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Double Star

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  15,045 Ratings  ·  465 Reviews
The encounter with a spaceman is the great turning point in the life of actor Lorenzo Smythe. He is the Double Bonfortes, the missing leader of the Expansionist Party. Lorenzo begins to play the role of his life, and from it alone depends the future of humanity ...
Paperback, #P3669, 128 pages
Published October 1st 1968 by New American Library/Signet (first published 1956)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review also posted at Fantasy Literature.

In Double Star, a 1956 Robert Heinlein novella, Lawrence Smith (aka Lorenzo Smythe or "Lorenzo the Great"), an out-of-work actor, accepts a job to impersonate a man for a few days, without, perhaps, asking as many questions about the job as he should have. He promptly finds himself whisked off to the planet Mars, standing in for one of the most important political figures in the solar system, who has been kidnapped. Larry's first task: fool the Martians
Oct 07, 2011 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this.

Heinlein's first but least recognized Hugo Award winner. Like many of his better works, this is a science fiction vehicle that he uses to discuss other issues, here he spends time with politics, maybe even adding some subtle, and not too subtle ideas about what he thinks is right and wrong in politics.

Not consistent with other novels about Martians, or his future fiction in other books, but excellent characterization and a fun story. Borrows heavily from the Prisoner of Zen

Before I begin, I'd like to thank you all for choosing to read this review today. It is you who actively participate in the Goodreads community that are the pulsating heart of this great country, _____. (Insert your country name here.) Without your efforts, intellectual life everywhere would be sure to stagnate. This has always been my position, and I am a man with firm convictions, never changing my mind about anything.

Just yesterday, a young, impoverished child asked me how I was going to hel
Oct 04, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O lectura facilă și amuzantă, Stea dublă este povestea lui Lawrence Smith, un actor șomer care acceptă să joace rolul unei mari personalități politice timp de câteva zile și se trezește fără voia sa în miezul unei întregi conspirații oculte...

Cu toate că nu este o capodoperă a originalității sau a răsturnărilor de situație, cartea asta mi-a plăcut destul de mult datorită stilului ironic și personalității personajului principal - folosirea persoanei întâi și felul în care Smith (Smith cel îngâmf
Feb 13, 2009 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Brian Aldiss, in Trillion Year Spree, says this is Heinlein's most enjoyable novel. Who am I to fault his judgment? It is, indeed, a lot of fun: pathetic, failed actor Laurence Smith (stage name, "Lorenzo Smythe") is hired to impersonate John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the Expansionist party, and the Solar System's most important politician. Bonforte has been kidnapped, and for complicated reasons there is an appointment he must attend; no excuse will be acceptable if he fails to turn up on time ...more

A couple of years ago I attended an event at which Connie Willis spoke about her research for Blackout and All Clear. She referenced numerous romantic comedies and several war movies in addition to her factual historic research. I don't recall that she brought up many works of fiction, but Double Star was one of them, and it stuck in my mind as something I wanted to read. Between the Hugo win and the subject matter, I thought it would be worth a try.
Willis said that Double Star was inspired by t
Nov 22, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Actors, politicians, and liars (but I repeat myself), Martianphobes
This is one of Heinlein's early novels, which you can tell by the brevity and the lack of wankery. Also the fact that he just jumps straight into the story and never wastes much time on exposition.

This is in fact one of Heinlein's greatest strengths, and I think a major reason for his grandmaster status — he may be a bit out of fashion nowadays, and he often lost the plot in his later works, but he was first and foremost a storyteller. A spinner of yarns, a teller of tales, and if readers freque
Dec 12, 2011 Petertpc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This may be my favorite Robert Heinlein novel, at least of the few I've read so far. I enjoy political intrigue in SF novels and Heinlein does a great job creating a detailed, believable plot full of twists and turns, that still never seems to drag. Lorenzo Smythe is a great character who grows during the course of the book to become a better person. I like that. I also like that there was none of the weird Heinlein sex stuff that made me dislike "Stranger in a Strange Land."

This was just a fun
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Of the Heinlein novels I have read, this one is my second favorite after The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. I have always been a fan of the "idea" portions of Heinlein's stories but sometimes have found the actual plots a bit dry. Not so with this one which I really liked from both an idea and plot perspective.

