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Methuselah's Children

7 Ratings: 3.9
Novel by Robert Heinlein

Methuselah's Children is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in the July, August, and September 1941 issues. It was expanded into a full-length novel in 1958. The novel is usually considered … see full wiki

1 review about Methuselah's Children

Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein

  • Aug 31, 2010
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What was your first impression? I loved this story as a kid and probably read it half a dozen times.  If not more.

Plot summary?  A genetic clan was created by a rich man in the late 1800's.  He encouraged people with healthy, long lived grand parents to intermarry.  So in a couple of centuries a small group of humans were able to live nearly 200 years.  The NORMALS don't like that.

What's the bottom line?  The bottom line is that Heinlein was predicting the biological revolution 50 years ahead of its time.  The first version of Methuselah's Children children appeared in 1941 as a magazine serial, just before the US entered World War II.  So that was 5 decades before the human genome project.  How many people do you suppose are looking for genes that affect aging today?  How many thousands more like it.

But that is what just kicks off this exciting story.  This gets into the social psychology of politics and what a competent politician, if there is such a thing, does in a situation that is totally out of control?  Luckily Lazarus Long was on the scene.

Lazarus Long is without a doubt Heinlein's most enduring character.  Endearing to some but a pain in the ass to many.  But many other Heinlein characters share his attributes.  The ultra-competent man of daring do.  It is from characters like this that we most likely see Heinlein's outlook on life and attitudes about government and the human race in general.

So what solution does Lazarus come up with to solve the problem?  Steal a starship and leave the normal, nitwit humans behind.  Heinlein writes the story so he doesn't have to kill anybody in the process but you know he's the kind of man who would not have hesitated if it was necessary.  So in 188 pages Heinlein packs piracy, new star drives and strangely dangerous aliens in a single story that spans 73 years.  Fortunately at near light speed it didn't actually take that long.  By Earth Standard Time it goes from about 2120 to 2090-something.  But many things about world history got mentioned in passing so even though this was one of Heinlein's early stories is it was the end of his Future Histoy series.  That is until Heinlein decided to revive the Lazarus Long character in the 1970s.

Heinlein updated the story in 1958 for novel publication and I have probably never seen the original 1941 version.  But he had cars that drove themselves on the highway and notified the driver when it was necessary to take manual control. We almost have the ability to do that now.  But at the same time he made no serious mention of computers so I guess the cars worked by magic.

If one wants a perspective on Heinlein's writing this is a difficult book to avoid.

Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein

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