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Methuselah's Children (Future History) Mass Market Paperback – February 5, 1980

4.5 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, February 5, 1980
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Editorial Reviews


"I enjoyed every light year of it" Daily Telegraph; "Throughout its electrifying length the book shocks, staggers, confounds belief, and mesmerizes the senses into a state of complete unreality, but it never fails to fascinate." Manchester Evening News --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert Heinlein was a four times Hugo Award winner with books such as Citizen of The Galaxy, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love and Job: A Comedy of Justice. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (February 5, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451090837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451090836
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,225,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Methuselah's Children is a critical component of Heinlein's remarkably impressive body of work. Not only does it culminate the Future History series of stories, it also points the way toward a better understanding of Heinlein's later writings. Perhaps most importantly, this novel introduces us to Lazarus Long and other prominent members of the Howard family of long-timers. This story opens well after the fall of the First Prophet theocracy described in Revolt in 2100; democracy, liberty, and freedom once again mean something in America-at least until the populace learns of the existence of a large group of men and women with lifespans more than double the norm. Believing that the Howard families possess the secret of eternal life, the government takes action to seize all long-timers using any means necessary, including the abhorrent torture treatments made famous by the hated former theocracy. The embattled administrator of the country believes the Family trustee and representative Zach Barstow when he tells him that there is no secret to be had, that the lifespans of the family are determined by heredity. To the great fortune of all 100,000 long-lifers, the remarkable Lazarus Long decides to return to the Family fold he once left behind out of sheer boredom. His leadership results in the Family escaping earth and making their way out into space in search of a new home planet. Their travels are extensive, and their contact with other intelligent beings is as fascinating as it is intriguing-both culturally and scientifically. Heinlein puts a lot of science into his description of the ship's interstellar voyage and the means by which the people plan to survive for a journey of many light years.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Selective breeding and carefully planned marriages with subtle financial encouragement from a secretive group called the Howard Foundation carried out over the last 150 years have resulted in a group of humans that have the extraordinary trait of extreme longevity - Lazarus Long, the patriarch of the Family, born Woodrow Wilson Smith, carries his two hundred plus years quite well! When pressed for his true age, he's either not telling or he won't admit that he truly doesn't know himself! In 2125, a series of events result in the global administration and the remainder of earth's population discovering the Family's existence. A frenzy of enraged jealousy erupts as a maddened, frustrated world seeks to discover the secret fountain of youth they are convinced the Family is guarding for their own use. Hounded by the threat of murder, torture, brainwashing and ultimate extinction by their shorter lived neighbours, the Family flees earth on an untested starship. The discovery of two planets and alien races that pose threats and challenges even more imposing than those from which they fled plus an overwhelming loneliness for the way of life they left so far behind lead them back to earth for a second try.

In Methuselah's Children, Heinlein has crafted an exciting novel, a message, a screenplay and the movie script all at once. Descriptive passages, while compelling and very cleverly written are sparse and infrequent and the plot is almost exclusively driven by razor-sharp dialogue. Heinlein's method of conveying the story through his characters' mouths has got wit; it's got dialect; it's got humour and intelligence; it's got sensible science; it's got humanity and it's got credibility.
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Format: Paperback
For those of you who already love Heinlein, this is the book that first introduces his engaging character, Lazarus Long. Long is the oldest of a group of long-lived individuals that have interbred amongst themselves in secret. Once revealed, they are completely misunderstood by their short-lived brethren and are forced into an off- world exodus. They are constantly forced into positions of choice and adventure. Even though it was first written in 1941, it is worth reading and re-reading today; the best of SF. __Brenda Palmer
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert Heinlein is a short early novel. This is part of Heinlein's "Future History" series of stories and the start of a series of Heinlein novels that continued later in his career. This story is good science-fiction. I do not call it excellent because Heinlein was about to enter the peak of his career with better writing.

The reader may conclude that Heinlein shows his philosophical side more than his science fiction side. Over fifty years, I have read everything I can lay my hands on that Heinlein wrote. I came to appreciate Heinlein's philosophical side. He helped me exercise my brain. I promise, there is more plot here than may seem apparent.

"Methuselah's Children" introduces us to the 'Howard families' and Lazarus Long, a character that appears in a number of Heinlein's later novels. It also introduces a neat 'roadable vehicle', two separate 'interstellar drives', and some unusual 'aliens'. (Question: If we travel to a planet with sapient beings, are they the aliens or are we the aliens? Answer: Good question! One's point of view is important!) When I first read this story, the ending seemed to be a bit of a letdown. However, four decades later, I realize that it does reveal something about the nature of human reality and about technological problems. I guess I can say that 'obvious' alternate solutions to technological problems can be non-obvious to someone who is too close to the challenge. One can have troubles seeing the forest when the trees keep getting in the way.

This is very good science fiction reading! I recommend this book.
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