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1. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue
2. Space Cadet
3. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
4. The Door into Summer
5. Red Planet
6. Tunnel in the Sky
7. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
8. Friday
9. The Rolling Stones
10. Glory Road
11. Podkayne of Mars (Digest Size)
12. Citizen of the Galaxy
13. The Robert Heinlein Interview
14. To Sail Beyond the Sunset
15. For Us, The Living: A Comedy of
16. Job: A Comedy of Justice
17. Stranger in a Strange Land
18. Podkayne of Mars
19. The Martian Named Smith: Critical
20. Starship Troopers

1. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve
by William H. Patterson
Hardcover: 624 Pages (2010-08-17)
list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$15.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765319608
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) is generally considered the greatest American SF writer of the 20th century. A famous and bestselling author in later life, he started as a navy man and graduate of Annapolis who was forced to retire because of tuberculosis.  A socialist politician in the 1930s, he became one of the sources of Libertarian politics in the USA in his later years. His most famous works include the Future History series (stories and novels collected in The Past Through Tomorrow and continued in later novels), Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Given his desire for privacy in the later decades of his life, he was both stranger and more interesting than one could ever have known. This is the first of two volumes of a major American biography. This volume is about Robert A. Heinlein's life up to the end of the 1940s and the mid-life crisis that changed him forever.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

1-0 out of 5 stars Stay away from the kindle edition
I have been waiting for this book for years and I was on a three week road trip when it came out so I bought the book to read on the kindle application on my iPad.What a mistake.I learned by reading reviews of the book that there is an entire section in the book filed with photos.That photo section is entirely missing from the kindle edition.

The book itself is all I expected but I recently ordered the hardcover so I could see what I had been missing so I am essentially paying for the same book twice. The book is great.It fills in a lot of missing pieces in the puzzle that is Heinlein.But I would stay away from the kindle version.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cracking Good Read
Con: Part Two isn't out. That just plain stinks.

Pro: This is a well written, well researched biography of one of the most important science fiction writers ever. The early parts of Heinlein's life are fascinating, especially his time at the Naval Academy and later naval career. Mr Patterson also goes into a fair amount of detail about Heinlein's first two marriages. This is just a good read about a man who had a life outside of writing. Mr Patterson does an excellent job of describing Heinlein at various stages of his life through his actions, which is just a treat. His foray into California politics is given a fair amount of space and terms that are obscure today are explained and put into context.

Fun bit of trivia: Heinlein went to school with Sally Rand. They were friends for both of their lives!

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding look at Heinlein and early 20th century USA
I've been reading Heinlein for just about 50 years (the first novel I ever read was "Starman Jones", sometime in 1961). Heinlein was one of my staples (with Clarke, Asimov, Norton, and others) through elementary, junior high, and high school. I continued to read Heinlein's works as they came out, though I was less enamored of his later novels. But there are others that I go back and re-read on a regular basis, and I just recently received from a close friend and re-read most of his 'juveniles'.

So when I found out about this biography, I ordered it and read it in about two days. It was a revelation.

First, let me start by praising Patterson. He did an outstanding job of taking a tremendous amount of material and information and weaving it into a compelling (to me, at least) narrative, all while largely keeping himself in the background. The book was hard to put down; I read most of it in two sittings. (Hey, I'm self-employed.)

Second, what a treasure trove of information this is about Heinlein himself: his family, his military and wartime service, his heavy involvement in Socialist(!) and Democratic politics, and the early portion of his writing career.

Third, and just as fascinating, is the look into everyday life in the first half of the 20th century. It is a telling reminder of how different the economy, the culture, and the standard of living were back then. You have both the general day-to-day fiscal and health precariousness as well as those economic differences that just don't translate to the modern day -- such as Heinlein buying a home in Hollywood for $3000 at a time when the average national family income was about $1600/year. Heinlein pays it off in about two years using his writing income; can you imagine paying off a house in two years on any kind of income nowadays?

Finally, it is fascinating to me as a published non-fiction writer and a as-yet-unpublished fiction writer to watch Heinlein's writing career develop. The fact that he at times could crank out 4000 words/day of fiction servers as a reminder of his first rule of writing: write.

Highly recommended. ..bruce..

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book
This is a really wonderful bio of the first half of Heinlein's life. Heavily annotated and indexed. The writing is excellent and engaging. I can't wait for the second one to come out!

4-0 out of 5 stars Detailed if a bit dry
For someone looking for a detailed, comprehensive biography of Heinlein, this book definitely will be a highly satisfactory read. It includes a lot of information on his family, his career with the U.S. Navy, his early life and radical left-wing political activities. All of this creates a compelling picture of a high-spirited, very impetuous individual.

The book is a little less satisfactory (and for this reason gets 4 instead of 5 stars) when describing his early writing career. It does have a lot of specific details on what works he completed, the interaction with editors and fans, and his transition from the "pulp" to the "slick" fiction markets. However, you don't get as much of a feel for how this changed his view of himself or his political beliefs. I was particularly looking for some background on the interaction between Heinlein and John W. Campbell, and while there are some excerpts from letters relating to the business relationship, there is little on the political side. Two such strong personalities, coming from very different political viewpoints, must have clashed at least in a friendly way on many occasions!

There seems to have been some intention to write a more academic or formal biography, and as a result the kind of anecdote or humorous story that would be found throughout a popular work is largely absent here. Possibly there just weren't the sources to draw from - almost all of the people who knew Heinlein closely from the '30s and '40s are gone now.

Overall, a highly recommended book that illuminates one of (if not the) major SF authors of the 20th century. ... Read more

2. Space Cadet
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 224 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$8.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765314517
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This is the seminal novel of a young man's education as a member of an elite, paternalistic non-military organization of leaders dedicated to preserving human civilization, the Solar Patrol, a provocative parallel to Heinlein's famous later novel, Starship Troopers (which is about the military).
Only the best and brightest--the strongest and the most courageous--ever manage to become Space Cadets, at the Space Academy. They are in training to be come part of the elite guard of the solar system, accepting missions others fear, taking risks no others dare, and upholding the peace of the solar system for the benefit of all.
But before Matt Dodson can earn his rightful place in the ranks, his mettle is to be tested in the most severe and extraordinary ways--ways that change him forever, from the midwestern American boy into a man of the Solar Patrol.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic
What can I say. It's a great Heinlein classic, re-reading the books of my youth.

2-0 out of 5 stars Where Is The Rest?
Most of this book is amazing. I loved reading about the imagined cirruclium for the Patrol Academy and the stresses of dealing with them. The interaction between Matt and his classmates was well written and believable.

And then the book changed. Suddenly, the focus narrowed to dealing with a single (though major) mission on Venus. This was interesting, but really ruined the mood of the book. It went from being about "learning how to be a Patrol officer" to "adventure story." It was still entertaining, but I looked forward to getting through that section and back to the basis of the book.

But there is no more book. Once they get off Venus, there is a little interaction between Matt and Tex and Matt talking about a meeting with the Commandant. Then it ends. The reader is left hanging regarding the future of the boys in the Patrol. (Pete falls completely out of the book even earlier.) Earlier, the reader hears the Commandant say something like "we change them until they are no longer civilians and then have to kick them out," but that statement is never explained.

I would have loved this book if Heinlein had actually finished it. As it is, the reader is just left hanging.

1-0 out of 5 stars Teenage boys in space
Matt Dodson joins the Space Patrol, whose work is not just fight and glory but to make sure peace is retained; the war would be too devasting to all nations. His comrades in the training are 'Tex(an)', Oscar from Venus, Pierre from Ganymede and Burke, the arrogant son of a wealthy spaceship builder. The training in 3, 5 and 7Gs kills some of the recruits but others do well to earn their stripes to be assigned to working Patrol ships as cadets. During patrol they receive an urgent message to investigate an incident on Venus. After disastrous landing they find their resigned former classmate, Burke, to have messed all up with the natives. Pompous Burke had taken the matriarch of the local clan hostage when she refused to let give him permission to exploit a rich deposit of radioactive ores. The rescue mission turns out to become a diplomatic conflict and the crew is taken into the captivity.

This is 3rd of Heinlein early juvenile novels. The chemistry of the classmates grow along the way when the young men learn to appreciate the code of conduct: the best defence is not to make war, but to use diplomacy to resolve conflicts. In the early training they are required to master variety of skills from space walks and biochemistry to politics. The training sessions are brief and graduating happens in breathtaking speed.

One (1) star. Written in 1948 the book is product of its time. The dialogue is like a machine gun which is dripping oil. Characters are typical boys stomping on boots bigger than what would be required. Of the whole book, the encounter with Burke and the venusians is a minuscule sparkle that rescues the book. Gaining the Venus matriarch's trust and convincing her that the space patrol is honorable and civilized, contrary to her opinion of Burke is well told. One would have wished the book would have extended the issue of amfibi venusians more. Light read.

4-0 out of 5 stars SF Classic Writer
Written for Younger readers in the early years of his career it hits the bases and is an enjoyable read. Fun for fans of hard SF. Author hadmany good thoughts on the future and technology.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book means more to me than any other I've ever read!
This book means more to me than any other I've ever read! That might sound a little strong but it was the first full length novel I ever read and I was in the second grade, 1974. I didn't quite understand all of it at the time but it opened me up to a whole new realm. I have since re-read it a couple of times and I have to say that I still love it. I have read everything Mr. Heinlein ever wrote and this might not be his best it is still my favorite.
I'm not Mary Ann by the way, this is her husband, Don
... Read more

3. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 256 Pages (2005-02-08)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416505490
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A classic novel from the mind of the storyteller who captures the imagination of readers from around the world, and across two generations

First prize in the Skyway Soap slogan contest was an all-expenses-paid trip to the Moon. The consolation prize was an authentic space suit, and when scientifically minded high school senior Kip Russell won it, he knew for certain he would use it one day to make a sojourn of his own to the stars. But "one day" comes sooner than he thinks when he tries on the suit in his backyard -- and finds himself worlds away, a prisoner aboard a space pirate's ship, and heading straight for what could be his final destination.... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (111)

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb version of a fine Heinlein story
Have Spacesuit, Will Travel is one of the best of Heinlein's so-called juveniles (which I've always believed were some of his best writing) and now it is available is a really excellent audio recording.The Full Cast Audio treatment takes a great story and makes it come alive.Highly recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Have Spacesuit--Will Travel
This is a very old science fiction book that was actually quite imaginative for its time. I was impressed with the ideas of how to walk on the moon expressed by the author long before anyone ever walked up there on the moon.Fun book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun, on the road, book
I had the pleasure of listening to this book on tape on a road trip.I was more interested in the return trip and story than I was the visit (sadly.)When humanity hangs in the balance of the witness of a boy and girl you'll be glad it was this boy and girl.Great story, interesting characters, interesting aliens, they were very 'alien.'I actually had 'nightmares' about them (nothing serious, but the image of them stuck in my mind.)

5-0 out of 5 stars "Have Space Suit Will Travel" Rocks!
The classic sci fi book, Have Space Suit Will Travel, by Robert Heinlein is a wonderful adventure for all ages.The main character, Skip, is a graduating senior who wishes he could go to the Moon (as is a tourist option in this book.) However, it is way too expensive.When a soap company sponsors a contestwith First Prize offering just that, he proceeds to buy every bar of soap he can lay his hands on and enter the contest hundreds of times. From there, the story begins, and Skip does travel to the Moon, but not the way Skip had in mind. This would have made a wonderful movie as other Heinlein books have including Starship Troopers and The Puppet Masters.In any case, although this book is little known today, I would encourage everyone who has the slightest interest in sci fi and a sense of humor to read this.You will be thoroughly entertained, I promise.

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic, for good reason
I recently read this book for the first time.It was in a box of books a friend gave me.I figured it would make a nice break from some of my heavier reading.This was bumped up in priorities when some scholars whom I respect pointed out that it included a fairly heavy critique of the United Nations.

The book was extremely good.Certainly a book I will read to my sons as they grow old enough to enjoy it.But it is worth reading for adults too, and some of the negative reviews are somewhat out of place.I am going to discuss here the question of scientific details first, and then the social and political lessons from the book.

First, the book has a great deal of scientific details in it, ranging from gravity/mass issues (on the Moon and Pluto) to specific details regarding the difficulties of staying alive in space with a space suit.I suppose some readers may see this as filler but instead it adds a certain realism to the story.Nonetheless I found a few places where I was shaking my head and saying "that's nice in a book but would get you killed if you tried it for real" (like transferring oxygen between tanks on the moon--- I kept waiting for disaster to strike).

Secondly on the social, political, and moral side.I think this book is solid in this area too and provides a great amount of food for thought.While I agree that the book does promote nationalism, it doesn't do so at the expense of a sense that we are all humans.Indeed, the only area where this is particularly noticeable was in the trial of humanity.Here Heinlein was clearly drawing parallels to the United Nations Security Council, and disparaging internationalism itself to some extent as something which serves those nations who already dominate the planet.I took the reference to Mein Kampf as simply the idea that a lot of important works were written in prison and that this was no exception. Genocide in the book is portrayed in a very complex way which leaves the reader at the end sharing the ambivalence of the characters despite the extreme circumstances that would lead to obvious reasons to condone it.

The book is remarkably deep and worth reading even for adults.

