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Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein
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Time Enough for Love (original 1973; edition 1987)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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4,777591,518 (3.92)94
Time Enough for Love is the capstone and crowning achievement of Heinleins famous Future History series.
Member:muralijayapala
Title:Time Enough for Love
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Ace (1987), Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, pb

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Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein (1973)

  1. 70
    To Sail Beyond the Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein (sfcat)
    sfcat: These two books are my all time favorites. Both are fictional biographies from Heinlein's Lazarus Long series and will make readers laugh gasp and cry. Fascinating stories of a slightly alternate universe. No question, if a nuclear attack was imminent, I'd sit down and re-read the chapter of Dora's Story.… (more)
  2. 10
    Dancing with Eternity by John Patrick Lowrie (viking2917)
    viking2917: One of the earliest and best explorations of immortality and it's impact on humans
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» See also 94 mentions

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

In “Time Enough for Love” by Robert A. Heinlein

This my favourite Heinlein quote.

I really am the competent man; the only thing from Heinlein's Dictum that I cannot and have not done, is conn a spaceship, and butcher a hog (but I have seen it being done); I don’t know about the part of dying gallantly. I’ll tell you afterwards…I wasn't brought up on a farm or in the middle of nowhere. I'm from a large town, Lisbon. It's about learning and honing skills, and treating every opportunity as a chance to try them out. For example, I learned the praxis of trigonometry (not just the theoretical part) before I learned it in high-school. It's all very well just knowing it but to be a capable man you need to go further. This allowed me design a trebuchet in my 12th year in physics and make predictions on its performance, then build it and test it. Thus causing me to learn many different subjects and skills (up to and including gaining permission from the school) just to test my math. It's not location, it's the outlook that counts.

I think to view Heinlein’s list above as literal is a bit of a mistake anyway. The point is, I think, that a person should be able to assimilate and adapt to new tasks. You may not be able to build a wall right now but you should have a broad idea of what things are about and be able to acquire or intuit a lot of the details. Everyone who has ever worked in IT knows what I’m talking about.

Now I wonder if the Asimov’s character Golan Trevize, the arrogant and intuitive man whose actions shaped the future of Foundation isn’t a riff on that Competent Man. He fits all these criteria but he is arrogant and self-centered to the point where everyone kind of hates him. Still, in the end, his character arc ends up with him changing and realizing some pretty important stuff about the place of Man in the galaxy. But, I’m just saying that... who knows?

The 'Common Man' still exists though, in SF and when you run across one you know the story is going to be bad. Only now they're called 'Mary Sue' and 'Marty Stu'. Seeing the Common Man in action in Mundane Fiction is equally bad. I feel like the "Competent Man" critique isn't fair. These protagonists often start incompetent. Lazarus learned lessons the hard way over hundreds of years. Mike knows basically nothing about anything. Johnny from “Starship Troopers” joins the Mobile Infantry (considered the lowest rung of the military) because he has no qualifications for anything else.

Jubal isn't also the “The Competent Man” archetype either. Jubal is the "Old Man" archetype, which is often seen as the characters representing Heinlein himself. Jubal and the Professor (Moon) are examples (and one or more teachers/instructors in Starship). They're usually wise old characters who are dissidents/non-conformists in some way (politically, culturally), and they often spend a lot of time monologuing philosophy. Mike from Stranger isn't apparent as a "Competent Man" because by the time he becomes the Competent Man, the story is focusing on other characters' POV. Some of Heinlein's books are solely focused on a protagonist's journey into becoming the Competent Man by overcoming obstacles (often internal/mental).

Incest? FFS! Many people cite the incest in Heinlein's novel as a type of perversion but in Heinlein's view of the future genetic imperfections are eliminated that made the incest taboo necessary in the first place. In "Time Enough for Love" Lazarus and Dora had to explain to their children why incest was improper, even exaggerating the chances of birth defects in order to discourage relations between them. Don't even suggest Heinlein was an advocate of incest.