In brief, the story revolves around a talented, but unemploted, actor named Lawrence Smith recruited to portray a popular politician after he has been kidnapped by political
Double Star: No second-rate actor could ever become president, right?
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Double Star is one of Robert Heinlein’s most enjoyable early period SF novels, a short and tightly-plotted story of out-of-work actor Lawrence Smith (aka “The Great Lorenzo”), who is unexpectedly tapped for a very important acting job, to impersonate an important politician named John Bonforte who has been kidnapped. Initially the job is supposed to be just short-term until the real guy ca
Oct 17, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about a down-in-his-luck actor, Lorenzo Smythe. He was approached with a job; to impersonate someone for about an hour. It would be a quick job, and he would be well paid for his efforts.

Lorenzo was not told who he would be impersonating, or the reason why. He had to take the job--or leave it. He eventually was talked into taking the job, but little did he know that the job was to impersonate someone on Mars. And Lorenzo got physically sick at the sight and smell of Martians!

Mar 22, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
Again, I was really tickled by this old tale in audio format. The reader was excellent & his voices occasionally had me in stitches. The King sounded like JFK & it worked. LOL!

Politics is the greatest game, but sometimes has dirty players, is Heinlein's assertion. The basic idea is that of team play. Interesting idea & I loved the way the character evolved. Again, he managed to fit a lot of his own ideas into the story without being preachy & keeping the action moving the entire
Lubinka Dimitrova

''If there were ethical basics that transcended time and place, then they were true both for Martians and for men. They were true on any planet around any star—and if the human race did not behave accordingly they weren’t ever going to win to the stars because some better race would slap them down for double-dealing.''

4,5 stars. One couldn't not love the good, old sci-fi, especially when sprinkled with some political Libertarianism. I really liked all the characters, but I was also deeply troub
Apr 18, 2010 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, sf
A fun and quick book, and another example of why the most consistently enjoyable Heinlein writings were the early ones.

There's nothing amazingly noteworthy, and it's certainly not a must-read-before-you-die type of book. But it does have a message, and it does have an exuberant style, and (probably its greatest attribute) the book is concise enough to know precisely how to avoid overstaying its welcome.

You won't regret giving this a read, whether you've never read science fiction or whether you
Ed [Redacted]
May 06, 2012 Ed [Redacted] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I have a soft spot for Heinlein. Often I think that a Heinlein book that I really enjoy will not be for everyone, however, in this case, I think nearly everyone would enjoy this light, entertaining romp of a book.

The narrative is from the POV of the protagonist Lawrence Smythe (hack actor "The Great Lorenzo"). Smythe is a narcissistic, self delusional asshat who is suddenly, more or less without his informed consent, thrust into what turns out to be the life changing role of a lifetime. It is f
Mar 26, 2012 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
I've read this fine novel twice. I liked it better the second time 'round. Upon my first reading, I felt I had read - or watched - to many like it before. It was also a different sort of story than what I was expecting, or used to, from Heinlein. But it is well crafted, I liked the characters and the humour. If it's an original idea at the time it was published, it deserved the Hugo and the praise it continues to get.

Scalzi could have written this had he been born a couple generation earlier, I
In a sense, the narrator is irrelevant. A poorly-educated waif (I never have quite understood Heinlein's apparent worship of abusive father/teachers. The narrator recites a tale of beatings and abuse that would likely serve as a pretty good legal brief for a lawyer suing the father for damages) becomes 'educated' by subsuming his own personality into the person he's hired to impersonate. Essentially an education by suicide, reminiscent of one of Zenna Henderson's stories in which a woman is one ...more
Pablo Padilla
Jun 04, 2013 Pablo Padilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-scifi
"I regard them as prostitutes, not colleagues. Let me make myself clear. Does an author respect a ghost writer? Would you respect a painter who allowed another man to sign his work -- for money? Possible the spirit of the artist is foreign to you, sir, yet perhaps I may put it in terms germane to your own profession."

Lawrence Smith, also known as Lorenzo Smythe --The Great Lorenzo!-- is a very proud actor, and one of the best know in the Empire. He is asked to act in an interesting and well paye
Sep 27, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I didn't care much for Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I loved his Stranger in a Strange Land . This book falls somewhere in the middle of the two. Now that I have read three of his works, I have to express my appreciation for their variety. Science fiction can take so many forms, with the most obvious and in your face being the space opera, or the more actual scientific stuff, such as Jurassic Park, which I don't always understand, but I do respect. What I really like about Heinlein's books ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurence Smith, stage name Lorenzo Smythe, in search of work, takes on a performance offered by a space pilot, with few details offered. Smythe then very rapidly finds himself immersed in a much more involved project than he believed that he had signed up for. The pilot asks Smythe to assume another man’s persona, again without details, and whisks Smythe off in a spaceship into the reaches of the solar system. Written before man went into space, Heinlein foresees an interplanetary government tha ...more
Carl Alves
Dec 24, 2015 Carl Alves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Double Star, actor Lorenzo Smythe is a down and out actor who is tabbed to take on the role of pretending to be a key politician who is in the middle of a plot involving potential interplanetary war with Mars. After the politician has been kidnapped and injured, Lorenzo is embroiled in a series of conspiracies that lead him to interplanetary adventure.

