Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) far right

Audiobooks The Past through TomorrowAuthor Robert A. Heinlein –

On the afternoon of Saturday, October 4th, 1975, having just turned thirteen years old a few weeks before, I rode my bicycle about 2 1 2 miles to the nearest bookstore to my house that sold science fiction books the long defunct Books Friends in Oakton, VA I know this not because I remember the event, but because I wrote it in the back of a paperback copy of The Past Through Tomorrow, an 830 page collection of Robert Heinlein s Future History stories What I do remember is that I didn t start reading the book right away, but got absorbed in it the next year during a long family car trip from Virginia to Louisiana This book, along with some Archie and Superman comics, helped make the trip bearable for me.Virtually all the stories in this collection were written between 1939 and 1949, with a couple of them dating from, or having been revised, about ten years later Since the stories appear in chronological order from the point of view of Heinlein s telling of history , but they were not written in that order, one can t help but conclude that Heinlein had an outline of his history already in mind 1939 and indeed this is confirmed in the introduction by Damon Knight, which quotes one of Heinlein s editors writing in February 1941 Heinlein s science fiction is laid against a common background of a proposed future history of the world and of the United States Heinlein s worked the thing out in detailhe has an outlined and graphed history of the future with characters, dates of major discoveries, etc., plotted in Indeed, a version of this graph is reproduced in the book What astounds me is that this was a work of imagination almost equivalent to Tolkien s history of Middle Earth, and yet it is not nearly so well known That seems a shame to me.The stories begin with present day that is, 1939 America, and the invention of a machine that can tell how long someone is going to live Life Line In retrospect this story almost looks like it doesn t belong in the collection, since the machine is destroyed shortly after it is unveiled, and its inventor Dr Pinero is killed Only much later, in the final story, does the main character refer back to the machine and to Pinero, making a nice closure for the reader.There is a stately progression through the short stories, which tell of the invention of moving roadways between American cities The Roads Must Roll, Blowups Happen These stories don t have a major impact on the rest of the history, but the roads are mentioned in passing in later stories.Then the real meat of the timeline gets started with what I call the Harriman Cycle stories about space pioneer Delos David Harriman that document man s first steps into space, landing on the moon, and establishment of permanent lunar settlements all done by private companies, I ll add, and not by governments These stories are The Man Who Sold the Moon, Delilah and the Space Rigger, Space Jockey, and Requiem, by the end of which travel between Earth and bases on the moon was, if not commonplace, common that Space Shuttle launches at the height of that program.The series continues with The Long Watch, Gentlemen, Be Seated, The Black Pits of Luna, It s Great To Be Back , We Also Walk Dogs, and Searchlight These stories all describe life on the Moon, politics between Earth and the cities on Luna, and the evolving technology of the late 1900s and early 2000s, as Heinlein saw it boy, don t I wish.Man moves further afield in The Green Hills of Earth and Logic of Empire, which tell of human settlements on Mars and Venus both of which worlds have indigenous life So too, one could say, does the Moon by now, with whole generations of humans being born and living their lives there, as shown in The Menace From Earth The progression of civilization in particular, American civilization, since other nationalities are rarely mentioned in any of the above stories into space seems to be abruptly interrupted with a story that, at first read, doesn t seem to belong in this collection at all If This Goes On is the tale of an American theocracy ruled by a Prophet from the city of New Jerusalem Kansas City, I think Only slowly does it become clear to the reader that the US suffered a sort of coup around 2016 and this new government was set up, with all the trappings of a heaven on Earth but in reality a police state very similar to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia which, considering the story was written in 1940, it was not prescient per se but extremely timely and shows that Heinlein was acutely aware of developments and conditions across the world The story deals with events that would later be incorporated into the collection Revolt in 2100, which is about when it takes place SPOILER ALERT The Prophet is overthrown in this story, and a new government set up which is clearly descended from the old US Republic, but is a Utopian minded form.Throughout If This Goes On and the following story, Coventry, the new society in America is examined in some detail but barely any mention is made of other countries, Luna, or the colonies on Mars and Venus Space travel appears to be banned by the Prophet and all traces of it expunged from the history books This is explained to a small degree in Methuselah s Children, the final story in the collection and the first appearance of the famous and immortal character Woodrow Wilson Smith, aka Lazarus Long.I didn t mean for this review to be a detailed explication of Heinlein s Future History, which is a good thing because I ve gone on too long already There are plenty of scholarly discussions of Heinlein s work, and this collection in particular, online along with descriptions of stories he meant to include but never wrote, stories that were written but left out, and so on Let me just say in closing that if you are a Heinlein fan and want to immerse yourself in the universe that seems to have been his main playground of imagination, get a copy of The Past Through Tomorrow and dive in Some of the stories are a little dated in their language and social s by today s standards, but remember when they were