Heinlein is a shining example of the importance of zeitgeist. Much of what he wrote was very progressive or even controversial for the time. In a modern context, his social stances look occasionally offensive and often backwards or ignorant, and always flawed. But you have to keep the context of the original writing in mind. Society marches on, propelled in part by authors like Heinlein forcing people to confront the absurdities of the prevailing mindsets of the time (and highlighting those absurdities with deliberate flaws meant to show just how twisted such thinking is). You must always remember what society was like at the time of a piece's writing when you evaluate it, because that will tell you far more than any perspective you might gain from how society is at the time of review.

Heinlein is only controversial to those who are anti-liberty and anti-self-reliance. ( )
  antao | May 29, 2019 |
Heinlein was my number-one favorite author in the past, so I got for completeness, but couldn't bring myself to read it - just not that interested in Heinlein's sexual fantasies.
  librisissimo | Feb 9, 2019 |
I always really enjoy rereading this book. Lazarus Long has lived for over 2000 years and has seen everything and done it all, from his birth in 1912 (I think) and through the expansion of humans through the galaxy. Part of the book is him telling stories of his life, part is of the ‘present’ (ie far future) as his descendants try to find him something new to do so that he will want to keep living.
The only problem I have with this otherwise engaging sci-fi is the author’s fondness for incest, which he explores in several of his books, arguing that it’s only wrong if it results in children (due to the risk of defects) and otherwise we’ve all just been culturally brainwashed into finding it distasteful. In this book, the worst (but by no means only) example is Lazarus’s passionately sexual relationship with his own mother. ( )
  Griffin22 | Oct 5, 2018 |
This 25+ hour book starts off sooooo sloooow; I listened for the first hour and it began to sound like Charlie Brown's teacher...wahhh, whaaa,... Nothing there. So, I gave up.
  buffalogr | Nov 25, 2017 |
There was a time when I would have given this book maximum rating, and it's still one of my most-read books, but I'm old enough to recognise its flaws as well, now.
Lazarus has lived long enough to see a wide variety of human cultures and sexual mores and this book is basically of stories (of varying degrees of truthfulness) told by him to his friends as he recovers from nearly dying of old age.
Although Lazarus is cheerfully immoral in some ways, his most redeeming trait is that he will never abandon a pregnant woman.
However, the most irritating thing about the book is that every women in it appears to want to have children by him. I find this especially improbably in the woman he adopted as a little girl. (I liked the character of Dora, but we're genetically wired to lack sexual interest in people we're brought up with or view as parents. Siblings reared apart are more likely to fall in love than adopted children reared together)

I'm also a lot more sceptical of some of the political views than I was thirty years ago - though I note along with one of the characters that Lazarus does not always practice the policies he appears to espouse. ( )
  JudithProctor | Aug 29, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stawicki, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warhola, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion-i.e., none to speak of. --L.L.
Dedication
For Bill and Lucy
First words
As the door of the suite dilated, the man seated staring glumly out the window looked around.
Quotations
People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.
A motion to adjourn is always in order.
History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion—i.e., none to speak of.
Early rising may not be a vice ... but it is certainly no virtue. The old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The Lives of the Senior Member of the Howard Families (Woodrow Wilson Smith; Ernest Gibbons; Captain Aaron Sheffield; Lazarus Long; "Happy" Daze; His Serenity Seraphin the Younger, Supreme High Priest of the One God in All His Aspects and Arbiter Below and Above; Proscribe Prisoner No. 83M2742; Mr.Justice Lenox; Corporal Ted Bronson; Dr. Lafe Hubert; and others), Oldest Member of the Human Race.
This Account is based principally on the Senior's Own Words as recorded at many times and places and especially at the Howeard REjuvenation clinic and at the Executive Palace in New Rome on Seconudus in Year 2053 After the Great Diaspora (Gregorian Year 4272 of Old Home Terra) - and supplemented by letters and by eyewitness accounts, the whole then arranged, collated, condensed, and (where possible) reconciled with official records and contemporary histories, as directed by Howard Foundation Trustees and executed by the Howard Archivist Emeritus.
the result is of unique historical importance despite the Archivist's decision to leave in blatant falsehoods, self-serving allegations, and many amoral anecdotes not suitable for young persons.
---------------
Capstone of the Future History, climaxing the adventures of the Methuselahs.
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