Previously, Id read and enjoyed a handful of Robert Heinleins novels and many of his short stories and considered myself a fan of his work. Early on in the book Friday finds herself out of a job and then travels from situation to situation acting as the readers eyes and ears for Heinlein to share with us his vision of a dystopic future and expound on his political views. Of the almost 400 pages in the book, theres about 100 or so that are decent, Heinlein world building. MY PROBLEMS WITH THIS BOOK For all of her strength, speed and deadly fighting ability, Friday is nothing more than an insecure, bubble-headed skank who thinks that SEX is the only valuable commodity she has to offer in this world. Countless times in the book, she either sleeps with, or tells the reader she would be willing to sleep with, someone as nothing more than a courteous thank you for being nice. But I got no inkling in Heinleins prose of sex being an uninhibited display of physicality between equals free to express themselves. Granted, most of the sex Friday has in the book is consensual and shes a willing participant. I say most because theres an instance at the beginning of the book when Friday is kidnapped and gang-raped by 4 guys (Im not kidding folks). 3. I dont want to give away a spoiler so let me just tease you by saying that one of the 4 rapists from the beginning of the book reappears later in the novel and Fridays interaction with him will cause you to fume, spit blood and hack up bile.TRUST ME ON THIS.
Friday for Heinlein and Priss in Blade Runner have created in speculative fiction an archetypal female: inhumanly strong, sexually active and dancing to the beat of a different drummer. This archetype may be seen in other later works like Neuromancer and Snow Crash. This was still better than the studied creepiness Heinlein had devolved to in other of his later works.
When the major political events finally kick in, they seem to serve no purpose other than to provide a subject for endless witty breakfast table conversation after a long night of getting her synthetic freak on with large groups of blandly similar attractive geniuses.
I read this book several times as a teenager, because it had sex scenes. It's, like, here's a superspy and she has a bunch of sex, and that's it. Which you can see why that appealed to 13-year-old me, but at this point, y'know, I've been a superspy for years now and I'm over the casual sex. Friday opens with a gang rape, during which our heroine's superspy training allows her to relax and enjoy parts of it, while commenting on each assailant's sexual prowess, and...what? It's not like Heinlein is claiming that all women should relax and enjoy being gang raped.
A little googling led me to the astonishingly comprehensive Heinlein Dedications Page, which gives the following key:Ann = Ann Nourse, wife of Alan Nourse (see Farnhams Freehold dedication). Dian = Dian Crayne, science fiction author, aka Dian Girard. Gay = Gay Haldeman, wife of science fiction writer Joe Haldeman. Jeanne = Jeanne Robinson, science fiction writer, wife of SF author Spider Robinson (1948 ). Vinge (1948 ), science fiction author. Kathleen = Kathleen Heinlein, Heinleins brother Rexs wife (see I Will Fear No Evil dedication). Tamea = Tamea Dula, a lawyer, who is married to Art Dula, Virginia Heinleins lawyer. Ursula= Ursula Le Guin (1929 ), science fiction author. They are mentioned in Tramp Royale as they were passengers on the Gulf Shipper at the start of the trip, and the Heinleins stayed with them in Hawaii when they returned to the U.S. Vonda = Vonda McIntyre (1948 ), science fiction author.
Friday was extremely intelligent, but her thoughts, while calculated, were contrived.
The most noticeable things about Heinlein's later works are his twin obsessions with free love and breakfast.
Aside from the reprehensible themes, childish logic, an outright vile representation of women, politics and culture, the language is flabby, the plot meandering, the dialogue reads like a poorly scripted soap opera, and the characters are motivated by a perverse sense of the authors sexual depravities and megalomania. Ive read maybe six or eight other Heinlein novels in my time. Unfortunately, in this book, Heinlein fails to achieve even the least effective of his writing strengths while diving headlong into his deficits of character and embracing them as if they were virtues. Its a despicable, masturbatory indulgence in which Heinlein presents his fantasy of femininity and social status wrapped up in obvious and poorly executed straw man caricatures of those whose political and social beliefs he opposes. Whats worse than any of the outright obnoxiousness of this book is that it manages to commit the worst crime of science fiction entertainment: its BORING. Lets use this stolen card, but youll have to do it because its got a mans name on it, so I can only do electronic transactions on it. This kind of thing may be entertaining to some CPA who dreams of one day committing credit card fraud in a dangerous time, but for the rest of us it is abject boredom at 21% APR. How Heinlein managed to put his own shopping around for a better rate on his credit cards into fiction and people read it like it is entertainment is utterly beyond me. Now, what is the point in an author presenting a laissez faire society as a merit and then having his main character win a lottery as a plot point? but Id be remiss not to mention the way Heinlein presents sex, sexuality and women in this book. Heres some prose from the opening after the main character has been ambushed and captured by unknown assailants: But why waste time by raping me? Whats worse is Heinleins handling of the subject: For rape she (or heI hear its worse for males) can either detach the mind and wait for it to be over, or (advanced training) emulate the ancient Chinese adage. In this case, Heinleins premise is that a violent gang rape is something that a woman (or a man, apparently) should not only be able to shrug off psychologically, but should ideally turn into situation where the victim can gain a tactical advantage. Through the rest of the book we get Heinleins view of free love. Heinlein does have a dynamic that could be used to rationalize his characterization in that his main character is an artificial person, one whose genetic profile has been upgraded in various ways from the human standard. Whats worse, it is here that we run into one of the other flaws of Heinleins clearly retrograde character and writing. However, if a reader is inclined to give Heinlein an out on the issue of rape and the sexuality of his main character based on the fact that she has been genetically altered to acclimate things like rape and the sublimation of her sexuality to the will of others then... The ire that Heinlein presents at the prejudice against artificial people is, in fact, supported by his portrayal. In fact, I only made it through the whole thing because I was hoping that there would be some indication that it was a subversive exploration of such fallacies in science fiction literature. I can only recommend this book to someone with an academic interest in the decline of an author whose reputation is overblown, his importance over-estimated, and whose work has clearly caught up to a sadly lacking intellect.
This book is an old friend of mine. When I first read this book, Friday was among the first female action heroines I'd run across. Friday is a good attempt to create a believable female character, but she's not very successful, and the excuse that she's an artificial person and not normally socialized only goes so far. Heinlein is often accused of making "men with breasts" for his female characters, and Friday often strays into this territory. Second, of course, Friday is female.
A very well written storied view of the near future of a world ruled by corporations. Racial and gender equality are obviously important to Heinlein and that and any other form of bigotry is reviled by this author in a clever and demonstrative story.
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer.