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Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

I’ve been meaning to write on a Heinlein book for a while, and I’m still delaying on my favorite one, but I think it is time for my favorite author to get some attention. Yes, I’ll admit it: I’m a Heinlein junkie. This is not, however, the book that I would recommend reading for your first Heinlein (Cat Who Walks Through Walls would be better for that). If you’ve read some Heinlein already, though, this is a good book to continue with.

Title: Time Enough for Love
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Pages: 589 (paperback)
Premise: Lazarus Long has lived a very crazy and very long life, and one of his ancestors (yes, he’s that old) asks him to record his autobiography, and this is it.
Setting: Everywhere from the rural US in the early 20th century to space age adventures among the stars. It is also an alternate timeline, so some of their history isn’t the same as ours.

Strengths:

  • Really really awesome characters (I love you Dora!)
  • Crazy plots, I have no idea how the man thought of these things
  • Heinlein has his own fairly unique ideas about time travel and really demonstrates that, and the purpose behind the Howard Foundation in this book
  • This book is a great family reunion of Heinlein characters, so if you’ve read any other of his books, they’ll probably show up or be referenced in this book
  • It is one of those books that as I page through it to remember what the write I just want to read it all over again

Weaknesses:

  • The start is a bit slow, but hang in there!
  • I don’t know what kind of complex Heinlein had, but wow there is a lot of incest in his books (all generally in very not abusive contexts though)
  • On that note, there is just a lot of sex in general, so be warned
  • Because it is an autobiography as it is being written, all of the subplots end up making the book feel a bit jumpy

Summary: This is not an easy airplane read, but it really is a satisfying book if you like Heinlein. There is a lot of sex, incest and weird reinterpretations of marriage, but all of this is generally accompanied by so much love and honor between the characters. There are parts of this book that made me cry, and parts that made me tremendously happy. If you are okay with some fairly liberal views on a lot of societal norms, then this is really an excellent book.

Til next time!
-A

© 2011 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Truth be told this was actually the first Heinlein I ever read. I was very taken with the cover in my late teens working at a bookstore and many years later when I decided to try Heinlein I started there. I loved the book. It had many problems, which you point out, most notably the incest and some very juvenile ideas about the future being full of free love and wanton sex, but in the midst of all that was some darn fine storytelling. I remember getting completely lost in the novel over lunch periods at work.

    As time has went on my favorite novels of his have turned out to be his juveniles and some of the ones written in between the juveniles and these more controversial books, but I continue to have a special place in my heart for Time Enough for Love.

    • Interesting. I think that Time Enough for Love would be a difficult book to start with, so props for managing it! Since it includes so many characters from the other books, I found it fun to encounter those characters again, but if you had never met them before, I thought it might be confusing ;-). Which of his novels are your favorites? I always like recommendations on which Heinlein to read next, there are so many!

      • Oh I agree, I would never recommend it to anyone to start with. It probably wasn’t so much confusing meeting the characters as it was that I didn’t get that extra level of connection with them since I hadn’t read the other stories in which they were featured. But Lazarus was such an interesting character that I was just sucked right in.

        My favorite over all is The Puppet Masters as it is so very much like the kind of science fiction that got me hooked on SF when I was a kid. Close seconds would be Farmer in the Sky, Star Beast, Rolling Stones, Starman Jones. I LOVE the short story collection The Green Hills of Earth and possibly my favorite overall story of his is The Menace From Earth.

        I’ve read Friday and enjoyed it despite it having some of the same problems that Time does. I have Moon is a Harsh Mistress and need to read it sometime. The weird dialogue was bothering me the first time I read it but I could probably get past it if I was in the right mood.

        • Lazarus is an awesome character. To Sail Beyond the Sunset is currently my favorite Heinlein, though it still has all the incest etc, but it tells the beginning of Lazarus’s life even though he’s a secondary character, so that was fun :D

          I really want to read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, it’s been on the list forever, maybe we should do a read along one of these days >.>

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