Mixed in with all this weight is a great deal of humor and action.I found myself laughing out loud many times and had guessed the bit about Kip's dad well before the end of the book.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. ... Read more

4. The Door into Summer
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (1986-10-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345330129
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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With several Hollywood Heinlein adaptations about to be launched (including "Starship Troopers" by the director of "Total Recall"), this SF superstar is shining brighter than ever. To celebrate his success, Del Rey is reissuing the author's classic works back into the forefront, beginning with "The Door into Summer", the story of a modern-day--and future-time--Rip Van Winkle. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (107)

5-0 out of 5 stars read it NOW!!
Heinlein wrote this story on late 50s. The story setting starts on 70s and goes to early 2000s. If you lived through 70s and 2000s, you will see how brilliant he was not only as a writer but as a scientist. It is 2010 and I consider the book is having its primely time to be read.

5-0 out of 5 stars thoughtful funny and entertaining
This book is a fast paced enjoyable read, with just enough plot and character development to keep the reader involved. It has a sufficient but not uniquely clever or creative portrayal of time travel. What I enjoyed most was the approach the main character takes to solving his problems. Also, if you have been around cats (especially the modern spoiled middle class cat), you will enjoy Heinlein's depiction of them.

5-0 out of 5 stars SF withwarm heart
I am new to Heinlein, though I knew of him through the several movie adaptations to hit our screens in the last few years.
I decided to read this as I am fascinated by time travel in literature, and all I can say is that that aspect is up there with the best of them.
Having also just read The Man Who Folded Himself, which maybe takes the premise further, this story adds the warmth and humanity without which all the plot gymnastics in the world are meaningless.
Its been a long while since a book has brought a tear to my eye, but this one did...

4-0 out of 5 stars Heinlein at his most wistful
For some reason I find this slim novel by Robert Heinlein unforgettable. It is not Heinlein's best work, not by a long shot. It is not his most innovative, literary, or edgy work. It is, however, Heinlein at his most wistful and it is fun too. The pacing is rather breakneck and the story clever. It's attraction to me is that cat and it's relationship to the protagonist. For some reason, it just stays with me. Love the title and the story of how it came about. You won't regret reading this book and you'll feel pretty good when you put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent classic science fiction
I love this book. Heinlein is a great author and this may very well be my favorite book that he wrote. For a 1950s look into time travel by an excellent author The Door into Summer is fantastic. ... Read more

5. Red Planet
by Robert Heinlein
Paperback: 256 Pages (2006-09-26)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345493184
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and it set Jim off on a terrfying adventure that could save--or destroy--them all!

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (50)

4-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Heinlein
The 1949 novel Red Planet is vintage Heinlein.Characters rant about bureaucracy, regulations, and limitations on personal freedom (the unfettered right to bear arms is sacred), themes that reappear often in Heinlein's later work.Although Red Planet is characterized as a "juvenile"--and although I was thoroughly entertained by it when I read it as a teenager--the story retains enormous appeal for adult fans of science fiction. While lacking the complexity of Heinlein's later work, the story illustrates Heinlein's vivid imagination and his stalwart belief in the ability of individuals to meet challenges posed both by hostile environments and by muddle-headed humans.I'd give it 4 1/2 stars if Amazon offered that option.

5-0 out of 5 stars A really fun and interesting read
Robert Heinlein's vision of life on Mars in this book is, from a scientific standpoint, way off, but the story he tells of two young men fighting to keep that life safe for their family and friends (with help from some of the native Martians along the way) is an interesting, funny, exciting, and wholly enjoyable one. There's even a bit of a mystery along with all the atmosphere and adventure. This is the sort of Heinlein book that one can't help smiling at the thought of.

Heinlein just has such a wonderful way of showing his readers a whole fully-realized world, including the technologies, social structures, culture, and everything else, without ever seeming to have any exposition. It's just all there, and we understand it by watching the story unfold.

This book is a really quick read, both because it's easy and short and because it's so fun and interesting there's just no reason to put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Among the finest examples the genre has to offer
I'm embarrassed to say I had not read this until now. I had read Have Space Suit, Will Travel. Both are Heinlein's early juvenile works, and both are adventure stories with young children serving as major figures in important struggles. My opinion is both are excellent, and this one is best.

The story takes place on Mars, where young Jim and his friend Frank become entangled in a political conspiracy while attending a school for young colonists from Earth. They escape the school with a small native furred Mars creature they have befriended, named Willis. It seems somewhat intelligent, but its true nature is not known. The adventure is taken up with their attempt to return safely home, and warn other colonists of what has occurred at the school. Along the way they encounter true Martians, which have maintained an uneasy existence with the human colonists since their arrival on Mars. There are many memorable scenes with the Martians, and with Willis. There is suspense, action, humor, and some thoughtful moments.

The writing is crisp and efficient in the capable hands of an obvious master of his trade, and stands the test of time. The material is admittedly dated, and the rather tame tone of much of the story is clearly a sign of the time. In the 1940's, books written for distribution in the school markets were expected to be tame. Innocence and idealism were still desired traits, as evidenced by the editing examples included in the end of this book. The charm of this book is that it managed to retain that feel while still conveying a lively and exciting spirit. Reading it today was simply refreshing.

In the end, Heinlein's optimism in his early years shines through in this book. There are no heavy moral messages, or preachy moments, or grand philosophical arguments. Here is simply a well-crafted adventure story, as memorable as any I have found. It is a blueprint for great science fiction of any time, for any aged reader.

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting planet
This is vintage Heinlein: take a futuristic situation, and make it convincing: figure out in detail how it would work, and mix in scenes of daily life with the exoticism.

Temperature extremes?You solve them by migrating out of the colder hemisphere, once a year.Transportation?You invent an "iceboat" that can run on frozen canals (this was written in the 1950s).Point out that even in a colony world, there is a difference between the sophisticated capial (Syrtis Major) and the frontier where the main characters grew up.And in a neat touch, the humans are so familiar with the Martians than we never learn what they look like.After all, "everybody knows that".

Incidentally, these are the same Martians as the ones in "Double Star" and "Stranger in a Strange Land".

As often happens in Heinlein, there is a revolution, but at least this one focuses on a definite grievance (forcing the colonists to live in dangerous conditions) rather than Heinlein's silly political ideas.

The main flaw is the cardboard character of the headmaster.To the juvenile readers, he's the Mean Old Principal.To older readers, he is an incompetent who got his job through nepotism.Neither of these would explain why he would do something so sleazy as confiscate a student's rare pet and then sell it for his own enrichment, and does even that justify his killing at the end?When comes to the villains of the piece, Heinlein takes no prisoners.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book, bad editing - Kindle Version
I loved this book as a child. This is the uncensored version as well. I just want to say that it appears no one proofread the book for its conversion to Kimdle. There are many typos. I'm is displayed as Fm, and sometimes there is an incorrect letter as well. For shame to whomever edited this. Otherwise it was worth every penny. ... Read more

6. Tunnel in the Sky
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 272 Pages (2005-03-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416505512
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A classic novel from the mind of the storyteller who captures the imagination of readers from around the world, and across two generations

The final exam for Dr. Matson's Advanced Survival class was meant to be just that: only a test. But something has gone terribly wrong...and now Rod Walker and his fellow students are stranded somewhere unknown in the universe, beyond contact with Earth, at the other end of a tunnel in the sky. Stripped of all comforts, hoping for apassage home that may never appear, the castaways must band together or perish. For Rod and his fellow survivors, this is one test where failure is not an option.... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (81)

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic
Hadmy 11 year old daughter read this classic Heinlein novel and she adored it. Holds up perfectly well, even after more than fifty years. WOuld make a great YA movie.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Heinlein Story
I had forgotten that I read this many years ago.The second time around I think it was even better!

5-0 out of 5 stars A true coming of age story in a Heinlein juvenile
Heinlein was superb at everything he wrote, from unique set pieces to epics.

"Tunnel in the Sky" was an extremely interesting, well thought out set piece. A high school survival class goes thru a portal for a week long survival test to a wilderness world. When a super nova between point A and point B disrupts the ability to return them on schedule, the youngsters have more than a test, they have a need to establish a society where they can survive themselves as well as the wilderness challenges.

Heinlein was a fairly wise man. In my youth I learned a lot of valuable lessons and philosophies from his work, and this book was no exception.

The premise here is fascinating and well realized. Heinlein never hits you over the head with technology. He presents such devices as an instantaneous portal through space as an everyday utility, much as we'd regard an airliner. He doesn't go overboard trying to invent a scientific rationale for the technology, and he doesn't need one. The primary interstellar transportation in this book would be picked up on and used by no less an entity than the movie Stargate and its long running TV follow up series.

Once the kids are in the woods, science fiction leaves the scene to be replaced by hard edged personal struggles, and you'll enjoy every word of it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great young adult Sci Fi
Heinlein was just a great all around writer/thinker. Tunnel in the Sky is over 50 years old, yet it still is a taught action packed read. Heinlein has two major career arcs, the books he wrote earlier that encompass 'tunnel in the sky', 'starship troopers', and many other great stories that were oriented towards a younger audience... & the books he wrote post 'Stranger in a Strange Land' that suddenly take on a very adult/freelove style.

When you look at Heinleins early work, you can see that some of the books he wrote concerning the near future are very dated now. On the other other hand, when Heinlein steps out and tries his hand at something truly unorthodox (like a stargate), his work holds up very well. Here, Heinlein uses the concept of the stargate to pretty much tell a version of 'Lord of the Flies'.

The main character, Rod Walker, is dumped onto an alien planet with around 100 others. Each of them are sent out alone, with whatever they feel they need to survive 4-10 days, from knives and flints to state of the art blasters and power packs. As time goes on Rod finds that either he has missed the rendezvous or no one seems to be coming. And the story shifts focus to a long term survival on this alien world.

Heinlein has a great gift for suspenseful writing. This is one that should keep you enjoying it from start to finish.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good solid Heinlein "Juvenile SF" novel
Ironically, the great Robert H. Heinlein's most influential writings were probably his "Juvenile SF" novels -- science fiction novels written for teenagers.While they may have been aimed at teens, mostly they are fine reading for adults as well.I read them all as a teenager, including this one, and have re-read most of them as an adult.

This particular novel is not generally considered one of Heinlein's best, but there is a lot here and in its own way this novel is pretty impressive.The storyline (outrageously simplified) is that a group of college students are stranded on a strange earthlike planet during a one-week survival test.When the week ends, there is no pickup.The group then gropes towards some kind of organization and government, and experiences all of the problems that this kind of effort usually involves.The result is a surprisingly insightful look at the problems of basic government.

The science fiction here is understated.The basic notion is that mankind is rapidly expanding into the galaxy in a new age of adventure.Survival skills are therefore paramount, and that is the other theme of this novel.

Recommended.RJB. ... Read more

7. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 384 Pages (1997-06-15)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$8.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312863551
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential science fiction writer of his era, an influence so large that, as Samuel R. Delany notes, "modern critics attempting to wrestle with that influence find themselves dealing with an object rather like the sky or an ocean." He won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, a record that still stands. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was the last of these Hugo-winning novels, and it is widely considered his finest work.

It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.
Amazon.com Review
TomClancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, "We proceed down the pathmarked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is."Nowhere isthis more true than in Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on themoon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by anEarth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense.Asmall band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, aradical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotentcomputer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the nearcertainty of failure and death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (275)

5-0 out of 5 stars A good commentary on the human condition
Robert A. Heinlen is best known for Starship Troopers, but he also wrote a number of other books that gained some amount of fame. One of these is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It tells the story of the development of a resistance, focused around an almost-human artificial intelligence character named Mike, his technician, and a professor.

I'd recommend the read not because of the political aspects of the novel, (Robert Heinlen excels at giving readers an idea they at first think is absurd, but then seems to justify his ideology using arguments most would agree with, leading you in the direction of agreement with his idea) but rather the commentary on the human condition. It's interesting that Mike, the artificial intelligence, is sympathetic to the resistance's cause, even though his creation was for the purpose of the oppression. Mannie, Mike's technician, (and first introduction to the outside world from the perspective of the "loonies") represents an interesting take on the average, hard-working, blue-collar citizen. Wyoh, a naive young woman, gives a harsh reality to the emotional effects the "loonies" have to undergo. Professor La Paz is the academic, structuring the group, and ultimately, engineering the rebellion.

There are a number of themes that come up in the book, but I find the human interaction to be the most fascinating. The interaction, specifically, of Mike and Mannie, gives an interesting twist to what it means to "be human."

5-0 out of 5 stars What else can I say?
Out of 270 reviews (and change), 230(ish) are four or five stars.How can I add to that?The numbers speak for themselves.This is truly one of greatest Heinlein's greatest masterpieces.My Heinlein reading is sorely lacking and I hope to make up for that, but if anything I HAVE read can be said to have made me an addicted fan, this is it.Also, I don't usually like audio books, my attention span is too short.This one, however, was an attention-keeper!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent story

This is an excellent story - a topnotch Heinlein classic that has stood the test of time.

