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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Heinlein, but good sci-fi.
This is one of my least favorite Heinlein books -- but that still puts it head and shoulders above most science fiction. (Heinlein was ill, and unable to fully edit and revise this book before its publishing deadline. His wife, Virginia, did her best -- but it's still rough in parts).

The plot concerns an ancient businessman who cheats death by having his...
Published on 13 July 1997

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Body's Memories
Heinlein never lacked for ideas. Many were original with him, such as the multi-generational star-ship. Sometimes he took someone else's idea and added his own fillip to it - which is what he does here.

Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is very old, very rich, very stubborn - and caught in the medical straight-jacket of extensive life support. So he conceives of...
Published on 14 Feb. 2006 by Patrick Shepherd


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Body's Memories, 14 Feb. 2006
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Heinlein never lacked for ideas. Many were original with him, such as the multi-generational star-ship. Sometimes he took someone else's idea and added his own fillip to it - which is what he does here.

Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is very old, very rich, very stubborn - and caught in the medical straight-jacket of extensive life support. So he conceives of having his brain transplanted - whether the operation is successful or not, he'll at least escape the straight-jacket. So far, an idea done many times before. Now Heinlein adds his own touch, as the 'donor' body turns out to be that of his young, extremely beautiful secretary, Eunice Branca, who was mugged and murdered. When Johann wakes up after the operation, he finds Eunice there in his head, ready to help him adjust to the new world of being very much a female. Is Eunice real, a product of 'body experience'? Or just a figment of Johann's imagination? Heinlein lays clues to this important question throughout the book, but you'll have to read it and make up your own mind.

Given the scenario above, this seems to be a perfect setup for Heinlein's traditional storming of the taboo bastions adhering to sex and gender stereotypes in American society. And there is no shortage of comments, situations, and happenings about just these items. Unfortunately, there is entirely too much of this material, occupying almost all of the middle section of this book, and after the first few sexual situations that Joan (the Johann/Eunice hybrid) faces, becomes extremely repetitious. Joan is not very believable as a woman (female characters were never Heinlein's strong point), nor do her actions really jive with what a 95 year old man would do. The internal conversations between Johann and Eunice are interesting and well done, though here again it becomes somewhat repetitious in the later stages of the book.

When Heinlein leaves Joan's intimate life for a broader look at his envisioned world, it gets much better. The book is set in what he described in other books as "The Crazy Years": illiteracy is common, people need to live in armored fortresses, drive in the equivalent of tanks, court decisions are just as crazy as the one's you read about in today's newspaper, homosexuality is actively encouraged as a way to limit population growth, some areas of cities have been completely abandoned by the police as impossible to enforce. Heinlein's description of ordinary living amongst the youth of the times, his depiction of Eunice's husband Joe as a real artist, his satirical snapshots of the headlines of the day are all excellent, and his headlines are far too close to today's reality to be easily dismissed as 'impossible'.

Heinlein became extremely ill just as this book was going to final edit, and his wife ended up making some of the decisions about the final form of this book. I think that if Heinlein had been well, a large portion of the middle section of this book would have been cut, and some tightening up done on the rest of it. As it is, it is far from his best, even making allowances. But the idea and situation are intriguing (who hasn't fantasized at least once about what it would be like to be the other sex?), in places Heinlein's power to engross and change your world-view are in full flower, his believable world-building skills much in evidence, his messages important and relevant to today's living. Heinlein on a down day was still better than ninety-nine percent of the other material on the racks.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Heinlein, but good sci-fi., 13 July 1997
By A Customer
This is one of my least favorite Heinlein books -- but that still puts it head and shoulders above most science fiction. (Heinlein was ill, and unable to fully edit and revise this book before its publishing deadline. His wife, Virginia, did her best -- but it's still rough in parts).

The plot concerns an ancient businessman who cheats death by having his brain transplanted into a donor body. It isn't until after the operation that he finds out the donor was his favorite secretary (killed by a mugger) ...and he can still hear her voice inside his head. For most of the rest of the book, Heinlein leaves it up in the air whether the internal dialogs between the two are fantasy delusions, or true conversations -- but it's still pretty entertaining to read the progression of an old man learning to be a young woman. This book is science fiction in that it postulates the possibility of a brain transplant -- but it's also got a well-thought-out background of social extrapolation, set in an America where the citizens who can afford it live an fortified strongholds, while the rest of the country goes to hell in a handbasket. (Not too unlike the setting of _Friday_ ...but that's another review).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein shines again in this challenging book., 17 Jun. 1997
By A Customer
This was the second "meaty" Heinlein book I had read. (By meaty I mean books longer/more complex than _TIme for the Stars_, _Tunnel in the Sky_, etc.) I loved it enough that I'm now on my way to collecting all of the Dean's works.
HMMM...About the story. Not the most plausable of Heinlein's works, I mean, the main character DID have a "brain transplant"! Actually, I think that the seeming implausibility of the intial 'hook' helps the reader suspend his/her disbelief for what happens next. Which is a good thing because if you don't get hung up on the 'reality' of the story , you'll find a truly wonderful study of human beings, and most importantly what it means to love. Heinlein's work is not just science-fiction at it's best, it's writing at it's best. It illuminates what it means to be human.

AND it's a lot of fun to read!

PS: Not a book I would recomend giving to the younger set. Some might consider parts (large parts) of the book to be quite racy. This is one for the 13+ set. Be advised, eh?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long, but Worth the Trip, 11 July 1998
By A Customer
Heinlein's fat 1970 tome tells the tale of a powerful tycoon adrift in his private lifeboat (not a literal boat, but rather the opulent, gun-encrusted enclave that only a man of great wealth could afford) somewhere just after the turn of the millenium, in an America swollen with bodies, riddled with violence and insanity. CEO of his own Gatesian empire, Smith has reached his nineties and plans to retire, but has little left to look forward to. Mind youthful but body senescent, he sits wheelchair-bound, swaddled in life support equipment--costly health care gone wrong, for it does not permit him to die. How, then, to shuffle off his mortal coil? In true bullying, billionaire fashion, Smith finds an expensive, ingenious way to dodge doctors, heirs, accountants and other obstacles to his desired suicide: he will have a pioneer surgeon transplant his brain into another body. But what he never counted on was that the operation would succeed; Johann wakes up in a borrowed body. What is more, the body is that of a friend.
A reader can treat I Will Fear No Evil as the exploration of what it might be like to have one's brain transplanted into another's body--that does indeed comprise a large part of the story. Still, there is another powerful aspect to the book: the glimpses one gets of the society Johann Smith has barricaded himself against. Johann's turn-of-the-millenium America has grown into a sprawling urban wasteland throughout which the have-nots wage gun battles in lawless Abandoned Areas. The haves venture out into this war-torn turf only in armored cars with armed guards riding shotgun, and return home to fortified enclaves. It is an America which has dismissed Horace Mann's dream and routinely shunts poor students into "illit" tracks in its public schools, and in which children can be prostituted in the aforementioned abandoned areas. It is an America held spellbound by television and sensa! tional news headlines--classic "Crazy Years" items. Does all that sound a little familiar?
As a dying old man, Johann Smith had no cause to embrace that new society. He once comforted himself with reminiscences about the Roaring Twenties, when both he and America were young and vibrant. But after the transplant renews his youth, he begins to sample the society he had turned his back on, and does so with hedonistic abandon. Beyond the momentary idylls he encounters, Johann concludes that human culture on Earth has entered into its agonal throes and now has only one hope: the transport of its best and brightest to another seat--in this case, the Moon. Thus a metaphorical transplant shadows the real one, and if a reader is looking for "message Heinlein" in I Will Fear No Evil, it resides in that metaphor.
I Will Fear No Evil is customarily panned by the critics for having a number of flaws: too great a length, too little action, arch dialogue and a fantastic premise. While the book is a departure from typical Heinlein material, it remains entertaining, readable and thought-provoking. Heinlein fell seriously ill with peritonitis after wrapping up the first draft of the novel, so the manuscript never got the cutting and tweaking that Heinlein usually gave a book before it hit the presses. Nevertheless, the book is still in print, selling well, and highly regarded by a good proportion of readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, 25 April 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I loved this book and have only just realised that I no longer have a copy (thanks to moving, etc.). I came onto Amazon to order another. After Time Enough for Love, it ties with Stranger for my favourite. However, Farnham's Freehold was the first Heinlein I read and that is definitely worth a look also. Read them all: he's thought provoking, innovative (for the time) and his characters are well-formed. And did I mention he's thought-provoking?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars new readers don't start here - agonisingly dated, 26 Jun. 2014
The plot, such as it is, revolves around the repercussions of a brain transplant: brain of very old male billionaire, into body of his hot young secretary. Turns out she's in there too, ready to educate him in how to be a woman. Now this could all be really good, except that Heinlein is a gender essentialist, he really believes that the mainstream cultural norms of (presumably) the American mid-west in the 1930s, are in fact hard-wired into everybody. Married to this Jurassic pre-feminist foundation, in really a very uneasy, not to mention queasy, fashion, is a libertarian free-love philosophy. So Eunice (the secretary) and Johan/Eunice (the composite) are so filled with "love" that s/he'll sleep with anyone, or offer to. And this is effectively all that happens for 400 pp. Apart from one very minor character (once of the least believable Brit/Aussie characters in the whole of fiction), everyone immediately goes along with this. No one ever takes advantage of her, rapes her, or fails to fall in love with her, in the approved non-possessive way. Even being spanked by the equally ancient other male lead, her object of affection - for bursting into tears when he won't immediately go to bed with her - is presented merely as an aphrodisiac. But this level of repetition isn't even really the problem with the book - though it gets as dull as any other porn narrative. The worst thing is the cringe-worthy sexual politics and above all, nauseating