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Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

Time Enough for Love (original 1973; edition 1988)

by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: World As Myth (1), Lazarus Long (2)

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5,441631,798 (3.88)114
Time Enough for Love is the capstone and crowning achievement of Heinleins famous Future History series.
Title:Time Enough for Love
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Ace (1988), Mass Market Paperback, 589 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

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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A friend gave me this huge brick of a Heinlein, and I spent a month ploughing through it, and what do I think? My braindump follows...

- I made no effort to work out if it was a book in a series, or whether there was backstory I needed to know, I just dived in. A few minutes with the internet suggests this is not the first book Heinlein wrote in his loose Future History/World as Myth/Lazarus Long series, and if I had been making some effort to start at the beginning the lightly pencilled in ideas of the Senior and the Howard families might have been a bit more explained! But you can muddle through from where I started, or at least I did.

- Heinlein. Oh Heinlein. Is it refreshingly freeing to see a sex positive and open society where polyamorous families can all love one another and bring up children together? Or is it all weirdly tarnished by the way he dials it all up to 11 and attacks the incest taboo head on? By the end of the book our hero has seduced both the child he raised from a baby, and his actual literal mother at the age she was when he was originally about 6. In fact, the main motivator for the entire time travel plot is 'my mum is hot and has nice breasts, I want to bang her'. It is all quite uncomfortable. Also, basically every woman he meets falls for him, and not only that, shows her affection by desperately wanting him to impregnant him, even if they are genetic clones of each other. Awkward.

- It is broadly 6 stories all loosely tied together, in a book with dense print running at 600 pages. Sadly I cannot count it as 6 books for 'how many books did I read this year'. It was interesting to read a proper Long Book, but I did find it dragged in places, and the book felt like it rambled, the end of the book was a long way from the beginning. I guess there is a circular theme, young Lazarus is trying to be in the army as cynically and self interestedly as possible, whereas by the end he is enlisted and really fighting to make his family proud.

- It might be selling itself as science fiction, but nowadays it feels like an elegy to a very dated American dream. Freeing slaves, but in a Great White Saviour way! Pioneering in the outback! Of all of time and space, travelling back to just before WWI in America.

- Some bits are infuriating. The bit where he won't let Dora do some trivial manual labour because she is pregnant, and he would never put a pregnant woman at risk, but he will take her hundreds of miles away from the next human being and make her give birth with no-one else around for help but him... And let's not even talk about the relationship with the Mules, who have basic rudimentary language!

Still, it is an epic romp, looking at the themes of 'what is there still to do if you've lived forever', even if the conclusions are mostly just 'sleep with everyone. Sleep with yourself. Sleep with your mother.' ( )
  atreic | Oct 27, 2022 |
It took a month to muddle through all the way to page 60. It just didn’t get me hooked. Inane dialogues, pretty boring. I’m a big Heinlein fan and this was a disappointment. ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
It’s been almost a year since I reviewed the first volume of the Virgina Edition, I Will Fear No Evil. I didn’t intend for there to be such a long hiatus, but things got in the way. Also, there is the absurdity of having two of Heinlein’s longest novels at the front end of the series, which makes no sense so far as I can tell.

I liked the story of Time Enough For Love very much. It is the story of Lazarus Long, the oldest human in the galaxy. Introduced in Heinlein’s Future History tales, Long has lived some 23 centuries at the beginning of the novel. Being born in 1916 on Earth as Woodrow Wilson Smith, Long emigrated into space as humanity’s home planet became a Malthusian nightmare, and over the course of his life he took on many names and careers. Now, old and disillusioned, Lazarus is ready to die, having seen and experienced everything he cares to see and experience.

In addition to being the oldest human to ever live, Long is known as the Senior – i.e., the progenitor of nearly all of the various Howard Families, a society of people who have selectively bred (or, more accurately, inbred) over the centuries to reinforce genetic longevity. Due to his nature as a sort of Mitochondrial Adam, Long allows himself to be convinced by the current head of the Howard Families – Chairman Pro Tem Ira Weatheral – to remain alive long enough to tell stories that will, hopefully, impart some wisdom to his descendants.

William H. Patterson, Jr., (Heinlein's official biographer) calls the format of Time Enough For Love a “virtuoso turn” for Heinlein, noting comparisons between the novel’s opening and a portion of [b:Caleb Catlum’s America|1516006|Caleb Catlum's America|Vincent McHugh|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|1507729], as well as a section of blank verse “tucked away” in prose form at the beginning of one chapter (part one of "The Tale of the Adopted Daughter"), a la [a:James Branch Cabell|92665|James Branch Cabell|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207156655p2/92665.jpg]. These allusions coupled with the interweaving of an introduction, frame story, backstory, correspondence, two preludes, two interludes, and four codas (the last of which each have musical headings), show that Time Enough For Love is not merely structurally complex – it may be the most complex of any of Heinlein’s works.

That complexity fits well the book's status a Menippean satire, as described by [a:Northrop Frye|58765|Northrop Frye|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1229101452p2/58765.jpg] in [b:Anatomy of Criticism|318116|Anatomy of Criticism Four Essays|Northrop Frye|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349129234s/318116.jpg|1050194]. Nearly all of the characters in Time Enough For Love speak intellectually about their positions, although some of them might deny that’s what they are doing, and there are huge swaths of Socractic dialogue in which Lazarus (mainly) lays out his wisdom and knowledge to help others understand, as best as he can make them, where he is coming from. This “exhaustive erudition” that Lazarus provides, through parley and parable, is in a very real sense the core purpose of the book. The book is also replete with the idea of “evil and folly as diseases of the intellect,” showing not only how badly wrong-thinking individuals can screw things up for everyone else, but also how right-thinking individuals can outwit (or at least outrun) such screw-ups and pass their wit and wisdom on to others.

For a more in-depth analysis of this book, please see my full review at CurtisWeyant.com. ( )
  octoberdad | Dec 16, 2020 |
I have a love-hate relationship with Heinlein. Some of his stuff is great. Some of it, like Farnham's Freehold, which I reviewed here, I simply hate. However, I like enough of his work that I seek more. This was a book that took me a long time to get through, but when I got done, it was well worth it. I read it back in 2002. From my journal back then:

>>I found it to be a book that makes you think. I thought the opening was a bit slow, but once the narrative was set up, it got interesting.... I found that reading the book in segments, a part here and a part there, worked better for me.One of my favorite parts was the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, a section of maxims full of common sense. I also enjoyed the tale of Dora very much, a moving tale of how Lazarus fell in love with an ephemeral woman and their life together til death did them part.
I also recall the ending for having a nice twist (I am not saying, go read it instead). This is a book about a rascal, a picaro to borrow the Spanish word, which is so much better than just saying "rascal," if nothing else. It integrates different genres. In some ways reminded me of works like One Thousand Nights and a Night and Don Quijote (not the Man of La Mancha's idealism, but the novel's integration of different genres and elements). This has become one of my favorite books. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
“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 |
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» Add other authors (6 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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History has the relation to truth that theology has to religion-i.e., none to speak of. --L.L.
For Bill and Lucy
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As the door of the suite dilated, the man seated staring glumly out the window looked around.
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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Time Enough for Love is the capstone and crowning achievement of Heinleins famous Future History series.

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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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