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The Number of the Beast Hardcover – Mar 1 1980

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Hardcover, Mar 1 1980
CDN$ 999.11 CDN$ 98.84

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--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 555 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (March 1 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450047369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450047367
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,855,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Publisher

Like many people, I go way, way back with Heinlein. My very favorite book (and one that stands out in my mind--and with much affection--to this day) is Tunnel in the Sky. I really, really wanted to go off to explore new worlds with a covered wagon and horses, like the hero does at the very end of the book. But one of the nice things about Robert Heinlein is that he's got something for everyone. One of my best friends has a different favorite: Podkayne of Mars. Go figure.
                        --Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By Pol Sixe on Sept. 19 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is early 80s sci-fi and kind of a relic piece. A mcguffiin machine is invented by Dr.Jake Burrows and quickly leads to a universe-jumping adventure with Hilda, DT and Zeb in a flying car. There is lots of discussion among the characters on command of the group and the nature of leadership, this was a common Heinlein theme as in Starship Troopers. The four are all brainy PhD types who can quickly calculate orbital geometries. They bounce around in the car with wings and seemingly endless storage spaces and test various earth analogues. Heinlein is not too technical and never really explains how the tech works. A chuckle when they dismiss the Earth that had a President Carter and Heinlein tips his cap to his sci-fi peers. Also, Heinlein disses the Russians as usual but 35 years later with Putin's antics he may not have been far wrong. Settling down to safe boredom and what could be a end to the tale, they are off again and encounter Lazarus Long, another fictional Heinlein creation. Here the book veers off and seems to become a LL story, and the concept of make believe universes becoming real and interconnected is more defined. Part 4 even seems to be a completely different story and I tuned out.

I listened to an audio version that used five or six narrators, not the greatest format but the story is written with the different POV.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Do not, under any circumstances, make this your first Robert Heinlein book. Don't make it your second or third, either. (And don't make it your _last_.)
Heinlein wrote this book right after recovering from a carotid bypass. Those of us who had been reading his stuff for a while were thrilled to see it (I remember lapping it up when it was serialized in _Omni_ magazine), largely because it meant he hadn't been permanently rendered unable to write.
And there's certainly stuff here for Heinlein readers to appreciate. Some readers don't like Heinlein's dialogue, but I like it just fine and I enjoy the interplay among the four main characters in this one. (Nor do I have any trouble telling which of the characters is narrating at which point.)
This is also the novel in which Heinlein sets up the concept of the World-As-Myth. Apparently tired of listening to his characters invite one another to 'have a go at solipsism', he finally has a go at it himself -- and comes up with a 'multiperson' version of it, in which various 'real' universes are 'fictional' relative to one another, yet accessible via six-dimensional rotation using a nifty device invented by protagonist Jake Burroughs. (At the very least, this clever trick allows Heinlein to bring together lots of his characters from his various fictional worlds and let them all have free-love open relationships with each other.)
The downside is that it's somewhat self-indulgent. First we visit some of the fictional worlds created by several of Heinlein's own favorite writers. On top of that, the name of every one of the 'bad guys' is an anagram of some variant of Heinlein's own name, or Virginia's, or one of his several early noms de plume.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a very enjoyable book and one which should be read by any Heinlein Fan. However, there are a few books you should read first. Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Love, Methusla's Children, and The Wizzard of Oz.
The four protaganists of this book undertake to explore the many universes after they are nearly killed because of an invention of one of the protaganists who is a scientist. The first part of the book consists of the four members of the team meeting, almost being killed, getting married, building a time ship and undertaking to find out the various universes out there.
The second part gets a bit tedious as these four adventurers argue and bicker and take turns voting each other Captain. Heinlein decided, for some reason, to make these four charachters variations on the witty, sarcastic, opinionated, genious sort which tend to be annoying in his stories, but can add a lot to the stories in moderation. Four charachters bantering about and arguing just got old, fourtunatly this section of the book isn't too long.
The third part is in which they discover Lazurus Long, who to them is a fictional charachter and they undertake to form the beginings of an orgainisation which will be more fully explored in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls"(you should read this book before reading that one).
All in all a good story which enriches the fullenss of the Heinlein universe.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am an admirer of Heinlein's work, but that didn't stop me from grinding my teeth throughout this nearly unbearable self-indulgent work. Perhaps the publishers counted themselves lucky to get anything from the then 73 year old legend. Whatever the reason,it seems this book was written without the benefit of outside moderating influences such as editors.
The worst thing about the novel is the dialog. The second worst thing is the characters. Here is a little taste from the second page:
"'WHAT subject? I made a polite inquiry; you parried it with amphigory.' ''Amphigory' my tired feet! I answered precisely.' ''Amphigory,''I repeated. 'The operative symbols were 'mad,''scientist,''beautiful,'and 'daughter.' The first has several meetings--the others denote opinions. Sematinc content:zero.'"
It goes on like that for the rest of the novel. The characters spend most of their time talking: talking a lot. The talk revolves mostly around congratulating each other for how ingenious they are, or how sensibly open-minded, or how gifted with surprising talents. There is also much talk about the talking, and introspection as to whether they are doing too much of it, or if each is adequately appreciating the other, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
There is a plot line, and it actually gets interesting half way through. Near the end though, the story is merged with previous Heinlein works, notably the Lazarus Long stories. This is when the novel sinks into incomprehensibility, primarily through the sudden introduction of inummerable characters, leaving the reader the vague impression that he should remember them from previous novels, only he can't because he read them twenty years ago. The final chapter is just plain bewildering, and one suspects the entire endeavor is an inside joke completely for the benefit of the author.
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