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Reviews by Contributor: Heinlein, Robert A. (23)

Everywhere a Wilderness

Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein

By Robert A. HeinleinEdited by Andrew Wheeler

13 Aug, 2019

Special Requests

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Off the Main Sequence: The Other Science Fiction Stories of Robert A. Heinlein was edited by Andrew Wheeler, then of the Science Fiction Book Club. It delivers exactly what it says on the tin. 

This book has been out of print since its first and only printing in 2005 [1]. It seems to be surprising available as a used book (which I would not have expected) but I was spared the immense difficulty of ordering and waiting for a copy, as I already owned an early cut of the book, thanks to my then job at the Science Fiction Book Club. 


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Outside of That

Beyond This Horizon

By Robert A. Heinlein

28 Apr, 2019

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1948’s Beyond This Horizon1 is a standalone novel by Robert A. Heinlein. 

The development of workable methods for genetic selection sparked two genocidal wars. But all that’s in the past. The world has recovered. The Americas are practically a utopia. A long-running program aimed at creating the perfect human is close to completion. The latest iteration is Hamilton Felix. He would be the perfect man save for two flaws: 

  • He could have a perfect memory (or so think the program planners2).

  • He refuses to marry and produce the child who would be the perfect human. 

Oh, and his pal Monroe-Alpha has committed a spot of treason. We’ll get to that later. 


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Welcome to the Future

The Day After Tomorrow

By Robert A. Heinlein

7 Oct, 2018

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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The Day After Tomorrow is an alternate title for Robert A. Heinlein’s mercifully standalone Yellow Peril novel, Sixth Column.

Fifty years after the Noninterference Act ended contact between America and PanAsia, PanAsia launches a sudden and overwhelming attack on the US. Armed with superior military intelligence and impressive weapons, the PanAsians crush the Americans. Having won the war, the PanAsians move onto the next phase of their plan: reducing white Americans to slaves in a land they once called their own. 

All is not lost. The Citadel remains, an advanced military research facility overlooked by the PanAsians. It is America’s last hope. 

If only most of the personnel were not dead. 

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Not the Worst Heinlein Novel

Time Enough For Love  (Lazarus Long, book 2)

By Robert A. Heinlein

21 Aug, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I no longer remember why I thought it would be a good idea to review 1973’s Time Enough For Love. It is by no means the worst of Heinlein’s books — that’s probably Number of the Beast,  although I am told that The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, which I have not read, gives NotB a run for its money — but considered as a whole, TEFL is not very good. It is, however, very long. As is this review. 

And yes, I am aware this book was nominated for a Nebula 1, a Hugo2, and a Locus 3.

Lazarus Long was a mere 213 years old when he first appeared in Methuselah’s Children . By the beginning of TEFL, he is an impressive two millennia old. Time weighs heavily on the ancient grognard. All he wants to do die. 

His descendants are not done with him and while dying may be every person’s right, it is not one Lazarus will get to enjoy. Chairman pro tem of the planet Secundus, Ira Weatherall, tempts the Methuselah with the one thing he cannot resist: an audience. 

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Blame Heinlein

Orphans of the Sky

By Robert A. Heinlein

8 May, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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Robert A. Heinlein’s 1963 fix-up novel, Orphans of the Sky, was originally published in two parts, Universe and Common Sense, in 1941. I have chosen it for my 100th Because My Tears are Delicious to You review both because it was extraordinarily influential on a very specific subgenre, but also because it happens to be an important book to me. More on both later.

Hugh Hoyland has lived his entire life in the Ship. Indeed, he cannot imagine a life elsewhere, because as far as he and his people are concerned, the Ship is the whole of the universe. An inquisitive young man, his curiosity and native intelligence win him a place as a Scientist, one of the aristocrats of the Ship. Lucky for him, because the alternative destination for inconveniently curious young men is the converter, where their dissolution will provide power to the Ship.

Hugh’s curiosity proves his undoing; his exploration party is ambushed by Mutes and he is left for dead. 

