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Methuselah's Children MP3 CD – 1 Jul 2013
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"I enjoyed every light year of it" Daily Telegraph; "Throughout its electrifying length the book shocks, staggers, confounds belief, and mesmerizes the senses into a state of complete unreality, but it never fails to fascinate." Manchester Evening News --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Robert Heinlein was a four times Hugo Award winner with books such as Citizen of The Galaxy, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love and Job: A Comedy of Justice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I was most impressed by Heinlein's success at tying this novel in to the series of past Former History stories, going all the way back to Life-line and the genesis of the whole saga. A few characters who seemed unimportant earlier in the stories quickly became important actors in the drama, such as astronavigator Libby from the story "Misfit." I have a much better appreciation of the earlier Future History stories after reading Methuselah's Children; things I saw as unimportant in earlier stories are now revealed in a whole new light and made inherently interesting. Lazarus Long, with his fierce independence, refusal to go around without his kilt (with his blaster concealed underneath), youthful old age, free spirit, and lust for activity or adventure is a singular character one cannot soon forget. His story is only begun in this novel, but it is something to behold from the very start.
This novel is intriguing and entertaining on its own merits, but I would encourage you to read the preceding Future History stories first (which can be found in The Man Who Sold the Moon, The Green Hills of Earth, and Revolt in 2100). Without this background, you will miss completely some of the subtleties and references that make this novel extra special. Likewise, if you are going to read Heinlein's later novels such as Time For Love this book serves as necessary background reading. I see Methuselah's Children as the crucial intersection separating Heinlein's early stories and later novels, so it is incredibly important whichever way you look at it. The science is well told, oftentimes prophetic, and perfectly believable and the sociological speculation is thought-provoking, but this novel is first and foremost an engaging, thrilling read that no Heinlein or vintage science fiction fan should miss.
There are some great ideas in here, but I'm afraid I pressed the "boring" button at 40%.
I am sorry to say it but this seems like a filler book for a man who's already made it. If properly edited, the book would be less than a hundred pages. Above all it seems amazing to me that amongst all these pages of turgid chat-chat between non-characters, we can get little impression of what it might feel like to live to 200 years. There is some lip service paid to it, but then we're back to meetings and chatter and general filler.
Try a different Heinlein.
It also marks the first appearance of Woodrow Wilson Smith, better known as Lazarus Long, who at the start of this book is a mere 213 years old, a product of the Howard Family trust which sought to lengthen human life-spans through simple breeding choices. Lazarus is only a product of the third generation of this project, but through chance apparently has just the right genetic code to keep him young and healthy far longer than `normal' people. The book starts in the year 2125, after the overthrow of the Prophet, and with a healthy 70 years of rule under the Covenant that has helped guarantee basic rights for everyone that was adopted after that overthrow, the Howard families feel that they can reveal just who they are and what their life expectancy is. This is a bad mistake, and the Howards quickly find themselves on the run from all those out to force the `secret' of their long lives from them.
The major portion of the first half of this novel is just what the Howards, Lazarus, and the head of the world government do about this situation, ending up in a `con' job that effectively manages to swindle everyone in the world - a setup that is tailor made for Lazarus, the world's ultimate pragmatist, and he shines here as both hero and someone you wouldn't let in your front door - a characterization that continues to be fleshed out in several later books, most especially Time Enough for Love. The second half deals with a rather amazing jaunt to a couple of other stars, and what is found there just might cause you to end up with a few nightmares and with a need to curl up and think about just what the ultimate purpose of man is.
This work is not as polished as his later material, with some dated slang (rare, but also something Heinlein almost totally eschewed in his later works), and characterization for anyone other than Lazarus is not as full bodied as would later be customary for him. The second half of the book doesn't have the same action quota as the first half, and there is a quite noticeable change in tone between the two halves. There's a lack of cohesion in theme between the two halves, almost as if Heinlein couldn't quite figure out where he was going with this book.
However, this is fine example of just what Heinlein was capable of even this early in his career. The constant action helps hide some of its weaknesses, his science, as usual for him, was as accurate as possible given what was known at the time of writing, his predictions for scientific advances are solidly grounded and plausible (some of which have come true, some may still happen, and a few are way off the mark - but Heinlein's batting average in this area is far higher than almost any other sf author).
For those new to Heinlein, this book would not be a bad place to start, though doing so without having read the prior books in the Future History (The Green Hills of Earth, The Man Who Sold the Moon, Revolt in 2100) will mean you'll miss a few of the references here. It's great advantage is its introduction to Lazarus, possibly the finest scoundrel to ever course the worlds of science fiction. Trust me, you'll like him (but hold on to your wallet).
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)