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3.9 out of 5 stars
To Sail beyond the Sunset
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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(2 star)show all reviews
on July 11, 2002
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. So, "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" will pay the price.
First, though, let me swerve my readers and say a few positive things.
1) You can't not like the spunk and spirit and strength of Maureen Johnson Smith. Heinlein makes it very clear where Lazarus Long inherited his positive character traits.
2) Instead of purporting to biographize a life 24 centuries long and then cynically and blatantly cheating the reader out of all but a handful of reminiscences covering a couple of centuries at most, MJS's life, being "only" about a century in length, is more manageable and thus is successfully and comprehensively sketched to the reader's satisfaction.
3) I was pleasantly surprised that MJS didn't react glibly to the end of her first marriage. Given the skewed values of the Howard Families, even at that early stage of their history, I was expecting Maureen to treat her "Briney" like a returned item at a department store.
Now, the peroration.
In "Time Enough for Love," Lazarus travels back in time and does the nasty with his own mother, though she, of course, isn't made aware of the incest factor beyond "Ted Bronson" being her "remote descendent." But to the degree that you can set aside that taboo, it wasn't distastefully depicted.
But here we get the rest of the story, which is that the love affair was actually a full-blown incestuous orgy that would have made Larry Flynt cringe. And it's clear that this is not an isolated insanity, either. Thank goodness Heinlein wasn't pedofile.
That carnal imagery cuts a broad swath back to "Time Enough" and throughout the rest of "Sunset," whose "climax" not only closes the loop with Maureen confessing her lust for her own father, Ira Johnson, but offers up a coda to the entire Future History saga - "The world as myth" - that is the most self-indulgent plot contrivance I've ever seen in science fiction.
After that finish, I don't know that I could recommend any installment of Heinlein's "Future History" - but I unquestionably urge unsuspecting Heinlein fans to spare their money and the insult to their intelligence that "Sunset" has in store for them.
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on February 13, 2000
I gave up. It took 198 pages before anything substantial of a science fiction nature occurred. Till then it's almost all the biography of one woman's sex life. Which would normally excite me, but enough is enough.
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