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Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
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Double Star (edition 1986)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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2,053433,243 (3.74)94
Member:batou
Title:Double Star
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Del Rey (1986), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

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    Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (SylviaC)
    SylviaC: Both books play with identity.
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English (41)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
What would you do if a politician's staff came to you and asked you to be the man's double for a few days because he had been kidnapped? Especially if you were an actor with an enormous ego? Would you turn them down or would you think that this would be an incredible opportunity to show just how good an actor you were?

This is the premise of Double Star. It's not a long book, in fact, it's a pretty quick read. However, the situation that the protagonist finds himself in doesn't need very much room to be told. It's a who-dun-it but also an excellent look at the politics of the 1950s on Earth as well as at the author's future history.

The 1950s were far from boring, even if President Eisenhower was not the most charismatic man eve to sit in the Oval Office. Between the Cold War, bush wars popping out all over the world (the Vietnam War actually started in 1948 -- we were simply late-comers to it), and angry words were exchanged between even the best of political friends. It was the time of the Communist Conspiracy (which never really existed), Wisconsin's own Joe MacCarthy, and nightmares for every child on earth. Somehow, Heinlein manages to weave all this into his tale of intrigue and ego, and come up with a story about a not so likable man who, because he has to "become" a great leader, actually learns how to lead.

This is not a great, earth-changing story. It is, however, one that I come back to every once in a while because it shares that one thing all the Master's books possess -- good writing. ( )
  bfgar | Aug 2, 2014 |
Sure, there are Martians and Venerians and Outer Jovians, but the last two are never on stage and the first isn’t very alien.

Sure, the story starts in Missouri (maybe) and goes to Mars and the Moon, but the settings usually have the exoticness of a beige office cube or, to be exact, of the many rocket ship staterooms where most of the action is set.

Sure, it all seems vaguely 19th century with an Empire ruled by a constitutional monarch, King Willem of the Habsburg lips and Windsor nose. That’s because it’s yet another version of Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda.

Our hero and narrator, Lorenzo Smythe, unemployed “Pantomimist and Mimicry Artist Extraordinary”, turns down a pitch to impersonate leader of the Expansionist Party. They want the Empire to include aliens, to not repeat “the mistakes the white subrace had made in Africa and Asia”. But his refusal is interrupted by an armed man and Martian. Soon, bodies are being cut up and being fed into the hotel oubliette, and Smythe is on his way to Mars.

It’s the voice of the conceited Smythe that saves this story and makes it quick and quite enjoyable. He’s one of Heinlein’s Competent Men except his area of competency happens to be acting, and he’s quite devoted to the art and ethics of his profession. He’s not young, but like the hero and heroines of many a Heinlein juvenile, he learns a lesson. Here’s it that the game of politics is “the only sport for grownups.”

The ending is predictable. It’s also poignant and plausible. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Jun 29, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit:

Most of Robert A. Heinlein??s adult novels have interesting ideas or premises but many lack likeable characters and/or fun quickly-moving plots. Fortunately Double Star has all the right elements and is entertaining from start to finish. Itƒ??s one of Heinleinƒ??s best novels, I think, and I must not be alone in that opinion since it won the Hugo Award in 1956 and was nominated for Locusƒ?? All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels. Double Star is a character-based novel that explores some important political issues without getting preachy.

Lorenzo Smythe, who styles himself ƒ??The Great Lorenzo,ƒ? is a down-and-out actor who has a lot more self-esteem than he has job offers. In fact, heƒ??s a pompous ass and nobody wants to hire him. Just after heƒ??s spent his last penny, heƒ??s offered an acting job that pays a lot more money than heƒ??s ever been offered before. He will be playing... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/double-star/ ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This was delightful. I just finished Starship Troopers and hated the lectures, characters and the plot. In this the main character is fantastic, the author's own opinions more muted and the plot, although not original, is engaging. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
This was just fun to read. The narrator made me laugh with his observations & sky high opinion of himself.The political intrigue was paced well & I thoroughly enjoyed it. A quick & easy read. ( )
  anissaannalise | Jan 1, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AnthonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szafran, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he owned the place, he's a spaceman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345330137, Mass Market Paperback)

One minute, down and out actor Lorenzo Smythe was -- as usual -- in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars.

Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians was at stake -- failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war. And Smythe's own life was on the line -- for if he wasn't assassinated, there was always the possibility that he might be trapped in his new role forever!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An actor is coerced into impersonating a kidnapped politician. When the politician dies, his staff persuades the actor to continue and to carry out the politician's ambitions.

(summary from another edition)

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