on 13 November 2000
Heinlein is great, although sometimes a little bit paternalistic vis-a-vis women... This book is about a very strong female character's desperate struggle to be accepted in a very decadent society, that rejects her as non-human
Dialogs are witty and smart, and the book is a great introduction to Heinlein's libertarian philosophy (which goes further than politics, to include family structures, sexuality, etc.)
One of the best Heinlein IMHO...
on 12 March 2003
This is, quite simply, one of my favourite books of all time. Friday is a 'combat courier' with a big secret. She's a genetically engineered person, at a time and in a society utterly hostile to her nature and existance. Alongside the action this book is a sweet study on the importance of having a family (biological or otherwise) and a long hard look at the ugly face of prejudice. The prose can be a little dated at times, but that's perhaps half the charm - that such a forward looking novel (socially as well as technologically) could have been written in such a style.
Oh, and this book has the best opening page I have ever come across in my life. Just read it!
on 5 April 2007
Meet Friday, a futuristic vision of the world might look like. Prejudices are still abundantly apparent with some directed in quite familiar directions (the racism shown by Friday's extended family) and some in more novel ways - prejudices against artificial persons, and unfortunately that is exactly what Friday is. Born in a laboratory and raised in an crèche Friday is a courier, arguable the best at what she does, she operates in a world where sexual freedom has reached a crescendo but unfortunately this liberation has not quelled the natural human bloodlust but in this world the enemies aren't always countries, the major corporations have a lot to answer for.
The story line of the book itself takes the form of Friday's memoirs as she seeks to make sense of the actions that have occurred both around her and too her. She seeks to justify her humanity - or indeed lack of it - as she fumbles through the world on a seemingly hyper efficient wave of energy that is drastically undermined by the lack of faith Friday has in her seemingly perfect abilities.
Underneath it all Friday is an insecure as the next man.
I wasn't overly enamoured with the actual thread of the story as although it is impressive that Heinlein saw all these technological advances in communications would come about but as I am someone who is living in an age where these are more ever apparent that element of the story had little effect. As well as this even though I was fascinated with Friday I did also struggle with her - to me she is almost an attempt at the perfect female from a male point of view, she is attractive, athletic, feisty yet deeply insecure and almost in need of "saving". The paradox Heinlein puts forward is blamed on her upbringing but I didn't really buy that.
Yet for all that I found the book utterly fascinating, it wasn't that I cared what happened to Friday per se I just wanted to enjoy the ride of how ever she would get there. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece but it is certainly interesting and it may very well drive me to explore more of Heinlein's books.
on 26 March 2007
Genetic engineering is one of the hot buttons of today. Part of the debate about it centers on just how much tinkering should be allowed on the human genome. Heinlein, writing this long before such tinkering was physically possible, tackles some of the ethical questions such capabilities bring to the fore.
Friday Jones (aka Marjorie Baldwin) is just such an `enhanced' person. Her parental genetic makeup was carefully selected from some twenty donor parents, mixed up in a test tube, and was raised in crèche for such `artificial people', or APs as they are referred to throughout this work. This careful selection and manipulation means she is stronger, has faster reflexes, enhanced vision and hearing, and is more intelligent than `normal' people. Does this bring her acceptance and respect as one of the best of humanity? Far from it. For in Heinlein's envisioned future, APs and their cousins, Living Artifacts (people modified to be obviously different from normal humans, referred to as LAs) are declared `un-persons', relegated to the absolute bottom of the social pecking order, forced to work as effective slaves, subject to summary `elimination'.
Which leads to what this novel is really all about: Friday's search for acceptance and love. As such, this is a character driven novel, and the plot seems to wander around quite a bit with no clear objective, though each step along the way shows more and more of just who Friday is. Friday's world seems to be part of the `Crazy Years' of the Future History (though it's not directly connected), where nations have been Balkanized, multi-national corporations have at least as much power as nations, and wars between various factions, even those that use nuclear weapons, are taken as just another fact of life. This background provides for plenty of action, as Friday, as a secret courier, must wiggle her way past these conflicts. It also allows Heinlein to get in some of his typical satirical cracks at some of the idiocies he saw around him (though there's less of this pontificating here than in almost any other of his late period novels) - most interesting to California residents is his depiction of San Jose, it's government, it's obsession with the people's initiative process, and the frequent incompetence of elected government officials (or, for that matter, corporation executives who forget that customers pay their salaries). Along with this are his comments on various forms of marriage partnerships, some of which will make blue-noses very uncomfortable, and one depicted gang-rape scene might violently upset quite a few.
Right alongside these items are his technological predictions - he does a pretty good job of envisioning the internet and interconnecting web of just about everything from financial transactions to digging out the dirt on anyone. But his major point of departure is the Shipstone, apparently a really enhanced version of a battery, which has helped solve a lot of the world's energy problems. But I found his prediction of the return to the horse-and-buggy for in-city transportation unrealistic, most uncharacteristic of Heinlein's predictions, as such means simply cannot support the population density of today's cities.
