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Double Star

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  17,899 ratings  ·  634 reviews
One minute, down and out actor Lorenzo Smythe was — as usual — in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars.

Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnap
Mass Market Paperback, 243 pages
Published October 12th 1986 by Del Rey (first published April 1st 1956)
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Tasha It doesn't bother me. It's part of the joy of reading these old sci-fi novels. What things did they guess right? And what they were completely wrong…moreIt doesn't bother me. It's part of the joy of reading these old sci-fi novels. What things did they guess right? And what they were completely wrong about? (Microfilm)(less)

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3.89  · 
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 ·  17,899 ratings  ·  634 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review also posted at Fantasy Literature.

In Double Star, a 1956 Robert Heinlein novella, Lawrence Smith (aka Lorenzo Smythe or "Lorenzo the Great"), an out-of-work actor, accepts a job to impersonate a man for a few days, without, perhaps, asking as many questions about the job as he should have. He promptly finds himself whisked off to the planet Mars, standing in for one of the most important political figures in the solar system, who has been kidnapped. Larry's first task: fool the Martians
Manuel Antão
Jul 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1992, 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Pax Americana: "Double Star" by Robert A. Heinlein

Implausible and impossible to put down- like all of Heinlein’s books I’ve read its hero is a man of action and boundless self confidence, a wisecracking all-American cowboy figure who brushes obstacles aside, a genial dictator figure who knows that as long as he’s left in charge everything will be o.k. The voice is always the same – and I can see why the new wake of science fiction writ
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this.

Heinlein's first but least recognized Hugo Award winner. Like many of his better works, this is a science fiction vehicle that he uses to discuss other issues, here he spends time with politics, maybe even adding some subtle, and not too subtle ideas about what he thinks is right and wrong in politics.

Not consistent with other novels about Martians, or his future fiction in other books, but excellent characterization and a fun story. Borrows heavily from the Prisoner of Zen

Before I begin, I'd like to thank you all for choosing to read this review today. It is you who actively participate in the Goodreads community that are the pulsating heart of this great country, _____. (Insert your country name here.) Without your efforts, intellectual life everywhere would be sure to stagnate. This has always been my position, and I am a man with firm convictions, never changing my mind about anything.

Just yesterday, a young, impoverished child asked me how I was going to hel
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book growing up and I can’t tell you exactly why I remembered liking it, but a friend was recently reading it and I decided to add it to my list.

There is a lot of hit or miss on the Heinlein bookshelf and I can respect those who don’t find this one interesting. First, it really isn’t focused on the science fiction though we get a lot of what RAH imagines about humans spreading out in the solar system. Second, the lead character isn’t (in Heinlein’s terms) “a spaceman.” He is a somewh
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Brian Aldiss, in Trillion Year Spree, says this is Heinlein's most enjoyable novel. Who am I to fault his judgment? It is, indeed, a lot of fun: pathetic, failed actor Laurence Smith (stage name, "Lorenzo Smythe") is hired to impersonate John Joseph Bonforte, leader of the Expansionist party, and the Solar System's most important politician. Bonforte has been kidnapped, and for complicated reasons there is an appointment he must attend; no excuse will be acceptable if he fails to turn up on time ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Washed-up actor Lorenzo Smythe accepts the role of his lifetime- to impersonate a politician who has been kidnapped, right before both an important meeting meant to unite Humans and Martians. Failure to show up could result in a war between planets.

This book was originally published in 1956 and it certainly felt dated to me. Despite human existence now being on an interplanetary level, this is very much an American story with a limited scope. Lorenzo often doesn't refer to Humankind as being fro
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Actors, politicians, and liars (but I repeat myself), Martianphobes
This is one of Heinlein's early novels, which you can tell by the brevity and the lack of wankery. Also the fact that he just jumps straight into the story and never wastes much time on exposition.