This was a fun novel to read. For one thing, the pace was very quick and the author did not draw it out by adding fluff and filler. Lorenzo sta
Kat  Hooper
May 03, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit:

Most of Robert A. Heinlein’s adult novels have interesting ideas or premises but many lack likeable characters and/or fun quickly-moving plots. Fortunately Double Star has all the right elements and is entertaining from start to finish. It’s one of Heinlein’s best novels, I think, and I must not be alone in that opinion since it won the Hugo Award in 1956 and was nominated for Locus’ All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels. Double Star is a character-based novel that exp
Note to self: you find Heinlein unbearably offensive, even if he can write a good plot. Stay away in the future.

I picked up this book as an Audible Daily Deal. I absolutely loved the narrator's performance. He has to read in the voice of an actor who is often acting as someone else, plus give recognizable accents to the rest of the cast of characters. The audiobook is worth it for the narration alone.

Heinlein, unfortunately, is his typical misogynistic self in this story. The political machinati
Kevin Brown
This is one of my "read all the Hugo and Nebula novels" books. Of all the authors on the list, Heinlein I fear the most. He won four Hugos. I have tried to read "Stranger In a Strange Land" before and could not get into it. "Farnham's Freehold" (admittedly, not an award winner) was god-awful. So I have to mark "Double Star" as a pleasant surprise; a fairly straightforward political story with a main character who (unlike many of RH's) avoids atrocious, long-winded lecturing. And even the dialog, ...more
Richard Guion
Feb 07, 2016 Richard Guion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still relevant & entertaining today as it was in the 1950s

Wonderfully fast paced tale of an actor hired to replace a kidnapped politician. Somewhat vain & non-political he learns to take up the cause of rights for all aliens. Very good, funny, I could imagine Ben Kingsely in the role of Smythe/Bonaparte.
Kelsey Cretcher
Aug 29, 2014 Kelsey Cretcher rated it really liked it
(3/63) In my Hugo Read-Through
       Double Star by Robert Heinlein won the third Hugo Award for novel in 1956. It’s my third stop on my read-through and the first time I’ve read a Heinlein all the way through.

       Double Star was a very enjoyable read, I wouldn't agree with many reviews that state "it's nonstop fun" or "constant action" because it isn't constant action, this is a very political and somewhat philosophical book. The story revolves around a narcissistic, Martian-racist actor n
Apr 02, 2015 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fun. It starts off with an egotistical protagonist, who is presumably the character depicted on the cover of the edition I read (he looks like an asshole; as it turns out: he’s an asshole), doesn’t have a job anymore, but thinks he is one of the greatest actors ever to live. How far he’s willing to go to prove that presumption develops into half of the driving force behind this fast-paced, enjoyable winner of the third Hugo Award for best novel. The other half of the momentum deriv ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
DOUBLE STAR. (1956). Robert A. Heinlein. ***.
I read lots of Heinlein’s science fiction novels when I was a teenager; this wasn’t one of them. It probably wouldn’t have interested me then, and I find it rather dated and dull now. Although pitched as a thriller set in the future, it is really a novel about forms of government which, though set on an interplanetary backdrop, smacks heavily of post-Korean War Earth. A roving actor looking for work meets up with a space captain in a ‘waterfront’ bar
Feb 14, 2016 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The genre of science fiction is wide and varied, as proven by Double Star. It reads more like a good political thriller than sci-fi. You have your SF elements of course: Martian assassins, interplanetary government and lunar cities, but there is also political kidnappings and backdoor deals to secure the most powerful office in the solar system. The holder of the office will either lead mankind out among the stars or confine it to a xenophobic existence on mother earth.

Lorenzo Smythe, a conceit
Douglas Summers-Stay
This reminded me of the Stainless Steel Rat books. Also the movie Dave. The narrator is a star, in the sense of an actor, and a double for a politician. Heinlein did some things much better than other writers of his time. Even though it's just a silly adventure story, he manages to work in a lot of commentary on political life and he very cleverly makes the narrator's voice change over time as he begins to identify with the person he is playing.
The big drawback of the story was the awful charact
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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
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