Feb 10 2010 12:04pm

Incredibly readable: Robert Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer

The Door Into Summer is one of the most readable books in the world. Whatever that elusive “I Want To Read It” thing is, this book oozes it. Is it because Dan, the first-person engineer narrator, keeps up such a cheery rattle it just carries you along? Is it because the future is such a sunny one, though wrong in every detail? Is it the joy of watching Heinlein’s worldbuilding and neat time travel dovetailing? I think it’s the combination of all of these things and the sheer force of storytelling. Heinlein’s prose isn’t beautiful like Le Guin’s, but it’s always crisp and descriptive and somehow confidential. He draws you inside the world—it’s as if he lifts a corner and invites you and you’re thrilled to slip through.

The Door Into Summer is short, but it isn’t a juvenile; it was written for the adult market and has an adult protagonist, and that makes it unusual. When Heinlein was at his peak, he mostly wrote short stories for adults and novels for kids. There’s only really this, and Double Star (which gets my vote for his best novel) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, before you get to his late period novels. This was written in 1957 and it’s set in 1970 and 2000. You’ll notice that those dates when it’s set were in the future when the book was written and they’re in the past now. 1970 was in the past even when I first read the book in 1978. As predictions go, I’d say this scores a straight zero. None of the things predicted happened, with two exceptions—LA getting rid of smog, and the word “kink” developing a dirty meaning. The failed predictions show up more than usual because it’s such a near future, and Earth, and because our narrator, Daniel Boone Davis, is an engineer and a designer of robots. There’s a lot of talk about robot design and it’s all charmingly wrong. But what the book is about is time travel, with neat paradox resolution. It also features a creepy love story that didn’t seem so creepy to me when I was a teenager. 

But none of this matters, none of this is why you want to read this book if you haven’t or read it again if you have—you want to read it because it’s got a wonderful voice and because reading it is an immensely satisfying experience. It starts like this:

One winter shortly before the Six Weeks War, my tomcat, Petronius the Arbiter, and I lived in an old farmhouse in Connecticut. I doubt if it is there any longer, as it was near the edge of the blast area of the Manhattan near-miss, and those old frame buildings burn like tissue paper. Even if it is still standing it wouldn’t be a desirable rental because of the fall-out, but we liked it then, Pete and I. The lack of plumbing made the rent low and what had been the dining-room had a good north light for my drafting board. The drawback was that the place had eleven doors to the outside.

If that doesn’t make you want want to read the next paragraph, go and find something else to read.

From here on, the general assumption you’ve read the book or don’t mind mild spoilers, but I’ll try to avoid the kind of spoilers that make things less fun.

Dan’s thirty years old in 1970, and he’s a robot designer who has been swindled out of control of his robot-designing company by his ex-best friend and his ex-fiancee, so he goes on a bender and decides to take the “long sleep”, When the Sleeper Wakes kind of hibernation for thirty years, taking his cat with him. (Dan has read that book, and not just when the insurance companies started giving out free copies.) Then he sobers up and decides it’s running away and he won’t do it, only to be forced into it by the same evil ex-fiancee. When he wakes in 2000 he’s indigent—the insurance company went bust—but gets by and learns to like the place. Then he discovers there is time travel, and goes back to 1970 to sort out the unfinished business he had there, rescue his cat and then head back to the future.

This is a future that never happened. It’s also very cheerful, despite the limited nuclear war sometime in the sixties which the US won. But it’s not the future Heinlein usually wrote about—it isn’t the future of the juveniles with colonized planets and a dystopic Earth, nor the Howard Families future with overcrowding and longevity, nor is it in the Past Through Tomorrow “Future History”. There’s mention of shuttles to the moon, but this book isn’t gung ho space colonies, this is Earth, and an Earth, and a US, doing very well for itself. Progress is real. Things are getting better. And the robots Dan invents are household robots aimed at making daily life better. I do think this is appealing, and I do think it’s more unusual in 2010 than it was in 1957. This is a very bouncy future.

But we have had that time now, and it does get everything wrong. There wasn’t any Six Week War and limited nuclear exchange. Denver never became capital of the U.S. And on the smaller things—this is Dan, back in 1970 complaining about the things he’s got used to in 2000 that haven’t been invented yet:

I wish that those precious esthetes who sneer at progress and prattle about the superior virtues of the past could have been with me—dishes that let food get chilled, shirts that had to be laundered, bathroom mirrors that steamed up when you needed them, runny noses, dirt underfoot and dirt in your lungs.

