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For Us, the Living


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Robert A. Heinlein, four-time winner of the Hugo Award and recipient of three Retro Hugos, received the first Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement. His worldwide bestsellers have been translated into 22 languages and include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living, was recently published by Scribner and Pocket Books.

Award-winning author Spider Robinson is renowned for his "Callahan's Place" series of bestselling novels, the latest being Callahan's Con (Tor). With his wife, Jeanne, he has written the Hugo- and Nebula-winning "Stardance" series, which Baen recently published complete in one volume for the first time. He has been a favorite with readers from his earliest stories, which won him the John Campbell Award for best new writer. Since then he has garnered many other awards for his amusing, Heinlein-inspired SF, with the current total at three Hugos and a Nebula Award. He is frequently a guest at SF conventions across the US and Canada. His last book for Baen was the The Lifehouse Trilogy.


Sf master Heinlein wrote this first novel in 1939 but put it aside when he was unable to find a publisher. Now being published for the first time, it provides an interesting foreshadowing of what was to come. Clearly influenced by such classics as H.G. Wells's When the Sleeper Awakes and Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, the book features a protagonist who dies in a car accident in 1939 and returns to the living in another body in the year 2086. Perry is shown adjusting to life in the distant future (eerily, Manhattan is destroyed in a terrorist attack in 2003) via a series of preachy discussions or thinly veiled lectures on many topics ranging from economics to marriage. Although the two major characters are well developed, the didacticism here prevents the novel from working as fiction. Still, Heinlein scholars and devoted fans will be fascinated by the germs of many themes and ideas, such as a religion-based dictatorship, that Heinlein expanded in later books like Revolt in 2100 and the classic Stranger in a Strange Land. With an introduction by sf author Spider Robinson and an afterword by Robert James of the Heinlein Society, this is essential for any library with other works by Heinlein. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/03.]-Bill Drew, Morrisville State Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Heinlein fans can rejoice-the SF master's lost first novel, composed between 1938 and 1939, has been found! In 1939, Perry Nelson suffers a bad car accident, but when he wakes up, it's 2086. A beautiful girl, Diana, takes the confused man under her wing, and naturally, they fall in love, but when Diana's ex shows up and flirts with her, Perry hauls off and hits him. Next thing Perry knows, he's being deprogrammed to get rid of his irrational sexual possession and jealousy. As Perry learns about the new world around him, he receives lectures about economic systems, aircars, rockets, U.S. history, religion and more-and these, of course, are the point of the story. Heinlein creates a utopian world of unparalleled prosperity and personal freedom and sketches out, through Perry's teachers, exactly why it all works. Since Heinlein mined ideas from this novel for all his other works, much is familiar, from the frankly free sexual mores to the active role of women to the rolling roads. Although this book can't stand alone on its own merits as a novel, it's a harbinger of later themes, best read critically and in conjunction with Heinlein's more mature fiction. (Jan. 6) FYI: SF author Spider Robinson provides an introduction, scholar Robert James an afterword. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Frederik Pohl The wonderful thing about For Us, The Living is that in it we can see the seeds of many of Robert Heinlein's great later works, starting with the first notion for The Roads Must Roll and going on to cover much of his lifelong thinking on politics and society. I'm very glad I read it.

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