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336 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published April 1, 1953
Especially the first story, but really the entire book is a solid contribution to the science fiction of its day — and thus influencing countless stories afterward. It’s rare that I’ll rate something of Heinlein’s five stars, especially anything over 200 pages, but the opening novella If This Goes On— was amazingly good.
(I have published a much longer review, including mini-reviews of each story, on my website.)
Regarding the story's plot, I have absolutely no concept of how we could possibly get to the Religious Theocracy point in America. Even knowing what life was like in 1955 when this was written, I think I would still have to call bullshit. But... suspending disbelief I continued. And... Bleh.
Puritanical, dogmatic character John Lyle is the Pious Pilgrim's Pilgrim, but then he give it all up for a good looking chick. Pfft! Trope! Next. He immediately understands that he had been brainwashed all his life and converts to the rebel heretics, but he can't seem to get the goody-goody out of his system until his buddy convinces him that God is a 'private thing'....oh, yeah, and he sees a naked chick... spare me the anti-religious rhetoric, Bob.
Top all that off with the Psychobabble, mind control, hypnosis, psychic nonsense (how's that different from superstitious religion, Bob?), and you have a very mushy story. Wow, I was going to give 3 stars for creativity until I talked myself down to 1 here. Hmmm, I didn't realize how much I didn't like this one until I wrote it all out. Ahhh, writing is catharsis!
A short story about a non-conformist who is removed from society because broke the Covenant - do what you want as long as it brings no harm to others - and refuses to be 'mentally reconditioned'. He is sent to a reservation for such as himself called Coventry that is kept separated by a force field. What he expects to find there, and reality are far far different.
I enjoyed this one. It had a better pace, and the concepts were more interesting to me. 3 stars.
Short story with a lot of scientific detail in it. A group of young men who just don't fit into society are given an opportunity to better themselves by helping mankind make a space station out of an asteroid. In the process, one young man with a rare gift is discovered, and gets his opportunity to save the project; thus proving that one groups misfit is another groups superstar. 4 stars.