His story does not end there.

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“… doesn’t matter if the game is crooked when it’s the only game in town.”

Double Star

By Robert A. Heinlein

19 Oct, 2015

Miscellaneous Reviews

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If all goes according to plan, this will be posted on the day of the 2015 Canadian Federal election. On my Livejournal, More Words, Deeper Hole, I asked for suggestions of SF novels about elections. I had already thought of two options: this book, and The Wanting of Levine. I received many good suggestions, but, in the end, two factors ruled in favour of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1956 Hugo Winner Double Star: I own it and it’s short. I didn’t have much time to acquire and read whichever book I chose. 

It turns out at least part of the reason the 1970s-era1 Signet mass market edition is a scant 128 pages is because the font size is microdot. Not that it would have been much longer had it been printed in a reasonable font, as the allegednovel is really more of a novella. Still, it’s long enough to serve its purpose. 

A seemingly chance meeting in a bar drops a job opportunity in Lawrence The Great Lorenzo” Smythe’s lap. While the job, from the few details he gets, sounds like it should be beneath a master thespian like Smythe, it just so happens that his would-be employer, Dak Broadbent, speaks the language that speaks most loudly to a down-on-his-luck actor: money. 

Smythe convinces himself he is being hired as a double for a politician who fears an assassination attempt. The prospect of being shot at does not please Smythe at all. Smythe is half-right — he is being hired to play prominent politician John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the Expansionist Party, currently the Opposition — but he is completely wrong about the reason behind the ruse. 

Smythe has also grossly underestimated the stakes. 


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I will speak in the bitterness of my soul

Job: A Comedy of Justice

By Robert A. Heinlein

29 Jan, 2015

Special Requests

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I could tell, even before opening my mass market paperback of 1984’s Job: A Comedy of Justice, that it documented my increasing disenchantment with Heinlein, once one of my favourite authors. (You might not have guessed that from my recent reviews.) Rather than buying the book new, I had purchased a used copy from Mike’s Bookstore [1]. Whoever owned it before me had left it worn and dog-eared before selling it. That person must have liked it more than I did. I don’t think I have reread it once since that first time in the mid-1980s. It’s not that it’s the worst thing Heinlein ever wrote; it’s more of a funny once and by funny once I mean meh.” How the mighty are fallen. 

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James and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Heinlein Juvenile

Podkayne of Mars

By Robert A. Heinlein

14 Nov, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1963’s Podkayne of Mars was, if Heinlein’s comments in Grumbles from the Grave can be believed, not intended as a juvenile:

March 10, 1962: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Is Poddy a juvenile? I didn’t think of it as such and I suggest that it violates numerous taboos for the juvenile market. It seems to me that it is what the Swedes call a cadet” book — upper teenage, plus such adults and juveniles as may enjoy it — and the American trade book market does not recognize such a category.

Despite that, some people, including me, lump it in with his juveniles because the lead is a fifteen-year-old girl, with her eleven-year-old brother in an important supporting role. 

Remember how in my review for Have Space Suit — Will Travel, I said: 

As I closed the cover of the last true Heinlein juvenile, I really wonder what this book would have looked like if in 1958 Heinlein had been able to envision and publish a juvenile with a female lead.

?

We will never know the answer to that. We do have the answer to the question what would such a novel look like if Heinlein wrote it five years later and the answer is horrible”.

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Into the Abyss

Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein

7 Nov, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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In the spirit of Social Credit leader Camil Samson’s wonderful phrase, Ladies and gentlemen, the Union Nationale has brought you to the edge of the abyss. With Social Credit, you will take one step forward,” follow me over the edge and into the abyss that is Heinlein’s post-Scribners work. 

Scribners rejected 1959’s Starship Troopers, marking the end of what had been a fruitful relationship between the touchy Heinlein and that particular publisher. It also foreshadowed the end of his career as an author of books deliberately aimed at young adults. Rereading it, I was reminded of something I was told in Economics 101 way back in 1980: don’t try to apply any of this to real life.”

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