This is in fact one of Heinlein's greatest strengths, and I think a major reason for his grandmaster status — he may be a bit out of fashion nowadays, and he often lost the plot in his later works, but he was first and foremost a storyteller. A spinner of yarns, a teller of tales, and if readers freque

A couple of years ago I attended an event at which Connie Willis spoke about her research for Blackout and All Clear. She referenced numerous romantic comedies and several war movies in addition to her factual historic research. I don't recall that she brought up many works of fiction, but Double Star was one of them, and it stuck in my mind as something I wanted to read. Between the Hugo win and the subject matter, I thought it would be worth a try.
Willis said that Double Star was inspired by t
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Double Star: No second-rate actor could ever become president, right?
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Double Star is one of Robert Heinlein’s most enjoyable early period SF novels, a short and tightly-plotted story of out-of-work actor Lawrence Smith (aka “The Great Lorenzo”), who is unexpectedly tapped for a very important acting job, to impersonate an important politician named John Bonforte who has been kidnapped. Initially the job is supposed to be just short-term until the real guy ca
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Of the Heinlein novels I have read, this one is my second favorite after The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. I have always been a fan of the "idea" portions of Heinlein's stories but sometimes have found the actual plots a bit dry. Not so with this one which I really liked from both an idea and plot perspective.

In brief, the story revolves around a talented, but unemploted, actor named Lawrence Smith recruited to portray a popular politician after he has been kidnapped by political
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a down-in-his-luck actor, Lorenzo Smythe. He was approached with a job; to impersonate someone for about an hour. It would be a quick job, and he would be well paid for his efforts.

Lorenzo was not told who he would be impersonating, or the reason why. He had to take the job--or leave it. He eventually was talked into taking the job, but little did he know that the job was to impersonate someone on Mars. And Lorenzo got physically sick at the sight and smell of Martians!

Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This may be my favorite Robert Heinlein novel, at least of the few I've read so far. I enjoy political intrigue in SF novels and Heinlein does a great job creating a detailed, believable plot full of twists and turns, that still never seems to drag. Lorenzo Smythe is a great character who grows during the course of the book to become a better person. I like that. I also like that there was none of the weird Heinlein sex stuff that made me dislike "Stranger in a Strange Land."

This was just a fun
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like vintage Science Fiction novels and this fit the bill in every way. In many ways the science fiction of the 1950s were adventure stories that just happened to take place in outer space. The characters were even called "Space Cowboys" because the heroes did not act much differently then the romanticized versions of, in reality, a boring job herding cattle.


How such a tedious job as taking care of cows metamorphosed into a glamorous, "good guys conquering the villains" persona is
Peter Tillman
I started this reread at the recommendation of Jo Walton, who wrote that “Double Star may well be Heinlein’s best novel.” It won the 1956 Hugo award for best novel. I don’t think I’ve ever reread it, since I checked it out of the library in 1960 or so.

I’m finding it very much a book of its time, and I’m regularly hitting crude, clunky stuff that throws me out of the narrative. You’ve read the blurb, right? Well, Penny, the Chief’s secretary who is is said
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, 1audio, scifi
Again, I was really tickled by this old tale in audio format. The reader was excellent & his voices occasionally had me in stitches. The King sounded like JFK & it worked. LOL!

Politics is the greatest game, but sometimes has dirty players, is Heinlein's assertion. The basic idea is that of team play. Interesting idea & I loved the way the character evolved. Again, he managed to fit a lot of his own ideas into the story without being preachy & keeping the action moving the entire
Apr 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, sf
A fun and quick book, and another example of why the most consistently enjoyable Heinlein writings were the early ones.

There's nothing amazingly noteworthy, and it's certainly not a must-read-before-you-die type of book. But it does have a message, and it does have an exuberant style, and (probably its greatest attribute) the book is concise enough to know precisely how to avoid overstaying its welcome.

You won't regret giving this a read, whether you've never read science fiction or whether you
Ed [Redacted]
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I have a soft spot for Heinlein. Often I think that a Heinlein book that I really enjoy will not be for everyone, however, in this case, I think nearly everyone would enjoy this light, entertaining romp of a book.

The narrative is from the POV of the protagonist Lawrence Smythe (hack actor "The Great Lorenzo"). Smythe is a narcissistic, self delusional asshat who is suddenly, more or less without his informed consent, thrust into what turns out to be the life changing role of a lifetime. It is f
Lubinka Dimitrova

''If there were ethical basics that transcended time and place, then they were true both for Martians and for men. They were true on any planet around any star—and if the human race did not behave accordingly they weren’t ever going to win to the stars because some better race would slap them down for double-dealing.''

4,5 stars. One couldn't not love the good, old sci-fi, especially when sprinkled with some political Libertarianism. I really liked all the characters, but I was also deeply troub
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
I've read this fine novel twice. I liked it better the second time 'round. Upon my first reading, I felt I had read - or watched - to many like it before. It was also a different sort of story than what I was expecting, or used to, from Heinlein. But it is well crafted, I liked the characters and the humour. If it's an original idea at the time it was published, it deserved the Hugo and the praise it continues to get.

