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Variable Star | [Robert A. Heinlein, Spider Robinson]

Variable Star

At his death in 1988, Robert A. Heinlein left a legacy that almost single-handedly defined modern science fiction. But one of Heinlein's masterpieces was never finished. In 1955, he began work on Variable Star, a powerful and passionate tale of two young lovers driven apart by pride, power, and the vastness of interstellar time and space. Now, the Heinlein estate has authorized award-winning author Spider Robinson to expand his outline into a full-length novel. And the result is vintage Heinlein.
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Publisher's Summary

At his death in 1988, Robert A. Heinlein left a legacy of novels and short stories that almost single-handedly defined modern science fiction. But one of Heinlein's masterpieces was never finished. In 1955, he began work on Variable Star, a powerful and passionate tale of two young lovers driven apart by pride, power, and the vastness of interstellar time and space. Then he set it aside to focus on other novellas.

The detailed outline and notes he created for this project lay forgotten for decades, only to be rediscovered almost a half century later. Now the Heinlein estate has authorized award-winning author Spider Robinson to expand that outline into a full-length novel. The result is vintage Heinlein, faithful in style and spirit to the Grand Master's original vision.

©2006 The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust and Spider Robinson; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"I'd nominate Spider Robinson as the new Robert Heinlein." (New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (427 )
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4.4 (207 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Max United States 10-24-13
    Max United States 10-24-13 Member Since 2011
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    "enjoyable easy book"

    Heinlein's name drove the decision to purchase this book even though I knew that it was really written by Spider Robinson. The story is simple. The ending is happy, so to speak. All in all - I enjoyed listening to the story but it's not something I would go back again and again, like some other Heinlein's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick 07-22-13
    Patrick 07-22-13 Member Since 2013
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    "A Big Letdown"

    While knowing it wasn't Classic Heilein, what I had anticipated was that it would at least attempt to hold mostly true to the man's memory. What I got was L. Ron Hubbard-like story that essentially venerated Bhuddism/Zen instead of Scientology, all the while spewing nothing but vile contempt at mono-theism, mostly directed at Christian and Islamic religions.

    There were some interesting thought-provoking theories explored like the possibility that the force behind the destruction of Sol and all its planets might not have been from aliens who wanted to destroy humankind at all but who were at such a higher sentience level than humans that they gave humankind as much thought as humans give the killing of millions of microbes when taking a shower; only then to use that to segue into why the remaining hundred or so humans left should not hate these aliens and ends up making Truther claims out of whole cloth that purport to show where nothing good would come of it.

    As to the protagonist and the other characters, there was very little interesting in them; mostly banal and endless discussion of puppy love gone awry eventually leading to his decision to venture off-planet to escape and then the long, dreary droning of every day life on a constrained ship on its passengers 20 year journey to an uncharted planet.

    The prose writing style and the author's jocular narration of it was truly an epic example of two blase skills combining to make suffering through the story as grating to my tolerance threshold as any narrated novel as I've ever experienced.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Tempe, AZ United States 07-15-13
    Laura Tempe, AZ United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2010

    70+, been reading SF since 1953. Vision is going so have switched to Audible.

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    "60+ years of Heinlein"

    This is at least the fourth time I have enjoyed this book. I started SF in second grade and by the end of sixth grade I had read every SF book in the Los Angeles County Library system. My mother signed a special release so I could check out "adult" books. I have watched and read many SF writers over the years and feel that Spider Robinson has definitely captured the essence of Heinlein in the completion of this book. I re-read/re-listen to many of the books I have in my library, and this will be one of them, not because I don't remember the story line but because each time I find that I have missed or was not yet receptive to the material being presented. I believe that is why people call me a "young 70"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim 01-03-13
    Tim 01-03-13 Member Since 2015
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    "The new Spider Heinlein"
    What made the experience of listening to Variable Star the most enjoyable?

    A new Heinlein novel! Way cool. And, who better to write it than Spider Robinson. A perfect blend of two magnificent authors. Heinlein would be proud.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Variable Star?

    There were several memorable moments. Not necessarily "plot" moments, but "Heinlein" moments. Spider was able to, through his thorough knowledge of Heinlein's work, combine his own unique style with Heinlein's universe. I could imagine him saying, "What would Heinlein do with this character?"