written and enjoy the genius of the man who was able to project the technology and society of 1940s America and project it, plausibly, centuries into the future. This is a huge tomb 830 pages and and inch and three quarters thick It contains 21 stories, some of which are novel length for that time 50,000 words The last story, Methuselah s Children has been published as a stand alone novel yes, I have it.I won t try to review all of the stories for fear of boring everyone It s enough that most of them are highly entertaining, even by today s standards, and all fit within Heinlein s future history timeline.Of the stories, Methuselah s Children is my all time favorite It leads into a huge tomb of it s own, Time Enough for Love , which Heinlein published later Both feature his favorite character I suspect he s RH s alter ego , Lazarus Long Woodrow Wilson Smith , an irascible curmudgeon.My other favorite story is The Menace from Earth about a teenage couple and a good looking woman from Earth who threatens to lure the boy away.I ve read this tomb so many times that the pages are starting to fall out mass market paperback I had to glue it back together this time through. I recently learned that back in 1966, when the attendees of the World Science Fiction Convention chose Isaac Asimov s Foundation books to receive a special Hugo Award for the best sci fi series of all time, what came in second was Robert A Heinlein s Future History series For those who don t know, it s a collection of several dozen short stories and novellas that he published in random order and in a myriad of different magazines over twenty years, but that nonetheless are all set in the same persistent alternative future and share a common timeline, major occurrences and major characters, an impressive feat that became all the so when they were finally collected and put in chronological order in a single massive thousand page volume in 1967 And so I thought this would be a perfect way for me to start what I hope to be a pervasive overview of Heinlein s entire career over the next couple of years after all, most of these stories were published in the 1940s and 50s decades when he was establishing his bona fides for the first time, and I ve been told heavily influence his later mature novels like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls that he s much better remembered for at this point.So what a profound shock, then, to start in on this earlier this year and realize that they are barely readable now, 50 to 70 years after they were originally published, not just dated but so objectively awful that it took me literally six months to finally force myself to choke my way through to the end The main problem here is that Heinlein is famously known as one of the first popular proponents of what s now known as hard science fiction, in which actual plausible scientific notions from our own age are implanted into fiction set in the future but since he was one of the first people in literary history to do this, his technique for implanting this modern science is so awkward and blocky as to be ludicrous, with many of these stories essentially containing only a few paragraphs of actual fictional narrative, to serve as an excuse for Heinlein to write another 20 pages of nonfiction discourse about the latest the human race knows about nuclear fission, or jet fuel, or the effect of weightlessness on the human body Then when he finally gets out of his own way and manges to actually write some narrative fiction, these particular stories turn out to be textbook examples of everything atrocious that made sci fi such an unrespected and hacky genre in these years the characters are largely cardboard cutouts, the dialogue as stilted as a Tommy Wiseau script, gleefully embracing every sexual and racial stereotype that even existed in the Mid Century Modernist era, setting the stage for the James Kirk rah rah white males trope that dominated this genre for decades after.If this was considered in 1966 to be one of the best science fiction projects that industry had ever produced, then it s a profound reminder of just how far science fiction has progressed and matured in the half century since, as well as a virtual poster child for how necessary the so called New Wave of sci fi that was in full swing at the time actually was for the revitalization of this genre In this, then, reading The Past Through Tomorrow in the 2010s can be a very instructive experience, an enlightening look at why it took so long for sci fi to gain mainstream acceptance and admiration in our society But if you re simply looking to read some great work by Heinlein, do yourself a favor and skip this entirely, and go straight to the books from the late 60s through early 80s when he was at the height of his creative powers. This is a compilation of 21 Heinlein short stories in his Future History If you ve never read Heinlein want a good introduction, this is probably the best single book of his works you can buy You ll see quite a range of his best The paperback is as fat as one of Jordan s books contains some novella length stories two, Revolt in 2100 Methuselah s Children were published as novels Others are title stories from other short story collections The Green Hills of Earth The Man Who Sold The Moon , for example. Here In One Monumental Volume Are All Of The Stories, Novellas And Novels Making Up Heinlein S Famous Future History The Rich, Imaginative Architecture Of Man S Destiny That Many Consider His Greatest And Most Prophetic WorkContents Introduction Damon Knight Life Line The Roads Must Roll Blowups Happen The Man Who Sold The Moon Delilah And The Space Rigger Space Jockey Requiem The Long Watch Gentleman, Be Seated The Black Pits Of Luna It S Great To Be Back We Also Walk Dogs Searchlight Ordeal In Space The Green Hills Of Earth Logic Of Empire The Menace From Earth If This Goes On Coventry Misfit Methuselah S Children A worthy read for Heinlein s fans The quality of the stories varies a bit, as they were written at different times, but having them in this collection and chronologically ordered helps keep the future history timeline straight.The stories suffer from Heinlein s usual flaws i.e