“Acting per se, like all art, is a process of abstracting, of retaining only significant detail. But in impersonation any detail can be significant.” – The Great Lorenzo, Double Star by Robert Heinlein
In Robert Anson Heinlein’s Double Star (1956), the down-on-his-luck actor “The Great Lorenzo” (aka Lawrence Smythe) is recruited by the frantic political team of John Bonforte, a VIP in solar system politics who has been kidnapped to cause a diplomatic crisis. Hired to impersonate Bonforte, over the course of a series of escalating complications, Smythe not only becomes sympathetic to Bonforte’s politics, but inhabits his role so perfectly that when Bonforte drops dead on election night, Smythe permanently becomes Bonforte. It is a light-hearted comedy about topics near and dear to its author’s heart—politics, space travel, moralizing, and shaving the numbers off of old tropes (in this case the classic body double plot)—that won the third ever Hugo Award for Best Novel and is widely regarded to be Heinlein’s best novel.