5-0 out of 5 stars TANSTAAFL!
TANSTAAFL, meaning There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, one of the famous lines and philosophies to come from this book. This is the second Heilein novel I have read, the other being Starship Troopers. I was very impressed. I found myself enthralled from the very beginning with the interactions between Manny the computer programmer and Mike the self aware computer who is fond of practical jokes. From there and on to the revolution of the Moon residents, being led by the beautiful and dedicated Wyoming, the Anarchist Professor, Adam Selene (Mike), and Manny. I loved how this book vividly described how life on the Moon had been developed, how the conspiracy evolved against authority, and how family life worked on the Lunar Colonies. This book blends humor, caste life, sci/fi action, libertarian views and political intrigue flawlessly. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress really paints a great vivid picture that is very enjoyable to any fan of science fiction. I recommend this to fans of any sci/fi authors. A great read!

1-0 out of 5 stars Dreck
I've now read Heinlein's 2 "greatest" books, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land.
Heinlein is a truly terrible writer, I honestly don't know how he is so highly rated and praised. I really tried to give him a chance but his writing style is like reading a book for tweens. It is broken and disjointed, for all of you out there who like him, my hats off to you but for myself I will not read another Heinlein novel. ... Read more

8. Friday
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages (1983-07-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034530988X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Engineered from the finest genes, and trained to be a secret courier in a future world, Friday operates over a near-future Earth, where chaos reigns. Working at Boss's whimsical behest she travels from far north to deep south, finding quick, expeditious solutions as one calamity after another threatens to explode in her face....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (97)

5-0 out of 5 stars Friday
Love the book, love the author.A book about war and discrimination, how timely.

5-0 out of 5 stars One Of Heinlein's Best Books
This is an unforgettable book.It rates in my top 10 science fiction books of all time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gentleman, (and ladies), please be seated.
Among the top hard science fiction stories I've read, this was one of the first, and the only one I'd finished, upon first picking the paperback up, in 7th grade. I found it in a classroom at school, in 1982, and have it to this day, and the hardback, and the Samantha Eggar, abridged audiobook. I look forward to getting the unabridged version.

Interesting to note the similarities between this work and Bladerunner, as they both appeared in '82. Since it likely took Heinlein at least a year to write this huge tome, with input from his wife, inspiration for Lazarus Long's wife, I would guess the reverse-engineered BR, as opposed to its source material, likely was co-authored by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples (re-writes) with no idea as to the similar nature of APs versus replicants.

I would like to bring up Mr. and Mrs. Joe Greene, mentioned as one of Marjorie's ancestral sources. A previous reviewer mentioned not being able to think of any other pre-existing characters besided Baldwin,in Heinlein's ouevre. However, if you've read Gulf, the previous Baldwin adventure, then you've read about Mr. and Mrs. Greene, who helped Baldwin pull off a minor revolution. I believe Stone Pillow, unpublished(?) may have had one or more of them in it.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls also has a direct connection: unless Heinlein was in the habit of replicating character descriptions upon unrelated people, the protagonist (eyepatch, cane) Strikes me as a parallel dimension version of Baldwin, since the character is a d-hopper. Just a thought. plus, the respiratory illness afflicting the space station the man ports into is the same one which laid Friday low for a period of time, on a space station. The same one?

One last note. A late 1987 sci-fi film, Star Quest: Beyond The Rising Moon, re-edited and cg-enhanced three years ago, into Outerworld, was heavily inspired by Friday, though with major changes. Check the similarities:

Pentan, an AP with a six-letter name, like Friday, is used as a courier, assassin, and seductress. At the beginning, she ambushes two returning Norwegian Interworld space couriers in Star City, North Africa, relieving them of their cargo, a data storage unit, with a pen which shoots a disruptor beam, severing the security lock on the box. She then interfaces, with a tiara, with the data unit carried by one of the two human carrier pigeons, soaking up info on a crashed alien ship, a Tesseran artifact, in a star system several light years away. It's the second such ship, found by a Norwegian Interworld satellite. Tesseran culture revolutioized humanity's relationship with space, much like Shipstone crystals changed the lives on humans in Heinlein's book.

Her corporate employer, Kuriyama Ent., sends her minder, John Moesby, to meet her. After leaving him on a monorail platform, Moesby activates the 'stroker', which will cause a neural implant to kill her by edema within 72 hours; to prevent this, she needs to travel to Inisrfe, a planet in the Halcyon system.

She hires Harold Brickmann, a spacer, to fly her. After beating two bruisers, Mr. Beaufuss and Tebrook, sent to get money Brickmann owes (legitimately) to their boss, Pentan then saves him from her boss's thugs, led by Moesby, who is sent packing by Pentan after she kills two troopers by hand. She disposes of the corpses, sending Brickmann into a state of mild panic and shock; Brickmann goes to call the police on Pentan, but is chased down by a trooper. Pentan runs up behind the thug, chasing Brickmann across a footbridge, judo chops him on the throat (sound familiar?), and brings down Kyle, one of her teachers in a flying car, piloted by a Kuriyama trooper, with the dead thug's machinegun. Upon takeoff, she levels with him as to her genetic origins, later prompting a memory sequence of her training and presentation before her new boss.

She and Brickmann travel to Inisfre, followed by Takashi Kuriyama's carrier, the Promethian, hauling several Tulwar fighters. Brickmann watches Pentan as she sleeps, making sure she doesn't die from a massive cerebral hemorrhage kickstarted by the handheld device Moesby used in Star City. Pentan is freed of the stroker by her ethics and philosophy teacher, Robert Thorton and his wife Rachael, who run a terraforming operation set up on the out-of-the-way planet by Kuriyama as punishment for being a subversive influence within the corporation and Kuriyama's former conscience, which the CEO no longer needs. Pentan's defection is seen as a betrayal of Kuriyama's view of her as his personal ideal. She finds the location of the second Tesseran ship, cons Brickmann into flying her there, for a cut, and they jet, literally.

Kuriyama lands on Inisfre, and takes over the complex, questioning Thorton while his soldiers search the complex for clues of Pentan's next move, then blows the ecolab up (dir. cut) with the Thortons still inside. Pentan and Brickmann disable two Tulwars sent to apprehend them, then escape the system.

Travelling through hyperspace, Pentan schools Brickmann on herdeadly attributes, then they have sex, at Brickmann's behest, believing he can draw her out with a display of trust and intimacy; but Pentan, a genetically stuntedAP, can't experience a full range of emotions like a normal human, so she gives Brickmann what she thought he wanted: sex, with no strings attached. This blows Brickmann's mind, so the two stay apart for the reaminder of the trip, though Pentan, from within the ship's shower, watches Brickmann, fascinated, infatuated, and maybe even a little saddened, by him.

Their final destination is Elysium, a planet further into the core of the spiral arm, where the crashed alien spaceship, the source of much of the space technology enjoyed by humanity, lies, unclaimed. Unfortunately, Pentan can't claim it, as her kind are unrecognized by the law (!), so Brickmann must make the claim for her, for which he'll receive a hefty cut.

Once they make planetfall, they find the massive ship relatively quickly; within it is a pocket void, with flying blips of light, a rocky surface, (presumably the planet surface sticking through the interior), and a startling, truly wonderful sight: a galaxy, floating in space, within the ship. Possibly a doorway to the galaxy, or universe exists within the ship, revealing the source of unlimited power for such an ancient alien construct. Truly beathtaking!

Unfortunately, here comes Kuriyama and his small corporate army. Moesby orders Brickmann's death and sends Pentan away, while Kuriyama returns to the Promethian. Pentan then double-crosses her employers, hijacking a Tulwar, blowing up a few more, startling the pilots holding Brickmann, who, in turn, kills them. He and Pentan make it to atmosphere, ditching and then destroying two Tulwars, then to space, where Pentan turns the tide on Kuriyama and Moesby, trusting Brickmann to help, fighting Kuriyama's spacers, including her flight trainer, George, in an asteroid field (newly added for the spec. ed.), before Moesby forces the gunnery officer to shoot a Tulwar carrying a nuke. Which nukes them... Douche...

In the ensuing explosion, Pentan is wiped from Brickmann's radar; despondent, he returns to the surface of Elysium, resigend to his fate of being alone, until he hears the sound of engines... Pentan... She and Brickmann can be intimate again, but she's still a cold fish, psychologically. The ship is theirs, now.

Quiet a departure fron the source material which, in all honesty, was used (they've never credited it) merely as a framework upon which the novice writer/director, former fx tech Philip Cook (in a fantastic debut), managed to hang a tight piece of cinema (shot in a Baltimore warehouse! ),which never gave way to a sequel (pity). Its low/no budget appeal is cemented by the acting and thoughtful writing and directing. It's a gem of the small screen, and one which should satisfy fans of pre digital vid sci-fi, and fans of Heinlein who will pick up on the little details, if they pay attention, which will be rewarded in short order.

This is my FAVORITE HEINLEIN book, 2nd Only to GLORY ROAD!!For those who condemn this work, perhaps they haven't grasped all the concepts behind it?Although it is true that Heinlein's early works are his best, this IS ONE OF HIS BEST BOOKS, BAR NONE!I first read this book over 20 years ago, not long after it was first published, and I am HAPPY to read it again today in July 2010!I have give COUNTLESS paperback copies of this book to friends throughout the years, as it is one story I most certainly can read and re-read.If you are debating on whether to buy or read this book, then Buy the paperback, or borrow from a library!For less than the price of a Movie ticket for 1, this story will grab you from the start, and PULL YOU THROUGH THE ENTIRE BOOK.... You can't go wrong with this book.It is one of the books I Always Keep on my shelf.... It's a GOOD READ!

4-0 out of 5 stars Flawed--yet good; one of the few late Heinlein novels that works
It's a generally-held tenet that the novels of Robert Heinlein are better before 1970 than afterwards; with few exceptions, his earlier works are his masterworks. Even some of his juvenile fiction novels (in particular, Tunnel in the Sky) are superior to some of the last novels he wrote. "Friday" is an exception. (Well, so is "Time Enough for Love", published in '73.)

Friday is a sort of "bildungsroman" or coming-of-age novel, with a female protagonist. While Heinlein attempted to write a number of female characters who were fiercely self-reliant, highly competent and independent, he never really features a woman as a main character. I don't consider this a flaw; many authors really don't "get" the opposite sex and their opposite gender characters tend to be dressed in a sort of "literary drag." In fact, Friday, who is a genetically enhanced created human being (presaging cloned or eugenically bred humans) is sometimes more male than female. Her sex drive, which is usually in overdrive, swings both ways, and she only gives a passing nod to heterosexual preferences as she hops into bed with anyone slightly willing at the moment. This is explained away as both part of her genetic enhancement and an effect of her psychological flaw, which is a dependency and lack of self-esteem caused by being raised as a non-person (enhanced humans or "AP's" are property, not legal persons in the balkanized and degenerate Earth states) and her upbringing in a commercial creche rather than with parents.

Friday is a courier who is expected to deliver sensitive information across turbulent national lines frequently in battle zones or at least in politically unstable situations. She works for "Kettle Belly" Baldwin, who is a familiar character (the charismatic commanding officer or professor or other elder wise man who shows up time and again in Heinlein's works.) Baldwin advises Friday to eventually migrate off-Earth and acts as a mentor for the insecure young woman.

Her adventures getting through her last mission for Baldwin and her subsequent adventures culminating in migration are well-written and exciting. Sometimes the novel meanders but it gets on course. The end, though a bit rushed, I think and containing a major flaw (don't want to give it away, but her mistake comes on the heels of her work as a brilliant savant, so you'd think she'd...but ...no, I won't tell you but you'll see it, I'm sure, as you finish the book.)

Aside from the gratuituous but non-graphic sex and a lot of sniggering lesbian scenes which are more male fantasy than a true attempt at creating a bisexual character, this book has plenty of action and a lot of good elements, including a list of symptoms that characterize a moribund society (think; this was written 40 years ago and it's seeming all too true.) Well worth reading and probably the last good novel Heinlein wrote. ... Read more

9. The Rolling Stones
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (2010-04-27)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439133565
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The rollicking adventures of the Stone Family on a tour of the Solar System. It all statred when the twins, Castor and Pollux Stone, decided that life on the Lunar colony was too dull and decided to buy their own spaceship and go into business for themselves. Their father thought that was a fine, idea, except that he and Grandma Hazel bought the spaceship and the whole Stone Family were on their way out into the far reaches of the Solar System, with stops on Mars(where the twins got a lesson in the interplanetary economics of bicycles and the adorable little critters called flatcats who, it turned out, bred like rabbits; or perhaps, Tribbles....), out to the asteroids, where  Mrs. Stone, an M.D., was needed to treat a dangerous outbreak of disease, even further out, to Titan and beyond.

Unforgettable Heinlein characters on an unforgettable adventure.


"Not only America's premier writer of speculative fiction, but the greatest writer of such fiction in the world".  

  -   Stephen King ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and inspirational
The Rolling Stones is one of Heinlein's juveniles from his "hard science" days.

An extraordinary family, living on the Moon, buys a used spaceship, fixes it up, and heads for the asteroids. The kids include a stunning and brainy daughter, twin boys always looking to get rich and in trouble ... not necessarily in that order, and a precocious toddler who may be the smartest of all. The cast is rounded out by the wise and patient parents and the feisty grandmother, Hazel.

