|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
There is something compulsive about Heinleins later work. Time enough for love is the first of what is essentially one linked book comprising all of his works after this tome. This is the start of Heinleins manifest obsession with Sex and Food ! More importantly, it is the start of a body of work in which Heinlein explores many areas of contempory western life which clearly interest and infuriate him. This exploration takes in many of societies mores, including but not limited to, incest, marriage, law and order, religion(s).
While I have no problem with Heinleins use of fiction to purvey his world view, I have real trouble with the way this works in practice.
Every character in this book, (bar 3 'baddies'), is a reflection of the one whole. Each one is a genius, each one is hard working to a fault, each one is so consistent to Heinleins ideal, that however idyllic the setting, I simply could not relate to it. I felt excluded by the 'goodness' of it all.
Furthermore, the ideas are not presented as ideas, rather as 'fait accomplis'. You can almost hear him saying 'This is the way the world would be if it were not full of stupid people'. In taking this line, I am afraid that I felt branded as stupid because I did not and do not agree with all of the ideas that are presented.
The matter is exacerbated by the fact that those ideas are so forcefully presented that they almost induce concussion while reading.
So Why do I find it compulsive ?
Strangely. although the characters are all one dimensional geniuses, you do in the end start to care what happens to them.
Particularly in the case of Lazarus Long, The Senior, who has somehow survived over 2000 years since his birth in 1911.
This book opens with Lazarus tired of life and waiting to die a natural death. He is prevented from doing so by a decendant who regards Lazarus not so much as an ancestor as a valuable historical resource.
This changes as the relationship develops between all the major players until they become one big happy family.
Along the way we learn a little about how Lazarus has survived the years, as he tells tales of people he has known along the way. Mostly women and all geniuses of course.
We learn of the Howard foundation which is secretly running a breeding program to promote long gevity, of which Lazarus is clearly the most succesful product so far.
Ultimately we learn how Lazarus discovers his roots, and rediscovers his mother, predictably taking her to bed.
Much of this book could be discarded without feeling any pain. There are probably 300 of the 600 pages filled with mawkish sentimental drivel, devoid of any redeeming features at all. Indeed, if the book did not have Robert A Heinlein on the front to garuntee sales, I doubt whether a publisher would have touched it with a barge pole.
As it is, I am glad that I read it. It sets the scene and characters for the later books, some of which are better, some worse, all stuffed with 50 percent rubish, but all of which should be read if only because Heinlein was courageous enough to write words which do genuinely challenge your world view.
I just wish he could have done it in a more concise manner, and without alienating all those 'stupid' people.
Visit the author of this review