Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein
If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, then you’re probably already aware that Robert A. Heinlein is up in my top two favourite authors of all time (the other spot has a rotating roster). I’ve spoken about Heinlein and about this particular book, Time Enough for Love, more than once on the blog (here, here, and here, plus dozens of other places where the book is merely mentioned).
To say the book has had a major influence on my life is probably a mild understatement.
It’s a huge book — Amazon clocks it at 626 pages, which is well over 250,000 words, or slightly larger than the average George R.R. Martin fantasy.
It’s the story of Lazarus Long, Senior and founder of the Long Family, of which every member enjoys extraordinarily long lives — in practice, immortality.
Lazarus’ life stretches over 3,000 years, so even a book of this length only gets to dip into the highlights.
When you first start to read it, it takes some time to orient yourself, because the story doesn’t seem to be about anything. If you relax and go with the flow, it slowly starts to come together.
By the time you get to the end, you realize that you’ve been told a full and complete story after all. It just doesn’t feel like you have. It feels very episodic and on your first run through can even feel disjointed. I don’t know if Heinlein meant the book to feel that way, but it does match Lazarus’ long, long string of serial “lives”.
As I’ve mentioned before, Heinlein is considered to be a “hard” science fiction writer, yet this book leaves me in tears every time I read it. Even thinking about the ending(s) [it’s that sort of story] can choke me up.
This book and the sequel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, are two of my top favourite five (which book in the five gets the #1 spot depends on when you ask me. I have never settled on final placements).
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