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For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  2,341 ratings  ·  169 reviews
July 12, 1939: Perry Nelson is driving along the palisades when another vehicle swerves into his lane, a tire blows out, and his car careens off the road and over a bluff. The last thing he sees before his head connects with the boulders below is a girl in a green bathing suit, prancing along the shore.

When he wakes, the girl in green is a woman dressed in furs, and the su
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Audio CD, Unabrid, 6 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published December 9th 1939)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rob
I'll start off by saying this may not be a 'five' for everyone. The style is stilted at times compared to Heinlein's later efforts. There's a reason for this: For Us, the Living is not so much a novel as a Dialogue or series of Dialogues in the Platonic mode (in fact, to me, a veteran of Timaeus & Critias, it reads similarly). So those looking for a 'full' fictional experience will be disappointed. But what is here are two things: Heinlein's penchant for anticipating future events, which is ...more
Stven
Feb 15, 2009 Stven rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heinlein fans only
Heinlein's unpublished first novel has been rescued from the dustbin, and we easily see why it was never published. There is almost no action in the story, and instead we get pages and pages of lecturing about politics and economics. Of course, as Heinlein fans, we've enjoyed his unorthodox illuminations on politics and economics for decades, but thank goodness he learned to give us more actual STORY than he does in For Us, the Living.

Bump on the head. Mr. Regular Guy wakes up in the future, spe
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audry
We listened to this book on a long road trip.
This book was found and published long after Heinlein's death, and probably for good reason.
It reads like a lecture in economics(with boobs). There are several books of his that read more like lectures than novels. It's not the political or economic or social philosophies of Heinlein that I object to, not at all. It's chapters and chapters of philosophy and economic theory, that do nothing to serve the plot. In the "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" there a
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Shibbie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary JL
Mar 30, 2009 Mary JL rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard Heinlein fans
Recommended to Mary JL by: Found by self
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
I would recommend this only for the Henilein completist or diehard Heinlein fan. It was an early effort and never published and it is easy to see why!

When I first heard about it I said "Wow! A new Heinlein I've never read!" After I read it I was disssappointed. The only reason this got published was it had Heinlein's name on it so the publishers porbably felt many Heinlein fans would grab it, as I indeed did.

I did give it 2 stars because I found a few ideas interesting.
Mike
Talk, talk, talk...
Blah, blah, blah...
Nudity...
More Talk
Kevin Bachovchin
My parents got me this book for Christmas about 15 years ago, but since I'm not generally a big fan of sci-fi, I didn't read this book until now. Unfortunately, I can't say the book was worth the wait. I did think the book started out with a potentially interesting plot, but overall there is just not enough action and large portions of the book read like a textbook. In 1939, Perry Nelson gets into a car crash and is found by a woman Diana who reveals to him that the current year is now 2086. Lar ...more
Michelle Pfingston
Ah - future worlds; where there is no poverty or hunger, no sexual jealousy or difficult unions, everyone in every relationship to able to hook up and leave any way they want to, and everything is free and easy! Let us all skip through the perfectly blooming tulips . . . smoking and naked.

