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on June 15, 2014
Easy to follow book, your are kept
into the story at every pages. Lot's of
happenings. This is a highly recommended
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on October 22, 2016
Great book for the time it was written. It was a wonderful story.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 24, 2013
Dan invents some very clever and marketable mechanical devices that ease the burden of housework. A stereotypical engineer, he has no business sense and leaves all of the financial arranging to his partner. Who, of course, betrays him. Depressed and destitute, Dan decides to delay decisions and drop out.* He goes into suspended animation for thirty years and emerges to face a changed world. Changed in some ways he had not anticipated. Dan learns that time travel is now possible and vows to return to the past and make things right. We wonder how he can succeed and whether he will finally get the girl.

It’s a good Robert Heinlein story with interesting characters and a signature reverence for science and technical details. The characters are uncomplicated—you can always tell the good guys from the bad guys even when poor Dan cannot. Heinlein introduces the vocabulary and paradoxes of time travel with minimal pain. This may not be the very best first experience with Heinlein or time travel, but it will do.

The book is recommended to anyone who enjoys a good story and doesn’t mind invented technology that now seems dated. Readers hungry for more of Heinlein’s views on time travel should pick up a copy of his "All You Zombies-". It will make your head spin. Those preferring a more comprehensive exposure will enjoy Harry Turtledove's The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century.
*Sorry about the alliterative excess. Just couldn’t help myself.
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on January 21, 2003
Dan the engineer does some inventing that would take a team of researchers years. He invents a household maid robot from commonly available parts. Here we are fifty years later and engineers still haven't figured that one out. Seriously underestimated are the computer sensors, controls and programs that are required for such a machine. I suppose he ought to be given credit for being aware of the possibilities of computer controls in the 1950s when computers were huge vacuum tube devices. Transistors hadn't yet been invented, or at least not well known. He didn't foresee the end of tubes. His computer memory was built of hypothesized on memory tubes. Oh well. Despite his depiction of electronically controlled robots, his far future engineers still used slide rules, forgetting that calculation is one of the easiest things for a computer to do, far easier than controlling a robot or drawing a plan.
His characters were pretty much one dimension. Heinlein never did learn to be very good at characters even years later. The plot is interesting for all the techo geeks. He gets swindled out of his company by an evil woman and deposited in 30-year time suspension "long sleep." She looks him up later though she's now old and he's still young. I got a laugh at the vision of 2001, the year he returns to life. Many things have changed but in ways he didn't imagine. We do have lots of computers, but no robot maids, nor FTL space travel, nor time travel. There never was W.W. III, for example. The business swindles are hard to follow. There is a humorous moment when Dan "drops from the sky" into a nudist resort near Denver.
It's a fun read on an afternoon.
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on November 17, 2002
There have been many science fiction novels written about time travel, but The Door Into Summer is my pick for the greatest among them. It comes remarkably close to conveying the very theory of the subject in layman's terms. I'm not saying Heinlein's arguments are correct, but they darn near make sense. The experiment with the two coins and with the two guinea pigs (just one, actually) is fascinating, and Heinlein's introduction of several paradoxes in the protagonist's actual temporal dislocation lends his science even more believability. Time travel doesn't even enter into the pages of the first half of the novel (not directly, at least), but the whole story is totally engrossing from the very start. Dan is an engineer and a darn good one. His inventions have been designed with the view of easing the housework of women everywhere: Hired Girl cleans floor; Window Willie washes windows, and Flexible Frank, his newest creation, will be able to do just about anything around the house, from changing a diaper to washing dishes. Life seemed to be treating Dan pretty well. Then his fiancé and business partner swindle him out of their business, and he decides to take the Long Sleep (cryogenic suspended animation) for thirty years so that he can come back to chastise an ex-fiancé who will be thirty years older than he will be. Of course, he won't do it without his best friend Pete, his feisty, ginger ale-loving tomcat and true friend. He sends his remaining shares in the company he created to his partner's young daughter Ricky, his only other friend in the world, trying to make sure that those don't fall into the wrong hands as well. His only mistake is in confronting his traitorous friends one last time. He gets the Long Sleep all right, but he wakes up in 2000 without any money and without Pete. He starts trying to find Ricky and start a new life, but he eventually, prompted by subtle clues to things that will have taken place, works up a plan to journey back in time and change things-of course, he won't really be changing things because they have actually already happened. It's so much easier to time travel when you know everything you will have done before doing it.
I love this novel. It's brilliant the way he works in clues to Dan's future past, and Heinlein's discussion of time travel is enough to make anyone a fanatic about the subject. When I think about time travel, I continue to think of this novel and its simple experimental analogies of coins and guinea pigs. It's mind-boggling yet completely comprehensible. I also love animals, and good old Pete is one of the most memorable feline characters in the universe of fiction. Finally, the concept of the title is well-nigh epiphanous (if I may coin a word). Dan explains how Pete would make him open every door in his house whenever it snowed, convinced that behind one of those doors it will be summer time. Dan describes all of his adventures as his own search for the Door Into Summer. The only possible explanation I can formulate as to why this novel did not win the Hugo for best science fiction novel of 1957 is the fact that Heinlein won the award the previous year for Double Star and could not comfortably be given the award two years in a row. The Door Into Summer is much better than Double Star; in fact, it is much better than all but a handful of science fiction novels ever published.
