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The Cat Who Walks through Walls

by Robert A. Heinlein

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: World As Myth (3), Lazarus Long (4)

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4,543512,037 (3.48)83
Robert A. Heinlein has written some of the best-selling science-fiction novels of all time, including the beloved classic Stranger in a strange land. Now, in The cat who walked through walls, he creates his most compelling character ever: Dr. Richard Ames, ex-military man, sometime writer, and unfortunate victim of mistaken identity. When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus Long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike can change the direction of all human history.… (more)
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English (48)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
I had never read The Cat Who Walks Through Walls before, having conflated it with The Door into Summer which begins by introducing an eccentric cat (having been birthing and raising children in the year that TCWWTW came out probably didn't help) so I was very pleased to discover that it was a separate book new to me. And it started out well. Interesting at the beginning, as inexplicable things happen fast and the protagonists are on the run not knowing why, although the "witty" man/woman repartee was a bit grating after the first few exchanges.

Still interesting in the second part as we learn that there's a plot afoot to go back in time and rescue "Mike", the self-aware computer aka "Adam Selene" who helped mastermind the Lunar Revolution in Heinlein's book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. I'm going to say that the "death" of Mike may have been the one and only time I shed tears over a Heinlein character, lots of tears, so I was really enthusiastic about this idea. Plus revisiting the Moon, which has changed.

Then comes the third part, Lazarus Long (incestor/ancestor of half a whole lot of characters that we don't get properly introduced to because we're supposed to have read all the Heinlein books, which I have, but I didn't like Lazarus the first, second or third time) walks in, starts spouting off in a smugly arrogant fashion, on every page, and it's just Not. Worth. Reading. I should have known when wife-spanking was brought up as cute earlier in the book and stopped then. And the whole plot in the third part is a hot mess too, barely wrapping up a few of the loose ends from part one and adding a whole lot more, so I can barely justify two stars for this fiasco. ( )
  muumi | Feb 27, 2022 |
Heinlein, Robert A. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: A Comedy of Manners. 1985. World as Myth No. 3. Ace, 1988.
Popular writers, like popular musicians and actors, I suppose, sometimes reach a point where they are no longer hungry for new fans, where their new work becomes a commentary on their early work and speaks to the readers who have been with them from the beginning. That is certainly true of the whole World as Myth series of late Heinlein novels. So, don’t bother to pick up The Cat that Walks Through Walls if you don’t recognize Hazel Stone, Lazarus Long, Jubal Harshaw, and some of the other members of the Heinlein future history roadshow. Even the subtitle is an echo of Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984), which suggests that The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is in some ways a sequel to that book as well as to The Number of the Beast (1980). In short, Heinlein is just rearranging the blocks in his toybox, and his tongue is stuck well and truly in his cheek. Every major character goes by multiple names. All of them are, in one way or another, stand-ins for the author and winking self-parody. Richard Ames, a combat veteran, is almost literally a clone of Lazarus Long—and they dislike one another. He is also almost a clone of Roger Stone, Hazel’s son in The Rolling Stones (1952). Roger is one of the early Heinlein spokesmen, who writes serial stories with his mother and son, even as Heinlein was writing about him with his wife Virginia. Like Pixel the kitten, everything in the novel walks through all of Heinlein’s story walls. Four stars with a wink. ( )
  Tom-e | Jul 22, 2021 |
I like Heinlein, but this book was objectively mediocre at best, and if it didn't have his name on the cover, no one would read it. While it included references to events and characters in other, better books of his, there was very little in this book which recommended it; some fairly mundane observations about a long-term evolution toward statism even in anarchist societies, the (fairly boring, when described) sexual degeneracy of his later novels, and a convoluted time travel world-making myth thing (present in a lot of his later books).

( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
First 2/3 of the novel - great! Last 1/3 - not too great. This book started off so promising with a great story. I really wanted to find out whodunit. Then the story takes a turn and things are not what they seem at all. Other characters from other Heinlein stories turn up and I ended up confused and disappointed and cheated. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, by R. A. Heinlein

Lord, I thought this novel would never get over....! I suspect I made a mistake in actually listening to this book in isolation. I had Blackstone Audio's version of audiobook, with Mr. Tom Weiner narrating it. (Unfortunately, he has narrated another page and a half audiobook's as well.). I chose it because it was available for download from my local library, not realizing it is part of a greater series. It does not stand well on it's own. I'm not sure it would stand well in conjunction with it's series either though, I found some major issues with it.

The first is the main voice. There were way, way too many characters in this novel, to be taken care of by just one voice actor. His women all sounded rather the same, except for Hazel/Gwen/Lipschits. And everyone else just kind of melted in together, sometimes. It was confusing.

This book starts out engagingly enough, with a mystery on a moon-orbiting space habitat. As can be expected from Heinlein, there is passing commentary on the governement of the habitat, all privately owned and controlled. When the action passes to the Moon we discover that this story is more commentary about how the government on the moon has changed in the 100 or so years since the revolution. James Bond style space adventure with witty banter and a clever female sidekick. Despite the sagacity of the girl (actually much older than we initially think), Heinlein has sprinkled weird sexist remarks about both men and women throughout the entire novel, which, now that I'm older, I see he does in ALL his novels, but it's still kind of grating. My problem may be at least partially due to the voice-actor reading the book, but I think it is also inherent in the character himself. I found Ames/Campbell so pretentious that he is unlikeable and never felt like he had a realistic human interaction, not even with himself.

Then there is the disjointed plot, which is unsatisfyingly patched together at the end with the Deus Ex Machina device of peripheral characters popping off through time and coming back with answers to all of the questions including some that were never asked. Reading this was like reading two different books - the first half consisting of fairly straight, middle-of-the-road space opera, and the second half going into one of Heinlein's mystical worlds. Once Lazarus Long enters the picture, the book rapidly degenerates into the usual confused 'World-Is-Myth' mishmash, with the obligatory long expository party scenes in which far too much is explained. I don't really enjoy that style as much anyway, but this was highly confusing, what with the various counts of incest, interbreeding, extended family lines and of course time-jumping.

And then that's where it turns just weird. Time travel, parallel dimensions, blah blah blah. And I'm a sci-fi fan. I don't mind that stuff. But it seemed random, unmotivated, and unjustified in the plot.

