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Methuselah's Children (Future History or "Heinlein Timeline" #22)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,439 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
The Howard Families were the product of a genetic experiment, an interbreeding programme which had produced one hundred thousand people with an average life expectancy of a century and a half. Now, at last, their existence was known on earth, and the entire world demanded to share the "secret" of eternal youth. "It is contrary to our customs to permit scientific knowledge ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 1979 by Signet (first published 1941)
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Laurelyn Anne Having read many books in this universe, but not Time Enough for Love or Stranger in a Strange Land (yet), I'd say its more dependent upon your…moreHaving read many books in this universe, but not Time Enough for Love or Stranger in a Strange Land (yet), I'd say its more dependent upon your personal preference. The other books really are not necessary to follow this volume, but they do add to the story. Especially Coventry. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lyn
Oct 20, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is classic, well written science fiction.

Scaled down, lean and aggressive, bereft of the heavy, introspective reticence that weighed down Time Enough for Love, this is simply a good SF adventure with Heinlein's signature technical attention to detail.

The origin of Lazarus Long and the adventure referenced in Time Enough For Love, including Andy Libby and the beginning of interstellar exploration. A must read for Heinlein fans.

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Jim
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book if you're in to the Heinlein universe. It is the first good introduction to Lazarus Long who is the central character in many of Heinlein's later books. Unlike his later books, this one is a short, fun read. The basic premise is an oppressed minority fleeing before the public & government can get their greedy hands on them. There are some interesting looks at aliens & human nature along the way.

This book has been included in a couple of his collections as it is
...more
Adam
Dec 12, 2012 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Methuselah's Children is an early sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It originally appeared in three parts in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, in the July, August, and September issues of 1941.

In 1958 it was published as a full-length novel, expanded somewhat by Heinlein. I don't know what was added or changed, but it can't have been that much, because it's still a very short novel, despite there being enough plot to fill a 1,000-page epic.

The story involves a group of "families" who en
...more
Darth
Dec 19, 2009 Darth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heinlein
Finally a "CLASSIC" that live up to the billing.
I had grown weary of the same old trite - "You HAVE to read"s - that just didnt live up to the billing.

Having read a lot of Larry Niven, and now starting on the Heinlein series', I think it is safe to guess Niven grew up on Heinlein, as I see some pretty serious similarities between Lazarus and Louis Wu, but since I have loved the Niven, it follows I loved the Heinlein.

I may have been aided in this by expecting to be let down after slogging thru th
...more
Kat  Hooper
Sep 19, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit.

Methuselah’s Children introduces us to Lazarus Long, a popular character in several of Robert A. Heinlein’s books. Lazarus, who wears a kilt (but there’s guns strapped to his thighs!) and can’t remember how old he is, is descended from one of several families who, long ago, were bred for their health and longevity. Lazarus and his extended clan live very long lives — so long that they must eventually fake their own deaths and take new identities so that others don’t g
...more
Tim
Nov 10, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another of my collection of "S-F from long ago." This one is from the mid-50's, and tells the story of a clan (the Howard Families) who tend to live a LOOOOOONNNNNG time), and who garner a LOT of negative attention from those who DON'T live a long time. The main character, Lazarus Long, is the oldest of them all, having lived some 375 or so years. Well, these people are given a choice: Be tortured until they give up their secret(there is none, it's just in the genes) or go off onto another p ...more
Felix Dance
Yes, I do love Heinlein. I know, I know, super-right wing nutcase that he is. But this book seemed a bit of a mess – lurching between a hyper-intelligent and immortal sub-group of seemingly normal humans (almost all Heinlein’s books involve a secret group of super-men destined to become a new species of human, gradually finding each other and then scoffing together at the inferiority of the rest of humanity – it appeals to one’s sense of superiority, but is just soooo elitist), global persecutio ...more
F.R.
Mar 21, 2013 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utopias in fiction are always supposed to fail. They’re either illusionary or they collapse on their own contradictions. Indeed the only successful utopia in fiction I can think of is the one Willy Wonka had going, and we have to face the unpalatable fact there that it was based on slave labour. No, the entire purpose of drama is conflict and so everyone living perfectly in a perfect world wouldn’t do much good. Just as Othello becomes a very dull play if the central character doesn’t exhibit an ...more
Nuno Magalhães
Neste livro, Robert A. Heinlein apresenta-nos uma reflexão fascinante sobre a longevidade humana. Partindo da hipótese que existiria uma "família" de seres humanos que possuem características genéticas que lhes permitem atingir idades invulgarmente avançadas, mantendo no entanto a frescura da juventude ao longo de vários séculos de existência, o autor constrói uma história que nos permite vislumbrar o futuro da raça humana, incluindo a sua expansão para outros mundos, o encontro com outras espéc ...more
Jeff Yoak
I just loved this book silly. It's early Heinlein packed with adventure and excitement. Two of my favorite characters, Lazarus and Libby are front and foremost in this story, and it provides a lot of color and background for the Howard families. I read this story after others that are chronologically prior in the Future History, and it works either way. This would be a great starter book for new Heinlein exploration.