Yes, well, 2010 and where’s my... but they are still going to the public library to look things up on paper and using typewriters and cloth diapers. Cloth diapers put on a baby by a robot worked by vaccuum tubes and transistors is an image that sums up the kind of ways SF gets things wrong even better than a flying car.

The robots are precisely and specifically wrong. All the things Heinlein assumes will be easy turn out to be almost impossible, and all the things he thinks will be impossible turn out to be easy. Computer memory— not a problem. Robots that could wash dishes or change a baby? Oh dear. We sort of have robots that wash dishes—what else are dishwashers?—but they’re not doing it standing over the sink, and putting the dishes away in the cupboard is impossible. The drafting robot would have been lovely in 1957, now I can’t help thinking that I have better drafting programs included for free in my operating system just in case I happen to need one. There’s enough detail about Dan designing robots and seeing things where a robot would help to be notably and charmingly wrong. Transistors! Tubes! Heinlein sometimes managed to handwave computers in a way that let you fill in your concept (Citizen of the Galaxy) but there’s just way too much detail here. You can roll your eyes at it, but it doesn’t stop the story working. It makes it almost like steampunk, yay clunky 1950s robots. (And it isn’t totally wrong. The original Hired Girl is basically a Roomba.) Anyway, wouldn’t it be nice to have the family robot that does all the household cleaning and stuff and costs the same as a car?

Far more of an obstacle to enjoying the book is the creepy romance. When I was a teenager I entirely missed the fact that it was creepy. Dan’s ex-best friend Miles has a stepdaughter called Ricky, who is eleven in 1970. Dan’s been her pseudo-uncle for years, since she was a small child. While back in 1970, Dan at thirty-one, so he’s twenty years older than she is, visits her at camp. He has privileged information, some of which he hasn’t shared with the reader. He tells this eleven year old girl that when she’s twenty-one she should put herself into cold sleep until 2000, whereupon he will only be ten years older than her (having cold slept again himself) and he’ll marry her. When I was fourteen I was fine with this, and it took me a long time to actually think about it. Imagine an eleven year old girl and a thirty year old uncle she has a crush on. Now imagine living through the next ten years as that girl growing up, never seeing him, knowing he’s waiting for you to be twenty-one, knowing you’re then going to marry him after a twenty year sleep. Imagine being twenty-one and lying down to cold sleep and giving them the instruction only to wake you if he shows up. It’s not beyond what people do, but it’s creepy and twisted and I can’t believe I ever thought it was sort of romantic or that Heinlein in 1957 bought into this “made for each other” stuff so much as to be comfortable with writing this. It was a different world. And it’s a very small part of a fast-moving book. And we see it from Dan’s self-centred point of view, so imagining how Tiptree might have written Ricky growing up is always an option. But it’s still sick.

This is a short fast and deeply enjoyable read. If I read it for the first time now, I think I’d still get caught up in the readability. I might have been more squicked by the romance if I didn’t already know it was coming. It’s hard to detach nostalgia for previous reads from present enjoyment, but I really didn’t want to put it down.

Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.

James Davis Nicoll
1. James Davis Nicoll
Progress is real. Things are getting better. And the robots Dan invents are household robots aimed at making daily life better. I do think this is appealing, and I do think it’s more unusual in 2010 than it was in 1957. This is a very bouncy future.

If current SF authors are in general able to imagine a 21st century significantly better than the 20th, they are doing a pretty good job of concealing that fact.
Rick Rutherford
2. rutherfordr
Oh wow... does this mean that you're going to review most (or possibly all) of Heinlein's works?
john mullen
3. johntheirishmongol
I adored this story the first time I read it in 1960-something and I still love it years later. I re-read this about 6 months ago, and I did get a little of the creepiness about Ricky this past time but he had used this little setup in the Time for the Stars too. It doesn't matter since all his love interests were really Ginny (his wife) in one form or another.

