Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Assignment in Eternity” as Want to Read:
Assignment in Eternity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Assignment in Eternity

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,786 ratings  ·  78 reviews
1 Gulf - Joe Greene steals doomsday weapon plans, caught by bad Mrs Keithley with Kettle-Belly Baldwin, learns superman skills.
2 Elsewhen - Prof Arthur Frost and 5 students vanish - to other planets?
3 Lost Legacy aka Lost Legion by Lyle Monroe - Prof Phillip Huxley teaches student Joan and Dr Ben Coburn telepathy tricks, meets Ambrose Pierce.
4 Jerry Was a Man -
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Baen (first published January 1st 1953)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Assignment in Eternity, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le GuinGrass by Sheri S. TepperParable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerThe Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonThe Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Most Under-rated Science Fiction
283rd out of 1,085 books — 1,221 voters
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. HeinleinStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. HeinleinTime Enough for Love by Robert A. HeinleinHave Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
Your Favorite Heinlein Novel
36th out of 41 books — 224 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
The problem with Heinlein is that he's so readable. Ordinarily the ability to write compelling prose -- which is not actually a given, especially in hard SF -- would be good, but in RAH's case this often results in me being taken on journeys I really, really did not want to go on, and yet I find myself unable to stop. (See: anything involving incest, relationships with your underage future girlfriend, the entirety of Friday, and really I could keep going. And yet I am still trying to read most o ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carl V.
Assignment in Eternity is a collection of four of Heinlein’s early published works. Two of the stories are advertised as “short novels”, or what might be more accurately called in current word count designations as novellas, and two shorter works. All four of these were first published in magazine format in the 1940’s, though two were actually written in 1939.

I first became a fan of Robert A. Heinlein over a decade ago when I read his novel Friday. I went on to read Time Enough for Love and then
An Odd1
"Important for their philosophical content rather than science speculation -- for values of 'philosophical' that involved speculative metaphysics and speculative anthropology. Elsewhen was in fact one of his earliest stories -- Opus 5 -- and Elsewhen -- Opus 10 -- was written even before 1939 was out" p 2. "These early stories collected together [for 1953] .. marked the intellectual pathway Heinlein was to follow" p 4 (from Intro by William H. Patterson Jr).
1 Gulf Nov-Dec 1949 Astounding - Joe
Some of my favorite reading back in the day was "golden age" science fiction that I had found a stash of in the thrift store of the tiny town I grew up in. Much of that gold was from the pen of Heinlein, and reading this was like going home for summer vacation. The themes are familiar and I have always admired the way he could write bantering dialogue of the sort good friends use. This book contains four of his best stories because of--not in spite of--its abrupt ending. I'd also like to see th ...more
Darin Ramsey
I borrowed this from the library because I'm writing a story that follows the basic Heileinian pattern (if it wasn't a word, well it is now). It's not far off from the classic Campbell story, but RAH has a lot of flavors of his own to add, including long, meandering discussions of political and/or personal belief systems. What better way to make the best plot possible than to read all the Heinlein I haven't yet burned through? Besides, this book of four novellas included Gulf, which he wrote as ...more
This book has 4 short stories of Heinlein's from 1941 to 1949. The first story, Gulf, has a protagonist who seems very similar to the protagonist from Puppet Masters, a super-competent man-of-action. It deals with his interaction with a group of people that are even more super-competent than he is. However the ending is abrupt and seems like a throw-away, it left me very unsatisfied. It's easy to think that characters like this are just rip-off from James Bond, but then when you work it out this ...more
Collection of shorts & novellas. The novellas relate to secret ubermensch society; the two shorts are apparent one-offs, involving respectively interdimensional travel and bioengineering. None of the stories have much intrigue, and the novellas lack schwerpunkt. The first novella is a spy narrative, wherein a master infiltrator is inducted into the secret society in order to stop some rich greasers from blowing up the earth with the ultimate weapon. The second novella involves some academics ...more
Julius Butcher
Sometimes I treat old books as if they were old wine, savoring the story matured during decades. But sometimes they go sour, lose their flavor, and I just spit them out. I mean I give up reading. This is what happened to me reading Assignment in Eternity.
It took off well, the first story, "Gulf" was promising. I like fast paced action, so I followed the story with interest. Then the fast flow of events slowed down like a river leaving the mountains and spreading out wide on the plains. What fol
Brian Lewis
This is a fantastic book. It's really a compilation of 4 short stories, all very worth reading. After reading Starship Troopers, I was a bit hesitant to read more from Heinlein, however, the work in this book is a lot more finely polished. While Starship Troopers dragged heavily mid-book, the stories here are well paced and full of analytical thinking and action when it needed it.

