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Way back at the beginning of Heinlein's writing career his editor at Astounding, John W. Campbell, published the 'Future History', a two page listing of Heinlein's projection of the significant individuals and scientific, economic, and political events of the next 700+ years, along with a list of story titles that brought each of these events to life. At that time, most of those stories hadn't been written, and from some of the notes and statements in interviews that Heinlein made in the fifties and sixties, it looked like some of those originally projected stories would never be written, most significantly the final entry, "Da Capo". Finally, in 1973, when everyone had given up hope, this book appeared, a book that put the finishing touches on the Future History, a book that closes with that final story.
But before reaching that final story, we are given a cornucopia of other stories, as Lazarus Long, now some 2300 years old, is induced to reminisce about his life as part of a complex deal to preserve the 'wisdom' of the oldest man alive. Each of the stories that Lazarus relates are fairly complete by themselves, and many authors would have chosen to publish each of them separately, but Heinlein chose to keep them all as one piece, as each story helps to illuminate his overriding theme, on just what is love in all of its myriad aspects and why it is so important to man's survival as a species.
The first of the tales, "The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail", may be the weakest of any of the stories, but for those who know something about Heinlein's life, this story is very clearly autobiographical in nature, with some changes in names and places to protect the innocent.Read more ›
Time Enough For Love is science fiction of the old school -- sci fi as an exploration and extrapolation of ideas, rather than a western with space ships and ray guns. Almost every review of this book gives it either 5 stars or 1, so be aware that you'll either love this book or you'll hate it. If you understand what Heinlein is doing, you'll give it 5 stars, and if you don't you'll get caught up in the incest, prostitution, group marriage, etc. and give it 1. Heinlein takes a 4000 year old man who has done EVERYTHING that there is to do in this world -- the challenge is to find something that will make him want to keep living. In the end, the thing that keeps him alive is the same thing that has kept him going for 40 centuries: love. Heinlein's examination of love in all of its forms and the return of Lazarus Long's desire to live are the backbones of the story. Many reviewers have exposed their own hangups by focusing on the sex in the book. Yes, there is sex, including prostitution and incest, but these reviewers aren't seeing the forest for the trees. Sex is examined as one component of love, but Heinlein makes very clear early in the book that sex and love aren't at all the same thing. He also makes it clear that he wants to discuss love, not sex. Along the way Heinlein discusses maternal love, paternal love, love of self, love among groups (no, *not* group sex -- group love), intellectual/spiritual love (Minerva and Ira), platonic love...I could go on, but you get the idea. Heinlein even gives Lazarus a female clone so that love of self/narcissism/solipsism can get a real philosophical workout!Read more ›
This book was on my nightstand in 1974 (when it was first published in paperback), and it's still there now. (Same copy, too; the old dollar-ninety-five Putnam edition has held up amazingly well. Different nightstand, though.)
I was born in 1963 and learned to read very early. Like Spider Robinson, I lost my literary virginity to Heinlein (in my case, to _Stranger in a Strange Land_ and _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_). To this day I think that _Mistress_ is one of his three absolutely magisterial novels (the other two being _Double Star_ and _The Door into Summer_).
Heinlein also wrote a number of novels that were _very close_ to magisterial, and some of them have been (in my case, at least) more profoundly influential than his Three Greatest. _Stranger_ is one of these, and so is _Time Enough for Love_.
Heinlein published this one after bouncing back from major surgery (having been somewhat incapacitated while writing _I Will Fear No Evil_, which his wife Virginia helped to edit). The old master had his off days, but he's at the top of his form here.
As you're probably aware, this lengthy work is a future history of Lazarus Long (born Woodrow Wilson Smith), the Senior of the Howard Families and the oldest human being alive (well over two thousand years old at the time of this tale). Lazarus is one of Heinlein's best realized characters; I'd recognize his red hair, bulbous nose, disarming grin, and wild grey-green eyes if I passed him on the street.
And I'd immediately put my hand over my wallet. Lazarus is an unsavory character -- a raconteur, swindler, adventurer, sybarite, pragmatist . . . and, above all, _survivor_.Read more ›