2015: I finally got around to reading this one with the kids. It really hooked t
...more
Red Siegfried
Jul 28, 2007 Red Siegfried rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heinlein details the exodus from Earth of the Howard Families, long-lived individuals who suddenly find themselves persecuted for not revealing their non-existent secret of longevity. Lazarus Long gets a lot of action here as the Howard Families hijack the the starship New Frontiers and look for a place to live out there ... they find that the galaxy is going to be a more challenging and ultimately, more rewarding place to live for this new breed of human. Much more will be revealed in Heinlein' ...more
Tony
Feb 09, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
55. METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN. (1958). Robert A. Heinlein. ***.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s I was a rabid reader of science fiction. I think part of the reason was that we were on the cusp a huge number of discoveries in the world of science that was addressed by SciFi writers. Heinlein, as I remember, was among the best of the lot, along with Asimov. They were able to introduce concepts soon to be stirred up by scientists into their plots and make them sound plausible. Going back today, however, poi
...more
Dawn Livingston
I tried to read this one because I heard it was good. I think I'm just not a Heinlein fan so it's not fair for me to rate it.

The writing was okay, the story was okay though it didn't really grab me. The characters were okay. The concept was good but the overall story seemed very dated.

If you're a Heinlein fan, read it. If you're not, don't. If you're not familiar with Heinlein, give it a try, you might like it or you might not.

Roddy Williams
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew
Jan 31, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit there is something reassuring going back to an old favourite. Robert Heinlein was one of the authors I branched out in to in my early days of reading (let alone reading science fiction). Some years ago I had the lucky pleasure of working just outside London and spent every available weekend scouring the city looking for new titles (before the days of internet and Amazon). I spent most of my time hunting down the rare and obscure books from Heinlein's bibliography.
Periodically I go b
...more
Alex Sarll
Reading old science fiction generally involves a certain disconnect - you've got people hopping back and forth to the Moon, yet still behaving in many ways like your grandparents' generation. Even beyond that, though, this one has problems. The premise: among normal humanity there live, semi-secretly, the Howard Families, who through selective breeding have massively expanded their lifespan, and spend those long lives at an age of their choosing. When the short-lived majority find out, they reac ...more
Gerald Kinro
Nov 22, 2012 Gerald Kinro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After freedom in America is won again during the Revolt of 2100, there is a group of humans who live extraordinary long lives while maintaining their youthful experiences. They have achieved this through selective mating and financial help from a foundation started by their ancestor, Howard. In 2125, the world discovers the group’s existence, and they are persecuted, all the world wanting their secrets of youth. Under extreme duress of jealousy arrest, torture, and murder, the group flees earth ...more
Lucas Beechinor
Sep 05, 2011 Lucas Beechinor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. It’s good, clean, science fiction fun.

In stories like Methuselah’s Children, a reader can read into the book as much as he/she wants to and still walk away from the story feeling good about the whole experience. The book will challenge readers in its ability to make them think critically about a society’s will to accept change, and accept differences. It takes a stab at political authority under mob rule, but it also shows how differences can be reconciled without hella (yes, I said hella) bl
...more
Judy

Heinlein returns to writing for adults here with the expansion of a story originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1941.

The Howard Families are descended from a man who got rich during the California Gold Rush and left his money to be used for research into the prolongation of life. This goal was realized by his trustees providing financial encouragement to the grandchildren of long-lived persons to marry and have children. By the 22nd century, descendants have a life expectancy of
...more
David
May 24, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Lazarus Long is a character not easily forgotten. I read this quite a few years ago, and I loved it so much I never forgot parts of it. Heinlein is among my favorite sci-fi writers, along with Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke and Dick....the list just goes on too long.

Take the premise that it might be possible to breed a strain of humans that would live for a very long time. Heinlein was wise enough to know that natural selection does not play any role in such a choice because most species breed e
...more
Yukino
Sep 27, 2012 Yukino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miei, 2011
*** Attenzione: di seguito anticipazioni sulla trama (SPOILER) ***

Questo libro mi è piaciuto a tratti.

