Friday, 3 January 2014

Book review: Time Enough for Love / Robert A. Heinlein

1 out of 5 stars
Time Enough for Love follows Lazarus Long through a vast and magnificent timescape of centuries and worlds. Heinlein's longest and most ambitious work, it is the story of a man so in love with Life that he refused to stop living it.

I know that a lot of people love Heinlein and I have enjoyed a number of his novels too.  This one, however, suffered from the need of editing--it was much too long and repetitious, especially if you have already read Stranger in a Strange Land or Friday.  These books make me wonder what kind of person RAH was and what it would have been like for his wife to live with him.  Maybe to her it felt like 2000 years, Lazarus Long's putative life span.

Heinlein is a great proponent of being self-reliant--but the farther we get from the horse and plough, the more reliant we become on others to build our devices, be they mobile phones, computers or spaceships.  We live in a society where we have to rely on others--I don't know how to make cloth or even how to turn cloth into clothes (and despite Heinlein's obsession with nudity, I don't see clothing going anywhere any time soon).  Someone else does my farming, gardening and butchering and it will be that way until the replicators show up (and even then I'll be reliant on the replicator repairman!)  Even farming with horse & plough, we were still relying on someone to mine the metal and build that plough.

RAH also seems to have some odd ideas about what women want (here's a clue, we don't necessarily want umpteen babies!).  It seems like Lazarus Long always has some woman hanging onto his leg, begging to be impregnated.  That got really old for me after the first time, let alone after the 20th time!  Research has proven that when women get educated and have access to birth control, birth rates go down.  We prefer to have fewer children and to invest more in those children, rather than produce dozens, and I'm sure women of the future, no matter how long they live, will continue to feel that way.  The cover also bugged me--why is Lazarus clothed?  Plus the woman on the left looks anorexic.

Basically, I was irritated with the women characters for the duration of the book--they are not like any women that I know.  In the end, I think they say much more about Heinlein than they do about women or the future of humanity.

Read Stranger in a Strange Land and/or Friday--give this book a miss.


  1. Hi Wanda

    I am a great Heinlein fan, but that is based mainly on his juveniles which I read in our public school library and his early short stories and novellas. I find his later (adult) novels more juvenile that the actual juvenile, while you expect wish fulfillment concepts in novels aimed at YA's these male fantasy themes he is obsessed with in his novels for adults are both sad from a maturity stand point and boring. You have to imagine what someone else Clarke, Simak, Anderson could have done with a human child raised by Heinelin's martians.


    1. I've never read any of his juvenile fiction, but I may eventually give it a try based on your experience. You're right, I think some other authors could have used the premise of Stranger to much greater effect.

      And I really do wonder what his relationship with his wife was like!