The Door Into Summer

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US hardcover, 1st edition.

The Door Into Summer is a time travel science fiction mystery novel written by Robert Heinlein and published in 1957, though it was first serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1956.

I read this book because I loved Heinlein's Stranger In a Strange Land, and enjoyed Starship Troopers, but I found it to be rather awful. The best way to sum up the book is, "nerdy reclusive 30-something engineer finally makes good on his promise to marry an eleven-year-old girl thanks to time travel." When I wasn't disgusted at the abuse of women or laughing at how wrong the descriptions of future technology were, I was bored.

Status

I do not own this book, but have listened to an audio book recording.

Review

Good

  • I like the idea of going back in time to fix mistakes that you made, even though the book does a poor job of making it interesting.
  • The fact that people with unpopular proclivities (nudists) can be successful members of society is a nice addition.

Bad

  • Davis, an engineering genius, is ingeniously boring. His only fault seems to be that he's too trusting. Well, that, and he's a pedophile.
  • The inventions Davis creates were not only impossible in the 1970s, but they were impossible in 2001, the book's "future."
  • Heinlein really missed the mark on future technology expecting high quality human stasis in the 1970s and the end of disease, colonized planets, and time travel by 2001. He also assumed that computers would still use tube-based memory in 2001, and that doctors would be offering their patients cigarettes in the hospital.
  • For a book that ends saying free will is a real thing, unstoppable hypnosis and chemical mind control are used an awful lot.
  • Despite describing the future as being better in pretty much every way for the lives of the people of the future, Heinlein can't seem to help but inject a callous political position of how inefficient they are, as if efficiency is more important than happiness.

Ugly

  • Ordinarily, I don't have any serious qualms about about couples of disparate ages, but this one is pretty messed up. Yes, Ricky was 21 when she and 31-year-old Davis started having sex, but he fell in love with her when she was an eleven-year-old girl who viewed him as her uncle, and convinced her to be celibate for 10 years without him, then go into stasis for another 20 years, and, even though he knew nothing about the changes she went through as a teenager and young adult, they still got married the moment she got out of stasis. The author describing the girl as being, "emotionally an adult," doesn't help because he writes about her acting like a child the whole time.

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