As some have remarked, even with these technological improvements, this is a more depressive outlook for humanity's future than Heinlein normally presented. Here he thinks it's so bad that there is no saving Earth, that the only place humanity can really grow and achieve its potential is on other planets, free of the all the cultural and political baggage that encrusts this world.
Friday is very charming and believable for most of this book, though a decision she makes late in the book doesn't ring quite true. The obstacles she faces should make people do a little soul searching about just what it means to be human and about prejudice in all its forms. And the world she has to live in might make people realize that if they don't do something to change some current societal trends, it could become our future. This is not his greatest book, but with its high action quota, its very personable protagonist, and its strong relevance to the world of today, it's a most worthwhile read.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
on 10 August 2011
I was motivated to read this work having read a reference to it in an essay by Asimov in his collection 'Gold' and
having never previously read any of the work by this, one of the doyens of Science Fiction.
First impressions are of a some what dated piece of fiction crafted in an increasingly bygone age -the 1980s. 'Friday' is unquestionably old school even for 1982 when compared to the emerging cyberpunk work of Gibson and Sterling .A glance at the publishers list of current best sellers in my NEL edition sets the novels context clearly:'The stand','Dune','The Fog'.Leaving aside the somewhat 1960s liberal approach to sexuality,'Friday' still has much to offer the contemporary reader however.
This is a stylishly written, pacy page turner in the style of Dan Brown and is a unique blend of SF and spy thriller.At the heart of the narrative is the struggle by the eponymous heroine, an Artificial Person to find an identity, to become accepted and to belong - something all readers can identify with.
Unquestionably Heinlein has influenced the writng of contemporary writers of this genre.There are striking similarities between the tone and ideas developed by Bacigalupi in 'The windup Girl' and 'Friday', both are set in post modern worlds,plagued by energy shortages, ruled as much by corporate elites as by nation states and populated by artificial people.Indeed Heinlein's notion of a corporate nation and terretorial nations seems particularly apposite in a modern world where nation states are increasingly crippled by debt whilst global corporations continue to prosper.
on 12 December 2012
"Friday" by Robert Heinlein is an entertaining Science Fiction book that centers around a man-made engineered creation who has it all. Friday is a character who has great brainpower, beauty, impeccable fighting skills, and is popular with both men and women. There was at least one circumstance in the book that I took issue with. For instance, pages 9-10 deal with Friday being raped. I understand that the author probably meant well when writing a character who can supposedly force herself to act like she likes it. However, the only issue with this rape inclusion is that even with fiction writing, the questions raised from the incident would potentially muddy the waters of the hurt that some other rape targets may have suffered. Aside from this caveat, there are also some controversial circumstances in the book that were ok with me. For example, on page 40 Friday is asked about her marital status and the number of husbands that she has. This was also alluded to on pages 48-50 where Friday is given a choice of joining a marriage unit that consists of at least two wives(aside from herself) and three husbands. Yes, the multiple marriage concept does sound far-fetched but I humbly predict that it may become an actual reality within the next 300 years at the most. For this reasons, "Friday" by Robert Heinlein is a classic science fiction book for those who are open-minded to potential scenarios in a futuristic society.
This mostly light-hearted book begins with a woman being subjected to a rape and a beating in an effort to get information from her, but the tone taken makes it almost incidental. She is a courier for a large corporation and in fact is an AP (Artificial Person). Nothing bad can happen to her, however, because she is trained to withstand almost any kind of attack. Sister, perhaps to Lee Childs hero? Quite why we had to have a rape at this juncture soured the whole thing for me. No mention is made of any injuries, a quick visit to the corporation’s doctor, and she’s as good as new, in spite of having a nipple cut off. Okay, maybe Mr Heinlein has to get something off his mind. We are in the realm of fantasy edged with, when it comes to space travel, some nifty bits of techno-speak. But Friday, as she is called, isn’t real, so why should we invest our time in her?
There is a fairly interesting plot and a few escapades and I suppose it may enliven a dreary day, but I couldn’t get too interested in such a nebulous scenario. Let’s face it, if you have to have someone raped, the least you could try for might be a few doubts about the morality of the thing. The plot looks up a bit when Friday decides she will escape from almost certain death by losing herself on another planet. As far as I’m concerned she’s been on another planet all along.
on 13 December 2011
This is basically a good read. As usual with Heinlein you have an entertaining story which is examining some fundermental societal views on topics such as sexuality and racism. The point from which these are examined is dated, so it actually shed some light on the world view of America at the time the book is written. There are some themes which are repeated from 'Door into summer' that is a liking of cats; and aslo some themes from 'Job a comedy of justice', namely passing of favours from stranger to stranger. No Heilei's best book but well worth reading.
on 8 August 2015
Old school sci fi built on ideas which have now been copied but never bettered. Heinlein fell out of favour and my review is certainly tinged with nostalgia, but it is very good. Stranger in a strange land is probably his best but this my all round favourite. He also wrote Starship Troopers but don't be put off by that, the film was an awful awful thing and nothing like the book.
on 18 July 2015
This has made it's way to one of my favourite books of all time, and by an exceptional author who is sorely missed by anyone who encountered him by any means.