The other reviews here really do a great job of describing this book, I don't want to expand on them. So speaking for myself, in spite of the reviews, I struggled through this book a bit obsessively because I l
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Tim
This is Heinlein's earliest work (although unpublished until recently). It's interesting in that this was written around the start of WWII, so his alternate history reads very odd at times. So, the whole of WWII is different and man hasn't landed on the moon. You can see the seeds of later works in this one, most notably Nehemiah Scudder from Revolt in 2100 (although the dates are different from that book). He's basically the same character in both books (and as mentioned in other books of his a ...more
Clarica
What I like about this book is the economic theory. I've read a lot of science fiction, and I love it. This has some future speculation that is more or less brilliant, as far as predicting technology goes, though it feels a little antique because most of the stuff he was pie-in-the-sky fantasizing about came off in a slightly different direction. But as science fiction, well, eh. As fantasy, well, eh. I can't wait for my rocket-gyro-car, whatever that is! The author has a maybe-we-can-all-just-g ...more
John
This is a book that every politician should be required to read. The story is very simple, a man from 1939 (when the book was published) wakes up in 2086. Little explanation is given to how this happened, instead the man starts to look at reasons this future Utopia is superior to his own time. What results is a series of discussions withe experts of 2086 about how the country has turned itself around since 1939, in areas like politics, religion, commerce, sexuality, etc. The story does date itse ...more
Lyn
Enjoyed this, but I may need to say that it is best for Heinlein fans, not one of his great works, but appreciable for true followers. Begun in 1938, (though not published until 2003) this could be one of, if not actually, his earliest work. The discerning reader can find glimpses of his later vision and brilliance amid a fairly minimalistic setting and storyline. At times I had to remind myself that this visionary narrative was writtem in 1938, other times it was painfully obvious that this was ...more
Jeff Yoak
This is Heinlein's first stab at a novel. Though written in the late 30's, it was published posthumously. It is a fairly standard utopian novel though it is preachy and serves as a platform for Heinlein to offer his views on future, culture and people. Despite this, for a Heinlein fan, it provides a lot of insight into his early thought and foreshadows much of what we're to see in future work. It may not stand well on its own, but makes an excellent compliment to his other work for the truly mot ...more
Dawn
I'm enough of a Heinlein fan to snatch this up when I saw it (it's been 10 years--how did I miss it?). I think Spider Robinson is correct in calling it a proto-novel, as it is truly a series of essays--some rather dense, especially the economic ones--set in a story framework. For me, the interest was the predictions of the future from a 1938/39 standpoint. I was amused (?) he has Edward of Windsor dying in 1970 when the man actually did die in 1972, but otherwise most of his predictions are bunk ...more
Donkic
Nel valutare questo libro bisogna tenere a mente quello che realmente è: un pretesto per permettere ad Heinlein di esporre le proprie idee rivoluzionarie (e abbastanza fantasiose) in termini di economia, filosofia e politica. La storia, i personaggi e lo stile passano decisamente in secondo piano.

Leggendolo, a tratti si ritrovano temi evidentemente cari all'autore quali l'opposizione al concetto di "valore" del Marxismo e il diritto di voto come un obiettivo che non è possibile conseguire esclus
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Gerald Kinro
This is Heinlein’s lost first novel written in 1939 but not published until the 1990s. A young army pilot is involeved in a car accident and wakes up in the year 2086. A lovely woman whom he last saw on the beach appears when he awakens and takes him home to recuperate. The morays of America has changed, for clothing is optional. Gone are blue laws, sexual inhibitions, and the country is run by the people.

There is no real plotting or structure to this work, but I enjoyed it. Heinlein brings for
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John Bruni
This is actually Heinlein's first novel, but it wasn't published until nearly two decades after his death. It's very interesting to see how his work has progressed, and this novel in particular has just about everything in it that would be his life's work as a writer. He's my favorite SF writer mostly because of his progressive views. Even by today's standards, he's pretty progressive. There is a great deal of love and truth in his books, and this is no exception. He was also very good at predic ...more
Jay Bobzin
An intriguing set of essays wrapped in a story. Great if you like Heinlein, probably dull if you don't.

Start with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Then maybe Stranger in a Strange land. If you've read those, and generally dig Bob's take on life, this is a good quick read densely packed with insight, but light on story.
Jim
I've tried to read this once & listen to it on audio book since I'm a real fan of Heinlein's earlier works. Unfortunately, this reads like one of his later books - preachy & boring. If you had a problem with most of his books after 1970, then this isn't for you.
Dusty Wallace
Clearly this isn't the typical Heinlein fare. The foreword by Spider Robinson is possibly the most entertaining part of the book. He puts this 'novel' in perspective and you know by the end of his essay that you're getting into something unusual.

