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on 4 August 2017
good
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Way back at the beginning of Heinlein's writing career his editor at Astounding, John W. Campbell, published the 'Future History', a two page listing of Heinlein's projection of the significant individuals and scientific, economic, and political events of the next 700+ years, along with a list of story titles that brought each of these events to life. At that time, most of those stories hadn't been written, and from some of the notes and statements in interviews that Heinlein made in the fifties and sixties, it looked like some of those originally projected stories would never be written, most significantly the final entry, "Da Capo". Finally, in 1973, when everyone had given up hope, this book appeared, a book that put the finishing touches on the Future History, a book that closes with that final story.

But before reaching that final story, we are given a cornucopia of other stories, as Lazarus Long, now some 2300 years old, is induced to reminisce about his life as part of a complex deal to preserve the 'wisdom' of the oldest man alive. Each of the stories that Lazarus relates are fairly complete by themselves, and many authors would have chosen to publish each of them separately, but Heinlein chose to keep them all as one piece, as each story helps to illuminate his overriding theme, on just what is love in all of its myriad aspects and why it is so important to man's survival as a species.

The first of the tales, "The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail", may be the weakest of any of the stories, but for those who know something about Heinlein's life, this story is very clearly autobiographical in nature, with some changes in names and places to protect the innocent.

"The Tale of the Twins Who Weren't" brings to light the ease with which Heinlein could switch between first and third person along with some detailed commentary on genetics and the reasons incest is normally consider taboo, all neatly folded into a story of individual growth from illiterate slave to successful entrepreneur.

But the next tale, "The Tale of the Adopted Daughter", is worth the price of this book all by itself. A very quiet, simple tale of pioneering that would not be out of place sitting on the Westerns shelf, though it has a unique science fictional aspect - but by the end of the story tears are definitely in order. The excellence of this story can be judged by the fact that its emotional impact is not lessened even on second, third, and fourth readings, when you know exactly how it ends. This story does much to illustrate that love is far more than just sex, although there is certainly a lively interest in that oldest sport displayed by all participants here.

The outer story in which these stories are embedded like sparkling diamonds evolves from a pretty standard plot device for presenting back stories to an intriguing story of its own, as we follow the attempts of various and sundry to give Lazarus a reason for living again, to find some new experiences that are not just a rehash of things he has done a thousand times before.

But it is also this 'present' time story that leads to the objections that many people have with this book: its apparent near-obsession with sex between close relatives. In one case it is more than close, it is narcissistic, dealing with Lazarus' relations with twin female clones of himself. It seems that many see only the sex, and don't look beyond it to the larger picture that Heinlein is presenting of all forms of love, including some essentially platonic forms, and that all of them can provide a means for 'growing closer' with another and enriching the lives of all involved.

In-between these stories are the 'Notebooks', a collection of aphorisms and other 'pearls of wisdom' that Lazarus has supposedly collected during his long life. Many are humorous; just about all of them have a spike of truth curling through them. My favorite of this group is probably "A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain" or possibly "An elephant: a mouse built to government specifications" but everyone will probably find something here that is appealing.

The Notebooks are some succinct examples of something that Heinlein scatters throughout this book, his opinions on government, slavery, marriage, politics, revolutions, prisons, family organizations, the value of money, 'consciousness' both organic and computer based, betting, Darwinian selection, true 'intelligence', conscription, advertising, religion, the purpose of war, and just about every other subject you can imagine. While you may not agree with many of these opinions, Heinlein presents his views in such a way that you will be forced to at least examine why you believe your own opinions are correct.

And finally we come to the last section of the book, where Lazarus time-travels back to meet his parents in the Kansas City of 1916. Heinlein manages to create a beautiful image of that time and place, its moral codes, its hypocrisies, its charms, of an entire way of life that has just about totally vanished from the American scene. Few fictional histories approach this section for being able to put the reader into their chosen time frame.

This book is the capstone to the Future History, apparently planned at least in part when the History was first conceived, a remarkable achievement in scope, theme, and sheer story telling. It was nominated for the 1974 Hugo Award, and fully deserved that honor.

