WA, United States 01-18-13
    Alysa TACOMA, WA, United States 01-18-13
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    "I wish the reader had more inflection in her voice"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This has always been one of my favorite Heinlein stories


    What other book might you compare To Sail Beyond the Sunset to and why?

    All of the Lazarus Long stories are great


    What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I feel it would have been better with a smokier voice


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wolfspyder Makato MN USA 04-18-12
    wolfspyder Makato MN USA 04-18-12 Member Since 2003

    AKA King Caspian II of Veritasia. (507) 344-0981

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    "The Cycle Is Incomplete!"
    What did you love best about To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    I freely admit to being a Heinlein addict. This final masterwork does not disappoint,


    What was one of the most memorable moments of To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    The beginning...nothing like starting with a bang!


    Which character ??? as performed by Bernadette Dunne ??? was your favorite?

    Bernadette Dunne allowed me to remember far more of the story than when I read it as a paperback.


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

    Yes. Absolutely yes!


    Any additional comments?

    My only "complaint" is that as a cycle or series this did not feel "complete" without an audio version of the master's other novel, The Number of The Beast. I hope the people at New Frontiers will take note!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lois Mechanicsburg, PA, United States 08-14-12
    Lois Mechanicsburg, PA, United States 08-14-12 Member Since 2011

    catbird1950

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    "Heinlein book written from female side of story"
    Would you listen to To Sail Beyond the Sunset again? Why?

    Again and again and again as I do with all Heinlein books except one or two. I am a patent Heinlein. I have only ever read two of his books I did not like.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    The most memorable was the ending. Loved it. However, there were many high points. Many of her discussions with her father were very stimulating and interesting with multiple themes. Her tale about breaking up with Brian Smith, her first husband, and how she handled his instinctive greediness toward his new family was wonderful. Dealing with her last two children and their incest was also great. As was her reintroduction to Woodrow.

    There are many, many moments which are memorable in this book.


    Which character – as performed by Bernadette Dunne – was your favorite?

    Maureen Johnson Smith herself.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Brian left her for another woman. When Maureen was reintroduced to Woodrow.


    Any additional comments?

    I have always believed at least part of this book was polished and finished by his wife, Virginia Heinlein. Robert probably had written a draft of the book, but there is a feminine outlook in this book no other of his books has; and could not have because Robert was so patently MALE.

    It has always been one of my favorite Heinlein books, along with Time Enough for Love, Stranger in a Strange Land and (I can't remember the title) the one where 'his' brain was transplanted into a female body. (Darn! I hate those brain farts!)

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Columbia, SC, United States 02-01-12
    Mike Columbia, SC, United States 02-01-12
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    "Sad, Awful, Cringe-worthy, High Ick Factor!"

    My first hardback purchased as a child in the 50's was by RAH. I loved his books up to and including Glory Road (Audible, please produce it!!), and I fully grokked "grok." This piece of trash almost ruined all of them for me. There may be a plot somewhere in this mess, but the ick factor of the incestuous sexual themes and descriptions and the seemingly endless focus on repetitious, badly presented and poorly written sexual encounters, whether they advanced the story or not, thoroughly defeated any effort it made to surface.

    I refuse to believe that RAH even contributed to this story, choosing to believe instead that his estate decided to milk one last story from old notes found in a set of "bad idea" story files. The uncoordinated attempts to tie in Hazel Meade, Jubal Harshaw, and even Mycroft Holmes only served to emphasize the the barrenness of the plot, story-line, and general theme of the story.

    Even alone in my car as I drove to work or home, I was embarrassed to be listening to "To Sail Beyond Sunset." I truly felt more than once like I would need a good scrubbing if I listened one more second to the production. I never skip, but I used the Sector Advance button more than once in search of something to redeem this whatever it is. I never found it. Audible, a credit refund would be appropriate and very welcome.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Springfield, MO, United States 04-17-14
    James Springfield, MO, United States 04-17-14 Member Since 2010

    New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.

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    "Don't Dilly Dally, Dolly"

    Counting the Heinlein I started after this book, I have read three Heinlein's in a row, in which a female character, states that her dad sexually excites her and that he could have her in bed anytime he wants.
    In this book a girl born in the late 1800's sets out to lose her virginity at the age of 15. She not only has her dad's blessing, but he encourages her. He also tells his daughter that adultery is good. He tells her to keep his conversations with her about sex a secret from her mother. I don't want to see it, but I have noticed that RAH never has a boy who wants to sleep with his mom. I wonder if he thought that was perverted.
    I think it is obvious to most normal people that Heinlein was a sexual deviant and I am amazed that these books ever got published. I listen to erotica from time to time and I have several reviews available on the books I have listened to, so I have no problem with sex, I just think these manuals on incest are sick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Lockwood Elk Grove, CA USA 03-20-14
    D. Lockwood Elk Grove, CA USA 03-20-14 Member Since 2000

    spritegeezer

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    "Cranky Heinlein at his worst"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Remove the pathetic Libertarian crap.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    The entire gabfest regarding the cause of the Spanish-American war. What a load of hooey!


    Any additional comments?

    Loved Heinlein as a kid. Guess I just grew up. Too bad he never did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JD Waukesha, WI, United States 12-09-13
    JD Waukesha, WI, United States 12-09-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Kinda Trashy"
    What would have made To Sail Beyond the Sunset better?

    Less ick factor.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert A. Heinlein again?

    No


    What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Um...vocals?


    What character would you cut from To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    No specific character. Just the ick factor. Fathers talking enthusiastically to their daughters about sex, characters running around naked admiring each others' junk, characters banging their family members... oh, you know. It just gets to be a bit too much.


    Any additional comments?

    Too dirty. Too awkward. And obviously a woman's perspective written by a man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brianna Arlington, MA, United States 02-01-12
    Brianna Arlington, MA, United States 02-01-12 Member Since 2000
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    "The worst Heinlien I've ever read"
    What disappointed you about To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

    I wanted to love this novel. But, it's so disjointed with a nonsensical plot, I just couldn't. All the awesomeness in this book you've seen in other Heinlien works, The Howard Foundation especially, which it references heavily.


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

    The main issue is there is no plot. It starts off interestingly enough, with a mystery in the present, but then is content to go back to the 19th century and meander there endlessly. This kind of lack of direction is par for many Heinlien novels, but it's especially pronounced here. I've rarely read a book this disjointed.


    What three words best describe Bernadette Dunne’s performance?

    It's great, within the confines of the weak material.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    If this was your first Heinlien novel, it might be better for you. His themes of sexuality, femininity and self-reliance are always a treat - they're just done so much more expertly in his other work.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MARY L GRIEST 04-09-12 Member Since 2004
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    "not a book for the ages"

    I had read all of Heinlein's books over the years and noticed his growing pre-occupation w/sex. Forgot that this book was the culmination of them all w/incest, sex and little else going on in the book of note. There was a storyline but that is what it involved.
    I like the narrator but was unable to give many points because couldn't listen to the story after a while

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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