Truthfully, I made it through about half the book before giving up. The narrative of the book is minimalist at best, non-existent at worst. Basically, it advances a little every thirty pages or so. The rest of the time we're catching up on fictional his
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Mike
This lost, first novel by RAH is more interesting for historical reasons than anything else, and I do agree that you shouldn't make it your first. But even if it were, as long as you understand the proviso that Heinlein would actually focus on stories and characters afterwards, it's not too bad, and you've got almost all of his philosophical viewpoints and themes that would recur in later novels all wrapped up in a convenient little package. And it's still far ahead of its time: the basic income ...more
Erin
Little wonder that Heinlein couldn't get his freshman effort published at the time of the writing. This is a stripped down, no holds barred look at the dystopic future Heinlein became famous for but with none of the rich storytelling for which the author became noted. This revealing look at a future not so far away from our current year as predicted by a man almost a century ago, will have the reader shaking his or her head at the astonishing realities we live in that this man predicted. The suc ...more
Margali
No stars at all for the story, because there really isn't one. But I did find Heinlein's ideas on how to recreate government and economics interesting. It was really funny to read about a futuristic society that has flying cars...but still uses a slide rule. Props to the narrator, too, who managed to hold my interest through what must have been pages and pages of one character lecturing another.

I went through a big Heinlein reading binge back in high school, and I still think that he can tell on
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Danielle
Such an interesting read. Fascinating to see what has come true since the 1930's, what societal issues haven't seemed to budge and inch, and in what ways the United States' course diverged from Heinlein's vision.

If you're willing to forgo a compelling story-line to experience a alternative social, economic and cultural systems that overlap with our own history, then hop on for the ride. It's definitely sci-fi, but almost reads more like a cross between a cultural anthropology case study and his
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Misty
There are so many things I love about this book, but it is not always pleasurable to read. In Spider Robinson's introduction, he talks about RAH finding his storyteller nature through the writing of FUtL; you will see what he means. I survived by skimming any conversation obviously inserted to serve as small talk or transition. As a slightly awkward vehicle for some amazing predictions and with frequent self-reminders that it was written in 1939, this early little endeavor is still worth the rea ...more
Abraham
This was Heinlein’s first novel, but it was rejected and went unpublished until 2003, many years after his death. I understand completely why the publishers rejected it. For one, it isn’t really a novel at all, but a collection of lectures jammed together and covered with a thin plot. I would explain the plot but I believe Wikipedia does a better job: “Perry Nelson, a normal 1939 engineer, is driving his automobile when he has a blowout, skids over a cliff, and wakes up after the car accident in ...more
Joe Barnett
Feb 10, 2011 Joe Barnett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: for seasoned Heinlein readrers
This title was written in 1939, but found and released in 2003 after the authors death. It presents an alternative future based on the events that took place just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. In classic Robert Anson Heinlein style, the characters are very detailed and you can identify with them easily; however, this book is a "dialog" of all the events that have taken place since the main characters reentry to the world. In this book, most likely his first work, the plot is nowhere near ...more
Oleg Kagan
For Us, the Living is one of Heinlein's early works which I have typically enjoyed. That is not say that this book was a throw-away, indeed as a description of the author's dream future it worked quite well. As a story however, where qualities such as plot and character figure in, For Us, the Living is lacking.

To be specific, the plot is a variation on the "sleeper awakens" theme, where a Navy man from 1939 gets into a car accident and mysteriously wakes up in 2086. The mechanics of this is fuz
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scherzo♫
Not a great story, great writing or great characters, but I enjoyed the ideas and the mental stimulation of comparing 70+ years of historical events and mind sets to Heinlein's 1939 inventions.

Definitely will re-read this one.

Quotes:
"... the so-called fractional reserve was a dodge whereby a banker could loan money he didn't have and never had. It actually permitted him to create new money, based not on gold, nor on his own credit, but on the credit of his customers....
The Solicitor-General argu
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Ron Arden
This is Robert Heinlein's first novel. It was written in 1939, but only published in 2004 after his biographer tracked down the manuscript. Heinlein used many of the themes in this book in other stories, so he felt that he had already published it. I'm glad it was published in its entirety.

The book is about a man, Perry, who has an automobile crash in 1939 and when he awakens, a few minutes later, is in 2086. Perry meets Diana who nurses him back to health and tries to help him understand the wo
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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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More about Robert A. Heinlein...
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“You were probably educated in the conventional economic theories of your period which were magnificent and most ingenious, but--if you will pardon my saying so--all wrong.” 9 likes
“He became convinced that ordinary commercial financing could be done for a service charge plus an insurance fee amounting to much less that the current rates of interest charged by banks, whose rates were based on supply and demand, treating money as a commodity rather than as a sovereign state's means of exchange.” 6 likes
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