Time Enough For Love

I am currently slogging through this Heinlein book at the recommendation of someone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, but definitely not great. It’s very disjointed.

My question here is - at various times the author interrupts himself in the following way:

“and then we saw that” - (7,500 words omitted) - “And so, you see, she was my granddaughter all along.”

This happens about once a chapter, with different amounts of words each time.

I just wanted to know: What in the world does this accomplish other than ruining the thread of the story, totally alienating the reader, and making the book a very bumpy ride? Is there any real use for this? I am not reading an abridged book! Besides whoever tells you in abridged books what parts are cut? They try to make it seemless, and Heinlein makes it more broken up!

Anyone know why?

The convention in that part of the book is that Lazarus is talking to Minerva, the self-aware computer. All of his stories are supposed to be told to Minerva for her eventual editing and inclusion in the Archives. The editing, supposedly, is Minerva taking out the boring and/or not relevent parts of Lazarus’ stories. Frankly, I think it works better than some of the stuff Heinlien could have had us wade through.

The ‘notebook of LL’ at the end is excellent.

“Buy her a desk, keep your hands off of it.”

Couldn’t he just have…not mentioned it at all? But thanks for the help. :slight_smile:

My faves were:

“Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.”


“Rub her feet.”

I found that most people either love Heinlein, or hate him. And it really suprised me how vocal the latter group is.

Although I suspect that, much like Clinton-hating, its more of a “team sport” or “group identity” thing than an actual considered opinion, because there is so much variety in his body of work. From “Starship Troopers” to “Number of the Beast,” there’s a lot to critizice for sure. But they are very different critiques.

I always felt that his shorts collection “The Past Through Tomorrow” was his best work.

Heinlein always said that he didn’t write his stories, the characters did. The first part of his books was just getting things rolling; once the characters started to interact in his head, he was just along for the ride. This (the “words omitted” thing) always struck me as kind of a tongue-in-cheek metacomment, along the lines of “This character could tell this story here, but he’s starting to bore the bejesus out of me, and I get money for writing all this down!”

An interesting thought just occurred to me–what if he actually did write the parts that were omitted, and then cut them as part of trimming the first draft down to the length the publisher would accept?

Lazarus long is an old man, a very old man. Think of Grandpa Simpson, and how he often gets off onto long, irrelevant tangents. Now multiply that by about thirty. He’s had a lot of life experiences, and everything reminds him of something. Those “edits” are part of Heinlein’s way of painting a picture of him in our minds.

“… I was carrying an onion on my belt, as was the custom at the time…”

For whatever it’s worth, Time Enough for Love is the only Heinlein I’ve ever been unable to finish. (And I fall in the middle of bughunter’s love/hate scale: When he’s good, there are few better, but when he’s bad, I’d rather be rimming a yak.) So don’t feel bad about the slog on this one; you’re not alone.

Biggest (only) giggle I’ve had all day. Thanks, Cervaise.

You’re wrong. :smiley:

There are positives to be said about Heinlein’s earlier stuff, especially his short fiction, but I find all his work after The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress to be yak-rimmers. (That’s a coinage worthy of the Turkey City Lexicon, BTW.)

I have a long history with Heinlein, having first read him 40 years ago. When I was a freshman in college I went so far as to recommend Stranger in a Strange Land to an English professor. Then I turned 19.

Many readers never turn 19 in that sense. That’s not an all-purpose putdown, just a recognition of reality. The vast majority of books sold are marketed to this readership, as are most movies and tv shows. These readers want pure page-turning enjoyment and escape from their books and are capable of overlooking much that the standard literary community considers to be flaws in pursuit of these pleasures.

Once you turn the figurative 19, however, the presence of these flaws is almost unbearable. It’s next to impossible for me to go back and reread Heinlein with the pleasure that many still find in him. His virtues don’t nearly make up for his flaws, in my eyes.

Large numbers of iconic genre writers - in all genres, include the one called bestsellers - have this split in their readership. You can find people in this forum retching over Dan Brown’s prose right next to those who say that they stayed up all night to finish his books.

I’m in a better position than most to understand this split because I’m a semi-professional critic specializing in genre, so I’ve had to train myself to understand both sides of the divide. Don’t try this at home.

Interesting point of view, Exapno, but I would dispute it. I first read *Time Enough for Love when I was in high school, and thought it was merely “OK”. But a few months ago, I re-read it, and discovered that it was much deeper than I realized on first reading. The whole story is basically just set-up for one of the tales in the middle (I won’t spoil which, but those who have read it probably know which one), and once you recognize that, you can understand those first tales much better. It’s also significant, I think, that that particular tale came halfway through Lazarus’ life to that point: He literally finds True Love only once a millenium.

By the way, is yak-rimming anything like goat felching?

What was the meaning of the scene towards the end (note that it’s been years since I read it, so my description might be off)

when Lazarus Long is injured during World War II, and there is a scene where he’s playing chess with the Grim Reaper? Was the message that he’s immortal?

Also, I assume that Chronos was referring to

the story of Lazarus living on that planet where he adopted the child from the burning farmhouse, and eventually married her. One thing I never understood about that story was why would the colonists travel via starship to that planet to live as if they were in the American West in the 19th century?

Dewey, the first scene you reference is an allusion to Ingmar Bergman’s classic film of existential dread The Seventh Seal. I can’t say specifically what Heinlein meant by nodding at it, but you should see the movie if you’re curious.

Sort of but not quite, because it’s not necessary to first bang the yak.

Dewey,Wasn’t it World War I?

Sorry, yes, you’re right.