One thing he did get close on was the idea of plug and play replacements, just we use them for diffent things than what he imaged in this book. Also, the thing that makes Heinlein's books so readable is he did believe in that optomistic future where things do get better and his characters were about doing and not as self involved as most you read about today.
David Levinson
4. DemetriosX
I think your timing on the novels is a little off. Moon came after both Stranger and Glory Road, not to mention Starship Troopers

Still this is a very readable novel. Even my wife, who dislikes SF in general, liked this one. The breezy style may be part of it. It's a style he achieved frequently in his short stories and novellas and yet somehow never really managed in any of his longer works.

I didn't catch the creepy aspect of the relationship between Dan and Ricky the first few times either. The mature adult male/much younger female thing crops up every now and then in Heinlein's work, although almost never in such an extreme case. The only one that comes even close to this is in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, where there's a young Loonie who has a thing for Colin Campbell, which Hazel even encourages when they time jump a few years into the future (with a spanking fetish thrown in). There's sort of a suggestion that Hazel had a thing for Manny in Moon, but I can't really imagine him acting on it.
Jon Evans
5. rezendi
Time-travel romances in general, not just in Heinlein, tend towards the creepy: The Time Traveller's Wife, which is sort of a book about grooming, leaps to mind.
Beth Friedman
6. carbonel
This was the first adult SF novel I ever read. When I started reading SF, the first thing I discovered was the Groff Conklin anthologies, and those were so good that I kept looking for more and more in the way of SF short works. It wasn't until I'd read everything I could find in my high school library and the two local public libraries I had access to that I decided to try a novel. And I'd enjoyed some of Heinlein's short stories (and Anson MacDonald's, though I don't remember if I knew they were the same person then).

The Door into Summer was the perfect gateway book for me. It had (as you say) that property that I call readability—whatever it is that sucks you in and makes you want to keep reading. I wasn't much older than Ricky, and did't identify with her at all, but luckily she wasn't the viewpoint character.

I've read books I liked better since, but TDiS will always have a special place for me, because it was first.

Oh, and I realize now that I had copyeditorish tendencies even early on, because on my first reading of the first paragraph, I read it as having a serial comma, and wanted to know when Petronius the Arbiter was going to show up as a character, and what the cat's name was. Just the opposite of the "my parents, Ayn Rand and God" example.
Fred Himebaugh
7. Fredosphere
Heinlein's unbeautiful but "crisp" prose makes for an excellent audio experience, unlike a lot of other novels of superior literary pedigree. I can strongly recommend the Blackstone Audio version read by Patrick Lawlor.

And yes, my creep alarm went off instantly when I realized where things were headed with the protagonist and his cradle-robbing tendencies.
Jo Walton
8. bluejo
RutherfordR: Not all at once. I re-read Heinlein often, and will eventually no doubt work my way through all of it, but no more this week. I have already written here about Citizen of the Galaxy, Time for the Stars, Starship Troopers, Friday and Starman Jones. (I'm sure I used tags and you could find them with the search feature.) Oh, and I also wrote a piece on the train called The Dystopic Earths of Heinlein's Juveniles.
Hypatia James
9. hypatiajames
I haven't read Door into Summer in a while, but I first read it as an adult (well, I was in college). I don't recall being particularly creeped out about the romance between Ricky and Dan. I think that is probably because I was reading a lot of Heinlein at the time, so it didn't seem any more odd to me that the whole swap in Number of the Beast, which was the first Heinlein I read because my mother thought I would enjoy the logic puzzles when they are in Wonderland.

Jo, speaking of your reviews (even if I didn't, someone has), I truly enjoy them and have read several book that I have enjoyed solely on your recommendation. I am most of the way through Tooth and Claw presently, and I just wanted to say that I am enjoying it (even though I've never been a big fan of Victorians).
James Davis Nicoll
10. R. Emrys
So, with your review on my mind, I grabbed TDIS to read "a few pages" during lunch. A couple of hours and 150 pages later... This in spite of all its flaws--the relationship with Ricky has bugged me from my first read. And did you catch that the survival rate for the Long Sleep is 70%?
Clifton Royston
11. CliftonR
I'd disagree with you to some extent about the technology predictions.

Although the actual mechanism is entirely wrong (trainable vacuum tubes??) in this book Heinlein spotted some of the most important applications which computers would take over, and you even sort of mentioned one. When was the last time you met someone trained to work as a draftsman? Computers took that job over completely between the '70s and '80s. Ditto for stenography - didn't Heinlein also introduce the word processor in this book?

