For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs by Robert Heinlein

For Us, The Living: A Comedy of CustomsTakeaway: There is a reason that ‘lost novels’ were lost in the first place.  Only attempt if you are a very big fan of Heinlein.

Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

I found this on the Overdrive library system.  So I checked it out for free and I would advise that if you are going to attempt it, you find it for free as well.

It is not a good novel.  It was Heinlein’s first novel and it was never published while he was alive.  It has an amazing amount of material that he was able to later use in other books.

As one of the best 20th century Science Fiction writers, he made a huge impact on generations of writers and readers.  But in the 350 or so pages of text, there is only about 50 pages of story.  The rest is fairly pedantic explication of the world that we end up seeing in later works.

Heinlein never liked the idea of traditional marriage, and that is one of the early subjects of the book, marriage no longer exists and nudity is embraced and encouraged (as is open sex).  Religion is still present, but plays a negative role in Heinlein’s worlds.  His ideas about science are interesting and considering he wrote these in 1939 are much closer than I would expect.  He had some engineering background, so he was familiar with new inventions and so takes that tack that Cory Doctorow takes and uses current research and early inventions to make near term predictions.

Heinlein is also very libertarian in his books and I think is a major player in moving many to a loose libertarian position.  His economics are very dated and it is clear at this point, he needed more economic study.

For those that are big fans of Heinlein, you will probably be interested in this as a curiosity, although remember it is not as a strong literary work.  It is as much lecture about the world and Heinlein predicts or desires as it is novel (or really short story).

In the end I listened to a little over half of it, then portions of the second half.  I got bored.

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