Thursday, November 04, 2010


The Door Into Summer, Robert A Heinlein, Signet, 1957, 165 pp

 Heinlein does time travel! The novel was first serialized in the "Fantasy and Science Fiction" magazine, then published in 1957 as a mass market paperback. It is one of his more lighthearted love stories, though of course it contains plenty of science and his signature future predictions.

  Dan Davis, a successful inventor of automated robots, such as "Hired Girl," a cleaning lady bot, is happily inventing new stuff in 1970. His start-up company includes his best friend Miles Gentry as business manager and his fiancee Belle Darkin as secretary. The best characters are Petronius, the cat, and eleven-year-old Fredrica.

 So it is a few years after a Six Weeks Nuclear War and Dan has learned hard lessons about nuclear fall-out but has survived. Now he is going to learn hard lessons about how best friends and beautiful women can betray an absent-minded scientist when he is busy inventing. He ends up in cold sleep, waking up in the year 2000.

 The rest of the story is how Dan gets revenge, saves the cat and Fredrica, and goes on to create his best invention ever. In order to accomplish all this, he has to time travel back to 1970 and then return to 2000.

 As a Los Angeles resident, it is great fun reading about Heinlein's futuristic vision of our fair city from over 50 years ago. One thing he got right was the ATMs. On a grimmer note, his optimism about the human mind being able to make the world steadily better sounds hopelessly innocent. George Orwell, it turns out, got it more right.

 Still it was an entertaining read and Dan Davis is a great hero.

(The Door Into Summer is available in mass market paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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