In other words, I'd say he got the technology for computers completely wrong, and a couple of the most important social applications of that technology right.

On Ricky & Dan? No argument.
James Davis Nicoll
12. Michael S. Schiffer
One other prediction with some resonance: I thought of Dan's job in 2000 crushing new cars-- which were built, used as security on price support loans, and then scrapped without ever being driven, in order to keep the manufacturing sector humming-- when the US government paid me to scrap my own car and buy a new one last year for much the same reason. (Though in fact, I'd guess Dan's job was a satire/projection of agricultural price support programs.)

It's also interesting to see gold go the way of aluminum in a Heinlein novel.

But yeah, the technology predictions in general are similar to Asimov's in, e.g., "Galley Slave", where the way to automate text editing is to build a robot that can read, manipulate stacks of paper, and use a typewriter. Right application, entirely the wrong direction. Still, every time we use our Roomba, I dream of Flexible Frank.

And not to defend the romance plot, but 70% was the chance of a thirty-year-old surviving 30 years. Odds are the chance of a 21-year-old surviving a shorter period with a decade's more advanced tech would be a little better. It's still a heck of a thing to ask, and a heck of a thing for a woman to do to meet someone she hasn't seen for half her life, whom she's never known as an adult or a contemporary.
Jo Walton
13. bluejo
Clifford: No, they're cheerfully using typewriters.

He introduced the dedicated word processor machine in I Will Fear No Evil.

Michael: I read somewhere that Philip Dick once had a job carving fake treads into bald tires. It almost doesn't matter if it's true, because if it isn't it's so Dickian a job he ought to have had it. Anyway, I always assumed it was true, and he told Heinlein and that's where Dan's job of scrapping cars came from. Though I suppose it is exactly like agricultural price supports, which Heinlein mentions disparagingly in Time Enough For Love so there's evidence he knew about them and didn't approve.
Clifton Royston
14. CliftonR
There was certainly a Philip Dick character with the job of carving fake treads into tires, I think in 'Our Friends from Frolix 8'. (IIRC it's the family trade the character learned from his father.) I had never heard it was based on something Dick actually did, though that sounds surreal enough to be true.

P.S. Clifton, please, not Clifford. Clifford is a Big Red Dog.
Tex Anne
16. TexAnne
Yay Pete!

I didn't notice the creepiness when I read it as a kid, but when I read it as an adult....ewwwwww. Now I just skip those parts so I can get back to Pete faster. He and the Rolling Stones Hazel are my very favorite Heinlein characters ever.
James Davis Nicoll
17. Dr Hoo
I'll have to re-read this one...can't remember a thing about it (I probably read it in the mid-70s). Just plowed through Double Star in a single sitting last week...also very readable. But if I had to pick one RAH for sheer readability it would be Tunnel in the Sky...I've read that one straight through more than any other novel. Only the Amber series rivals it for me.
Mitch Wagner
18. MitchWagner
Jo - Thanks for another wonderful Heinlein re-read.

I read first "Door Into Summer" when I was 15 or 16, old enough to be creeped out by the age difference between the hero and Rikki. He was way too close to being a child molester. However, you've introduced me to a whole new level of creepiness in the story. She basically spent her teen-age years, an entire decade of her life, doing nothing but sitting with her hands folded waiting to get old enough to go into Cold Sleep and marry Dan. Hell of a sacrifice.

Or did she? Might be fun for someone to write a novel describing how Rikki spent her adolescence, and why going into Cold Sleep to be with Dan seemed like good idea when she was 21.

This kind of relationship, which seems like borderline pedophilia to a 21st Century reader, comes up several times in Heinlein, as others here have described. But I recall one person who wrote a book-length criticism of Heinlein -- it might have been H. Bruce Franklin -- said that it was a common theme in 19th Century popular literature, which Heinlein likely read as a boy, nearly a century ago. They called it, "Raise up a girl to be a wife." You see this theme at its most explicit in "The Tale of the Adopted Daughter" in "Time Enough for Love."

I always try to keep that in mind when reading Heinlein: He was born in the Edwardian era, and he died nearly a full generation ago. When judging the way his fiction portrays gender or race relations, he has to be placed in context of his time in history.
Patrick Shepherd
19. hyperpat
I've always felt that this was one book that while Heinlein completely got the details of technological advances wrong, he was dead on in seeing the direction that automation would take; i.e. more and more repetitive task jobs would be taken over by some kind of robot/computer, from drafting to vacuuming. And as far as I know, this is the only book that ever tried to quantify just what 'woman's work' (please don't hit me!) entails, which impressed me mightily on my first read at about age 12.

The thing with Ricky and Dan may not be quite as icky as many here seem to think. Cultural norms have changed a lot in the past 100 years, and (frequently arranged) marriages between older men and barely nubile women used to be a lot more common than today. The average marriage age has also climbed quite a bit during that period - partly the result of people not starting their working careers till after finishing high school or college, whereas previously many started full time work at 15 or 16, and they naturally also started their families near that same age. So while I can certainly see an element of pedophilia in this book, I also see quite an element of restraint, with Dan wanting to wait till Ricky hit 21. What's not really believable about the whole situation is Ricky being willing to still endure that cold sleep after ten years of not seeing her man - emotional attachments don't usually endure through separation times like that.
Clifton Royston
20. CliftonR
Jo: No offense taken, of course!

Mitch: "born in the Edwardian era". Wow. That's an observation that I'd never thought of applying to Heinlein. Just yesterday my son boggled me by saying something about "in the 20th century, people used to..."
David Dyer-Bennet
21. dd-b
Is that really how the romance played out? I remember it very clearly as her talking him into it, not vice versa. Have to keep my eyes open on the next reread! I don't seem to have read it since 2001, probably quite a while longer.

The issue of overlapping lives and careers of various favorite authors grabbed me a while ago, and lead me to create this chart of their overlaps.
James Davis Nicoll
22. JaniceG
Agree entirely about having read this in junior high school and missed the squickiness the first time through but then re-reading the book as an adult and being creeped out.

@hyperpat: It is certainly true that marriage at a younger age was the cultural norm for a long time. But there's a big difference imho for young people to be considered to have reached maturity at 15 or 16 and marry and for someone much older who has known a girl since she was a knobby-kneed kid and the child of his best friend to travel to her Girl Scout camp to tell her to wait for him and skip her whole adolescence to put herself in cold sleep to fulfill his fantasy!
Ursula L
23. Ursula
He tells this eleven year old girl that when she’s twenty-one she should put herself into cold sleep until 2000, whereupon he will only be ten years older than her (having cold slept again himself) and he’ll marry her.

This seems like an odd way to deal with the age difference. Why not just sleep himself for ten years, until she is 21, then wake up and court her normally? Or better, wait until she is also 30, then, if she is single and interested, court her as an equal?

When judging the way his fiction portrays gender or race relations, he has to be placed in context of his time in history.

I tend to see it the other way - that such creepy and abusive situations were considered normal in that context makes the context creepy, rather than the creepy setup normal.
James Davis Nicoll
24. Walter Underwood
That was the first book I checked out on my non-juvenile library card. I can still see that shelf in the stacks at the Baton Rouge Library.
James Davis Nicoll
25. Calimac
I confess I haven't read this one. He has equipment run on vacuum tubes and transistors? Umm?

Concerning the creepiness of the romantic plot, have you read John Varley's story "The Pusher"? It's a story about the creepiness of time-sleep romance of his kind, and very effectively disturbing.
Jo Walton
26. bluejo
DD-B: Right -- an eleven year old girl made him do it. Because she had all the power in that relationship. You can't give informed consent at eleven. You might think you can, but you can't. Besides, she didn't talk him into it, he already knew, he'd seen the marriage certificate in the future.

Terrific chart.

Ursula: He liked 2000 when he was there before. But yes. I thought of all those options too. On creepy context, I do see your point but I don't agree. I think it isn't an excuse but it is relevant. The question I ask is whether this is standard, better, or worse, than was normal for the time. Heinlein is usually way better than normal, but on this "raising a wife" maybe he was standard or somewhat behind the times.

Calimac: I have read "The Pusher" and yes, it is relevant and creepy.
James Davis Nicoll
27. Gray Woodland
I only ran into this book a couple of years ago: very similar reactions. The narrative is so clean and springy, and that Heinleinian quality you call 'confidentiality' is completely a part of the flow here, rather than setting up eddies and drag. I pretty much inhaled the story, and there it was gone like fresh air.

