The Door into Summer

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US hardcover, 1st edition.

The Door into Summer is a time travel science fiction mystery novel written by Robert Heinlein and published in 1957, though it was first serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1956. The book is about an engineer who, after losing the company he started to a shady business partner, goes into suspended animation to try and sort things out, but upon waking up in the future, he finds all sorts of new problems and is determined to go back in time and do things right.

Personal

I loved Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, and enjoyed Starship Troopers, but I found this book to be rather awful. The best way to sum up the book is, "reclusive 30-something engineer finally makes good on his promise to marry an eleven-year-old girl thanks to time travel." When I wasn't disgusted at the abuse of women or laughing at how wrong the descriptions of future technology were, I was bored. I finished it in August 2016.

I do not own this book, but have listened to the audio book read by Patrick Lawlor.

Review

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • Even though I think the book does a poor job of making it interesting, I always like the idea of going back in time to fix past mistakes.
  • The fact that people with unpopular proclivities (nudists) can be successful members of society is a nice addition.

Bad

  • Davis, an engineering genius, is ingeniously boring. His only fault seems to be that he's too trusting. Well, that, and he's a pedophile.
  • The inventions Davis creates were not only impossible in the 1970s, but they were impossible in 2001, the book's "future." Heinlein really missed the mark on other future technologies as well expecting high quality human stasis in the 1970s, the end of disease, colonized planets, and time travel by 2001. He also assumed that computers would still use tube-based memory in 2001, and that doctors would be offering their patients cigarettes in the hospital.
  • Despite describing the future as being better in pretty much every way for the lives of the people of the future, Heinlein can't seem to help but inject a callous political position of how inefficient they are, as if efficiency is more important than global happiness.

Ugly

  • Ordinarily, I don't have any serious qualms about about couples of disparate ages, and often appreciate it when done tastefully, but this story is pretty messed up. Yes, Ricky was 21 when she and 31-year-old Davis started having sex, but he fell in love with her when she was an 11-year-old girl while she viewed him as her uncle. He then convinced her, when she was a child, to remain celibate for 10 years while he was gone, then go into stasis for another 20 years, and, even though he knew nothing about the changes she went through as a teenager and young adult, they still got married the moment she got out of stasis. The narrator describing the girl as being, "emotionally an adult," but that doesn't work because Heinlein writes about her acting like a child the whole time.
  • The book harps on the importance and reality of free will, but then uses unstoppable hypnosis and chemical mind control, which would only work if the mind was determined.

Links

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