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To Sail beyond the Sunset [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert A. Heinlein
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 29 2002
The millions of fans of Lazarus Long--probably Heinlein's most beloved character--will flock to this new tale, which continues adventures of the characters of The Cat Who Walked Through Walls. From the author of Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love.

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To Sail beyond the Sunset + Number of the Beast + I Will Fear No Evil
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About the Author

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.

He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.

Robert A. Heinlein's books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. he continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time hed died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.

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I woke up in bed with a man and a cat. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein sails beyond the sunset March 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Robert Heinlein spiked this one into the end zone as he dropped. What an ending to his career.
(The title is a reference to a line in Tennyson's 'Ulysses', having to do with accomplishments in old age, and it's undoubtedly intended to describe what Heinlein himself was up to here. He succeeded.)
A word of warning, though -- if you didn't like _Time Enough for Love_, stay away from this one. Even (if possible) more than its predecessor, this one just oozes s-e-x, including wife-swapping, incest, and other stuff probably not in conformity to the mores of your tribe. In my view, it's all very tastefully and responsibly handled, but then my own opinions on such matters (including my devout antigrundyism) were in large measure informed by massive reading of RAH during my formative years. Just be aware that the usual suspects have dismissed this novel as pornographic trash.
At any rate, this novel was clearly a labor of love for Heinlein. In it, he gets to revisit the world of his childhood (or close to it; he actually has to start a bit earlier than his own birth).
You see, it's the story of one of Heinlein's most compelling heroines: Maureen Johnson Long, of the Howard Families, mother (and co-wife) of Woodrow Wilson Smith (a.k.a. Bill Smith a.k.a. Ernest Gibbons a.k.a. Lafe Hubert a.k.a. Aaron Sheffield a.k.a. Lazarus Long). And she lived just down the road a piece from Heinlein (and Sam Clemens, who makes a nice cameo appearance in her memoirs).
There's a thin shell of story around it, but most of the novel consists of Maureen narrating her life to herself (and us). We learn a lot about her unconventional childhood and her interesting relationship with her father (Lazarus's Gramp, Ira Johnson).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truely magnificint wrap up Jan. 14 2004
In R.A.Heinlein's final book, he magages to tell the story of the mother of his most famous charachter with style. Maureen Johnson Smith, who raised children, kept house, lived through some tumultous times both political and personal.
As a homemaker myself, I found her story of her early life rasing children and keeping house to be inspiring, how she could find satisfaction and keep her head up while she, at times, had to serve "fried mush" for supper for her husband and many children when finances were tight. Maureen is the image of the perfect housewife and mother in her early childbearing years according to the standards of that puritanical era, while still able to have her freedom in areas she needs.
Of course, as all later Heinlein books, there is a more than average ammount of copulation going on, and in this work espically, incest takes front seat. While personally the idea of incest is not one I find appealing in the least, I feel that it didn't detract too much from this incredible story.
And of course, as in all Heinlein books, both early and late you'll find political and social commentary in plenty, in this more than many of his works I belive. I'm sure conservatives would find a strange dichotomy between the seemingly endless orgies, incest, and sex of other varieties, and at the same time the stress on family values, sticking around for the kids, and what the horrible consequences can be of broken families for the children. The faults of Democracy are expounded upon, and I have to agree that much of what he wrote is becoming nowadays. The citizens are voting themselves "bread and circuses" and bleeding the nation to death in endless social programs.
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3.0 out of 5 stars First love, last love, forbidden love Jan. 18 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My first love in Science Fiction was, and still is Robert Heinlein. He created memorable characters, intriguing future societies and usually stunning plotlines.
I like nearly all his books enough to give each 5 stars. But a few leave me unsatisfied, and "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" is one of them. Not that I didn't buy it, devour it, and re-read it about twenty times. (It IS written by the Master, after all.) But this is, forgive me O Great One, not his best work.
It's been said Heinlein was maundering in his dodder years. Well, he was seriously ill for two or so years before he wrote this novel. But I think RAH on a bad day was sharper than most of us on a good one. No, I think this novel suffers from "wrap-up complex." This is my term for a thing authors do when they want closure on a character or subject, but have EITHER written themselves out or have NOT yet finished. Hence, the "closure" doesn't work. If you want other examples of failed closure, Arthur Conan Doyle comes to mind, trying to kill off Sherlock at the Reichenbach Falls, and I bet you can think of lots of these yourself.
Maureen Johnson, the mother of Woodrow Wilson Johnson a.k.a. Lazarus Long, is the center of this novel that harks back to Maureen's first marriage to Brian ("Time Enough for Love") through the Future History novels ("The Past Through Tomorrow", "Methuselah's Children") up and past the end of "Time Enough." That's great--we want Maureen's story after the shocking yet seductive story of Ted "Bronson" aka Lazarus and his affair with Maureen when he travels back in time in "Time Enough for Love." Maureen is HOT, and I am not just referring to her flame-red hair.
But Heinlein goes way out, with Maureen more than hinting that she had the hots for her own father Ira.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Only for Heinlein fans. Even then, a bad book
I'm a huge Heinlein fan. Read 'em all. Many times.
This book sucks. Badly. Cringeworthy.
You'll be embarrassed to be reading it. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars SEX
I think I made the mistake of reading this book as my first Heinlein ever. I noticed early on that he referenced many of his other novels, and sure enough, at the end of the book... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2002 by owookiee
2.0 out of 5 stars To Bugger Beyond Absurdity
I just took another look at the review of "Time Enough for Love" that I wrote three years ago, and I've got to say that I was too kind. Read more
Published on July 11 2002 by J. Sondergeld
4.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein at his best and worst.
This book embraces all of the best aspects of Heinlein's writing: plausible science fiction, an epic narrative, keen insights on modern society, and interesting (albeit two... Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2002 by Cervus Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein is the epitome of great writing..
Like most Heinlein books I found this one fantastic.. This is the last Novel that Heinlein wrote before he passed away in 1988.. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2002 by Michael Rosenfeld
4.0 out of 5 stars There is no point on commenting on this book other than
to say, if you're not a Heinlein fan already, don't read this book yet. If you become a fan, you won't bother reading reviews, you'll just read it. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2001 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The captstone of Heinlein's career
To Sail Beyond The Sunset was the last book Robert Heinlein wrote during his life, and it is a fitting capstone to his career. Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2001 by Bill R. Moore
1.0 out of 5 stars Incestuous
Look, I used to love Heinlein. I have read much of his work and found it to be interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Read more
Published on March 7 2001 by "mrogerc"
4.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful
Maureen Long is a wonderful character, and this a wonderful story. The outrageous notion of incest, eugenics, the strange topic of spouse swapping, the clash of conforming to... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2001 by LilyLOL
4.0 out of 5 stars The last book. . .
. . .written by the master of 20th century Science Fiction. "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" tells the story of the mother of one of the most popular of Heinlein's... Read more
Published on Dec 19 2000 by David Zampino
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