Scalzi could have written this had he been born a couple generation earlier, I
Jun 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Of the so-called "Big 3" of sci-fi, I'd put Heinlein squarely at #4. Though I found this surprisingly tolerable and entertaining, sci-fi was clearly just a vehicle for him to write about his true passion, politics. He just can't help getting up on his soapbox and lecturing us on the virtues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every time I read something from Heinlein I swear it will be the last, and this time I probably mean it.
In a sense, the narrator is irrelevant. A poorly-educated waif (I never have quite understood Heinlein's apparent worship of abusive father/teachers. The narrator recites a tale of beatings and abuse that would likely serve as a pretty good legal brief for a lawyer suing the father for damages) becomes 'educated' by subsuming his own personality into the person he's hired to impersonate. Essentially an education by suicide, reminiscent of one of Zenna Henderson's stories in which a woman is one ...more
Kat  Hooper
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit:

Most of Robert A. Heinlein’s adult novels have interesting ideas or premises but many lack likeable characters and/or fun quickly-moving plots. Fortunately Double Star has all the right elements and is entertaining from start to finish. It’s one of Heinlein’s best novels, I think, and I must not be alone in that opinion since it won the Hugo Award in 1956 and was nominated for Locus’ All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels. Double Star is a character-based novel that exp
Chris Adams
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed Heinlein since discovering him as a kid in high school. This novel of his, Double Star--a winner of the Hugo--is no exception. Although my favorite RAH material are his pulp short stories, I've never read one of his novels I didn't enjoy.

Heinlein's stories are, first and foremost, just that -- he doesn't just dribble lots of scyfy terms and splashy descriptions to bump his word count; he tells stories. With only a bit of editing, Double Star could be set in any time frame or landsc
Noah Goats
Apr 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
I think it’s time for me to just accept that despite the fact that he’s considered one of the greats of science fiction, I do not like Robert Heinlein. The only other Heinlein novel I’ve read is Starship Troopers which, as far as I could tell, completely lacked interesting characters and a compelling story, and spent most of its pages arguing for corporal and capital punishment, and for the proposition that only veterans should be allowed to vote.

The whole tone of Double Star is completely diffe
Read this while dealing with a migraine, so I'm not sure the middle of the road rating is fair. While not my favourite of Heinlein's works, this is probably better than I'm giving it credit for. A re-read one day will tell.

There's a solid Prince-and-the-pauper-esque premise, and it's executed in a perfectly capable way, but it just didn't click with me as much as I'd hoped.
Pablo Padilla
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-scifi
"I regard them as prostitutes, not colleagues. Let me make myself clear. Does an author respect a ghost writer? Would you respect a painter who allowed another man to sign his work -- for money? Possible the spirit of the artist is foreign to you, sir, yet perhaps I may put it in terms germane to your own profession."

Lawrence Smith, also known as Lorenzo Smythe --The Great Lorenzo!-- is a very proud actor, and one of the best know in the Empire. He is asked to act in an interesting and well paye
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
While I didn't care much for Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I loved his Stranger in a Strange Land . This book falls somewhere in the middle of the two. Now that I have read three of his works, I have to express my appreciation for their variety. Science fiction can take so many forms, with the most obvious and in your face being the space opera, or the more actual scientific stuff, such as Jurassic Park, which I don't always understand, but I do respect. What I really like about Heinlein's books ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Laurence Smith, stage name Lorenzo Smythe, in search of work, takes on a performance offered by a space pilot, with few details offered. Smythe then very rapidly finds himself immersed in a much more involved project than he believed that he had signed up for. The pilot asks Smythe to assume another man’s persona, again without details, and whisks Smythe off in a spaceship into the reaches of the solar system. Written before man went into space, Heinlein foresees an interplanetary government tha ...more
Carl Alves
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Double Star, actor Lorenzo Smythe is a down and out actor who is tabbed to take on the role of pretending to be a key politician who is in the middle of a plot involving potential interplanetary war with Mars. After the politician has been kidnapped and injured, Lorenzo is embroiled in a series of conspiracies that lead him to interplanetary adventure.

This was a fun novel to read. For one thing, the pace was very quick and the author did not draw it out by adding fluff and filler. Lorenzo sta
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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
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“A slave cannot be freed, save he do it himself. Nor can you enslave a free man; the very most you can do is kill him!” 43 likes
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