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The Cat Who Walks Through Walls Hardcover – November 11, 1985

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the old guard of SF ages, we are getting more novels of nostalgia. Heinlein is less sentimental than many of his generation but his new book resembles both the latest Bradbury, in making the author the protagonist, and the latest Asimov, in returning to a popular series from early in his career (Future History). Like Heinlein, Richard Ames is an ex-military man turned writer who fancies himself a pundit. An assassination attempt precipitates his marriage to Gwen Novak and sends the newlyweds scurrying to the Moon and then to the planet Tertius, headquarters of the Time Corps. The action, though, is largely beside the point in a novel that is predominantly a dialogue between the protagonists. Their foredoomed attempt to become the Nick and Nora Charles of space (with a bonsai standing in for Asta) is sabotaged less by Heinlein's endless elbow-in-the-ribs wisecracks and more by his inability to convincingly portray a sexual relationship. Given the increasing popularity of his recent, similar work, it is unlikely that the book's short-comings will limit its potentially large audience. November 11
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.

He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.

Robert A. Heinlein's books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. he continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time hed died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (November 11, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399131035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399131035
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.5 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This is probably a inside book understood best by Heinlein fans.
Jari Aalto
In this book there are some particularly silly and over the top instances of these speeches, opinions, and characters.
Too bad, because it really seemed like this could have been a good one.
Brandon J. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on June 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A lot of reviewers seem to have misunderstood this book. It is not meant to stand on it's own. I've never understood the type of reader who, when choosing which book to read first when encountering an author new to them, randomly pick a book off the shelf. This is usually a recipe for disaster in science fiction, and Heinlein is no exception. For everyone's convenience let me hereby make a list of...
BOOKS YOU MUST READ BEFORE READING THIS ONE IF YOU EXPECT TO LIKE IT OR HAVE IT MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL: Methuselah's Children, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Time Enough For Love, and The Number of the Beast. (Characters from The Rolling Stones, Stranger In A Strange Land, and The Man Who Sold The Moon, among others, also appear, or are mentioned, but reading those books is not necessary to understand this one.)
Clearly, this is a book for the hard-core Heinlein fan. Newcomers to the author should definately start elsewhere. As for this book itself... how good is it? Well, if you've read all the books I've mentioned, quite good. It starts out as a very fast-paced and cleverly told adventure story (reminiscent to 50's-era Heinlein) on a seemingly unrelated note to the books mentioned above. However, mid-way or so through, the plot changes abruptly, as The Number of the Beast did. This sudden switch is a bit annoying, because the events of utmost signifigance in the first part of the novel are not resolved until the very end of the book, and a few minor ones are not resolved at all (wait for the next book, To Sail Beyond The Sunset.) (This segment of the story is not, however, abandoned completely as some reviewers have incorrectly stated, but rather resolved at book's end. I am forced to believe that some of these reviewers did not finish the book.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on March 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This isn't by any means Robert Heinlein's finest work, and I highly recommend _not_ reading it as one of your first few Heinleins. But you'll want to get around to it eventually, because (a) you should read it before you read the marvelous _To Sail Beyond the Sunset_, and (b) it's really not that bad.

Oh, you have to be really into Heinlein in order to appreciate it. As in _Friday_, the cool intrigue at the beginning peters out partway through and never quite comes back. (It does get resolved to a degree at the end, but in my view not very satisfactorily.) So you have to be prepared to enjoy a few hundred pages of character interaction and dialogue.

If you like the way Heinlein handles such things, you'll like this; otherwise not. Me, I like Col. Colin Campbell a.k.a. Richard Ames, and I like Gwen Novak, so I enjoy their company (and their arguments, and their lectures).

Some readers have had misgivings about the ending, but I don't mind it; besides, if you have trouble figuring out what happened, you'll find out in _To Sail Beyond the Sunset_. The real problem here is that the first two-thirds of the novel is two-thirds of a good novel, the last third is one-third of a good novel, but they're the good parts of two different novels.

You'll see what I mean if/when you read it; I can't explain it any further without giving things away. But do read it if you like Heinlein; it's better than you've heard.

(It's also a sequel of sorts to _The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress_, which you might want to read first, mainly because you'll want to read it anyway, since it's the finest SF novel ever written by Heinlein or anyone else.)
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
No one is a big a Robert Heinlein completist as I am. I even own the hardcover of "Tramp Royale." I've read and reread my Heinleins happily for years. Including "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls."

Sadly, it is a completist who will get the most enjoyment out of this book.

The first half of the book is a true adventure, and is very well told and paced. It features the tight characterization and dialogue that made Heinlein's reputation, along with the hard science fiction that Heinlein championed and told so well. After the first half... it slips. Badly. It slows to a crawl, it becomes nearly opaque, and the heart of the book -- Richard's banter with his wife -- is almost completely missing.

There are many cries about Heinlein's physical condition at the time he wrote "Cat." His latter years were in poor health, to be certain. But this health did not affect his writing (save for a condition he underwent around the time he wrote "I Will Fear No Evil," which precluded his editing the novel, which suffered for it). Indeed, two of his more successful later books -- Job: A Comedy of Justice, and Friday -- were both worked on and written in the neighborhood of this one. "To Sail Beyond the Sunset," Heinlein's last (and much much better) novel that was a sequel to this shows his acuity as a writer continued. My assumption is that Heinlein had certain events he wanted to set up for "To Sail..." and therefore wrote this book.

Nevertheless, I have read it several times, and do enjoy it. Fans of "Time Enough for Love," "The Rolling Stones," "The Number of the Beast," and "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" will want to read this.
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