Wednesday, 10 June 1998

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

Edition: New English Library, 1979
Review number: 64

Throughout his career, Heinlein kept on returning to the character of Lazarus Long, the man who lived for thousands of years. Time Enough for Love is the most extended work with Long as a central character.

The book is structured in two main parts. The first contains a series of (self-contained) anecdotes as told by Long during a rejuvenation session. These are of varying interest, and are designed to demonstrate Long's (and hence Heinlein's) philosophy of life. This philosophy is an old-fashioned libertarian one; everyone should be able to do all they need for themselves except women, who are to be protected at all costs. (All the women in the book are described as beautiful.)

The second part is the story of Long's return in a time machine to the period of his childhood, and tells how he falls in love with his mother and gets involved in the First World War. The incestuous elements here can be quite unpleasant if you think about it, but the fact that Long's apparent age is similar to that of his mother means that the feeling of repugnance is kept quite far in the background.

Like many of Heinlein's later books, the adolescent philosophy is a major stumbling block. Here, that is combined with an inflated length (600+ pages). Nevertheless, it is an easy read, while distinctly unchallenging.

No comments: