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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,819512,287 (3.48)88
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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» See also 88 mentions

English (48)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
I was giving this a re-read, as I found a copy in a box of books from my aunt.
Obviously, being Heinlein, there are going to be some things to offend, whether or not they were actual representations of his personal philosophy or not. The usual drastic misunderstandings of socialism, libertarianism, flirtations with militaristic fascism, a really weird flavour of misogyny, lots of free-love without basically any boundaries...but again, one knows this going into Heinlein and acting as if its an offensive surprise isn't really productive (like reading Lovecraft and not expecting some degree of racism). Especially in what was one of his last novel length works. So this isn't going to rehash any of those points.
The first two thirds (first two sections) of the book are a sort of romping, fast-paced, pulpy space adventure mashed up with a Bond story and a detective thriller. Even if you haven't read enough Heinlein to recognize the significant amount of character and place references peppering this story, I think the archetypes that main characters fill is going to be recognizable. Men and women of action who can do just about anything. Its light, fast, and fun. But then it suffers from an even more extreme version of the same fault I find in Stranger In A Strange Land. The story shifts gears abruptly and hard into an altogether different sort of story for part 3. One which seemingly is trying to give some overall unifying shape not only to Heinlein's World As Myth cycle, but maybe his entire body of work. Its jarring. I think both stories would likely have been better served by being separate works, with appropriate fleshing out of both stories. To the degree that I'd give 4 stars to the Richard and Hazel story of the first two thirds if it was a stand alone space adventure, but final third focusing on the Time Corps, the extended Lazarus family, and multiple timelines really drags the overall score down. ( )
  jdavidhacker | Aug 4, 2023 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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 |
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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