Gulf was my favorite story in the series. The characters were mysterious, the events depicted gave you an impression
One of the other reviewers on here said it pretty well: Heinlein is just too darn readable, even if you can't get past some of his themes and attitudes. So even the long boring crap about supermen saving all us others who are too dumb to take care of ourselves is tolerable for a while longer than expected.
A word first about Bronson Pinchot as a narrator: Outstanding. Especially for Heinlein. He reads the characters as they sound in my head. He sounds older now, too, because he is, of course. An
Thomas Fackler
Heinlein has probably written the script for every sci-fi movie, ever - no hyperbole intended.


The first short story, novella, novel of a different length, or work of fiction stuffs us into the mind of a high-functioning officer of the law whose abilities at serving and protecting earn him a higher calling of questionable morality.

Speculative fiction to make you feel like there is a subconscious that works the way the story says it does. A group of students and a philosopher make th
Matteo Pellegrini

« L'uomo è più di un animale perchè ragiona; il superuomo e più di un uomo perché ragiona meglio ». Ouesta frase sintetizza la tematica dei quattro romanzi brevi riuniti in questo volume, uno dei più significativi apparsi durante la cosiddetta « Età d’Oro della Fantascienza ». Negli Stati Uniti dell’avvenire, le opposte forze del bene e del male si combattono sul terreno della facoltà parapsicologiche: sarà compito di una ristretta
cerchia di giovani selezionati recuperare la perduta eredità del


1 Gulf - Joe Greene steals doomsday weapon plans, caught by bad Mrs Keithley with Kettle-Belly Baldwin, learns superman skills.
2 Elsewhen - Prof Arthur Frost and 5 students vanish - to other planets?
3 Lost Legacy aka Lost Legion by Lyle Monroe - Prof Phillip Huxley teaches student Joan and Dr Ben Coburn telepathy tricks, meets Ambrose Pierce.
4 Jerry Was a Man - Rich Martha Van Vogel indulges husband 'Brownie' Bronson with gene-created Pegasus, until he wants rescued ape slave Jerry s

Assignment In Eternity by Robert A. Heinlein

I hadn't read this one, though it includes some familiar ideas from Heinlein's Future Histories. Just some of the things in this collection:

Pocket telephones
3D printing from saved designs
Supermen and superwoman
Time travel
the morality of eugenics
Questions "a lot of gallant nonsense"
Earth sheltered home with in-floor heating
An answer to what happened to Ambrose Bierce.
Genetic manipulation including through surgery
A definition of humanity.
Oct 18, 2014 Kimberlyn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of cerebral sci fi
I’ve been trying to refresh my memory of the golden age sci-fi authors that I’d loved as a kid. This collection was not on the list of must-reads, but became available at my local library, so I figured, what the hell?

I should first state that these stories were mostly written during an era of optimism in American science fiction. There was strong, confident belief in the inevitable improvement of humanity, and that with technological advances, hunger, war, racism, and illness would gradually be
Sep 09, 2013 Joan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: true sci-fi and Heinlein fans
I noticed that the people doing either the foreword or afterword echoed Heinlein's well known complaints about editors changing his stories. Well, I suspect the editors knew exactly what they were doing. These are some of his earliest works, if I'm understanding correctly. They are interesting in that you can see themes that he developed further and more expertly later on in life. However, I wouldn't call them exceptional stories of the typical Heinlein level. Although I must say I loved "Jerry ...more
Beverly Diehl
Read this many moons ago, and the stories were written even longer ago than that: Gulf (1949), Elsewhen (1941), Lost Legacy (1941), Jerry Was a Man (1947).

All but the last story focus on the idea of psychic or supernatural powers; the idea that, if trained, humans could think faster, react faster, use telepathy and telekinesis, perhaps even levitate and travel through time and space.

In Gulf Joe Greene is "converted" to the cause of supermen/women against evil, taking on an evil genius determined
Assignment in Eternity captivated me with mind bending reality changes throughout the four short stories which are within it's pages. Heinlein, being the "dean of space-age fiction" (The New York Times), seems more occupied with mental awakenings that occur in the future rather than any sort of technological advances. Unlike most sci-fi, Assignment in Eternity deals with fantasy type powers such as levitation, mind control, and above all, extremely superior intelligence. The short stories Gulf, ...more
Dec 05, 2008 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Quite the Assignment!

