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The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein

The Door into Summer (1957)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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In 1970 engineer/inventor Dan Davis is swindled out of his inventions and his company by his fiancee Belle and his long-time buddy and business partner Miles, and determines that he and his loyal cat Pete will take the Long Sleep -- will go into cryogenic storage for thirty years, until the year 2000, so that he can have the satisfaction of showing a wrinkly old Belle the youthful virile hunk of man she could have had. Or something. First, though, he takes steps to invest the cash and options he's managed to keep back from the conniving pair; and then he thinks that, the night before departure for the future, he might as well go round and confront the two. The encounter goes badly; they drug him and pack him off on the Long Sleep sans Pete and swindled even further.
In the year 2000 he adapts swiftly and gets himself back onto a reasonable financial footing, but is startled out of any complacency when learning, first, that back in 1970 he invented various devices he knows for sure hadn't yet existed outside his head, and, second, that l'il Ricky, the adopted kid daughter of Miles, seems, on reaching adulthood, to have followed him into the future and been met and married by . . . himself. There can be just one possible explanation! He must have located a cranky old booze-reeking physicist whose prototype time machine was years earlier instantly classified by the military, and must have persuaded said cranky old booze-reeking physicist to send him back to 1970; there he must have swiftly invented the gadgets the Patent Office says he invented, while making plans with still-prepubescent Ricky to coordinate their travels in the Long Sleep and sorting out his investments a bit more securely.
And so, as if by magic . . . oops, no, for this is hard sf, not mere fantasy. And so, as if by cutting-edge technology, it comes to pass.
It's a bit worrying that the most fully rounded and appealing character in all this is the cat. Indeed, all the others are really just names and collections of cliched attributes, with the arguable exception of our narrator, Dan himself. He's the standard Heinlein libertarian hero, full of himself, a straight arrow whose view of the opposite sex consists for the most part in checking for bits that go spung!, yet who's capable, if given a few vacuum tubes and a screwdriver, of knocking together a functional robot in no time flat. As I said, the exception's arguable.
One bit of the book did, I confess, give me the creeps a bit. (I don't remembver it doing so last time I read this, which was likely when I was in my teens. Either my sensibilities have changed or I'd simply forgotten.) On Dan's return to 1970 he has to discuss with the child Ricky how he and she will coordinate their Long Sleeps such that she'll be 21, and thus marriagable, by the time they reunite in 2000. There seemed something oddly pedophile in Dan's motivations here: he's negotiating with a child so that, in a matter of days or weeks by his subjective time, he'll be able to bed her. I'm sure there are other ways of looking at this bit of the plotwork, but to me it read as if he was thrilled to bits at the prospect of it Real Soon Now being all legal and aboveboard. As I say, I found it unsettling.
Overall, though, this was the kind of amiable fast read that these days reminds me why I for the most part gave up reading "Golden Age" sf after my mid-twenties or so. Reading this made an interesting contrast with reading Asimov's roughly contemporaneous The End of Eternity just a couple of weeks ago: the Asimov, for all its typically Asimovian flaws, was a clever, ambitious piece of storytelling that manipulated the reader, and had borne up surprisingly well; the Heinlein, though far more smoothly told, was at the end of the day really rather empty -- merely a very mildly involving adventure with nothing much to say. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
This was a re read, I've read this one numerous times. I like early Heinlein. I enjoy his prose a lot, its flexible and colloquial and funny. I think he's a master of seamless exposition, giving you just what you need to know in order to follow the story while still moving the plot along briskly. I have a sort of nostalgic fondness for the mid 20th optimism about technology too.
( )
  bunwat | Mar 30, 2013 |
An oldie but goldie. An young inventer with an demanding cat is robbed of his priceless invetion and forced into hypersleep. He wakes in a world that is new and he feels like the stranger he is. In an artikel he reads about a man that is trying to make timetravel reel,,,,, ( )
  antslayer | Sep 6, 2012 |
Light entertainment typical of Heinlein: readable, fun, not terribly impactful. I wish the character had spent more time in the future, which was the most interesting part for me. I thought the end was seriously creepy, though.

Read due to my interest in time travel; a bargain book for the kindle (2012) ( )
  sturlington | Jun 27, 2012 |
I had forgotten just how good Heinlein really was. While there's no Lazarus Long here, it's still something of a "time travel" yarn and almost believable. A really good read! ( )
  GTTexas | Mar 17, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Della Frattina, BeataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmes, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunter, MelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, BarclayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szafran, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, KarelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One winter shortly before the Six Weeks War my, tomcat, Petronius the Arbiter, and I lived in an old farmhouse in Connecticut.
Le suicide est une expérience trop définitive, même en des circonstances mathématiquement intrigantes.
Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345330129, Mass Market Paperback)

Dan Davis was tricked by an unscrupulous business partner and a greedy fiancee into spending thirty years in suspended animation just when he was on the verge of a success beyond his wildest dreams. But when he awoke in the future, he discovered he had the means to travel back in time -- and get his revenge!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Success is in reach when electronics engineer Dan Davis invents a household robot that could do almost anything. His greedy partner and fiance trick him into a long sleep--suspended animation for thirty years. But he discovers he has the ability to travel back in time and seek revenge after the is awoken in a different world in A.D. 2000.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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