Parla di questo gruppo di umani che ha una longevità a dir poco strabiliante grazie alla scoperta di alcuni soggetti con un dna particolare che accoppandosi hanno reso la vita dell'uomo mooolto più lunga, sui 200 anni e forse più. Sono nascosti tra la popolazione, hanno false idenità e ogni tot anni cambiano posto nome, cambiano vita.

Ad un certo punto decideno di venire allo scoperto pensando ch
...more
Olethros
-Los bellacos encantadores no dejan de ser bellacos, por muy encantadores que sean-.

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. La muerte prematura del magnate Howard provocó hace más de dos siglos la creación de la Fundación que lleva su nombre, que a partir de los fondos y deseos del potentado investigó en el aumento de la esperanza de vida. En la actualidad, los aproximadamente 100.000 descendientes de ese proyecto, y que han ocultado su longevidad al resto de la humanidad durante mucho tiemp
...more
Dmitry Verkhoturov
Потрясающая книга, если вы — двенадцатилетний мальчик, в ином случае читатель замечает непобедимого главного героя с подружкой под боком, и сюжет, который перекраивается вместе с миром книги для того, чтобы главному герою было удобнее совершать подвиги — основы написания боевиков от дедушки Хайнлайна для совсем начинающих.
Три килта из пяти за счастливое детство, лучше не читайте.
Alesia
Dec 26, 2015 Alesia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like it that Heinlein's vision of the future is positive. His characters are scientists, people of knowledge that are willing to explore and understand things, while also admiring them along the way (although my dad told me the book contained quite a few technical inaccuracies).

The most wonderful thing about this book is that Heinlein constructs entire worlds that work according to a logic different from our own. This shows other perspectives, possibilities, and makes you wonder - what if??
***Dave Hill
Oct 11, 2015 ***Dave Hill rated it liked it
Shelves: text
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matus
Aug 19, 2014 Matus rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many things I like about Heinlein, and it's the promise of potentially really liking an entire book he puts out that keeps me attempting them.

Unfortunately, like many of his other books, this one ran into many of my "Heinlein peeves". The two main ones are (1) his obsession with having clean solutions to problems (in terms of plot), and (2) his obsession with having a handful of capable/competent characters, and basically the rest of the human race is a bunch of whiny sheep. These two
...more
S.D. Morgan
Jun 26, 2014 S.D. Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sadly this was my first Heinlein book, and it should've been my tenth, or ten years ago at least. I was very impressed with his writing. There was some stilted dialog, and some confusing aspects to the plot and character development, but the overall package is just profound.

I found the philosophical considerations subtle and important. Evolution equipped us with a strong will to survive. Our big brains helped us figure out ways to make survival assured (for most of us), and continue to develop
...more
Leew49
Mar 18, 2014 Leew49 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Methuselah's Children are The Families, people who have uncommonly long life spans, some of them many times that of a normal human. For centuries they have kept their secret, but in what they believe to be an enlightened future, some of them decide to reveal themselves to society. The outcome is anger, prejudice, and mob panic, and Methuselah's Children are force to flee from earth. Led by their eldest member, Lazarus Long, and aided by a sympathetic and (uncharacteristically) self-sacrificing p ...more
Daniel
Jun 21, 2016 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often wonder if the manner in which we "experience" a book effects the way we evaluate it. I put "experience" in quotation marks (choosing that word instead of "read") because today we can read a book (in a number of media, including printed and kindle books) and listen to it (either on CD on audible).

I read this book on my kindle and while doing cardio at the gym. I wonder if I would have enjoyed the book more had I read it at my desk where I do my more serious reading (philosophical, religio
...more
Andrew
Mar 03, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Howard Families live extraordinarily long lives, and have for generations, secretly changing identities along the way so that they remain inconspicuous among the shorter lived population. But once their secret becomes known, the rest of humanity demands to know their secret. The problem is that there is no secret, just carefully controlled heredity, which isn’t an answer that satisfies those who envy the longer life span. And so the Families are forced to flee into the depths of space to esc ...more
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What's The Name o...: Solved - Longer life through selective breeding [s] 4 71 Jun 11, 2013 11:57AM  
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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
...more
More about Robert A. Heinlein...

Other Books in the Series

Future History or "Heinlein Timeline" (5 books)
  • The Man Who Sold the Moon
  • The Green Hills of Earth
  • Orphans of the Sky
  • The Past Through Tomorrow (Future History, #1-21)

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“When it don’t rain, the roof don’t leak; when it rains, I can’t fix it nohow.” 11 likes
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