Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs” as Want to Read:
For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  2,647 Ratings  ·  201 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
Audio CD, Unabrid, 6 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published December 9th 1939)
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 For Us, the Living, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about For Us, the Living

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 21, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 written in 1938, other times it was painfully obvious that this was
Jan 03, 2010 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Feb 15, 2009 Stven rated it it was ok  ·  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
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
Dec 27, 2007 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Talk, talk, talk...
Blah, blah, blah...
More Talk
Norm Davis
Aug 15, 2015 Norm Davis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biographiles of R.A. Heinlein
Recommended to Norm by: Me, sadly

For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs. Robert A. Heinlein 1939

I'm rounding up from one star, this is a disaster, to two stars, it was OK. Reluctantly. Well, it is embarrassing to insult a legend who you came close to worshiping.

Perry, the protagonist tragically dies in an automobile accident in or around 1939 and then wakes up fine in 2038 in someone else's body. Thank Odin Mr. H. didn't write a doctoral thesis on how or why that happened. In good taste, he just didn't explain it. Good for M
Apr 28, 2013 audry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 11, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2016 Denis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover
When this was first published, I had just started on my journey down the long long road of scifi literature. I had discovered but a handfull of golden age authors by then, by had already focused on Heinlein, having read most of his work. This popped into my world right then and there as if it had been tossed through the very fabric of time. It was like the discovery of a long lost relic. Such a great period in my life, that was.

I have since read this three times over the years since it was publi
Apr 12, 2009 Shibbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary JL
Mar 30, 2009 Mary JL rated it it was ok  ·  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.
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.
Jul 06, 2016 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
M.E. Kinkade
As a novel, this book is pretty weak. But as a literary oddity (Heinlein's never-before-published first work) and as a font of ideas, it's incredible.
First, why it's a crummy novel: there's not much of a story; many of the characters are sketches; there are long stretches without any action; and characters are unrealistically accepting of bizarre things. I mean surely you'd ask some questions if the man you just met claimed he was from 150 years ago?
But if characters did bother with such fundame
May 20, 2015 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
John Bruni
May 29, 2014 John Bruni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Jul 10, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Guy Ferguson
I did not expect much from this book, for two reasons. Firstly, I have steered clear of Heinlein for many years. After wathing Starship Troopers as a young man, I heard somewhere that Heinlein was a fascist, a view that tallied a little with the movie.
Secondly, the Introduction to this edition firly warns the reader to stay away if they haven't read Heinlein previously. They explain the book is heavy on ideas and short on form.
So I am surprised that I still venturd into the novel, and I'm even m
Tuure Laurinolli
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alan Mills
Note: this book was NOT published during Heinlein's lifetime, and with good reason.

The plot is paper thin. In 1939, a Navy pilot is driving and drives over a cliff. As he is about to smash into a rock, he sees a girl in a green bathing suit. He wakes up in her apartment, except now she is naked. Oh, and it's 150 years later: 2089. The entire rest of the story is simply characters coming "on stage" for the sole purpose of "teaching" our time traveling main character Heinlein's philosophy of econo
Dec 15, 2014 Donkic rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2016 Eero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow I had gotten the mistaken impression that this book would be bad or unreadable, which is why I hadn't made much effort to find it. Actually, Heinlein's clear writing style is very recognizable here. I suppose this is essential reading only to Heinlein fans or scholars of his work, because here we see early versions of many of his ideas and themes. And this is a book about ideas rather than people; the characters exist mostly to deliver dialogues that explain the workings of the future wo ...more
Gerald Kinro
Jan 01, 2015 Gerald Kinro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 23, 2016 Sargeatm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore-Heinlein-Fans
1,5 Sterne
Bei diesem Buch wurde bereits im Vorwort gewarnt, dass es sich um den zu Lebzeiten unveröffentlichten ersten Roman Heinleins handelt, der eigentlich nur für Fans von Interesse ist.
Heinlein zählt zu meinen Lieblingsautoren, aber es hat schon seinen Grund, warum das Buch von ihm selbst nie veröffentlicht wurde.

Ein "Average Joe American" wird aus dem Jahr 1938 nach 2086 befördert, wo in den USA eine Utopie am Werk ist. 90% des Romans bestehen aus "sokratischen Dialogen", in denen die Zuku
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
Jan 03, 2014 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
« 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 »
  • Time Pressure (Lifehouse, #2)
  • Night of Light
  • The Shield of Time (Time Patrol, #5)
  • Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1: 1939
  • The Silver Eggheads
  • The Visitors
  • The Great Explosion
  • Le meraviglie del possibile: Antologia della Fantascienza
  • Brightness Falls from the Air
  • Mighty Good Road
  • Star Bridge
  • Search the Sky
  • The Black Corridor
  • Plague from Space
  • Children of Hope (Seafort Saga, #7)
  • The Long Loud Silence
  • The Reproductive System
  • Fury
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...

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…