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Double Star

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  11,609 ratings  ·  272 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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Michael

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
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Sarah



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
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Petertpc
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
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Manny
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
Jim
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
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Stephen
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
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[Redacted]
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
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Valerie
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
Stuart
Double Star is one of Heinlein’s most enjoyable early period SF novels, a short and tightly-plotted story of an out-of-work actor tapped to impersonate an important politician who has been incapacitated. Published in 1956, it contains the absurd scenario of an actor successfully turning into a politician. We know that could never happen in the real world, right??? I mean, that would be like totally absurd, to think an action star or second-rate actor could be a governor, or even, God Forbid, Pre ...more
Paul Wunderlich
"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
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Vlad
Being a huge Heinlein fan, I strongly recommend Double Star. However, it doesn't reach the heights of the master's best works.

The book's plot was heavily inspired by Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, although unlike most works for which that is true, it's not a Ruritanian romance. Lawrence Smith, styling himself as Lorenzo Smythe, is a vain, snobbish, out-of-work actor with a deep prejudice against Martians. He comes across pilot Dak Broadbent in a bar, and is recruited to assume the identit
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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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Kat  Hooper
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
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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
Veeral
This is a lesser known Heinlein compared to 'Moon', 'Stranger' and 'Troopers' but is as entertaining. I felt that the first half of the novel was better than the last one.
Mark
Here’s my latest reread of Heinlein’s works, as I go through the Virginia Edition series.

“If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting if he owned the place, he’s a spaceman.” (page 1)

Double Star is a tale that begins rather like one of those shaggy-dog stories (“So, this man walks into a bar…..”) but in the end becomes something deeper and more appealing.

Written in three weeks in March 1955, it is quite something quite different to the by-now typical Heinlein juvenile template. Written in t
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Dave
Many of Heinlein’s early novels are aimed at a younger audience, and those which aren’t tend to be more light-hearted. “Double Star” falls into the latter category, with an unlikely premise and an unusual character as the narrator and hero of the story. Although, it is also difficult to call this an early novel considering he had 12 published prior to this one, and that is not counting his first novel which wasn’t published until after his death. “Double Star” was published originally in “Astoun ...more
Tony
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
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Evan Filby
Being a “geezer” who was reading science fiction long before it was socially acceptable, taught in college classes, etc, I am always fascinated by how people react to Robert Heinlein’s work, and what features they chose to comment on. The reactions to “Double Star” do not disappoint. Since so many have outlined the overall plot -- and enough of the outcome to be “spoilers”-- I won’t go there. Unlike in many of his books, R.A. does not explore a lot of really “big ideas” in this rather short nove ...more
Bill Ward
Before Stranger in a Strange Land, before Starship Troopers, and before The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, there was Double Star, Heinlein’s first, and least known, Hugo Award wining novel. It isn’t a big idea novel, you aren’t going to see people throwing around words they don’t understand, like ‘fascist,’ when they talk about it. In a way, Double Star — which has nothing to do with binary star systems, if you were thinking it did — is sort of a hybrid of a Heinlein juvenile and one of his idea book ...more
Sarah
While The Rolling Stones was merely pretty good Heinlein, Double Star explains why Kyle has always raved about his books.

Of course I'm always a sucker for political intrigue, and Heinlein actually manages to keep his wheeling and dealing surprisingly moral. The staff of John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the progressive Expansionist Party, are genuinely nice people who truly believe that their party's platform will best serve the people of the Empire. While they do manage to convince self-absorbed
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Judy
Jul 14, 2010 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heinlein fans

Lorenzo Smythe is a down-and-out actor with zero prospects when he gets recurited by a space pilot to impersonate an important politician. For real! Because the politician has been kidnapped by an intergalactic political group, an action which could lead to interplanetary war.

Using this wacky plot, Heinlein gets to comment on all sorts of issues: the ways of actors, the ways of politics, the political awakening of a self-centered person, etc. He also addresses the problem of achieving harmony
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Bryan
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
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Jody
I read this book as part of the 'read a book from the year you were born' challenge. The pickings were pretty slim from the lists I could find. The Pulitzer winner, Andersonville weighs in at over 700 pages. The Newberry winner, Carry on Mr Bowditch, meh. There was a mystery available in Central Storage but they couldn't find it, so I ended up with this Heinlein book and liked it much better than expected. Don't read a lot of SF but it was interesting how modern this 50+ year old book felt. And ...more
Dave Creek
Jun 23, 2014 Dave Creek rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Classic SF fans, character-oriented SF fans, political junkies
I just re-read DOUBLE STAR after finishing the second part of the William Patterson Heinlein bio. This is a Hugo winner, and considered, rightfully, a classic. I won't spoil much of the plot except to say that a down-on-his-luck actor has to take the place of a prominent politician who has been severely injured. This nondescript man suddenly is one of the most important men in the solar system.

It's a character study, showing us someone who goes very quickly from being non-political to someone wi
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Mary JL
Dec 18, 2009 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any science fiction fan
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
Robert Heinlein won the Hugo Award for this book, and it is well deserved. Since it is quite short, it is often overlooked but Heinlein puts a really good story in a nice, neat little package.

Written over fifty years ago, of course the science is dated--slide rules and so on--but the discussions on politics and identity are still interesting today.

It is not as preachy as some of later works by Heinlein; I prefer almost all of his earlier novels and juveniles than his later works.

Recommended for
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Oleg Kagan
On of my favorite Heinlein's, and I like most of them quite a bit. Double Star is the story of a ham actor drafted to impersonate a controversial political figure. Of Heinlein's juvies, this is a later one '56, and a winner of the Hugo award in the same year. While I'm still working through the juvies, I am looking forward to digging into the middle period more and more. Stranger in a Strange Land et al you will soon be mine!

Appeals: Quick plot, political intrigue, actors, rocket ships, suspense
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sologdin
An early Hugo winner. Narrator starts off real charming: “Nobody could accuse me of race prejudice. I didn’t care what a man’s color, race, or religion was. But men were men, whereas Martians were things. They weren’t even animals” (5). Narrator is of course wrong, insofar as Martians “are a very old race and they have worked out a system of debts and obligations to cover every possible situation--the greatest formalists conceivable”; they “don’t have ‘right’ and ‘wrong’--instead they have propr ...more
Marvin
I just reread this book, having read it previously perhaps 40 to 45 years ago. I'm reluctant to reread old classics since they rarely seem to age well. This one did reasonably well, although "yellowing around the edges." It concerns an actor who is asked to impersonate someone important for one event and then gets sucked into further and further impersonations.

The writing is classical Heinlein (which it should be since it is classical Heinlein). The story moves quickly with a minimum of explanat
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Paul Wunderlich
"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
...more
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SF Masterworks Group: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein 1 4 Jul 19, 2013 05:39AM  
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • The Big Time
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • This Immortal
  • Way Station
  • Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)
  • Dreamsnake
  • The Mule: From Foundation And Empire
  • Rite of Passage
  • Mission of Gravity (Mesklin, #1)
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Mirror Dance (Vorkosigan Saga, #8)
  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • The Weapon Shops of Isher
  • The Space Merchants (The Space Merchants #1)
  • One Lonely Night
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • No Enemy but Time
205
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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More about Robert A. Heinlein...
Stranger in a Strange Land Starship Troopers The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Time Enough for Love (The World As Myth) The Puppet Masters

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