Reading this book always inspires me to do a bit of math study. Heinlein had a knack for making most hard science studies sound like fun, but he had a rare talent for describing math as great way to spend your time. LOL

David Gerrold "channeled" Heinlein's "flat cat's" from this book for his Star Trek tribbles. I have read that Heinlein was accorded the courtesy of a look at the script and gave it his blessing, stating that both stories were derivative of a story from the early 1900's ("Pigs is Pigs"), where a freight agent saddled with two guinea pigs winds up with hordes of them before he can return them to the original shipper. In any case, the nature of the creatures and the trouble caused by them is identical in both stories, and Heinlein's came years earlier.

The Stone's adventures amount to a set of interesting episodes, rather than a novel long battle of the heroes versus either a circumstance or a set of bad guys, making this a refreshing change from most plots. It is a "slice of life" book right out of Moon habitats, Mars settlements, and the asteroids. You'll enjoy the family and atmosphere of this book. Hazel turns up again as a major character in Heinlein's next to last novel, "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls".

4-0 out of 5 stars Pack up the family and tour around the Solar system
Roger Stone and his family have decided that they've had enough of life on the moon, so they decide to pack up the family, buy a used space ship, and head off to see the sights in the Solar system.First stop is Mars, then the asteroid belt, then who knows!The travelers include Mr. Stone, his wife (a doctor), his mother, and four children - a pair of precocious twins named Castor and Pollux, a teen daughter, and an infant.What follows is a series of adventures and mis-adventures with lots of witty dialog in between.The main characters are Mr. Stone and the twins.Heinlein based many of the characters in the book on himself and others in his family.Mr. Stone is Heinlein of course, the author who served time in the navy.Mrs. Stone is patterned after Heinlein's wife Ginny.This is far from Heinlein's best novel, but it is in my opinion the one that most represents his 'style' - lots of witty dialog and repartee between the characters.Intelligent teen characters who are wise beyond their years, technically competent, but always getting into trouble and always learning.The twins decided that they want to become entrepreneurs and ship a load of used bicycles from the Moon to Mars.They get a real life lesson in economics when they realize that selling them isn't as easy as they think.Even though much of the astrophysics is now dated, you'll get an outstanding lesson about the Solar system and orbital dynamics from this book.One thing that Heinlein does extremely well is tie in typical, everyday life with the possibilities of space exploration.Other than cruising around in a spaceship, the Stone family isn't that different than any other Earth-bound family.They have many of the same problems (simplified for the juvenile plot-line, of course), with complicated inter-family dynamics, yet they are doing something fantastic (at least for the reader), and do it all in a matter of fact way.If you've read Heinlein before and liked any bit of it, this novel is a no-brainer.If you're new to Heinlein, I would recommend this book to start - it is very typical of easy style with an easy to read, enjoyable plot line.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic Juvenile Heinlein
The Rolling Stones is the classic science fiction family adventure written for the juvenile audience by the master, R.A. Heinlein.I first read this nearly 50 years ago and have looked forward to it coming out again.Many authors have been influenced by this and other Heinlein juveniles.Read about the Martian flat cats and you know where the idea for tribbles came from.I recommend this to any adult or teenager who enjoys space and a good story.

5-0 out of 5 stars And Flat Cats too!
Many of the excellent reviewers have told you why you will love this book, and I heartily agree. But let's not forget the flat cats. David Gerrold swears he didn't mean to steal the idea as the inspiration for the "Star Trek" episode, 'The Trouble With Tribbles', and Heinlein agreed that the idea wasn't stolen; but you will see the connection.
And when you read Heinlein's later, grownup books (the ones with the annoying sex someone else mentioned), you will need to know where Hazel Meade Stone came from. She starts out as a child in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and we will see her later in "The Number of the Beast".
And in any case, this book is good family fun; the family that travels the solar system together always has a handy airlock in case little brother really gets to be too much, but they never actually throw him overboard, and later, he saves grandma.

5-0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book well read
I don't want to say much about the story itself - it's a Heinlein, one of the books for younger people (and older, like me), sometimes in later books referred (Hazel Stone!).
It's very well read, one of the best audiobooks I ever heard, with perfectly choosen voices. You very well can forget the real world (is it real?). It's very understandable for non-native speakers, my 10-year-old (german) son has no problems to understand the book. ... Read more

10. Glory Road
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 320 Pages (2006-03-21)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$8.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765312220
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A Vietnam veteran idling away his time on the Isle du Levant, Oscar+s eye is caught by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, sleekly muscled and with regal bearing. When she offers him a job with great adventure and great risk he blindly accepts, little realizing just what an incredible trek he has let himself in for: a journey through some of the twenty universes where Star is Empress, on a quest to retrieve the stolen Great Egg. The grandest pure adventure from the genre+s master storyteller, Glory Road is a masterpiece of escapist entertainment with a typically Heinleinian sting in its tail. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (85)

5-0 out of 5 stars Treasured book
First read this book in college in the 60's. Reread many times over the years and enjoyed it every time. Great adventure! Great story! Great characters! Wonderful author!

2-0 out of 5 stars Mix of Fantasy and Sci-fi
'Glory Road' is Robert Heinlein's take on Fantasy. Being Heinlein, the fantasy elements have scientific explanations, but are fantasy nonetheless. In 'Glory Road' Heinlein is commenting on heroes and fantasy conventions, as well as adding commentary on social and political mores of late '50s early 60's America in the usual Heinlein manner.
I have enjoyed several of Heinlein's works but I did not care for this one too much. I found the dialogue to be excruciatingly bad, and the plot to have absolutely no tension or drama. Even the usual pontificating, which normally doesn't bother me too much, just grated, even when I agreed. I guess I can see what Heinlein was doing here but I didn't enjoy the result.

2-0 out of 5 stars Should have left to the teenage me
They say that you should not look back at some things.One example would be looking up old girlfriends.Another I've discovered is reading a book from your adolescence.

I should have known better.When I was but a wee lad, I loved the movie "Swiss Family Robinson".It was a movie I had viewed several times as a youngster.After VCRs became popular I rented a copy one night to share with my two children.I wanted them to experience the joy I had felt watching this movie. My kids thought it absolutely lame, and I could not keep them in the room.At this point I don't remember whether I sat through the whole movie, but I am recalling that I did not.

When I was a teenager I thought Robert A. Heinlein just hung the moon.His book "Stranger in a Strange Land" was at one point the ultimate novel and the ultimate philosophical work, in my humble 17 year old mind.I must have read it a dozen times in the space of a few years. To me "Glory Road" was not far behind.I also read it multiple times.

Recently I was wondering through an enormous bookstore in Portland, OR and came across a copy of "Glory Road".Feeling the need to relive a fond childhood memory I bought a copy.

I should have left well enough alone.Reading this book as a middle age man I understand why my teenage self enjoyed it so.Heinlein would have been around 55 or 56 when he wrote this.I did not find it the work of a mature writer unless he was deliberately "marketing" to a teenage male audience.I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that is what he was doing.

I had a tough time getting through the book this round.The characters were basically shallow and predictable.There is the swashbuckling hero who has basically been a rebel all his life, and as it turns out manipulated (for good) by great forces.There is the scheming, beautiful woman who turns out to be not what she seems to be.And finally a Sancho Panza style character. None of the characters really grow or change with the exception of "Oscar", our hero.And like me Oscar finally realizes that you cannot go backwards.Unfortunately, this is his only growth as a character.

The story line is utterly predictable.Even those passages that were supposed to provide a plot twisted were just about telegraphed on page one.We knew before he did that he would have to face an inner demon.But come on, rats.Rats crawling on a homeless boy causing adulthood phobias.Now that is what I call inventive.

Perhaps what was the most painful to me was the dialogue.The "My Princess" and "Yes, Me Lord" become tiresome rather quickly.Towards the end of the book our lovers begin to fall apart.The dialogue of their arguments fell apart for me too.It quickly became something I skipped over.

At some point in Heinlein's writing he got so wrapped in espousing his personally philosophy that he become unreadable to me.He is getting a good start in this book.He pounds into you that government is bad, and the best government is one that governs less.He goes on to denounce democracy because the masses do not have enough sense to know what is right.He is big proponent of free love and anything goes sexually.But for some reason, he comes across as a misogynist to me.

I will say this, I have a couple ideas that I have been repeating for years.Until I reread this book I had no idea where they came.I'm not delusional enough to think the memes were mine, but I had forgotten their source.That almost makes them yours, right?One was that women and cats are very similar.When they want affection you had better give it to them, and when they don't you had better leave them alone.This is an idea Heinlein expressed in the book that I picked up.Who knows if it is original with him?Another was idea was that the perfect age to be and stop aging would 35.I'm not going to argue with either.

If you can suspend the critical thinking part of your mind, you will probably enjoy this.I personally wish I had left it on the shelf and recalled the fond memories from my teenage years.For pure swashbuckling fantasy and adventure Edgar Rice Boroughs John Carter on Mars makes for better reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
Still original (to me) for its age and a good easy read, until the last 5 chapters, when it changes from a fantasy to marriage guidance, taxes and tips on horse betting (at least I learnt what a sweepstake is).

He didn't need to stop at chapter 18, but could have jumped straight to the part where the married couple split and go their own way, without going into detail about why the marriage fell apart.


4-0 out of 5 stars fantasy work from Heinlein beats most of today's stuff
This was one of the first fantasy novels I read as I migrated from science fiction to fantasy, and I couldn't have asked for a better transitional book to show how fun and creative the genre can be.
Heinlein tells a simply "on the road" story and a "coming of age" story at the same time, using an adult -- unusually -- instead of the typical teenage boy.The book felt like it was dashed off in a hurry - not because it was sloppy, but because it seems to move and flow so seamlessly from adventure to adventure.I can imagine Heinlein just had a bunch of fun whacking this story out!
Glory Road is 40 years old, but manages to avoid feeling dated, and that's a big accomplishment all by itself.It's a thoroughly enjoyable, easy read book. ... Read more

11. Podkayne of Mars (Digest Size) (Ace Science Fiction)
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 224 Pages (2005-06-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441012981
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the author of Rocket Ship Galileo comes this classic tale featuring the Grand Master of Science Fiction's most remarkable heroine. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

5-0 out of 5 stars Podkayne of Mars
I find it great that you can order out-of-print books via Amazon,
and that it helps small book selling companies that have used books in
their inventory to sell them. I bought this one as a Xmas gift for my
niece, as I remember reading a little bit of Heinlein at just a few
years older than her.(Heinlein did mean it as a story for older
children (inbetweeners/teens) to read).

4-0 out of 5 stars Complex Juvenile
Although some are now claiming that this is not a juvenile novel, it is.I read it when it was new and have reread it many times.Younger readers tend to misinterpret portions as the connotations of some words has changed as have idioms.Certainly, it has some adult overtones --it was written for teens, not toddlers.It is also the first of Heinlein's transition works into adult fiction. Podkayne of Mars is filled withimages of Heinlein's fears of the moral decline of human civilization.The reader will be clubbed over the head with some of them, but there are more subtle ones that don't register until some time has passed.I get more out of it each time I read this wonderful novel.It is not Heinlein's best work, but it is still excellent.Just remember that the meaning of words shifts with time and go with the story as it was intended.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not one of RAH better books
This book, first published in 1963, has not matured very well. The account of a feisty young lady on an exciting space adventure lumbers along at a glacial pace.

Written as a series of diary entries this book is stuffed full of "off the shelf" characters: Tom the paternalistic uncle with a mysterious past on a hush-hush diplomatic mission, Clarke the troublesome brother with the high IQ always into some tomfoolery, the over achiever mother and her doddering husband, the maids who are in reality spies and on and on. No spoilers here but the plot and its resolution is as flat as two-day-old soda in an open can. One item that disturbed me was the introduction of an exciting concept or idea just to see it dropped and forgotten for the rest of the novel. For example we are informed that Mars, where Podkayne was born and raised had native Martians, now we switch to another topic...forget about the Martians.

Still, there is considerable Heinlein magic scattered throughout the story. I particularly like his short digressions from the predictable plot to have a character speak a few words of Heinlein's philosophy.Uncle Tom tell us that politics, the concept of give and take and comprise, which to many seem to be selling out or betrayal of ideals, is infinitely more preferable to it's alternative: war.

I recently read Heinlein's novel Friday I could imagine that Podkayne Fries as Friday all grown up. OK, she became a spy and not the pilot of a star ship, a minor point I will concede.
For the legion of Heinlein fan by all means read this book. If you are new to Heinlein there are many other titles I would recommend before this one: Farnham's Freehold, Glory Road and Sixth Column just to name a few that I have admired over the years.

5-0 out of 5 stars Voyage to Venus
Podkayne of Mars (1963) is the fourteenth SF novels in the Juvenile series, following Starship Troopers.It is set in a future after the Moon, Mars and Venus have been settled.Mars was an autonomous planet, but Venus was still run by the Company.The outer moons were settled, but had little political influence.

Earth had eight billion humans living on it.It was the economic and political powerhouse of the Solar System, but its huge gravity well made trade less profitable with the other planets.Even Luna had less trade with Earth than with other interplanetary ports of call.

In this novel, Podkayne Fries is an eight Martian years old (that would be about fifteen in standard years) female resident of Mars.Poddy was named for a Martian saint by her historian father.Her mother is a Master Civil Engineer -- surface or space -- famed for reconstructing Deimos.

