Mad Russian the Traveller's Reviews > Farnham's Freehold

Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
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Oct 18, 11

bookshelves: borrowed-from-friend
Read from October 10 to 18, 2011

I have read many of Heinlein's earlier novels (marketed to the YA demographic) in my youth, and then later I absorbed a few of his more well known works (like Stranger...etc.), but this novel is new to me.

When I come to a novel that I haven't yet read, I find it helpful to NOT check reviews or plot spoilers before plunging in. Sometimes, I end up seeing some reviews, but for this novel, a few of the reviews that I took a peak at seemed to be describing two different stories. Now that I am mostly through this novel I think I can understand why. As I began this novel, I thought, "Oh, good! I haven't read a post-apocalyptic story in awhile, and this seems interesting." Then at about on third of the way into the novel, the story suddenly morphed into a story about a one-way time travel 2100 years into the future of our present day with a complete mirror image of the social conditions of America in the early 1960s.

This sudden change of the story somewhat irritated me, and I was going to give this low marks. Then it occurred to me that if I took the actual story less seriously, and looked at the morphing story as a metaphor of the idea of liberty as it intersects with the reality that each individual must endure, it became much more interesting. Examples from the story where Hugh Farnham (the main character) is working for an overlord in this new society and earlier where he and family and friends were struggling to survive, serves to illustrate the struggle between ideals and reality as it is thrust upon you. I don't know if this was intentional, but it does open perspectives on what it means to be free, whether you are without society and fighting to survive nature or you are within society and comfort but are essentially a slave. How do you seek freedom and liberty when you are deeply enmeshed within the system of an un-free society? Can you escape? How do you make peace with slavery when you know the truth of liberty?
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10/11/2011 page 19
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