Early Heinlein, for me, is a bit interesting regardless of its sly wit and occasional weak female characters. These were written in the 40s and were decent and entertaining but not up to the level of story Heinlein wrote in the Sixties and beyond, "Stranger in a Strange Land," etc.

This book is an anthology, all having something to do with the improvement of the human condition, and a bit of fantasy mixed into the science.

"Gulf" starts out as a spy novel, but then evolves i
This is a collection of four short novellas. The language is a little dated, but the ideas behind the stories are solid.
All four stories are related to Mind, and what Mind is capable of.
"The Gulf" follows a secret agent who discovers he is actually a superior human- and part of a select group of such. This group is trying to guide the rest of Humanity away from disaster as we 'normals' gradually evolve into Homo Superior.
"Elsewhen" tells about a group of college students who are taught how
Heather Pagano
A collection of novellas that share the common theme of creative brainstorming about ways the human race could be better. Some of the explorations were kookier than others, but I appreciated the spirit of unbridled "what if." The novellas, themselves, had some great action sequences. Unfortunately the pacing was off on most of the novellas, rushing in odd places. There were also plenty of occasions when the plot got completely lost in large dips of philosophizing. Looking back it's really cool t ...more
As I continue to read Heinlein's work, I find that I get more and more wrapped up in the universe that he has created. This compilation of shorts was a fun romp through that universe. My favorites were "Lost Legacy" and "Jerry Was a Man".

I liked that there was very little political stuff going on in these stories. So often, Heinlein rams that down your throat (not that it's all bad, and in fact, it's often very entertaining. Though it can become tiresome).

Not sure if I'll read this book again. Since I didn't read the first book properly this put me off. I'm glad I endured these story and found the good ones.

Gulf (1 star) I been read this on and off for many reasons. This make the story hard to follow. In the end I didn't enjoy. The ending I felt over dramatic and rushed.

Elsewhen (4 stars) I liked this book. Its nice to read a time travel book with many characters and paths. The none believe was a great way to discuss things in the book.

Lost Le
SciFi - two novellas and two short stories. The novellas, Gulf (1949) and Lost Legacy (1941), concern the potential of man's further evolution when he learns to fully harness the powers of his brain. Elsewhen (1941) is a tale of mental powered time travel; and, Jerry Was a Man (1947), by evoking Southern slavery, investigates the fundamental nature of man.
Chris Micklewright
Very original story telling; this is a great example of the best sci-fi has to offer. The book consists if 4 short stories exploring the limits of human potential. I am particularly fascinated by Heinlein's idea for a more efficient language in the first story, helping humans to communicate-and even think-more effectively.
This is actually 4 stories rather than one novel, which I didn't know when I started reading it. But the stories are good. I enjoyed all the stories, and it was interesting how kind of a theme throughout was the temptation of talented people to try to control others, and the fact that even if the control is 'benevolent' it is still wrong.
Bogdan Gavriliuc
I could compare this to a rubik's cube, or some other puzzle toy. It's cute and fun to play with for a bit, but you'll lose interest after enough time.

This book puts out some interesting ideas, then tries to turn them into stories with some short narrative. However the story often leaps over a lot of details and potential counter-points. But the sci-fi ideas are worth checking out, especially since it's quick.
Ethan I. Solomon
Four-stars all the way. Essential reading for any Heinlein fans and anyone studying early sci-fi. Some very powerful feminism countered by the usual stereotypes of the day. Granted, for the most part, Heinlein matured in his views and that is reflected in his later works. All in all very enjoyable, but only to die-hard sci-fi addicts.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Nine Tomorrows
  • Tales From The White Hart
  • By Any Other Name
  • Destination: Universe!
  • Gladiator-at-Law
  • Starburst
  • Keith Laumer: The Lighter Side
  • The Smoke Ring (The State, #3)
  • Destiny Doll
  • The Worlds of Frank Herbert
  • The Preserving Machine
  • Twice 22: The Golden Apples of the Sun / A Medicine for Melancholy
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre
More about Robert A. Heinlein...
Stranger in a Strange Land Starship Troopers The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Time Enough for Love The Puppet Masters

Share This Book

“Or maybe he was seeing double. Bad stuff, gin. Should ‘ave switched to rum a long time ago. Good stuff, rum. You could drink it, or take a bath in it. No, that was gin — he meant Joe.” 5 likes
More quotes…