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on September 22, 2003
At the time he was writing, Heinlein's books were so much better than all the others because he was so much smarter than most other writers. He thought things through first (which many others did too), but then he added an element that many other sf writers didn't (and some STILL don't): humanity.
Dan Davis, an inventor, narrates the story. He's a brilliant inventor and has come up with some pretty amazing gadgets, including Hired Girl, a robot who cleans, sweeps, vacuums, mops, and generally works all day long without supervision. Dan's problems begin mounting when he learns he's been betrayed by his partner. And to add insult to injury, Dan's fiancée is in on the betrayal as well. As if betrayal alone isn't enough, the two conspirators have Dan placed into a 30-year suspended animation. Dan wakes up 30 years later and is focused on one thing: revenge.
Now lots of authors could have taken the above premise and come up with an entertaining story. Heinlein did this and much more. He shows us that change (for individuals and for all humanity) is difficult, but not impossible. The future is full of challenges, but no matter how much technology changes, no matter how much language, currency, and trends change, man's basic instincts and attitudes remain constant.
Heinlein also tackles the implications of time travel better than anyone else from this period. (The book first appeared in 1957.) The problem of time travel is well thought out and logical. (Wish you could say that about every time travel story.) If you haven't read Heinlein, or if all you've read is 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' 'Starship Troopers,' or 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' (all great books), treat yourself to a fun, intelligent read from one of the true masters.
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on February 18, 2002
At least until the group of books he wrote very late in his career, Heinlein tackled the theme of time travel very rarely, but when he did, most notably in "By His Bootstraps" and "...All You Zombies", the results were exemplary. With this book, Heinlein not only deals with time travel in a logically consistent manner, he manages to foresee CAD (computer aided drafting), the equivalent of Velcro for clothing, cryogenics applied as a method people might use to freeze themselves hoping for later medical advances to cure their ills, and the proliferation of robotics down to the household level. This last prediction hasn't come true yet, but it's at least on the horizon. In all, a remarkable set of technological predictions. But these are just side points to an excellent story of love and betrayal, told in first person from the viewpoint of one Daniel Boone Davis, inventor, engineer, and totally naive in the ways of women.
It's this last trait that leads to all the troubles Davis faces, as he falls head-over-heels for the secretary he and his partner hire to help run their new business of making and marketing his Hired Girl robot. Naturally, the 'secretary' is a sharpie out to take the company for all she can get, and she and Davis' partner eventually manage to screw Davis royally, leaving him bitter and willing to take the 'Cold Sleep' treatment for 30 years to get away from the mess. Before going to sleep, however, he decides to talk to his partner one last time. The ensuing scene, with his partner and secretary being attacked by his cat Pete while he is drugged into immobility, is one of the most amusing and endearing 'fights' in all of SF. The 'fight', however valiant, is lost, and Davis ends up taking the cold sleep, to awake in the year 2000.
His impressions and problems for the that year, and how he eventually finds a way to travel back to the year 1970 in order to straighten out the problems with his former partner and secretary, form the balance of this fine adventure. Through all of this, Heinlein, most unusually for him, paints an extremely optimistic viewpoint, both for scientific advances and for human nature. Lacking in the heavy philosophy that so often characterizes his later works, it never the less has something important to say about the human condition, best exemplified by this quote: "I had taken a partner once before -- but, damnation, no matter how many times you get your fingers burned, you have to trust people. Otherwise you are a hermit in a cave, sleeping with one eye open. There wasn't any way to be safe; just being alive was deadly dangerous...fatal. In the end."
A fun, fast read, and the characterization of Davis is excellent, a person you get to know and admire for all his block-headed stubbornness. The ending will probably bring tears to your eyes -- hopefully, yes, one of the doors of your house will be a Door into Summer, if you just keep trying doors.
This book probably missed out on a Hugo due to an accident of timing, as the 1957 World Science Fiction Convention was held in London and decided not to give out any Hugos for fiction. Perhaps it will be awarded a 'Retro' Hugo in 2007 - it deserves it.
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on January 6, 2001
The Door Into Summer is a Robert A. Heinlein novel from 1957 (serialized in 1956), the very height of his glorious "middle period", when he was still writing compact novels, and when he was also writing his juveniles: in my opinion, his most productive period. The novel was published almost in parallel with his first Hugo Winner, Double Star, and those two novels surely rank among his best.
