Chel asked:

Did it seem like a wandering 60's era mess to you too with little point to it?

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Matt I read recently that this book took Heinlein years to write, and he wrote it roughly in two parts - I think the split is pretty identifiable, as the last 1/3 of the book seems completely different (and frankly, worse) than the first 2/3.

The first part is a tightly-focused adventure with a few philosophical rants from Jubal thrown in. The second part is preachy and pretentious, and just doesn't feel like the same book.
Ryan Link Yes, absolutely. It languishes in long rivers of dialogue that feel utterly exhausting. That said, the first 1/3 of the book is pretty good, and I thought I would really enjoy it. In the end, I just struggled through it.
dan Were you guys born this stupid or do you have to practice? This is one of the best books ever written. When this was published it was like nothing else ever written and you were a failure as a bibliophile if you hadn't read it. It spawned cults, created book clubs that talked about real issues, and added words and ideas to the american culture. Sure it seems a little tame now but for its time it was a masterpiece of new ideas and possibilities. In the early seventies if you had read this book you felt superior to anyone who hadn't and worked grok into your vocabulary at every opportunity. The best book ever written in any genre.
MaryAlice I agree that it seems like a wandering 60's era mess; but it did make points, about religions, governments, money, morals and such. "Make love, not war," communes, the 'sexual revolution' had not happened when Heinlein wrote the novel, so that the points he was making are passe by now.
Tim Pearsall Without disagreeing with anyone's point, I gave it 5 stars because I think it's brave and inspirational for its time. The 'preachy' sections are a little cringeworthy nowadays, but I wonder if that was true back then? And it's a book I personally would not like to see disappear into obscurity.
Madhu R Agree with you, Chel. Especially after reading such tight novels as "Brave New World", "We", and much of the work of HG Wells, this seemed to be a bit meandering and lacking enough punch with its satire.
Steve Ryan Yes, it's very very dated now. I kept wondering if it was a response to the founding of Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard, whom Heinlein had known at one point. But if so, what point exactly is Heinlein making? In the end it's too loose and unstructured and the two halves of the book don't gel at all. Basically just an excuse to set up a swinging wifeswapping club and pretend it's inspired by philosophy. Very very 60s. Probably with lava lamps. Today it looks as outdated as Benny Hill.
Cheryl Currie Maybe, but it made the point of acceptance of someone who is different and those who want to take advantage, pioneering the theme. The imaginative ideas that go into the main character who grew up with little water, were innovative at the time. I think whenever you read a book, you have to consider the culture it was published into. The 60's was a revolutionary period against the establishment. Books like 1984, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Logan's Run, were all about being different and breaking out of the established social norms.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) That's a good description. It was groundbreaking, iconoclastic etc for its time but these days you start by chuckling and (if you're me) end by rolling your eyes and going "chuh" a lot. Heinlein was obviously working out/sending up his own issues with mainstream American culture and religion of the time. Cheaper than therapy, I guess, and it made him famous.
Steve Davey The original manuscript version (1991 release) is much better. Even Heinlein didn't like the 1961 edit, calling it "telegraphy"
Koos Dekker In hindsight, yes. But I read this as a 14 year old, and it absolutely blew my mind and got me hooked on Sci-Fi. For me, back then, it was on par with Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment actually. I Can recommend this book to anyone interested in Sci-Fi
Roxie Perfect, far out book for its time.. we all were rolling inside our heads, attempting to learn to control the world around us back then...
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Mike As an unorthodox catholic, I found some of the ideas interesting as I have probably ponder then in my youth. But I have to agree with the others here that it did feel like two books. I enjoyed the 1st part more but the 2nd half definitely played more with the religion aspects tho I'm sure Heinlein would of been burned at the stack for heresy when Catholicism was in full swing. I have to agree that It didn't come across as really having a message just a juxtaposition on different ideas.
Giuseppe Ruotolo I just remember being very intrigued by it. Might be a mess 2nd time round. I Remember reading Hold My Hand I'm Dying first time around I thought it was absolutely brilliant, 2nd time I found it a bit boring. Probably because then I knew the story.
GS Yes! It’s such an incoherent mess - Heinlein just chose a borderline sci-fi vehicle to rant about religion and sex. Which might have been fine if he did it well - but he is so unstructured & all over the place! Horrible in terms of story and writing. The only saving grace for this book was Mike’s characterization.

People who call this good sci-fi realllly need to expand/ broaden their reading lists and sample some other other authors’ works - literally every other sci-fi author I have read does way, way better than this.
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Frank It can be experienced that way. RAH is full of surprises in this classic novel about love. If there's a. Cult following I'm part of it. I read. It in the past, and again the UN-edited version. So much sticks with. What color is that house? It's blue on the side...Grasses are meant to be walked on! If you don't Brock it perhaps in the illness of time you may
Gia Jgarkava It seemed yes, 60s mess, but with lot of good good points to it... but the points are quite nicely distributed throughout.
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