Yeah, the creepiness did stick out a mile. I'm tending to think that Heinlein did intend at least a good hint of it. But my copy is two hundred miles away right now, and I have no supporting evidence beyond a faded and shapeless impression, so that's about as far as I can go directly.

I do reckon that Heinlein was a far outlier - in his day; even more so now - in the degree to which he believed other people ought to be categorically considered as agents/ partners/ rivals rather than patients/ beneficiaries/ victims. To me, that mitigates the readerly creepiness (of Heinlein, I mean, not of Dan) significantly.

This aggressively modern view runs into a queer and rather disturbing confluence with Mitch's instrumental tradition @#18 of "Raise up a girl..." - some of which, I guess, it would have been hard for Heinlein not to have absorbed by osmosis.

H'mmm! Between such streams, the country might get dangerous. The predictive manipulation of the planner on one shore, the neatly-fenced responsiblities among free agents on the other... Glib-tongued worms might breed. One could certainly have spoken into Dan's ear. I wonder about Heinlein's, now - and what he did about it, here and later. Have to wait for my own re-readings, before I make up my mind about that.
john mullen
28. johntheirishmongol
I think everyone is taking the creepiness a little far, from what its intentions were. He didn't touch her, in fact he was very careful not to touch her in any way. And she had 10 years to change her mind, grow up and forget him. I think the intention was that this was a soul mate thing and they just happened to be too far apart. As I said earlier, it today's age it does seem creepier than it used to but I think its because of our awareness has been raised. The intentions were pretty innocent.
Jill Hayhurst
29. pericat
I didn't get 'creepy'. How I read this one was him saying that when she grew up, if she still wanted to be with him, this was the way to do it. She couldn't take Cold Sleep until she was old enough to make the decision to do so. She had to make the decision on her own; he'd have been out of her life for nine years by then at least. Also, at age 20 was the earliest she could decide; there's nothing stopping her from waiting longer if she wanted.

Actually, there was nothing stopping her from going her own way at any point.
James Davis Nicoll
30. Rosemary Kirstein
I must have been about 11 or so when I read this. I mainly recall that I picked it up because it was a) Heinlein, b)SF and c) about a cat. I do recall being disappointed at that age about the lack of space travel, but this was mitigated by the presence of the cat. I read it several times.

I did not notice the creepiness of the child-adult romance at that age. Dan was cool, who wouldn't want to grow up and marry him? Given that marriage was an entirely abstract concept to me at that age.

When I read it again in at twenty or so, I did actually notice a creepy romance -- but not that one. It was the relationship between Dan and his fiance that bothered me. Woman as manipulator, and men helpless before female sexual power. Yikes.

By the time I read it again in my thirties, I was thinking of Heinlein as being "of his time". Bad woman = using attractiveness to manipulate; good woman = putting your own ambitions aside to do what Your Man needs you to do. Par for the course.

But it was still fun! The science was fun, Dan's voice was fun. The goofy future was fun. Petrionius the Arbiter looking for the door into summer...

What IS it about Heinlein that draws you in and keeps you turning the page? I will love him for that, always.
Eli Bishop
31. EliBishop
I read this when I was about 8, and I had my own innocently creepy take on the romance: I thought it was kind of cool, because then maybe one day I could get married to one of the many babysitters that I always had crushes on, after catching up in age that way.

Who was it who wrote a story in the '80s about the use of time-travel for arranged marriages? The machine doesn't let you travel physically, just spy on people in the past and project your voice to them. Some creep makes a deal with a family in the past to let him rule this little girl's life till she can catch up and marry him; of course she's not cool with this, rebels in a big way, and manages to scandalize everyone enough to break the deal. And once she gets to the future, the first thing she does is to get revenge by hiring a time machine-- haunting the creep's teenage years with voices that follow him into the bathroom.
Eli Bishop
32. EliBishop
CliftonR @14: Dick also gave a tire-regroover job to the narrator in Confessions of a Crap Artist; he describes his work with pride (if you're good enough, it looks like a machine did it!) and just doesn't get why it's not a good thing. I love all the workplace stuff in PKD-- after reading enough of him, it's hard to remember that I myself have never worked on a used-car lot in Marin, or been a DJ forced to play the same awful Crazy Eddie ad 10000 times a day.