Clark Fries is Poddy's six Martian years old brother, who has an IQ of 160 and the morals of a pirate.Clark is a handful in more than one way.For example, Clark gimmicked the delivery robot to deliver some vile tasting combinations and the company offered him a goodly sum to tell them how he had gotten around the tamperproof seal;Clark denied all responsibility for the incidents.

Tom Fries is Poddy's great-uncle.He is a veteran of the Martian revolution and a Senator-at-Large of the Martian Republic.He spends most of his time at the Elks Club playing pinochle.

In this story, the Fries family has plans to travel to Earth.But then the Marsopolis Creche makes a mistake and suddenly the Fries family has three more children, who are only a month old.Their plans have to be postponed in this family emergency.

Poddy takes her problem to Uncle Tom and he arranges a conference with the director of the creche.The creche agrees to fund a trip to Earth for Poddy, Clark and Uncle Tom.Best of all, the Tricorn is going to Earth via Venus, so Poddy gets a tour of the Triple Planets.

During outprocessing on Deimos, Clark makes a smart remark about two kilos of happy dust just as the inspector is opening Poddy's bag.Clark gets a full body search while Poddy and Uncle Tom are finishing their outprocessing and boarding the ship.For some reasons, Poddy's total mass is three kilos over the limit, but the ship is enough under mass that the clerk clears them to board.

Naturally, Poddy eventually figures out that Clark was smuggling something aboard the ship.He admits to smuggling, but refuses to tell her what it is.Poddy knows better than to pursue the issue any further.

On the Tricorn, Poddy meets some interesting people, including Girdie and Mrs. Grew.Before Poddy came onboard, Girdie had been the center of male attraction, but she befriends Poddy and even gives her some advice that her mother never mentioned.Mrs. Grew seem to be a very jolly person and Poddy enjoys her company.

Other passengers are not so friendly.Mrs. Royer acts nice at first, but takes up too much of Poddy's time for errands and other minor tasks.She turns vicious when Poddy finally rufuses to do a minor request and goes off to an appointment with the Second Officer in the Control Room.Poddy later overhears her making cutting remarks to Mrs. Garcia against the Fries family and tells Clark about the comments.Mrs. Royer soon finds her face turning bright red and Mrs. Garcia has a bright yellow face.

On Venus, Uncle Tom is courted by the Chairman of the Venus Company, which essentially owns the planet.He invites the Fries party to stay at his official residence -- the "cottage" -- but Uncle Tom chooses to take rooms at the rather smaller Tannhauser hotel.Then Poddy is detained within the hotel while she finishes the course of treatments required to wander outside.

This tale has Poddy meeting Dexter, the son of the chairman of the Company.They have several small adventures together while Clark is winning a fortune in the casino.Then Clark disappears and the Company Police cannot find him.

This story was not in the original Juvenile series published by Charles Scribner's Sons.It was published by Putnam, but they required certain small changes in the ending.The first Baen printing presented both the originally submitted version and the originally published version of the conclusion.

IMO, the modified version published by Putnam is the better of the two.I know, Heinlein can do no wrong!But sometimes the editor is far enough from the creative ambiance to see outside the box.

Heinlein had several arguments with his editors, which is why the original Juvenile series was terminated.He also had many arguments over the script for Destination Moon.So he might have been somewhat sensitive to editorial changes.

But this time he accepted the change and let the book be published with a different ending.Maybe he had matured to the point of being able to accept other viewpoints.Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Heinlein fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of interplanetary travel, interpersonal relationships, and great female heroines.

-Arthur W. Jordin

5-0 out of 5 stars It's very dated, but I don't care a bit.
The copy of Podkayne of Mars that I picked up from the used bookstore is an original copy from the 1960s. The back cover says, "The NOW Generation's favorite novelist has written a novel with which it can identify! Embodying Heinlein's challenging new concepts or morality and social organization in the framework of whimsical -- and terrifying -- adventure on alien planets."

It's been a long time since I thought of myself as being part of the NOW Generation.

This is a borderline "Young Adult" novel that tackles some adult topics. Podcayne is about 15 years old when she and her brilliant younger brother accompany their uncle on a leisure cruise liner to Earth, with a stop at Venus on the way. Or, at least, that's the plan. It all starts when her brother apparently smuggles something on board...

"Factually" speaking, Poddy's story doesn't age well. It's part of Heinlein's Future Universe, in which Mars had native life, Venus was settled by indentured servants, and everyone's eyes were pointed at the stars. So you can't read this expecting that the science holds up.

Yet this novel (which I initially read at the library 25 years ago) has some of my favorite Heinlein moments. First, Poddy is a pretty cool character: bright and articulate with intense ambitions (becoming a spaceship pilot, which is not considered a "girl" career). The story is fun, because her diary shows what Heinlein imagined space travel might be like.

And although Heinlein does indulge in his political lecture-mode (which I know grates on some people), it's not as overwhelming as in later books. Maybe it's because I've always loved this passage, in which Poddy has just bitterly blamed a situation on politics, in her uncle's hearing. He responds: "Politics is not evil; politics is the human race's most magnificent achievement. ... Politics is just a name for the way we get things done without fighting."

Dated? Sure. But I can still curl up with this book and happily disappear into Heinlein's alternate universe. It's very definitely recommended. ... Read more

12. Citizen of the Galaxy
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 288 Pages (2005-05-17)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416505520
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A classic novel from the mind of the storyteller who captures the imagination of readers from around the world, and across two generations

Science Fiction Grand Master



In a distant galaxy, the atrocity of slavery was alive and well, and young Thorby was just another orphaned boy sold at auction. But his new owner, Baslim, is not the disabled beggar he appears to be: adopting Thorby as his son, he fights relentlessly as an abolitionist spy. When the authorities close in on Baslim, Thorby must ride with the Free Traders -- a league of merchant princes -- throughout the many worlds of a hostile galaxy, finding the courage to live by his wits and fight his way from society's lowest rung. But Thorby's destiny will be forever changed when he discovers the truth about his own identity.... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (79)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book you will remember.
It has been many years since I last read this book, but I am still reminded of it from time to time. Heinlein writes in such a way that you can really immerse yourself in the story and count the journey as one of your own. I loved it. The only complaint that I have is that it could have gone into more depth about each stage of Thorby's life.

4-0 out of 5 stars More like four little stories than one
I read this book because an ancient, hardback copy was in my local library.

What's to love about this book?The possibility that there might actually be people in the world like the character Baslim the Cripple, people who care that much about the freedom of others, when the others would consider it no disgrace if he just walked (or limped) away.A vision of humankind's successful entrance into the Galaxy.A recognition that with said entrance, there are bad guys out there who would take your freedom, and that being good just isn't enough to be free, you have to be strong and agile.Being good isn't enough to be free, you have to do the job handed to you if you really want to be free.Paradoxical, ain't it?

What's not to love about this book?I found it to be like four little stories, as opposed to one story.Thorby's time on Jubblepore would be one story, his time with the Sisu would be another, etc.I wanted to hear more about why the Sisu were in such a debt to Baslim.I wanted Thorby and Leda to marry at the end, but that was a minor detail.I want there to be a sequel called Project Porcupine.

But all in all, I was still highly entertained and encouraged, and would consider it a worthy investment of the time I spent reading it.This is Heinlein that kids could and should read.Children readily grasp the evil of slavery, and this presents the issue from another angle.

5-0 out of 5 stars Among Heinlein's best
I've read "Citizen of the Galaxy" several times in the decades since I first discovered it as a boy, and despite my changing maturity and views of the world, it has never disappointed me.

You get four stories in one here, starting with Thorby's childhood in a spy story. Then he further matures in a space based society of Free Traders, makes a brief segue thru time on a military ship, and finally tries to solve the mystery of his family and his parents' death or disappearance.

All segments of the book are at times heart warming, and all are dramatic and exciting. A trademark of Heinlein's fine writing is that when you get to the end of most of his efforts, you are so in the story that you hate for it to end. And since Heinlein didn't get into sequels until late in life, most of his characters solve their problems, never to return.

This is a must read book for every fan of Heinlein specifically, and science fiction in general.

3-0 out of 5 stars Standard Science Fiction Fare
I've read an awful lot of science fiction over the years, including my share of Robert Heinlein.This book, which follows the life of a former child slave from the tutelage of a kindly "beggar" to the pinnacle of society, is pretty standard fare.Nothing really to distinguish it from hundreds of others.It is relatively short and moderately entertaining.You can buy it at an airport bookstore and consume it over the course of 4-5 hours in flight.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
I have enjoyed this book quite a bit.Specially the relationship between the boy and the beggar.I absolutely love the feel of old science fiction.The ending was not what I expected but it has to end at some point.

I gave it 4 stars because it's not where near as good as Stranger in a Strange Land.

I have no problems recommending this book. ... Read more

13. The Robert Heinlein Interview and Other Heinleiniana
by J. Neil Schulman
Paperback: 204 Pages (1999-01-31)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1584450150
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In 1975, Robert A. Heinlein was sixty-six, at the height of his literary career; J. Neil Schulman was twenty and hadn't yet started his first novel. Because he was looking for a way to meet his idol, Schulman wangled an assignment from the New York Daily News--at the time the largest circulation newspaper in the U.S.--to interview Heinlein for its Sunday Book Supplement. The resulting taped interview lasted three-and-a-half hours. This turned out to be the longest interview Heinlein ever granted, and the only one in which he talked freely and extensively about his personal philosophy and ideology.

"The Robert Heinlein Interview" contains Heinlein you won't find anywhere else--even in Heinlein's own "Expanded Universe." If you wnat to know what Heinlein had to say about UFO's, life after death, epistemology, or libertarianism, this interview is the only source available.

Also included in this collection are articles, reviews, and letters that J. Neil Schulman wrote about Heinlein, including the original article written for The Daily News, about which the Heinleins wrote Schulman that it was, "The best article--in style, content, and accuracy--of the many, many written about him over the years."

This book is must-reading for any serious student of Heinlein, or any reader seeking to know him better. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Certainly not perfect, but very interesting
In 1973, 20-year-old J. Neil Schulmann was a great Heinlein fan and just starting his own career as a writer. Part of the job was writing reviews of Heinlein's novels (at the time, 'Time enough for love' was just being published) and as a result, he managed to get a paid job interviewing his idol. A dream come true that Schulman, himself an ardent libertarian (a political creed Heinlein shared), used not so much to have an average interview, but to discuss politics, beliefs and philosophies with the far more experienced Heinlein. It seems that Heinlein liked him and found the discussion interesting enough to talk for more than three hours and meet or phone with Schulman several more times before his death 15 years later.
What you find in this book is the complete interview, as well as Schulman's Heinlein reviews and a few more texts he wrote about Heinlein. The latter I didn't find very interesting, partly because Schulman was a fan(atic) that didn't provide any new insights to me but was basically defending his idol against critics or just raving about how great the books are (to which I would agree, but a truly great review gives me something new to think about, which these didn't). But then nobody buys this book for the reviews and the interview itself is fascinating. It shows that Heinlein really stood behind the libertarian viewpoint expressed in many of his books, he talked about his writing, NASA, his (very interesting and unusual ) self-built house, even his belief in an existence after death. All this with a lot of tolerance and patience, dignity and humour. To me he comes across as a wise man with strong beliefs who still doesn't want to force his opinions on anyone, kind to a young fan, very intelligent and with a very wide knowledge, still wide awake and interested in an unusual variety of things at an age when most people are disinterested or stuck in old beliefs / opinions. So although many critics of this book feel that the interview should have covered more topics and even though it's obvious that Schulman had a political agenda and led the interview accordingly into a very specific direction, I'm greatful to have access to this interview. It's not like it's easy to find many of them. What went on my nerves is the fact that the book is blown-up by abnormally large type, which is very unpleasant to read. I guess the idea is to turn what would be a really small chapbook into a large paperback - and price it accordingly. But the interview itself is a treasure and so the book is - in my opinion- worth buying for fans, despite the mentioned flaws.

3-0 out of 5 stars Trying to Find the Real Heinlein
Any Heinlein fanatic is always on the lookout for anything either by or about the man. This book has some 20,000 words from him, mainly about his political beliefs, but also with a few insights into some of his novels, methods of writing, and his characters, though I think someone versed in Heinlein's works can gain more of this latter from the interstitial material in Expanded Universe.

Schulman did this as a phone interview in 1973, when Schulman was in his early twenties, and like most young men, he was obviously sure that he had the answers to the riddles of the universe. This attitude comes through very strongly, and it is quite interesting to see how Heinlein carefully sidestepped any endorsement of the agenda Schulman was pushing without being either condescending or confrontational, even if Schulman's agenda was close to Heinlein's own ideas about government. Heinlein comes across here as a man who is comfortable with his own value set that he had built up from continual queries and observations over his life span, and dealing with such an upstart was old hat. But it is also clear from this that Heinlein's core beliefs in regards to the role of government is very definitely Libertarian in nature. Those who have read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will recognize the portrait of Professor de la Paz in his comments here - I was strongly reminded of Prof's comments about various types of anarchists and how he could get along with most of them, even though none of them matched his own beliefs. More than anything else, though, this interview brings out very clearly that much of the philosophy and opinions about the state of the world that permeate his novels (especially his later ones) were things that Heinlein himself believed in, and were not just ideas he threw into his books to stir up debate.