Edited July 2014: While reading William H. Patterson's Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better, (highly recommended reading for any Heinlein fan, along with the first volume of the biography, Learning Curve ), I came across the statement that "The Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail" episode was not based directly on Heinlein's own experiences but rather on those of an Annapolis classmate, Delos Wait. As Patterson has been extremely meticulous in his research on Heinlein's writings, I will go with his version for the source of this story. Regardless, the story does have points of intersection with Heinlein's own experiences, some of which ended up of the pages of many of his other books.
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on 30 June 2002
Another classic from a word smith of consumate skill . TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE , is a review of a life spanning more than two thousand years by the now legendary Lazarus Long .
some times sad sometimes comical but always , and in all ways a very hard book to put down
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on 18 February 1999
I first read this book about twenty years ago, and I found the opening 100 pages a little hard going but persevering brought a very rewarding read. Robert Heinleins perpetually youthfull hero lazarus long decribes his lives and loves through 23 centuries of aging and rejuvenation until he tires of a life of contant repetition. This is where the story opens with Lazarus going home to die, but his latter day decendants have other ideas... This novel is a very good read, the author explores Love in great depth and exposes and ridicules some of societies religious and cultural ideals. recommended without reservation.
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2007
This is the story of Lazarus Long, the Eternal Man. In return for finding things that he has never done before, Long perhaps an amalgam of all the characters in Heinlein's novels agrees to tell the story of his lives. As is usual in Heinlein's novels there is quite a bit of the iconoclast himself in the major character. Certainly enough of his views that interupt the storyline periodically in the shape of the thoughts of Lazarus Long.

For all this and a certain amount of pushing the boundaries this is a novel you will either love or hate. It is a strange mixture of ultra conservative and liberal. It is not the most accessable of Heinleins books but it does reward pursuit to the end. There is intelligence, romance, adventure, pathos and a fair dollop of moralising but it can be read on many levels even if a certain elastic morality is required on the part of the reader. Worth it in the long run.
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on 4 June 2010
The opening few chapters are horribly pointless, but after this the novel takes off, it is almost but not quite autobiographical in nature about 2300 years of life if you've read about Heinlien history then some things seem to be familiar.

It is incredibly strange for a Sci Fi book as old wild west sort of story lines and plot lines are introduced something completely unexpected. Love, government and human wants and desires I think are all well played out in this book.
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on 11 April 2014
I consider myself somewhat of a Heinlein fan. There is a few books out there I haven't read but not more than about 3-4.

It got the second star, only because I did enjoy the "tale of the adopted daughter", and some of the end was ok also when he becomes, so to speak, a "complete m....f...k.r", but still compared to Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship troopers or Stranger in a Strangeland all of which I would give 4.5-5 stars, this is really quite a poor outing.

The stories aren't that compelling, the quotes between sections some of which are good, but many strike me as trite - (may have had a different response if I had read as a teen or early 20s rather than a more cynical late 30s.) So anyone who was planning to read this as a taste of Heinlen or a SF classic, I would seriously recommend you read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or if you want some military SF then Starship troopers.
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on 27 June 2014
Mr Heinlein's novels, although mostly fatally flawed in some (often small) respect, can be placed in roughly two categories: those that are generally well-esteemed and those that are not (and any list, even Wikipedia, will tell you which is which). This has the good fortune to be in the former category and is mostly to be enjoyed after reading solid adventure novels like Heinlein’s "Friday and the nearer-future romp, “To Sail Beyond the Sunset”, which are all of a similar theme with some characters dancing gaily in and out of adventures a thousand or more years apart. Heinlein’s ideas can seem slightly immature, but at least he has ideas. His constant drum-banging for polyandry is slightly more convincing than his case for feminism (an amazing woman, for instance, real or artificial, can be equal to all men in every respect, yet "sells out" in the small print at the end of one of these novels by choosing domestic subservience – rather like a certain groundbreaking feminist who practically recanted in her later works.)

The copy I bought was described as "Some visible wear, and minimal interior marks" which was slightly overselling it. It has the aged appearance more of a paperback that has been sitting in a basement for years, the pages yellowing and cared for by book mites; but given the very nominal price one can hardly complain, and it being one of Mr Heinlein's eminently more readable novels, a tolerance of dust mites and yellowed pages are more a testament to its worth than a criticism. Thanks to whoever kept this book instead of throwing it away. I am halfway through - and shall enjoy thinking of how someone else - maybe many someone elses - have enjoyed it before me.

Meanwhile I am using the inside rear dust-jacket, with an impunity that is so much easier with a dog-eared copy, to index a few quotable quotes and quasi-philosophical thoughts in the text. They maybe will never become as timeless as phrases invented by Edgar Bulwer-Lytton or Shakespeare, but they are a way of admiring his skill as a writer while fondly imagining that I will go back to it and read it again someday, even just for the memorable lines.
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on 26 October 1998
The first time I read this book I fell in love with it and lazarus Long has to be the most complete fictional character ever created. Put together from a series of conversations Lazarus has with different people, it forms an idea of Heinleins views on everything from politics to religion. No one who reads this book could fail to fall in love with it.
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on 12 August 2012
I have always been a fan of Heinleins work, and this is one of his best. His greatest attribute is the way he brings characters to life, the main character Woodrow Wilson Smith ( Lazurus Long )is a case in point. Basically the story of his life but spanning centuries this is a story beautifully told with moments of joy and sorrow which you get share with him.
Its easy to forget that this is a science fiction book, so well does the story flow.
If you havent read Methuselahs children you probably need to start there as the main characters story begins here.
Read both of these and then go back and get all his other works, if you like these you wont be disappointed.
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