female characters but also showcase his strengths e.g pushing new social and political ideas, a love and veneration of science This collection is a good example of why Heinlein is considered one of the big three even if I did forget whether I was reading Future History or Robot and Empire occasionally. This is probably one of Heinlein s greatest works in terms of weaving together many stories with a self consistent story line In it he introduces his best known character, Lazarus Long Probably his next best character in terms of references to the character in other stories, would be D.D Harriman And to be honest, in many ways Harriman was a likable character than Lazarus Long Lazarus Long is sexist gets much worse in other books and isn t all that noticeable in this one , selfish, self centered and looks out for himself and those he chooses to look out for such as wives and kids I think my favorite story is The Long Watch which is straight patriotic adventure with a wonderful hero Although I love The Menace from Earth for the concept of flying as an individual sport on the moon The characters in that story irritate me though Heinlein came up with many sci fi concepts in these stories that have at least some bearing in reality For example, lights that turn themselves off when no one is in the room We have that concept in reality now, many decades after Heinlein created it I have read this before but apparently never written it up on Goodreads for some reason I think I m going to toss my copy and make use of the space I don t think I ll read it again As I have mentioned in other reviews, Heinlein s political philosophy bothers me Although he did seem to admit in the story Coventry that there had to be some government no matter how much he would rather do without it Really, Coventry is a surprise coming from Heinlein I still have a number of Heinlein books to go through in my collection but I can tell you I vastly prefer Heinlein s juveniles to his adult books I think he was creative in those books and did real science fiction than in his adult books This is definitely worth reading but I can t see rereading this book again Too many different stories and too many pages 830 and time needed to read this. s mammoth future history 21 stories published as a collection in 1967, though in fact all but two originally came out between 1939 and 1949, outlining the future development of humanity through the coming centuries Heinlein misses a lot of things notably the rise of information technology his 23rd century spaceships are still running with slide rules Some of these are a bit too sentimental, some based on concepts that don t really resonate today, and the last, Methuselah s Children , is pretty weak 100,000 people surviving on a spaceship built for a much smaller number But the idea of framing a future history based on technological advance rather than, say, the mysticism of Olaf Stapedon remains engaging In particular, the theocratic America of If This Goes On is rather closer to the bone now than it was in the 1940s The whole collection is one of those taproot texts of the genre that remains well worth reading. The Past Through Tomorrow is a book of short stories by Robert A Heinlein It is my favorite science fiction book It may be my favorite book period Even though there are plenty of other things to read, I have to every year or two The character D.D Harriman is certainly an inventor ahead of his time, even though in his timeline he had different inventions to get into space.Now for divergent thoughts not in this book but brought on by thinking about this book.Speaking of inventors ahead of their time NOT IN THIS BOOK the other day I was thinking about how advanced that Star Trek the original series was in predicting science innovations Too bad the recent versions of Star Trek have not been as innovative The original Star Trek series was like one version of The Past Through Tomorrow What we see now and what we may see in the future.Some of the things science has come up with that were portrayed on TV are as follows Dr McCoy s hypo spray needle less vaccination guns used in hospitals Captain Kirk s handheld computer on the bridge Microsoft s Tablet PCs Captain Kirk s communicator cell phones minus miniature bomb Motion sensors in ships doors pocket doors in hospitals grocery stores One function of the communicator GPS in a cell phone with the Google Locater program enabled so others can see where you are located The episode where Worf is completely paralyzed and has to have special gizmos at various spots along his legs to get the muscles or nerves to fire right and help him learn to walk again on TV news I saw the exact same time of thing A lady in a wheelchair was going to get to walk for the first time with the same type of gizmos Worf had The news channel recorded it znf us viewers got to see it It was pretty exciting. Though I greatly enjoy Heinlen s writing, I didn t think I d read very many of his short stories Surprisingly, I had read Life Line , which is the first story in this book But I didn t mind re reading it one bit One thing I had not realized before was that it was the first short story Heinlen had ever submitted for publication I think the book is worth getting for it alone.Now, not only is this book just an incredible collection of plain good ole fashioned story telling at it s best, but the stories actually proceed in chronological order in the same timeline, which creates an incredible fluidity between stories You find yourself trying to figure out how far in the future from the last story you read you are in the one you ve just started.I think of the stories in the book, Life Line , The Green Hills of Earth , and Methuselah s Children are my favorites, though I think I enjoyed every one of them And you have characters that flow from one story to the next, so every now and then you get to spend time with a character that you found you enjoyed.Do I recommend this book Absolutely And despite it s thickness, it s actually great for people who aren t much into big books because it s a collection of short stories You can sit down and read for a half an hour or an hour and then put it down without regret Awesome book