Besides the interview itself, the rest of this book is filled with other items Schulman has written about Heinlein or his books. As these items were written over a span of many years and for multiple different markets, you will find certain things repeated: the basic biographical sketch of Heinlein, certain repeated (memorable) quotes from Heinlein, etc.His reviews of various Heinlein novels, however, I thought were very shallow, regardless of the fact that someone thought they were good enough to not only print, but pay him for. There are probably far better reviews of these novels here on this site, even though they're written by `amateurs'. Schulman should also have done a better job of proofreading this material - at one point he misspells Samuel R. Delany's last name, and there are quite a few typos riddling this material.

Thus, other than the interview itself, this book has little to offer. And the interview is not as informative as it could have been, given Schulman's obvious agenda, though it does provide another view into just what kind of man Heinlein was. Recommended for dyed-in-the-wool Heinlein fans only.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must For Heinlein Fans
A superb interview plus fine reviews. Mrs. Heinlein is right.This interview is done with intelligence and intellectuality combined with a deep knowledge of and love for the subject (RAH's oeuvre and by implication RAH). It is an interview worthy of Heinlein, whose depth of thought is underappreciated. It was a great pleasure to read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Spend your money on RAH's works instead
I consider Robert Heinlein one of the great moral and intellectual guides in my life. His science fiction and essays were guideposts as I grew up. However, I can't recommend J. Neil Schulman's compilation of his interactions with RAH.

The book is rife with typos and is printed in a typeface big enough to qualify for a "Large Print Edition," stamp. ... I should have realized the amateur quality of the publication from the cover photo: a snapshot taken in dim light without a flash. The publisher couldn't even make the effort to color-correct the picture.

Most of the content is Schulman name-dropping and pushing a Libertarian agenda. Not that Libertarianism is a bad thing, it's just Schulman harps on it relentlessly. The foreword by Brad Linaweaver, another flaming Libertarian, intimates that Schulman is a master author, only reined in by Organized Media because of his hard-hitting, challenging, Libertarian-based efforts. If the work in this book is any indication of Schulman's other writing, it isn't a Libertarian stance that's holding him back, it's talent.

The Q&A interview between Schulman and RAH show, to an embarrassingly degree, how shallow Schulman's questions were. Many read like something Comic Book Guy from "The Simpson's" would ask. Granted, Schulman was in his early 20s when he conducted the interview, but most of the interview devolves down to political discussions with a tolerant old man showing a vertically-educated young turk how to think beyond his narrow outlook.

Sadly, you won't get much insight into RAH's thoughts on writing or his creative process; Schulman's too busy asking RAH what he thinks life will be like in a 24th Century inhabited by Lazarus Long.

Spend your money on RAH's own works and you'll get a much better idea of what the man was like and what he thought.

4-0 out of 5 stars Essential for Heinlein Fans
Obviously any Heinlein fanatic like myself should own this book.The interview is very interesting and adds some insight to what Heinlein was really like.The draw back is, in both the filler material and to some extent the interview, Schulman has a political axe to grind.This detracted from the interview and other material in the book. ... Read more

14. To Sail Beyond the Sunset
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 448 Pages (1988-06-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441748600
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The millions of fans of Lazarus Long--probably Heinlein's most beloved character--will flock to this new tale, which continues adventures of the characters of The Cat Who Walked Through Walls. From the author of Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

4-0 out of 5 stars Maybe not much sci-fi, but compelling
"To Sail Beyond the Sunset" is a major departure in a way for Heinlein novels. It is a departure that sadly we didn't get to follow up on, as it was his last. Many Heinlein novels brush past a sci-fi 'set up event' and then become simple but strong character studies, and a good example of that is "Tunnel in the Sky". Subject matter in this book is not particularly new, as it has much the same tone in its views of false moralities as "Time Enough for Love", "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls", and even "I Will Fear no Evil". What this book lacks is very much in the way of science fiction whatsoever. It is a first person autobiography of a woman living an extraordinary life for the century covering the years 1882 to 1982. There is some alternate history present, but for the most part it is a strong dose of family life ... some quite unusual, and some very mundane.

Yet is it all completely compelling, as Robert A Heinlein could write a chapter about buttering a biscuit and you'd be fascinated ... trust me.

In "Sunset", we get a very strong dose of anti-establishment essays. Many Heinlein detractors criticize this aspect of his writing. I tend to think it is one of his strongest points and the very reason for his immense popularity. Heinlein did not suffer under the misconception that most of the people around us have much in the way of common sense, and he explains that plainly and convincingly in almost all of his books ... juvenile and adult. Many of Heinlein's most atrocious villains are not evil people, just wrong-headed, stubborn fools who get in the way of the "right thing to do". You'll find them all over this book.

At the very end we do get a tease of his far future "World as Myth" "Time Corps" society. It is more a way to tie up some loose ends than a necessary part of the story. Sadly, for those wishing to have a satisfying conclusion to the cliff hanger ending of "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls", it just isn't here. Heinlein spends about a paragraph in passing letting you know how that turned out, and the main characters of "Cat" are barely present here. I think for that reason more than any other I hold this to four stars. As much as I love RAH, I feel a bit cheated by the ending of "Cat", and sadly I now always will. This book really needed to wrap that up in some detail.

I would love to have had more stories of the Time Wars and a resolution to the battle between the Time Corp and the two factions they battled. I'll never know if RAH intended more books in that vein. Still, for RAH fans, you can't skip his last book, especially the story of the mother of Lazarus Long and ancestor of many other characters of our fond acquaintance. Even if it doesn't give us exactly what we were hoping for, it is a fascinating read.

1-0 out of 5 stars A very rare read - one that I just COULDN'T choke down...
I got a few hours into the book and realized that other than the very intriguing start, the book is simply abysmal.It has everything I didn't like about "Stranger in a Strange Land" and (after the start of the flashback) NOTHING I did.

I generally try to convey some positive things about novels... even if I didn't like them.Virtually ANY book has SOMETHING positive one can pick out.

I think maybe that this one doesn't.

After the first time the narrator said "I'm going to get my soapbox out"... I laughed out loud (startling my wife).I'd just got through thinking that the last 45 minutes of the book had been one big RAH soapbox, and worse yet... it's all the SAME BS he's covered many times before.RAH wants free sex... check.RAH thinks Religion is silly... check.RAH want's MORE free sex... check.RAH thinks he's REALLY clever... check.RAH want's MORE free sex AGAIN... check.RAH thinks monologue is a GREAT way to write a story... Check!RAH thinks his character has time for ONE MORE roll in the hay! CHECK!

I think in real life Heinlein characters would starve to death... they'd never get out of bed long enough to eat.

The second time the narrator "got out his soapbox" I thought to myself "drooollll....", because my brains were sliding out my ear canal and I knew a change would need to be made to avoid catatonia.I started skipping over any paragraph once I saw any word associated with a sex act.That made the next 30 or 40 pages go VERY fast... which was good.However, at some point I came to the conclusion that skipping over so much of a book probably meant I wasn't going to get much out of it.

So I gave up.I guess I'll go back and read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", which has enough RAH oddity to annoy but not enough to ruin the solid story... or maybe "The Rolling Stones", which is good Classic Sci-Fi and somehow avoided RAH's obsessive compulsive sexual refrences.

So save yourself the mental anguish... if you see this book in a bargain bin marked "We'll pay you $2.00 to take it"... JUST WALK AWAY!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best!
Before I got this book I read all the reviews.Short version, I loved it and am again sorry that there will be no more books by Heinlein.

Hard to beat Stranger in a Strange Land (especially the unabridged version)and yet this is by far at least one of his best!

Yes lots of sex, not detailed, not gratuitous, yes, it did pull together so many stories (being his last book)and all the story lines seemed to fit so perfectly.

Like one reviewer said it would be good to re-read or read Time Enough for Love, The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Who Walks Through Walls before reading this (not necessary but helpful.)It was great to read them again and pull it all together to Sail Beyond the Sunset!

1-0 out of 5 stars Preverted
I LOVE Heinlein and am almost done re-reading all of his works, but this one I actually could not finish. Going through endless blabbings about sexual fantasies and orgies is just not my thing. I found the book preverted and gave up about 1/3 of the way through it, when it came to incest. They say that this is one of the Master's last works. I find it very painful to see such a miserable ending of a life-long of wonders.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I really enjoyed the narrative of Maureen Johnson and the details of her childhood. While the earlier talk about sex (losing her virginity, for one) was enjoyable, the later talk about sex (orgies, etc) felt a bit too much. Nonetheless, her story was a very good read, and a lovely addition to the Long Family/World as Myth books. The alternate realities thing was also a good device for the narration.

One good function this book serves is to show the Howard Foundation in its early stages. Maureen Johnson was second-generation which is very early, and lifespans for them were shorter than the lifespans of those in 'Methuselah's Children', which can be seen as the next story in the Howard Families 'saga' that is a story of its own within the World as Myth/Long Family/alternate universes/Pixel the cat series. (yes, long name for a series, I know!) Overall a must-read for any fan of the saga. ... Read more

15. For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 329 Pages (2004-11-30)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743491548
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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From Grandmaster Robert A. Heinlein comes a long-lost first novel, written in 1939 and never before published, introducing ideas and themes that would shape his career and define the genre that is synonymous with his name.

July 12, 1939Perry Nelson is driving along the palisades when suddenly another vehicle swerves into his lane, a tire blows out, and his car careens off the road and over a bluff. The last thing he sees before his head connects with the boulders below is a girl in a green bathing suit, prancing along the shore....

When he wakes, the girl in green is a woman dressed in furs and the sun-drenched shore has transformed into snowcapped mountains. The woman, Diana, rescues Perry from the bitter cold and takes him inside her home to rest and recuperate.

Later they debate the cause of the accident, for Diana is unfamiliar with the concept of a tire blowout and Perry cannot comprehend snowfall in mid-July. Then Diana shares with him a vital piece of information: The date is now January 7. The year...2086.

When his shock subsides, Perry begins an exhaustive study of global evolution over the past 150 years. He learns, among other things, that a United Europe was formed and led by Edward, Duke of Windsor; former New York City mayor LaGuardia served two terms as president of the United States; the military draft was completely reconceived; banks became publicly owned and operated; and in the year 2003, two helicopters destroyed the island of Manhattan in a galvanizing act of war. This education in the ways of the modern world emboldens Perry to assimilate to life in the twenty-first century.

But education brings with it inescapable truths -- the economic and legal systems, the government, and even the dynamic between men and women remain alien to Perry, the customs of the new day continually testing his mental and emotional resolve. Yet it is precisely his knowledge of a bygone era that will serve Perry best, as the man from 1939 seems destined to lead his newfound peers even further into the future than they could have imagined.

A classic example of the future history that Robert Heinlein popularized during his career, For Us, The Living marks both the beginning and the end of an extraordinary arc of political, social, and literary crusading that comprises his legacy. Heinlein could not have known in 1939 how the world would change over the course of one and a half centuries, but we have our own true world history to compare with his brilliant imaginings, rendering For Us, The Living not merely a novel, but a time capsule view into our past, our present, and perhaps our future.

The novel is presented here with an introduction by acclaimed science fiction writer Spider Robinson and an afterword by Professor Robert James of the Heinlein Society. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (63)

2-0 out of 5 stars always a preacher
One suspects that the major reason for suppressing this piece was not the cannibalization of it in later works, but its revelation of R H as an advocate of left-wing ideas, as well as social credit, a funny money scheme that might be called "demand side" economics.
Lots of later R H ideas there. For a comparable novel one might look at the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies.
skim and enjoy, if you have read lots of R H. His career moved in a circle in terms of technique and horizontally in terms of politcs.

1-0 out of 5 stars Interesting that he started this way...not what I'd thought
Over the years I've read just about everything Heinlein wrote, & at the time had enjoyed each and every one.I read them between about age 16 and age 30(?).I'm now 49, & when I look back on them, I find the earlier ones much better; that's how my personal worldview has evolved.His later works delved deeply into the worldview we see in this book.I had thought his views had evolved into that over the years; now I see he'd always had this, & "hid" it somewhat for a time, until he'd reached a level of success that allowed him to be more direct.For me, it made this book an extreme let down.To bottom line it - if you like his later novels you'll enjoy this, the genesis of it all.If however, like me, you prefer his earlier works, you won't enjoy it.If you're in the latter camp, just give it a miss.

2-0 out of 5 stars Maybe should have remained the lost novel
From what I can gather from various sources (the jacket of this book, reviews of SF writers), Heinlein was one of the foremost science fiction writers of the 20th century. However, this book does little to bolster those claims.

What at first seems to be a time-warp tale with endless possibilities morphs into a series of soliloquies, lectures and endless drivel. Some of the ideas and concepts are amazing (national credit, the emergence of television and e-mail) considering the time in which the book was written. However, the characters are fairly flimsy and their conversations hardly believable. The characters don't interact or converse as much as they spew endless monologues at each other. While at times interesting, it makes for a very difficult read.

Introducing myself to Heinlein through this book was my mistake. Don't make it yours. Luckily, this one novel won't turn me off to Heinlein's work; I'll seek him out again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing thoughts dated before WWII
This book was written by heinlein when he was supporting a political campaign in California in 1938. This fact make this book more of a manifest than a novel, but you will not get bored if you're interested in more than just SCI-FI and like to see this book in perspective with the events that follow human history in the years after it has been published.