vocabulary in which all this is couched (panties, pretty please, whoppers, round-heels, snuggle-bunny etc). In this book, men and women are effectively two separate species, culturally frozen in a world where it is taken for granted that women will continue to inhabit the persona of the mid-20C sex-kitten - whore & madonna combined, fixated on pregnancy as destiny - and employing a sort of proto-Ann Summers wardrobe - a suburban fantasy of what strippers and burlesque artists might once have worn - in order to "trip" the aged alpha men in the hero's medical team / legal team / bodyguards / lift attendants. It is impossible to believe that a 90+ yr male tycoon would be able to impersonate this moth-eaten fantasy - and more to the point, why the hell would he want to? And why would we want to read about it? Only for Heinlein completists, and even then read it last. New readers should start with Citizen of the Galaxy - which has everything this one doesn't:at least three totally distinct, well-thought out cultures, lightening paced action, memorable characters (though the women remain weaker and flatter, at least it is not as single-note flat as this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, as only the King of Sci-Fi can be!, 9 July 1997
By A Customer
At the beginning of this book, we see an old man who would almost give anything to die, a man in love with his young secretary, while he in in a bed with tubes and wires connected to him. A very old man who cannot take the pain of living the way he is. He is also very rich and sees a way out....hmmm, what about a 'brain transplant'.
He does not expect to survive it and waits for the day a body donor is found, and has this transition. Nobody expects him to wake up, imagine your surprise when, thinking you are finally going to your death, you wake up bundled in a mass of wires as you were before. Oh the depair! Imagine finding out the body you are now in is not male, but female! Fascinating! Imagine that you find out that the body was donated by the young secretary you were so much in love with. Sobering.
But then you find her soul has made it back to the body and you are coexisting within one body. and now you must fight to keep the identity you are, as well as attempt to become a lady, in mind as well as body.
As we see Heinlein bring our character through the twists and turns of the past of both the old man and the young woman's lives, as well as showing how wonderful it might be to actually be female...a possible recurring theme in Heinlein's works, citing Elizabeth Andrew Jackson Libby Long in other books.
This book's only shortcoming was the death of our hero/heroine which could have bee explored deeper, but it left me thinking about this book for days!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what anyone expects...BETTER!, 9 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
I'm sorry, but this is just not Heinein Sci-fi. However, as any true Heinlein devotee realzes, heilein is not a conventional sci-fi writer. With this novel he escapes the bounds of his boyscout adventure books and leads the reader to an expostion of the human soul, and of course, another of his favorite themes, love. How can anyone like Stranger or any of the Lazerous Long stories without enjoying the rollops into love? My own copy of this book is older than myself, and held together only be a ribbon (or 8), this book is a comfort, a joy, a vacation and something to think about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein shines again in this challenging book., 17 Jun. 1997
By A Customer
This was the second "meaty" Heinlein book I had read. (By meaty I mean books longer/more complex than _TIme for the Stars_, _Tunnel in the Sky_, etc.) I loved it enough that I'm now on my way to collecting all of the Dean's works.
HMMM...About the story. Not the most plausable of Heinlein's works, I mean, the main character DID have a "brain transplant"! Actually, I think that the seeming implausibility of the intial 'hook' helps the reader suspend his/her disbelief for what happens next. Which is a good thing because if you don't get hung up on the 'reality' of the story , you'll find a truly wonderful study of human beings, and most importantly what it means to love. Heinlein's work is not just science-fiction at it's best, it's writing at it's best. It illuminates what it means to be human.

AND it's a lot of fun to read!

PS: Not a book I would recomend giving to the younger set. Some might consider parts (large parts) of the book to be quite racy. This is one for the 13+ set. Be advised, eh?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Coming To Terms With the Cycles of Life, 22 Jan. 2012
"I Will Fear No Evil" by Robert Heinlen is a dramatically woven story of the potential pros and cons of performing brain transplants. Johann Smith, the main character, is a man who is extremely wealthy but only has a limited time left to live on earth. In the story Mr. Smith mentions that he constantly heard the saying "You Can't Take It With You." He was determined to get around that phrase by undergoing a brain transplant with a willing and healthy body between 20-40 years old. He ends up unexpectedly having a brain transplant with Eunice Branca. Mr. Smith is very familiar with her because she was his favorite secretary. The only reason why I gave this story only three stars is due to the fact that I was expecting more spontaneous action plot elements similar to what are seen in the Star Trek and Star Wars movies. This book is more for those who are looking for a book that is centered around the conversation dialogue of characters describing their feelings on life and what they are going to do.
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