Michael @12: Thanks for reminding me of "Galley Slave." When I read that, it didn't seem too far-fetched-- now it's hilarious, but also kind of sad because it's not that much dumber than putting a human being through 12-20 years of education in order to do some of the jobs we do.
James Davis Nicoll
33. Thomas Lindgren
If there was one thing Heinlein loved, I'd say it was tweaking Mrs Grundy.
James Davis Nicoll
34. HelenS
Oh, the fiancee is horrible, from what I remember. I distinctly remember thinking, so, you made THAT bad a decision the first time around, and now you're SO sure of yourself that you can decide for Ricky, too? I ended up deciding that the story was fun, but the only character I really *liked* was the cat. (Well, Ricky was okay, but I was never sure that I was getting the full story on her.)
James Davis Nicoll
35. J.Dauro
IIRC, he wrote this in about a week, after the Door into Summer incident occured with his cat and his wife at their cabin.

When I first read it, I enjoyed it. And still do. Neat and compact, I find the dovetailing to be very attractive. Besides that, who could not like a cat who prefers Ginger Ale.

And he didn't decide for Ricky. Originally he told her he was going. She felt he was leaving her, and wanted him to leave Pete. Only after her protest, did he give her the instructions on what to do. And as I remember, he even said something to the effect of "If you still want to when you reach 21."
James Davis Nicoll
36. Viadd
And if Ricky hadn't taken cold sleep when she was 21 (which she would most likely survive), then by the time Dan woke up she'd be 41!

Far too old to be worth marrying. That's a decade older than the man, instead of a decade younger as is proper.
James Davis Nicoll
37. HelenS
Actually *that* would have been a great ending -- her showing up ten years older than he was and assuming he wouldn't mind.
James Davis Nicoll
38. Gardner Dozois
Re #31--

EliBishop, it was me, in a collaborative story written with Jack Dann, called "Time Bride," published in the Shawna McCarthy-edited ASIMOV'S.
Nancy Lebovitz
39. NancyLebovitz
IIRC, Heinlein got something else at reasonably close-- the classified ads are full of words for jobs and requirements which Dan can't recognize. He's a trained engineer, and all he's qualified for is crushing cars.
James Davis Nicoll
40. Mogrith
A couple of more things he got so right it's hard to see them.

$10.00 Meals

Lycra ( sticktight? in book)

Right idea wrong implementation:

Drafting Dan is Autocad
Nelson Cunnington
41. NelC
HelenS @37: And maybe he wouldn't have minded.
Bruce Cohen
42. SpeakerToManagers
Heinlein had some very advanced ideas for the period he grew up in, but like most of us, he absorbed a lot of old and (to us) squicky ideas from his time as well. He was strongly against racial discrimination if the victim was African-American, but not if the victim was Native American (I recall one diatribe in, IIRC, "A Tramp Royale" in which he argues that Indians were savages who needed the uplifting the Whites gave them). Similarly, he was infected by the "romance of the West", the hero-worship of the pioneers who colonized western North America.

I have a theory that he actually didn't feel strongly about political ideologies, though he has the reputation of being a rabid Objectivist. Early in his writing career (specifically before he met Virginia) he wrote a lot of things that make him sound like a Technocrat or a mild socialist. The suddenly he switched positions to being a libertarian, if not in fact a Libertarian, without any warning or explanation. I suspect that he simply went along with what other people were saying because the details didn't matter that much to him.
James Davis Nicoll
44. ann vanrosevelt
When I read this as a teen in the 1950s, the Ricki business barely registered: I was delighted that Dan went from a losing position to scooping the pool by using time travel to adjust the balance vis-a-vis friend and fiancee, and got Petey back safely as well. About sixty years later the thing that lingers most strongly is "the door into summer" concept, my cats over the past forty years won't let me forget that one.
James Davis Nicoll
45. Fred Reed
When will someone make a film of this story?
James Davis Nicoll
46. Hollis Ramsey
Fred, i've given up on the state of filmmaking today. they're into comics, anime, 3-D, and violence. no room for original ideas. same thing goes for Lest Darkness Falls (L. Sprague de Camp), The Space Merchants (Pohl & Kornbluth), Time and Again (Finney), and Greener Than You Think (W. Moore), to name but a few candidates. There could also be a really creepy remake of The Midwich Cuckoos (Wyndham), come to think of it.

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