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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
6


on 24 November 2015
To be honest I got it because it was a Spider Robinson book and he is my all time favourite science fiction author. Then I started researching and remembered how many Robert Heinlein books I had read and loved "The Door Into Summer", "Glory Road" "Stranger In a Strange Land" and I thought this must be a winner.
Is it a Heinlein or or a Spider book? Well it is a mix, but I would say perhaps 80-90% Spider. It is his humour and his dream of a better world and the hope that humanity will "grow up" and that reminds me of Gene Roddenberry's vision.
It had me crying with laughter and crying with sadness (I won't tell you what bits as it will spoil it for you.)
I hope that this will not be the only book in this series.
A highly recommend read as are the other Heinlein books mentioned earlier and also Spider Robinsons brilliant Callahan's series such as Time Travellers Strictly Cash http://www.amazon.co.uk/TIme-Travelers-Strictly-Spider-Robinson-ebook/dp/B0063IZ00I/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8
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on 26 February 2011
Don't get me wrong; I'm really glad I read this book, and if you're a die-hard , Heinlein fan, then I think-and hope- you will be, too. But it left me wanting so many things to have been different that three stars are all it can have.

Firstly, to get the real rant out of the way, what is all that swearing doing in there? One of the joys of Heinlein was often the slightly different-almost genteel, or perhaps just a different time- nature of his world and language as compared with the crudeness of nowadays. Unnecessary, and it almost stopped me reading the book altogether.

A good point is that all the characters were SO Heinlein, I was happy, HAPPY HAPPY ! about that. Probably only the ship's Captain was not given the chance to show his Heinlein colours, and the protagonist just wasn't enough-you'll know what I mean. The plot elements surrounding the characters are familiar from so many of Heinlein's books- perhaps most typically "The Door Into Summer"- that it was on occasion like being hugged by the great man, and having him whisper "see, I didn't leave you alone, after all." (which places me squarely in the plot of "The Number of the Beast", I guess.)

It wasn't always obvious where the plot was going, as Heinlein had done so many things with his space travellers that you could have been on tenterhooks until the point when the meaning of the title (at least one of them) became a player. This made it enjoyable- even affectionate. But there is so much padding up to that point that there are either a hundred and fifty surplus pages before roughly page 250 for it to be old Heinlein, or a hundred and fifty too few after it to be more recent (say post "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress") Heinlein. The long slow journey up to page 250 is followed by a real rush to finish it off.

There are some good puzzles in a way; having over forty Heinlein books under my belt, I was comparing plots all through, and at one time, I thought we had the prequel to "Orphans of the Sky" on our hands.

To be fair, it may be as good a book as "For Us the Living", but given the experience of both authors since that book, it ought to be, didn't it ?

At the end of the day, I'm glad I read it, and I was probably-if this is not too much of an oxymoron-no more disappointed than I expected to be.

Oddly, I haven't read any of Spider Robinson's "own" books; something I shall have to correct.

Don't be put off, it's worth a read, but, well, you can see I wish it had been better.
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on 30 November 2006
This book, like many posthumous `collaborations' that are attempts to complete an unfinished work, has both good and bad things about it.

First, yes, Heinlein's touch is definitely evident, mainly in the basic story setting and its main characters. Clearly the outline and notes that Spider worked from defined these elements unambiguously, and anyone familiar with Heinlein's work will find much here that will evoke that feeling that so many of his YA books from the fifties had. The story is very definitely set in the `Future History' line, with references to Red Planet, If This Goes On, Coventry, Time for the Stars, Starman Jones, Space Cadet, and multiple other stories. Its protagonist is, at least at the start of this book, a rather typical Heinlein older teen, a young man who starts with no clear idea of what he wants from life, and while quite intelligent has a tendency to leap without fully considering all the consequences.

But it is also true that this is Spider writing, and as such it's told in Spider's voice, with his own very distinctive style, which includes his penchant for punning, and to some extent, mysticism, neither of which Heinlein would normally touch. This is not necessarily a bad thing - I've enjoyed many of Spider's other books, and his style normally complements his story material very well. But here I found some of this a little jarring, as it simply didn't match my expectation of how Heinlein's voice would have told this story. Not that Spider either should or could have really matched Heinlein's voice - any attempt to do so would have probably been a disaster.

The objections some others have raised about Spider inserting some commentary about current events into the Future History time line (as `The Terror Wars') I found was actually fairly well done, giving a more solid basis to the rise of Nehemiah Scudder than Heinlein ever did (though this was an area that Heinlein himself avoided, as too depressing to write about). Spider does manage to create characters that I could fully believe in, and they bear a strong resemblance to what these characters would have been like under Heinlein's pen, and this does much to keep this story highly readable and enjoyable.

But I found that the direction of the plot for about the last third of this book rather upsetting, as it plays havoc with the Future History as we have come to know and love it - and this area is pure Spider, for as stated in the afterword, Heinlein's notes were incomplete, and did not include an ending. The ending that is here has both a deus-ex-machina device (but one that Heinlein himself used in one of his other stories) and a clear path to a possible sequel, as clearly there is more story to tell, if Spider (and the Heinlein estate) would so desire.

I finished this book with very mixed feelings. Yes, it's another entry into the Future History corpus; yes, it's well written, engrossing, and enjoyable; but no, it's not Heinlein, and it branches in a direction well outside the known Future History, at the very least requiring another major branch in the World-as-Myth world view. But if Spider ever does write a sequel to this, I'll be there at the bookstore waiting to buy it when it comes in.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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on 27 December 2016
Who the F has written the synopsis for this book?! They haven given up half the plot in the description! WTF, guys! I am so glad I didn't read this page before reading the book.

The book itself is awesome! For me the beauty was that I had not read it before like all other RAH books that I have already read multiple times. Spider Robinson has carried the torch faithfully and brilliantly. All RAH should be thankful to him for giving us another RAH novel after there were no more.
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on 7 June 2009
I bought this book as I have been a Heinlein fan since I first read his work some 50 years ago. Who could resist another book by arguably one of the best, if not the the best, science fiction writers of the 20th century? Like other reviewers, I found it slightly odd, a Heinlein story, but not quite Heinlein's style.

Nevertheless, it is a good yarn well told. If you're looking for pure Heinlein then this is not for you, but if you want an enjoyable read in a similar vein to the master, well written and thought out, then you won't go far wrong.

Happy reading, and I too hope for a sequel!
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on 13 April 2008
Writing this book must have been a frightening task for Spider Robinson, picking up an unfinished draft from one of the great authors of Science Fiction after his death. I was really interested to see how it had turned out and i am pleased to say that it is a great book and a fitting tribute. I really enjoyed it. Any chance of a sequal ?
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