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

    Listening to a Spider Robinson book in his own voice is always a special treat. I have enjoyed his Callahan novels, and am currently listening to a Heinlein classic, "Rocket Ship Galileo," performed by Spider.


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

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    Thanks, Spider.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa A. Stone Indpls, IN United States 09-04-12
    Lisa A. Stone Indpls, IN United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Imaginative and interesting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Variable Star to be better than the print version?

    haven't read the print version


    What other book might you compare Variable Star to and why?

    As good as Heinlein's books and other science fiction. It was very imaginative.


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

    Really good performance by Spider Robinson.


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

    It was enjoyable and kept my interest.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Iceworm72 Wasilla, AK, United States 07-25-12
    Iceworm72 Wasilla, AK, United States 07-25-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Thank you Spider Robinson!"

    If you like Robert A. Heinlein, this work by Spider Robinson will not disappoint you! Thank you Spider Robinson for giving us one last glimpse into the fadied past of a true grand master of SF, Robert A. Heinlein! I love this story for its simplicity and have listened to it twice now. You brought this story to life beautifully! I know Robert would be pleased that you have given us his fans one last gift from him, through you.

    This story is fast paced and mostly believeable that an 18 year old boy would respond in these ways to some of these stimuli. Joel is a fine and indearing character. The humor and twists this tale takes was vary enjoyable.

    The ending was more abrupt than I would have liked. So I was pleased to read that Spider Robinson will be writing 3 more book in this univers.

    Spoiler Alert:

    However, at its conclusion I am left thinking now Spider needs to write a couple of companion novels to tell the tale of how humanity deals with the threat from the unknown. I hope that the forth coming novels will show how Joel's life on the road to the stars serves as a guiding star and point of memory for humanity as they learn the ropes of this bold new universe. A man without a true community, beyond his small family and a few others along for the journey, that enables them to discover the threat and help humanity decide how to respond.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jason portland, OR, United States 06-13-12
    jason portland, OR, United States 06-13-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Not Heinlein, Not Very Much Fun"
    What disappointed you about Variable Star?

    The plot is kind of ham fisted. I guess I was hoping for something else, something that felt more like classic sf. I dont listen to modern sf and this work reinforces that tendency. There was little wonder, and little joy. It had fascinating bright spots but those would usually be ruined by some character emitting some crappy dialog and spoiling it.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Fountains of Paradise


    What didn’t you like about Spider Robinson’s performance?

    OMG. I didnt even know Robinson was the narrator, this makes placing the blame much easier. The narration and the prose collude in a schleppy mess that sounds like old Woody Allen, if Woody Allen were a space faring Canadian gentile. There are moments of singing, and they are not nearly brief enough. The main character and narrator seemed smarmy to me. I dont know, if he had a English accent maybe I would have found the whole thing charming and Arthur Dent like.


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

    I felt like it was a waste of time.


    Any additional comments?

    I am sure that there are legions of Robinson fans out there that appreciate his work. I am just not one of them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-05-12
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    "Funny!"

    Spider Robinson did a great job finishing this Robert A. Heinlein book. It was really funny. Generally Heinlein's books do have good humor especially for scifi! Easy to listen and follow even if multi-tasking. The book has a lot of interesting character development and a future-based action story like most scifi.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Exton, PA, United States 05-03-12
    Edward Exton, PA, United States 05-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Well done"

    A well done project with some fascination plot twists that are surprising, although they do strwetch the boubds of credulity at various points.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Sarabasha West Danby, NY USA 04-30-12
    S. Sarabasha West Danby, NY USA 04-30-12 Member Since 2010

    patient heart

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    "Fantastic segue from Heinlein to Robinson"
    Would you listen to Variable Star again? Why?

    Maybe if it was abridged. Some of the details were just too technical for me.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Our hero because he was so clear and real and made the whole thing seem like it should be happening now.


    What does Spider Robinson bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Oh my. I fell in love with his voice and the way he speaks his words.


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

    No, I broke it down into many listenings.


    Any additional comments?

    I truly enjoyed how Spider Robinson brought the book up to date.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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