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Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein

a book by Robert A. Heinlein

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Flat and Flippant

  • Nov 8, 2008
  • by
Hugh Farnham is a blue-collar survivalist who likes to play Bridge. His college-age daughter Karen, her friend Barbara, his lawyer son Duke, his alcoholic wife Grace, and house servant Joe are playing cards at his house the night the bombs hit. Everyone scrambles to safety inside Hugh's modern bomb shelter.

As the bombs fall and his wife is passed out, Hugh starts up an affair with his daughter's friend Barbara, right in the shelter. As if Hugh's shallowness and arrogance wasn't enough to turn you against the protagonist, this nauseating little scene will.

When the shakes and quakes finally end, the family pours from the shelter to find themselves in an impossible, pristine, clean world. At first glance, it looks like utopia, but then as they settle into a rustic lifestyle they are suddenly set upon by an advanced race, imprisoned, and brought into a vastly different culture as slaves. Somehow, Hugh needs to find a way to break free of the civilization they are trapped in, so that he can be free with Barbara.

Of all the Apocalypse Fiction, this book is the worst. The protagonist is so lowbrow, so arrogant, so unlikable, so self-centered, so shallow, so immoral that he simply cannot capture any interest. He's not even a "love to hate" person.

The dialogue is flatly emotionless and yet irritatingly flippant, and Barbara and Hugh's constant prattlings of "Darling, Dear, and Beloved" do not fit the characters. Neither does Hugh's occasional spouting of words like "shall" and "shan't" along with racial diatribes that include heavy use of the "N" word.

There is little emotion from these one-dimensional characters even though they face the death of Hugh's daughter and Barbara's friend Karen, cannibalism, castration (Hugh cared more about his "boys" than he did his real children), pedophilia, racism, and sexual slavery, they show no more feeling than they would biting into a doughnut.

The entire plot-over-plot had a contrived and vapid feeling to it, as if the author himself didn't quite believe his story. And if he doesn't believe, how can he expect the reader to?

Overall, there is no depth or flavor in this story at all, other than the ugly aftertaste of a musty trailer park visit in the dusty twilight, as old men drink cheap stinking whiskey and the wind blows over the city dump next door. I recommend avoiding this book.
Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein

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Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
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Product Description
A nuclear blast hurls an American family into a future "utopia" based on ancient evil. Hugh Farnham and his family would be slaves unless he could find a way to escape beyond the reach of the Master Race.
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ISBN-10: 0671722069
ISBN-13: 978-0671722067
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Genre: Science fiction novel
Publisher: Baen (February 1, 1994)
Date Published: (February 1, 1994) Original Publication Date 1964
Format: Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages, Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
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