To understand this book means to understand the history of RAH and a bit of western world history facts learned in school... you will find a lot of hints for his later works in this book, which proves that RAH had it all in his head from the begining and it was us (the publishers actually) that weren't ready for them.

Bottom line: it's not a novel in the common sense but it will make you think more than any of his later works.

1-0 out of 5 stars How Dare They Try to Foist the Blame For This On Heinlein?
There was a good reason Heinlein chose not to write/publish this book. They had to wait until his wife died before they could get away with putting out this garbage. ... Read more

16. Job: A Comedy of Justice
by Robert A. Heinlein
Mass Market Paperback: 448 Pages (1985-10-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345316509
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world ....
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Customer Reviews (104)

2-0 out of 5 stars Not a comedy of justice or any other
While Heinlein has many hits, this one is a miss for me. While the premise of the first two-thirds of the book is promising, it gets old in a hurry. The last third is a little better, but not much. I guess it is somewhat telling when the book gets better when the protagonist dies, or at least leaves this earth. Not my cup of tea.

3-0 out of 5 stars Simultaneously too much and not enough
There are many reasons to love Heinlein in general, and this book in particular.There are also many reasons to hate Heinlein in general and this book in particular.One of the reasons Heinlein's fans are so devoted to him is that he's unafraid to do where others fear to tread.This often works (e.g. Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers) and often does not (e.g. Friday and Farnham's Freehold).So it is with considerable consternation that I am forced to give this book 3 out of 5, which is really sitting on the fence.

There is much to love about this book.Heinlein is himself an anti-religious man (by "religion" I am referring to the human organisation of faiths), but that doesn't stop him from creating a universe based on the fundamentalist version of Christianity wherein God is a literal force taking personal and individual interest in the lives of his creations.His main character Alex is an ordained minister working as a fundraiser in a theocratic United States.God tests Alex just as he tested Job: by constantly interfering with his life, especially in taking away everything he is working/has worked for.Satan also makes an appearance in the flesh.This could be risky stuff, but Heinlein employs an internal logic based roughly on the theology of the fundamentalist Christian right: if you have a personal relationship with Christ and have become born again, you go to Heaven; everyone else goes to Hell.It is Alex's faith, and his recognition that God is a personal and immediate presence, that sustains him through his trials.That, and worry that his "wife" (actually girlfriend, named Marga) and fellow traveller through the trials has not been Saved.

Unfortunately, there are problems with the book that detract from its enjoyment.The manifestation of the trials of Job take the form of changing universes in which Alex remains himself, but everything else changes (sort of like alternate histories occurring).Marga comes from a different universe and had previously fallen in love with "Alec", Alex's equivalent in her alternate universe.This leads the reader to believe that Alex is swapping through universes with his equivalents, but this is never followed up on.Similarly, after defining a very pedantic view of Christianity that is rigorously followed for the first 2/3 of the book, he abandons it and represents Satan and Hell in terms diametrically opposed to those represented by pedantic Christianity.And it gets even worse in the last 50 pages (the details of which I will leave to the interested reader!).

It seems like Heinlein changed his mind regarding the direction of his fictional universe, or how rigorously he wanted to apply the "rules" he had created, and it cheapened the whole experience for me.That's not to say that the book wasn't thought-provoking and full of neat ideas, but it did lower it to a middling level of enjoyment.I know that others do not share my view: one (agnostic) friend of mine claims this as her favourite Heinlein.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hell is better than Heaven? Why yes it is!
I have recently become a big fan of Robert Heinlein. I first started with Starship Troopers, then I read "Time Enough for Love" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" and I am always entertained and enlightened by Heinlein's created worlds. They are always full of characters who think for themselves and always has something to say about our society and people in general. This book is no different.

Job: A comedy of justice, is about a minister who is randomly sent to parallel earths at random times. He believes it is Satan playing a trick on him but it is actually God testing him before the end of the world. This book is hilarious because you have this married minister named Alex, who meets this woman as he is traveling between worlds. And he cheats on his wife, but it doesn't count because he is in a different universe,hahaha.

He actually passes God's test and goes to heaven during the End of the World, but his new wife does not make. And it is all because she doesn't believe in God. That's all! Crazy right. Better yet heaven is full of elitist Angels and humans are second rate citizens. You do not even get to see God or Jesus and you are surrounded by boring religious people. But our character goes to Hell to look for his wife and low and behold, Hell is pretty nice. And there is nothing wrong with having an orgy. All the fun people are in heaven.

This book is a must read no one brings to life alternate worlds like Heinlein. And only he can poke fun at religion in such a funny way. Closed minded religious folks will hate this book. Open minded intellectuals will be endlessly entertained.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Evangelical Thumbs Up
I am a born again Christian and a big Heinlein fan.This book almost has a post-modern flair, and can be a very enjoyable critique/commentary for the Christian who can accept secular criticism.The main character is a fundamentalist minister named Alex.He is judgemental and proud, yet compassionate and kind.He is a reluctant hero who sees the world in black and white, yet increasingly finds himself adrift in the grays.He is a modern Job, his faith tested and tried in an almost cruel manner.He is transported through alternate worlds, facing trials and tribulations.He finds himself celebrated in heaven as a great saint.Tormented that his beloved Margarethe did not share his heavenly fate, he goes to hell in pursuit of her.One man's heaven can be another man's hell, and slowly the questions and mysteries of his trials begin to unfold.

I would not recommend this to someone as a first Heinlein novel...I would start anyone off with "Starship Troopers", "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and "Stranger in a Strange Land".Heinlein sometimes goes off the deep end with some of his ideas about social norms and sexual morality, and some of the ideas are easier to read if you already know where he is coming from.

2-0 out of 5 stars A juvenile atheist comedy
I'm not a religious man, and neither was Robert Heinlein. Yet, I can't stand Heinlein's juvenile humour. Clearly, he is one of those "mockers and scoffers" the Bible warns true believers against. But, hell, it's not even funny!

The main character of "Job" is a fundamentalist minister (KJV only) who is raptured to Heaven, only to find it an overcrowded, bureaucratic place, where the angels complain about all the new arrivals from Earth (the raptured saints). There is also some confusion over who is to get the biggest halo. And, of course, the minister's wife divorce him, since all marriage contracts are null and void in Heaven! Then, our hero goes to Hell, which turns out to be a big discotheque where the denizens party all night and make love to Rahab the harlot. Satan is also a real party animal, although he has some psychotherapists handy, to aid the damned who think Hell is a terrible place! Finally, the minister meets God, Loki and some other supernatural creatures, re-unites with his Danish mistress (!) and starts a heathen church on a rejuvenated Earth, complete with orgies.


But it's not funny, Robert. Not really. If you are a juvenile atheist, you will probably love this novel. And yes, all the Biblical references are quite correct (at least from a fundie perspective - a Mormon might have objections to people divorcing each other in the celestial world). And yes, I did "grok" the message: Heinlein's point is that what matters is pleasure, love and fun here on Earth. Forget about Heaven and Hell.

Still, I couldn't make myself like this frivolous story. But then, I never really been a great fan of Robert A. Heinlein anyway. You grok?
... Read more

17. Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 528 Pages (1991-10-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441788386
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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One of the greatest science fiction novels ever published, Stranger in a Strange Land's original manuscript had 50,000 words cut. Now they have been reinstated for this special 30th anniversary trade edition. A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons. "A brilliant mind-bender."--Kurt Vonnegut.Amazon.com Review
Stranger in a Strange Land, winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, is thestory of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of,the first manned mission to Mars.Michael is raised by Martians, and hearrives on Earth as a true innocent: he has never seen a woman and has noknowledge of Earth's cultures or religions.But he brings turmoil withhim, as he is the legal heir to an enormous financial empire, not tomention de facto owner of the planet Mars.With the irasciblepopular authorJubal Harshaw to protect him, Michael explores human morality and themeanings of love.He founds his own church, preaching free love anddisseminating the psychic talents taught him by the Martians.Ultimately,he confronts the fate reserved for all messiahs.

The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leadingmany children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael'swater-brother nests.Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths ofhis characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook theoccasionalsour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly herfault.").That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of themaster's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be.Canyou grok it? --BrooksPeck ... Read more

Customer Reviews (612)

4-0 out of 5 stars strange and stranger
Quite a strange novel. An extensive and critical look at the culture of the earth. Important stuff to grok.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Strong and Classic Sci Fi Adventure
Stranger in a strange land is dated in many ways.How couldn't it be?All of the technology seems goofy by today's standards, but Heinlein's characters remain human and fascinating, especially as "future" people.I recently re-read this book, an old favorite, and I think it stands the test of time so long as you remember that it's science fiction and old science fiction to boot.In its day, Stranger in a strange land was extremely edgy.This is also a very cerebral book.There are no space battles or laser fights.It was meant to challenge the reader.I think it's still involving and intriguing for anyone who wants to enjoy this journey into the imagination.

3-0 out of 5 stars Take it for what it is...
(No Spoilers) Robert A. Heinlein is considered among the most prolific science fiction authors of all time. He was one of the first to unleash science fiction to the mainstream world, and he broke boundaries that most authors of the time wouldn't dare to cross. Unfortunately, his counter culture and sexual revolution ideas are outdated in the modern era. In fact, portions of the book are misogynistic and offensive. I'd never read Heinlein before, and I give him a lot of leeway due to his era, but my inner feminist yelled at me while I read Stranger in a Strange Land.

The book is about Valentine Michael Smith, the Man from Mars who is brought to Earth under odd circumstances and attempts to acclimate to society. Mike is a wonderful character, but the light really shines on Jubal, the lawyer/writer/philosopher who takes in Mike and becomes a surrogate father. I found myself able to empathize with Jubal, to understand and befriend him. Whereas I found Mike to be too alien. But perhaps that was Heinlein's point. The female characters in the book are one-dimensional or purely there so male characters have someone to fornicate with. I found nothing to attach me to the heroine, Jill, or the various other women.

If you can get past the misogynist tendencies, you'll find Stranger in a Strange Land to be an eye opening novel about the human condition. Our hate for things different, our resistance to change, and our ability to blindly follow a crowd. Heinlein uses science fiction and his characters to touch on politics, religion, and sexual repression. Things that at the time of his writing were at the forefront of revolutionary thought. If nothing else, Stranger in a Strange Land demonstrates the roots of science fiction and how the pen can move to change the world. Just put a muzzle on your inner feminist and take it for what it is. (3 Stars)

3-0 out of 5 stars Heinlein on display
Just finished rereading "Stranger" and I'm astounded that I found it so fascinating at age 15 when I first read it. Yes, it's unfair to read the book through a lens of contemporary mores, but really, he's way over the top even for then, don't you think?

On display, positive: The guy knew how to write an accessible story. In truth, this one becomes awfully talky. But Heinlein brought to science fiction a whole new way of writing, in which character actually mattered. And despite the lectures, it's still a fun story.

On display, negative: Come on, you RAH defenders - how can you breathlessly admire his "polyamory" while accepting his blithe dismissal of homosexuality? He really gives no reason for this, and there is no reason Smith wouldn't have grokked being gay. His atrocious view of women - despite pronouncements of equality here and there and condescending "the little lady really is in control" comments - he views them as so inferior as to be different creatures. The Martian females are mindless little Tribbles, essentially, totally disposable in the harsh environment until 9 of 10 achieve adult (i.e. male) status. That's all you need to know, but his view that all women generally need to be pregnant and submissive (and remember, rape is 9 times out of 10 "her fault") is telling, as well. And his arrogance is on display through Jubal Harshaw. Harshaw is, in fact, a richly textured character, but truth is, he is representative of a world in which one superior man (RAH!) has so much wisdom that he's smarter than his superman "son." He surrounds himself with women who he refers to as daughters - early telegraphiking of his family/incest themes.

I won't bother critiquing his amoral Objectivist tendencies.

Hey, the book kept me interested and RAH truly did know how to do this in a "realistic," fun way. But good God - what did I think when I was just a pup?

3-0 out of 5 stars A strange self-examination of earthly customs
"Stranger in a strange land" is the book that brought the word grok into the English language-- and as strange as that is, the book becomes even more eccentric with its pandering down into sophism and the "martian" view of idyllic gender relations. It does, however, have all of the elements that make a good science fiction novel: new technological ideas, world building, and parallax reflections.

While purportedly a science fiction book, I don't think it's possible to read this book without coming to the conclusion that the author was writing about the situation of a Martian being on Earth to describe, explain, and examine the societal structures that aren't otherwise regularly questioned. There were many John Galt-ian like speeches by the Jubal character that were utterly fascinating.

This version of the book had 50,000 words that were trimmed in the original inserted back in-- It's a real shame as while reading the book I kept feeling that a good editor could have trimmed all sections of this book by at least a quarter without removing the core messages. It would have then been a stunning work-- as it is, the rambling length impeded what I felt was its purpose. ... Read more

18. Podkayne of Mars
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 224 Pages (2010-01-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$3.50
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Asin: 0441018343
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A classic tale from the Grandmaster of Science Fiction.