The Door Into Summer is one of Heinlein's sunniest novels, and one of his most straightforwardly enjoyable. At the same time, it's a little slight next to Double Star, or indeed next to some of his novels I which I don't think are as successful, but which are certainly more ambitious: Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and one of my other favorite Heinlein novels, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And by slight I don't mean just length (it's much of a length with Double Star, though much shorter than any of the later adult novels): thematically it's just not terribly challenging. But to say that is to risk denigrating the book unfairly: what it does, it does almost perfectly, and it ends up being quite moving as well. It's like a low-degree of difficulty dive executed with perfection: and such a thing is better than a high degree of difficulty dive ending in a bellyflop (which, sad to say, might describe some of Heinlein's late work).
The book opens in 1970, a few years after the Six Weeks War (a nuclear war: yes, this book was written in the 1950s). Dan Davis is a successful inventor. His main product is an automated "cleaning lady" called Hired Girl. He's got a booming new company, run from a business standpoint by his good friend Miles Gentry, and the company secretary, the beautiful Belle Darkin, is engaged to marry him. He is owned by a nice cat called Petronius Arbiter, and he has another great friend in Miles' 11 year old stepdaughter Frederica (Ricky). He has just finished designing an even better machine: an all-purpose automaton called Flexible Frank. Could life be any better?
Naturally, it all crashes on him. Miles and Belle betray him, marrying each other, forcing him out of the company, stealing his patents, even chasing away his cat. Then they stuff him into a cold sleep establishment, arranging for him to wake up in the year 2000, too late to take any action. Dan wakes in the year 2000, and several chapters are taken in giving us a view of the year 2000, while Dan relearns engineering, and tracks down the traces of Miles and Belle, and then looks for Ricky. What he finds is very surprising indeed, and he is driven to a desperate attempt to set his future right.
This book is set mostly in 2000, so one might be tempted to check Heinlein's predictions. Naturally, they are mostly misses (though he does mention something a lot like ATM machines, and something a lot like computer aided drafting). But that's unimportant: the light the predictions throw on the way people thought about the future in the 1950s is interesting. And the sum total of the changes Heinlein shows is a better world, which is Heinlein's real theme. To quote: "the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. ... Most of these long-haired belittlers can't drive a nail or use a slide rule, I'd like to ... ship them back to the twelfth century -- then let them enjoy it." For Dan Davis, the Door into Summer is the door to the future. (And that title image, "the Door into Summer", is one of Heinlein's happier literary creations.) This bright, sweet, optimistic novel is pure fun to read.
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on February 21, 2001
I think this is probably one of Heinlein's most optimistic novels, for once the protagonist isn't wrestling with some great social injustice or attempting to navigate his way through the social complexities of either the present day or some vaguely defined future . . . simply put, it's a book that's fun and one that makes you cheer the good guy for being himself and in the sheer pleasure of watching him come back from left field to pull out a victory using only his wits and ingenuity. Here that man is Dan Davis, a man who loves his cat and loves inventing. He's not too good at business so he has a good friend help him and eventually they hire a beautiful secretary . . . eventually both screw him over royally and get him thrown into "Cold Sleep", where he sleeps for thirty years until the year 2000. The middle section of the book is mostly devoted to showing how different and similar the future world might be, I don't think Heinlein seriously thought he could predict the future (to this date, no SF author has, they're not futurologists) because it's nothing like our world, however it's darn refreshing to see a world where the future is actually better than the present in just about every way . . . too many SF novels have dark depressing futures that their characters just want to escape from. The plotting here is swift, the twists, while you can probably see most of them coming it's fun to see how they're executed (that's ninety percent of the trick sometimes) and the main characters that you're supposed to like are fun, while you can't help but boo the characters you're not supposed to like. Even the cat is fun. Though, am I the only one who finds the relationship between Dan and his friend's stepdaughter Ricky to be just a little bit . . . disturbing? Maybe I'm reading too much into it. All in all not a deeply complex book and not one that will take up most of your time, but it's probably one of everyone's favorite Heinlein's books (if only for the supurbly evocative title) and ranks as one of his most memorable.
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on September 8, 2003
I rank this among Heinlein's three absolutely magisterial novels (the other two being _Double Star_ and _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_). Such judgments are notoriously subjective and controversial. But I feel safe in saying that any SF reader will find something to enjoy in this marvelous story.
It's part SF, part fairy tale, and part just plain good storytelling. Engineer/inventor Daniel Boone Davis and his feline companion Petronius the Arbiter are two of Heinlein's best-realized characters; the plot here is well-conceived and evenly, swiftly paced.
In case you haven't read it, I won't spoil it for you. The setup is that Davis has just been rooked by his best friend and his fiancee, and he's out to do something about it. What happens then is the story itself, so I won't tell you; I'll just say that the time-travel aspect is worked out every bit as neatly as in "By His Bootstraps", and the tale is one of Heinlein's most humane ever. I've read it more times than I can count, and there's a bit near the end that _always_ gets me. (You'll know what I mean when you get there.)
Heinlein wrote this at the peak of his talent. If you haven't read it yet, don't miss it.
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