I felt a lot of the author's personality coming through, and that personality was more "grumpy old man" than anything else. A sexist, misogynistic, possibly racist, DIRTY, grumpy old man. Heinlein is known to have non-conventional ideas about marriage and relationships, but this was really pushing it. Spanking just doesn't need to be a major theme in a sci-fi novel. I'm NOT a prude, but seriously..... Now, mid-novel, we're in a world that was surely made up by a prepubescent teenage boy fantasizing about a place where people are allowed to walk around naked and have sex with anyone they want and marry multiple people. They greet each other by making out, with tongues. (Yes I know there are no more colds, flush or s.t.d.'s. So what.). Also, Stuff goes down that is unexplained and makes no sense even though these events appear to be major plot points. Characters also have unexplained emotional reactions to seemingly normal events. I seriously began to wonder if the book would ever make sense again.
Another really odd thing: toward the end, a large, black, rage-filled character named Samuel Beaux is suddenly introduced as yet another two-dimensional foil. The pun (if that's what it is) is obvious: "Sam Beaux", "Sambo" - but Heinlein spells it out just to make it clear for the idiots in the crowd. He apparently felt that he nullified the implied racism by suddenly having Ames/Campbell turn out to be black himself, although there were absolutely no clues to indicate that anywhere prior to that point. In fact, Ames calls Beaux "Boy" in the process, which strikes a very false note indeed.
I spent most of the story wondering who was who and who said what. It felt like I'd been dropped into the middle of a reunion for a family I'd never meant, tasked with picking out the few strands of relevant data from a sea of meaningless prattle. The whole book purportedly leads up to a profound event, but we're not let in on what happens with that event. Were they successful? Did their grand and utterly convoluted schemes pay off? Just what the hell was going on...?
The Cat who walks through walls didn't even have the gall to show up until "book 3", chapter 26....! What the hell? The cat was the most interesting character...!
Then, literally in the last 5 pages, Heinlein suddenly decides to wrap things up so he has one character (badly) attempt to explain the entire rest of the book and then it ends. I have never been happier to see a book end without caring how. I just needed it to be over.
2 stars, because I was SO very bored. Untold times I wanted to quit, but I pushed through it. Boo..! ( )
1 vote stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
In een vrij in de ruimte zwevende stad, niet ver van de Maan, raakt Richard Ames (een ex-militair die eigenlijk Campbell heet) in de ban van de mooie en slimme Gwen Novak. Daardoor wordt hij het middelpunt van allerlei intriges, waar hij in het begin helmaal niets van begrijpt, maar die hem van het ene gevaar in het andere storten. Uiteindelijk blijkt Gwen te behoren tot de omvangrijke 'familie' van Lazarus Long, die de tijd en de dimensies ten goede probeert te manipuleren, en Richard daarbij nodig heeft. Het nieuwste boek van de oude meester (geb. 1907) is tot ver over de helft vlot, grappig en avontuurlijk. Het laatste deel, het 'universum' van Lazarus Long, heeft Heinlein sedert 'Time enough for love' al zo vaak beschreven, dat het gaat vervelen. Luchtig, af en toe wat babbelzuchtig boek waarin alle stokpaardjes van de auteur weer eens komen opdraven. Het leest als een trein - en dat is de voornaamste verdienste van dit pretentieloos amusement. De engelse editie werd aangeboden op 86-10-051.

(NBD|Biblion recensie, Drs. P.M.H. Cuijpers)
added by karnoefel | editNBD/Biblion (via BOL.com)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Ah Love!
could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would we not shatter it to bits - and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM
Quatrain XCIX, Fifth Edition
(as rendered by Edward FitzGerlad)
'Whatever you do, you'll regret it.' Allan McLeod Gray 1905-1975
Dedication
To
Jerry and Larry and Harry Dean and Dan and Jim Poul and Buz and Sarge
(Men to have at your back)

R.A.H.
First words
'We need you to kill a man.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Robert A. Heinlein has written some of the best-selling science-fiction novels of all time, including the beloved classic Stranger in a strange land. Now, in The cat who walked through walls, he creates his most compelling character ever: Dr. Richard Ames, ex-military man, sometime writer, and unfortunate victim of mistaken identity. When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus Long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike can change the direction of all human history.

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From Publishers Weekly
As the old guard of SF ages, we are getting more novels of nostalgia. Heinlein is less sentimental than many of his generation but his new book resembles both the latest Bradbury, in making the author the protagonist, and the latest Asimov, in returning to a popular series from early in his career (Future History). Like Heinlein, Richard Ames is an ex-military man turned writer who fancies himself a pundit. An assassination attempt precipitates his marriage to Gwen Novak and sends the newlyweds scurrying to the Moon and then to the planet Tertius, headquarters of the Time Corps. The action, though, is largely beside the point in a novel that is predominantly a dialogue between the protagonists. Their foredoomed attempt to become the Nick and Nora Charles of space (with a bonsai standing in for Asta) is sabotaged less by Heinlein's endless elbow-in-the-ribs wisecracks and more by his inability to convincingly portray a sexual relationship. Given the increasing popularity of his recent, similar work, it is unlikely that the book's short-comings will limit its potentially large audience. November 11
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From the back:
IN The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, he creates his most compelling character ever: Dr Richard Ames, ex-military man, sometime writer and unfortunate victim of mistaken identity.
When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown head first into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike can change the direction of all human history.
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