Podkayne Fries, born and raised on Mars, has just one ambition: to earn her wings as a starship pilot and rise through the ranks to command deep-space explorations. The opportunity to travel aboard the Tricorn- on an interstellar journey to Venus and Earth in the company of her diplomat uncle-is a dream come true.

Poddy's idea of diplomacy is keeping the peace with her troublesome brother, Clark, but she's about to learn some things about war and peace. Because her uncle is the Ambassador from Mars to the Three Planets Conference, which makes him-and his niece and nephew-potential targets for any radicals looking to sabotage the negotiations between three worlds.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars A later juvenile - not the best of them
Podkayne is a later one of Heinlein's juvenile books. It wasn't a bad book, but it has several flaws. The single largest flaw is that Podkayne acts rather too young for her age, which is supposed to be late teens. Similarly, her brother is a severe sociopath. In the end, Podkayne is a moderately dark novel, with a deeply ambiguous ending.

The other major flaw of Podkayne is only really a flaw in the context of the majority of Heinlein's other juvenile novels: it lacks the depth of science that most of his other juveniles carried. Heinlein had a solid career writing young adult novels that centered on science and the application of science to adventure, oft serialized in Boy's Life. Podkayne does have science, but not nearly the level of science as his regular juvenile, perhaps because it was supposed to be directed at young women, and such fare was less likely to have a lot of science content.

Overall, Podkayne should be read by people who like Heinlein, esp. Heinlein's juveniles. But if you are just getting into Heinlein's books, I would recommend starting with either one of his short story collections (The Past Through Tomorrow, i.e.) or other juveniles that I think are probably a little more accessible (Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Between Worlds, or Farmer in the Sky). If you want to start with one of his adult novels A good recommendation would be The Door Into Summer.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Heinlein's best juvenile novels
Podkayne of Mars tells the story of a young woman whose dreams of interplanetary travel come true when she and her younger brother, Clark--a rascally genius--accompany their uncle on a space cruise. Unbeknownst to Podkayne, her uncle is using the trip as a cover for some high-stakes political lobbying, and Podkayne quickly finds herself swept up in all sorts of nasty intrigue and trouble.

Heinlein is possibly the finest science fiction novelist the world has witnessed. His novels fall into two main categories: those written for adults and a series of juvenile fiction, in which this book falls. However, adults as well as teens will enjoy the novel for its plotting, characterization, and setting. I often do not enjoy reading old science fiction because the real world has usually progressed far beyond that imagined by the authors writing then. Heinlein, though, possessed such vision that his futuristic novels still ring both futuristic and plausible. It's amazing to think that he envisioned the practice of creating and banking human embryos (the scenario that starts the novel) way back in 1963--but he did, and it would not surprise me in the least if creches materialize in the way he so perceptively described back then.

Heinlein peppers his novels with strong and interesting protagonists, and Podkayne is no exception. In fact, in many ways I like her better as a heroine than some of the female characters in his later adult novels who come across as being TOO perfect. Poddy is a teenager, with a teenager's unique combination of self-confidence and insecurity. I quite liked Clark, too, though I suspect I would share Poddy's exasperation if I had to actually live with him. The pseudonymously named "Girdle FitzSnugglie,", the aging starlet who befriends Poddy on the cruise, is another minor yet thoroughly enjoyable character who comes to life in Heinlein's prose. Heinlein also does a masterful job of creating a vision of Venus as a Las Vegas/Corporate-owned town run amok that created the archetype for any of the post-Utopian large cities found in modern science fiction films (e.g., Blade Runner).

This novel is darker than most of Heinlein's other juvenile work, and some pretty scary things happen to characters we care a lot about. Casual fans may be interested to hear that Heinlein original's ending was even darker than what appears in this novel (serious fans will already know this) and that Heinlein was pressured by his publisher to change it. No spoilers here, but curious readers may want to check out the Wikipedia entry on this novel after reading the book to see how Heinlein would've preferred to end it. ... Read more

19. The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land
by William H Patterson
 Paperback: 209 Pages (2001)
-- used & new: US$18.00
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Asin: 0967987423
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars The Martian Dissected
Works of criticism are not my normal fare, as I rarely listen to critics of any stripe, but I do make an exception for those pieces that refer to Heinlein, as I have consistently felt that he has never gotten the deep analysis that he deserves, and what little has been done has been sloppy and wrong-headed.

In my opinion, for a critical work to be worth spending money on, it must provide the following:

1. New insights into the internal structure and meaning of the work in question.

2. A good exposition of palpably discernable influences.

3. Valid comparisons to other works in the same milieu.

4. If applicable to the work in question, an investigation into the chronology of its writing and interrelationship with the author's life.

5. An analysis of what the author did right and what didn't work.

How does this work stack up in light of these requirements?

As a starting point, this work decides that the main structure of Stranger in a Strange Land is satire, which can work under different rules than, say, a novel of manners, romance, or confession, in terms of plot, character, and a host of other factors. As one of the main elements of satire is irony, most of this work is involved in identifying specific instances of this. The authors definitively point out that much of the book depends on sets of (apparently) polar opposites: Jubal (experience) versus Mike (innocence), The Church of All Worlds (Appolonian) versus the Fosterites (Dionysian), Jill and Dawn, the Carnival (heaven ) versus the Zoo (earth), etc. Also pointed out is the Heinlein tendency to structure his works in terms of starting from a point, logically expanding from the point, and then retreating back to the original point, now from a new perspective. In terms of meaning, this work clearly catches the fact that Stranger is intended to raise questions, not provide a blueprint for a new religion, and each of the points of irony or complement pairs shown here have a clear basis in the actual work. Thus in terms of the first requirement, this work did an excellent job, and it provides a strong basis for better analysis of Heinlein's later 'World as Myth' works. As exposed here, Stranger reveals depths, meanings, and complexities that are not directly obvious, a pattern of strongly sculpted variegated positions than can be very illuminating to the reader.

The authors also do a good job of pointing out the influences on Heinlein, both literary and philosophical, not just in Stranger, but in many of his other works, showing a clear line to Mark Twain, Nietzsche, James Branch Cabell, and Korzybski. The (possible) relationship to Aleister Crowley (as analysed by Whence Came the Stranger: Tracking the Metapatterns of Stranger in a Strange Land) is also examined, without any definitive conclusions, but an opinion that this connection is somewhat unlikely. Happily, the authors clearly document the line to each of these influences, and don't try to force associations that may not be real. Surprising to me, however, was that no comment was made about Rudyard Kipling, to which Heinlein's work has been compared by multiple other critics.

Good comparisons are made to other satires: Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, Tristam Shandy, and several others.

There is a fairly long exposition of the germination and writing history of Stranger, along with the publishing conditions Heinlein was working under at the time, all relevant to the final form of the book. However, although there is considerable surprise expressed over the fact that both the original (cut) and expanded version are selling very well side by side, there is really no analysis of the differences between the two versions. But it does quite properly de-bunk the link between Charles Manson and Stranger.

The last item on my list is, unfortunately, almost totally ignored. We not only do not get an overall evaluation of how Stranger stacks up versus the rest of the literary world, there is zero discussion of the flaws of the book. Instead there is a sharp discourse on the failings of other critical looks at this book. Tackled here is Panshin's Heinlein in Dimension and William Atheling Jr.'s (James Blish) The Issue at Hand, along with several others. I re-read these works to see if the criticisms of the criticisms were valid. In general, I agree with their assessments. Re-reading Panshin was an agony - in many cases it seems that Panshin just couldn't see the forest for the trees, most notably in his consistent panning of all four of RAH's Hugo winners. The very fact that these works did take the Hugo should have at least warned Panshin that his analysis was probably lacking or incorrect. The authors of this book take Panshin to task for his identification of a single Heinlein character type, finding this to be very dubious. Blish is attacked for wrongheadly describing the book as a religious tract, with the esthetics of an engineer-turned-writer.

As an added bonus, there is an appendix to this book that lists at least some of the meanings of many of the character's names in Stranger, which is important to understanding some the ideas presented in the book.

This book is obviously written as if intended for use in a literature class, using the rather arcane idiom of academic criticism (which can be rough going if you're not used to it), and complete with a set of reader questions and exercises at the end of each chapter. A minor annoyance is, at several places in the book, the exact same point is made, as if for the very first time. Some better editing should have caught this. A summation assessment of how well this book is written as a totality would also have helped. But overall this book is a very good addition to the limited supply of reasonable criticism on Heinlein.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat) ... Read more

20. Starship Troopers
by Robert A. Heinlein
Paperback: 263 Pages (1987-05-15)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$4.34
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Asin: 0441783589
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the universe and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against humankind's most frightening enemy. Reissue.Amazon.com Review
Juan Rico signed up with the Federal Service on a lark, butdespite the hardships and rigorous training, he finds himselfdetermined to make it as a cap trooper. In boot camp he will learn howto become a soldier, but when he graduates and war comes (as it alwaysdoes for soldiers), he will learn why he is a soldier. Manyconsider this Hugo Award winner to be Robert Heinlein's finest work,and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons(though this novel has them)--this is Heinlein at the top of his gametalking people and politics. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (737)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Challenging and Benchmark Space Opera Novel
Like others have said, IGNORE the stupid, stupid movie. Starship troopers is a great novel that revolutionized an entire subgenre of science fiction.The action scenes are brief, but the situations and background are well-crafted and gripping.Yes, it's also loaded with political science, much of which feels dated now since it was written during the Cold War, but even these ideas are challenging and rich.I find this novel as absorbing today as ever.The lonely and brave feel of the human soldiers against the bug army is haunting.I'll read it again soon.

4-0 out of 5 stars The movie was good, too
America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Book 1: Feeling Lucky

I liked "Starship Troopers" (The movie) better than the book, but the book was good, too.I read "Starship Troopers" quickly, even though is was long and dated.

Also, I take issue with critics who say "Starship Troopers" is a controversial book.Those liberal critics think anything patriotic is politically incorrect.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Turned Off by the Campy Movie with the Same Name
Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" is an excellent science-fiction book about future infantry combat.I read this book when I was younger, but my memories of the book have been transformed by the horrible movie that is based on the book.However, the movie, while true to some basic parts of the story, illustrates a nearly-opposite view to Heinlein's original story.Re-reading the book was worthwhile because it brought back the genius in the story.

Heinlein wrote this book from the first-person perspective of Juan Rico. Set in the distant future, humans are locked in combat with an alien species of bugs.Earth (Terra) is more or less united, and the only path to citizenship (and its benefits, like voting) is by serving in Federal military service.Rico enlists and joins the Mobile Infantry - men who bounce around in giant powered suits with an array of weaponry, including small nuclear rockets.

Heinlein's future is interesting.Parts of it are a throwback to other eras (corporal punishment is used both in the civilian and military systems, and citizenship has to be earned), and the infantry combat is gritty and deadly.The dialogue certainly feels, at times, a product of the 1950s.However, the backdrop is an advanced society with advanced weaponry and the ability to travel through interstellar space.

But beyond all of that, Heinlein also wrote a compelling personal story.While not an original one, Heinlein tells the story of a middle class boy who enlists in the Mobile Infantry, survives the culture shock and acclimatization of boot camp, survives some tough combat against the bugs, and emerges a successful and skilled soldier and man.

Heinlein's really captured the feel By combining Rico's personal story, a realistic and gritty look at combat, and an intriguing future for mankind, Heinlein has written a great book for anyone interested in science fiction or military fiction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Technofiction review of Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein was the first science fiction story I ever read, way back in 7th grade or so (1960). That book was the first inspiring book I read by myself, and started me on a years-long devotion to reading science fiction. It was really inspiring.

In 1990, I reread Starship Troopers, and as I read it, I was surprised: it didn't feel like I was reading the same story. My impression the second time was of a Sands of Iwo Jima in Space instead of something entirely new and different. (and I was kind of shocked at how much living thirty years had changed my perspective!)

Either way, the heart of the story was power armor, how to use it, and how its presence affected people's thinking. In this story Heinlein proposed that to become a citizen -- someone who voted on how to run the government -- a person needed to first demonstrate some responsibility to the community....Sounded good to me, but for taking that stance many critics labeled this book as supporting fascism.

In 1997 I saw the Starship Troopers movie, and saw that the director had missed the point of the story entirely by taking out the power armor. Without power armor, the soldiers were transformed into World War One "over the top" infantry who would be discouraged from asking "Why?" before they marched off into a do-or-die situation, and because of that, they lost any reason to be "responsible for the community" in the sense that Heinlein was emphasizing in his book version of the story. Unlike the book, the movie really was about a Fascist/Spartan "Come back with your shield or on it." mentality.

These changes in what I read, and misinterpretations in what I saw depicted in the movie, inspired me to write my own version of the power armor story, and you can find it in my short story "The Ticket Out" in "Tips for Tailoring Spacetime Fabric Vol. 1". Tips for Tailoring Spacetime Fabric : Vol. 1

So in the end, I still found the book inspiring, but the movie a whole lot less so. Yeah, this is one of those "read the book, you'll like it a lot better"-cases.

4-0 out of 5 stars unexpected surprise
I had seen the ST movie previously, and had expected the book to be similar, but it is not (thankfully, as I thought the movie rather stupid).This is a serious military novel, with more emphasis upon the training and development of a soldier than upon battle scenes.It is well-written, not too long, and much better than the movie! ... Read more

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