Oleg Kagan's Reviews > For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs

For Us, the Living by Robert A. Heinlein
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Dec 27, 2011

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bookshelves: idea-books, scifi-bigfour
Read from December 27 to 31, 2011

For Us, the Living is one of Heinlein's early works which I have typically enjoyed. That is not say that this book was a throw-away, indeed as a description of the author's dream future it worked quite well. As a story however, where qualities such as plot and character figure in, For Us, the Living is lacking.

To be specific, the plot is a variation on the "sleeper awakens" theme, where a Navy man from 1939 gets into a car accident and mysteriously wakes up in 2086. The mechanics of this is fuzzy, but it is easy to ignore when expecting something to happen. Instead, what conflict there is in For Us, the Living can be attributed to Perry Nelson, the protagonist, figuring out the new world.

In lieu of plot, the book is primarily made up of discussions between the Perry and various experts; an economist, historian, psychologist, and dancer all weigh in on the setup of the world in 2086 and how it compares favorably to Perry's former home in 1939. To be sure, Heinlein's convincing alt-worlds are an excellent, but one is probably better served exploring Heinlein's subsequent works in which the new worlds are part of a story and not just an end in themselves.
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