George's Reviews > Farnham's Freehold

Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
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Feb 05, 2008

it was ok
Read in January, 1971

Although much of the book is based on a fairly repulsive plot line of what would happen if Blacks were in charge instead of Whites, it's not without any appeal. If I didn't know Heinlein better, I'd suspect this is a subversive subtext suggesting that having blown up the world Whites are indeed reaping what they sowed. But Heinlein was a pulp writer going back to the 30's, and if you read some of that stuff you'll see plenty of other suggestions of deeply embedded racism, which he either held or felt was marketable. I'd recommend the short story "Jerry was a Man" in which gorillas have been genetically manipulated and are raised to do the heavy lifting for people, and have developed speech. Eventually a trial is held to prove that Jerry and others have acheived humanity and should be treated accordingly. The highlight of the trial occurs when Jerry sings a Negro spirtual. Heinlein grew out of this, more or less, or perhaps felt his audience was no longer as receptive, but even in Stranger in a Strange Land, which I enjoyed tremendously, the only Black character was the cook on the spaceship that went to Mars, and who died of loneliness after arrival. So, I'm not inclined to forgive the plot of this story.

But if you can put up with the rogue White Male libertarianism that permeates his works, he's pretty readable in controlled doses. I just wouldn't recommend this particular work.
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