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Methuselah's Children

(Future History or "Heinlein Timeline" #22)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  18,921 ratings  ·  311 reviews
After the fall of the American Ayatollahs as foretold in Stranger in a Strange Land and chronicled in Revolt in 2100, the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.

No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or invade his priv
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published November 1st 1986 by Baen (first published 1958)
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Suzie Quzie I would read Revolt in 2100 first at least - to give you an idea of why the Covenant was so important, and why what happens to it in this book is so d…moreI would read Revolt in 2100 first at least - to give you an idea of why the Covenant was so important, and why what happens to it in this book is so drastic.

If you can get your hands on a copy of "The Past Through Tomorrow", it contains Revolt in 2100 (under the original title "Coventry") and Methusala's Children, as well as a story about a secondary but important character in Methusala's Children. And a bunch of other universe-building stories that are fun to read as well.(less)

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Nov 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

May 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Been slowly revisiting Heinlein lately, for the first time since I was a teen. This one confirms how I generally feel about his early period "adult" writings - that they are actually more like juvenile fantasies, while his "juvenile" works are often better at communicating adult themes.
Full RTC, or perhaps I will just write a blog piece on early Heinlein at some point.
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Robert A. Heinlein's Future History is a collection of short stories, novellas and novels. Quoted as "One of the Greatest Achievements in The History of Science Fiction"...uh, NOT! I found the short stories to be wooden, clunky, and anticlimactic. However, this novel Methuselah's Children was just simple fun...and I enjoyed the hard boiled, get-er-done, kilt cladden main character of Lazarus Long. However, I won't be reading the other Future Hstory stories as my life is getting shorter and my TR ...more
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2fiction, scifi, 1paper
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 really a
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Esther King
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was a good, hard sci-fi piece, but it seemed to be missing a bit of emphasis and context. I’ve read so much other stuff from this genre and era, and there just seemed to be a bit of a gap here. It wasn’t quite what I hoped for, so a little more social discourse would have gone a long way.
Kat  Hooper
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the Signet paperback (with the inappropriate Gene Szafran cover) of this one many years ago and have just revisited it via my excellent local library's audio selection. I was surprised to have remembered it quite well; Lazarus and Andy and Mary were all quite well and waiting for me, just as fresh and thought-provoking as I remembered and not at all as distressing as I'd feared from my last memories of Time Enough For Love. If there is such a thing as an overlooked classic by Heinlein, I ...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
Deborah Ideiosepius
Just re-read this one after a long time and was amazed at how well the writing, world building, plot and characters stood up to the test of time. While many things have dated quite badly based on the the time in which they were written, Heinlains vision of humanity is still as cynical and interesting as when I first read it.

Also never quite realised how many of the early Heinlein books were meant to be part of a continual storyline, though of course I got the connection of Lazarus Long here and
Oct 18, 2010 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
Mar 17, 2013 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
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Felix Dance
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Red Siegfried
Jul 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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.

Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I was pleasantly surprised by this. Not being much of an RAH fan, I was not expecting much beyond his using the story as a thin veil for his political rantings and ravings. To be sure, there was some of that, though it mostly took a backseat to a genuinely fun, engaging story with minimal kitsch and some interesting, unexpected twists. The story, and much of the science it expounds, holds up, in my inexpert opinion, quite well today, many decades after it was first published in 1958.
W. Lawrence
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-sci-fi
Going way back here, Methuselah's Children is a short novel by the dean of scifi and introduces one of the coolest cats in science fiction: Lazarus Long. The Howard family becomes infamous for "hiding" the secret of longevity, and thus begins their trek.

Worth a read.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The 1962 Signet Edition of Methuselah’s Children pulled me into its orbit at the used bookstore I frequent. The last time I remember seeing a copy of Methuselah’s Children was in the library when I was in high school, and that, must have been a hardbound as I recall. I’d never seen this cover before. On the cover, in classic Astounding magazine style, was the long, cylindrical rocket ship one presumes is the New Frontiers landing on a planet populated by an autochthonous civilization of seven-to ...more
Paul Weiss
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any true sci-fi fan! Simply outstanding!

Selective breeding and carefully planned marriages with subtle financial encouragement from a secretive group called the Howard Foundation carried out over the last 150 years have resulted in a group of humans that have the extraordinary trait of extreme longevity - Lazarus Long, the patriarch of the Family, born Woodrow Wilson Smith, carries his two hundred plus years quite well! When pressed for his true age, he's either not telling or he
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What happens when the world of "mortals" discovers that there is a minority of individuals who easily live 2-3 times as long as the rest of us? They aren't going to believe it's heredity. They're going to want the SECRET, and a milk toast population where civilized behavior and altruism are the core of everything will throw away all of their pretenses to get it. (Or kill or sterilize their targets so no one can.) Cue a 200+ year-old space pilot and a clever conspiracy. I have pretty much read th ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lazarus Long is always a blast. I’ve already read other books relating to him and this was like coming back home. Reading about Lazarus and his way of doing things is never dull... more of a good refreshing of the mind. That type of mindset is sometimes needed in this times.

The plot is basic but serves as a introduction of the Howard families and of that grand character that is Lazarus Long.
Sean Randall
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I have a vague memory of reading this before my Goodreads days, and of course that's quite possible. Heinlein has been on one bookshelf or another for longer than I care to recall, and very deservedly so.

This one didn't strike many chords although it was good to see some familiar faces.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Here’s the latest in my re-read of Heinlein’s Future History series.

This one is slightly different, in that it is more of a novel than a short story, which is what the previous elements have mainly been. The background is that Methuselah’s Children was first a long story published in Astounding in 1941, but, like some of the other elements of the Future History, was revised and expanded into a novel in the late 1950’s.

However, this is, at least in its updated form, perhaps the most retrofitted i
Andrew Haines
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is more than just a science fiction novel. It explores human nature in ways not commonly found. It raises interesting questions. I will leave it at that so I don't write any spoiler. Read the book. ...more
Roddy Williams
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Oh Heinlein... how complicated my life with you has been.

I wasn't even sure how to rate this one, much like the trouble I have rating any Heinlein book that I have read in the past decade. His stuff just... hasn't aged well. Would I recommend this to anyone? The way I see it, if you haven't read this you fall into one of two camps: 1) You are either Heinlein fan or a fan of this period of science fiction and it's on your list to read, OR 2) You wouldn't be interested in this.

This is not a good b
Lucas Beechinor
Sep 05, 2011 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
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it

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
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What's the Name o...: Solved - Longer life through selective breeding [s] 4 77 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

Other books in the series

Future History or "Heinlein Timeline" (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • Life Line
  • The Roads Must Roll
  • Astounding Science Fiction, September 1940
  • The Man Who Sold the Moon
  • Delilah & The Space Rigger
  • Astounding Science Fiction, January 1940
  • The Long Watch
  • Gentlemen Be Seated
  • The Black Pits of Luna
  • It's Great to Be Back!

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