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The Free Lunch Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It soon starts to become clear that there is a crisis in Dreamworld. Every evening, more staff leave the theme park than arrived in the morning - and the staff who leave are all trolls. Where are they coming from? Mike and Annie explore various hypotheses, each more outré than the last. But the truth turns out to be even stranger than anything they had imagined.
It's a great slam-bang adventure. Those with eyes to see will find it stuffed to the gunwales with Heinleinesque touches (Robinson can't resist the homage) but unlike some of his other books these touches aren't too overt and by and large they don't get in the way. He's also curbed his self-indulgent tendency to write self-referential novels full of science fictional in-jokes (I suspect he's found that they sell only to a very limited audience). As a result, The Free Lunch is one of his best novels in years and I strongly recommend it.
I've been a fan of Spider Robinson's for a long time, from the early Callahan's stories on. Is this his best work? I don't know; I do know I like it. It's written in his trademark irreverent, poke-fun-at-the-silly-things style, and it kept my attention all the way through. The end is fitting, if just a little weak.
The other two are ones I'd already read, so never mind them. I'd been intending to get around to this one ever since it was published in August and just hadn't had time. So I finally made some.
Spider is in terrific form here. I can't tell you much about the story without spoiling it, so I'll keep my remarks general.
The tale centers on an extremely intelligent twelve-year-old boy named Mike, who may remind the reader both of Thorby in Robert Heinlein's _Citizen of the Galaxy_ and of Horty in Theodore Sturgeon's _The Dreaming Jewels_. The homage is deliberate, of course.
The plot is delightful. Mike hides away in Dreamworld, a magical theme park of the near future created by one Thomas Immega (presumably a descendant or other relative of the roboticist Guy Immega to whom _Callahan's Key_ is dedicated). Dreamworld is inspired by Disneyland but has rides and other features based on the works of e.g. Heinlein and the Beatles.
Its major rival is the violent Thrillworld. (The contrast is typical Spider, and I mean that as a compliment. If _you_ could make there be magic in the world, which sort would you pick? Black magic or white? Thrills or dreams? The manic pursuit of pleasure or the quiet possession of joy?) Thrillworld is headed by the nasty Alonzo Haines, who would very much like to destroy Dreamworld.
Anyway, Mike disappears into Dreamworld and almost at once hooks up with Annie, a middle-aged midget who has been hiding there for a while herself. Pretty soon interesting things start to happen, and not just because of Alonzo Haines.Read more ›
As with all tributes, "The Free Lunch" falls a bit flat if you are expecting something signed, sealed, and proofread by the Master. This is an imitation of Heinlein from one of his talkier novels, with computers instead of slide rules, and the author never did quite convince me that I would want to actually live in his Dreamworld theme park.
So TANSTAAFL ("there ain't no such thing as a free lunch") as the Master once said. Get over it. Mike and Annie make "The Free Lunch" worth reading. Annie is a sort of human midget Mother Thing, only a bit rougher around the personality. Mike is a male Pee Wee ("I'd rather dance with the kitchen stool"), young and sort of sexless (except for an involuntary boner when he wakes up in Annie's hide-out under Dreamworld), and very, very smart. He and Annie, aka the Mother Elf band together to outwit the owner of a rival theme park, who wants to destroy Dreamworld. While keeping an eye on the bad guy's thugs and hiding from Dreamworld's employees, Annie notices that more trolls are leaving the park at quittin' time than showed up for work in the morning.
Are the extra trolls employed by the master thug? Are they aliens from outer space who have found a great place to beam down? What?
If you're tired of gore-and-guts Alien-Dreamcatcher-Matrix ripoffs, this book is a trip back to 1960s SF (with holographs and the occasional boner).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story, fast paced, and likable characters. Despite many opportunities to wander off into pointless silliness, Mr. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Aerobat
Spider clearly intended this book to be an homage to Robert Heinlein's juveniles. The echoes are there and harmonious, especially to Citizen of the Galaxy. Read morePublished 5 months ago by William Reich
Childish and one dimensional. Not at all what I expected. Perhaps it would be entertaining for a 10 year old. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John H Seel
Reading this book is living in the Robinson/Heinlein universe that I love.Published 7 months ago by Monica Beltrami-Carter
An engaging take by a classic SF writer. No cheesy bug-eyed monsters. Adventure in the near future of dwarves, trolls, 12-year-olds, and the happiest place on earth ( future... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Bill Reid &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; The Fewer Sorrows Band
Not a masterpiece, but a good enjoyable read. It has an interesting entrance into the story, and you're never sure where it's going. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jack Marion Dow
A different kind of story if you are used to the "Callahan" series and the Heinlein story he helped put together. However, this is a good yarn!Published 11 months ago by Edward
Lots of the best things about Heinlein juveniles + lots of the best things about adult Heinlein novels + uniquely Robinson humor and heart = Damn Fine ReadPublished 13 months ago by Tise