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I Will Fear No Evil

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Once again, master storyteller Robert A. Heinlein delivers a wild and intriguing classic of science fiction. Written at the dawn of the 1970s, this novel is the brilliantly shocking story of the ultimate transplant.

As startling and provocative as his famous Stranger in a Strange Land , here is Heinlein's grand masterpiece about a man supremely talented, immensely old, and obscenely wealthy who discovers that money can buy everything.

Johann Sebastian Bach Smith was immensely rich -- and very old. Though his mind was still keen, his body was worn out. His solution was to have surgeons transplant his brain into a new body. The operation was a great success -- but the patient was no longer Johann Sebastian Bach Smith. He was now fused with the very vocal personality of his gorgeous, recently deceased secretary, Eunice -- with mind-blowing results! Together they must learn to share control of her body.

512 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published December 1, 1970

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About the author

Robert A. Heinlein

787 books9,287 followers
Works of American science-fiction writer Robert Anson Heinlein include Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966).

People often call this novelist "the dean of science fiction writers", one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction."

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the standards of literary quality of the genre. He was the first science-fiction writer to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s. He was also among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era.

Also wrote under Pen names: Anson McDonald, Lyle Monroe, Caleb Saunders, John Riverside and Simon York.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 486 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
September 21, 2015
I have often wondered where was the point of no return, the line of demarcation when Robert A. Heinlein left his brilliant work of the 1960s and began his slow descent into weirdness and dirty-old-manity.

I think that line exists in I Will Fear No Evil, published in 1970. True, there was some creepiness prior to this (Stranger in a Strange Land) and there is also some fine writing after this (segments of Time Enough for LoveJob: A Comedy of Justice – and parts of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls) but Heinlein never came back to the glory days.

Heinlein is one of the all time greats, one of my personal favorite writers, but I could not bring myself to finish this one. Rich old man pays for a unique way to get a new body. What follows is A LOT of internal dialogue about generation gaps, differences between the sexes, and AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH.

I just could not take anymore.

Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books348 followers
December 22, 2014





what was this I don't even

I don't know where to begin.

Okay, I can forgive Heinlein a lot. I forgave him for Friday, in which the main character (another super-hot polysexual Heinleinian wet dream) . By the end of his career, the Old Man was pretty much just churning out whatever wank he felt like. But he gave us Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Podkayne of Mars (I know, that last one rarely makes anyone's list of Heinlein favorites, but I liked it), and a lot of other fantastic science fiction, much of which is actually teen-friendly and teen-accessible.

I had never read this abortion, though. This... appalling distillation of the very wankiest, skeeviest crevices of that dirty old man's oversexed id, dredged from the depths of early 20th century gender stereotypes and shellacked with the 1970s "free love" aesthetic Heinlein had going on. The result is I Will Fear No Evil, in which a 90-something-year-old man has his brain transplanted into the body of his hot secretary and promptly turns into the girliest girl who ever spent most of a novel running around tee-heeing that she's not wearing any panties.

yeah seriously did we take a left turn at Piers Anthony here?

And it's not like Heinlein didn't have the writing chops to make this interesting, or that he couldn't explore mind-bending ideas, including gender reification which when he wrote this in 1970 still was barely out of the realm of science fiction.

(But Ursula Le Guin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969 so Heinlein you have no excuse!)

So, I already told you the plot. Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is a billionaire, born long enough ago to remember the Great Depression, but the book is set in the early 21st century. Smith's ancient body is only being kept alive by life support, so he arranges to be the "donor" in the world's first brain transplant operation. By sheer coincidence, his gorgeous young secretary, Eunice Branca, is murdered a few days later, and Smith's brain is transplanted into her body.

So, a lifelong heterosexual male born almost a century ago exploring life in the body of a nubile young female. Could be interesting, right? Even if not handled precisely... ah... sensitively? It could still be a good story, especially in the hands of Robert Heinlein, who for all his faults (every single one of which oozes across the pages in this book) was a damn good storyteller.

But I Will Fear No Evil is not a good story. It's an endless series of conversations between Johann and Eunice (who somehow still "inhabits" Johann's mind even though her brain is gone) about sex. Johann, without even hesitating, embraces the role of becoming a male fantasy, giggling frequently to Eunice that being a girl is so much fun! As "Joan" he goes about kissing, fondling, and screwing pretty much anyone who holds still long enough. But mostly men. Always the men. She strips and flaunts and teases and seduces because that's what girls are for — always with Eunice's wholehearted psychic approval, because Eunice herself, as she describes repeatedly in wanky detail, was also fond of jumping anything with a pulse, especially if it had a penis.

Of course, all the men "Joan" is screwing around with know that it's actually their nonagenarian boss occupying that body, but none of them hesitate for a moment either. Just as Johann immediately accepts that he's now a girl, so does everyone else.

I haven't even gotten into the spanking and the lessons on how women must always be super-hot and sexually available but never forget to clean the toilet and the impregnating herself with his sperm and

yeah seriously

Everything — everything — you have ever heard about Heinlein's "problematic" gender issues and skeevy sex roles is spread in stark glossy airbrushed glory across this book. I Will Fear No Evil is a course in anti-Heinleinism: "Why Robert A. Heinlein was a Skeevy Old Man 101." Everything you need to know about why he has so many detractors. Minus the alleged fascism and libertarianism, because the minimal worldbuilding is just another representation of a crumbling overpopulated socialist-capitalist state. There's a bit of Heinlein's usual ruminating about individualism, but then Joan is off to flash her pantyless bum to some other dude, and we're back to the main plot of the novel, which is how many different conversations Joann can have about sex in between having sex. Threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, girls, boys, at least she didn't get around to bestiality but there was serious contemplation of incest and a tempting little thirteen-year-old...

yeah seriously that is the plot

Honestly, I wouldn't have hated this book quite so much (though I'd still have mocked the hell out of it) if it had a plot.

For the love of Hugo Gernsback, do not read this novel if you've never read anything else by Heinlein, because I promise you'll never want to read anything else by him. I can't see how even the most ardent Heinlein fan could love this book. (I've read some of the 5-star reviews, trying to figure out what those readers saw in it, and... no, I still don't get it.)

Heinlein wrote some great books. Even some of his really problematic books (well, they were probably all problematic in some fashion) were great books. But this? It made my skin crawl. And worse, it bored me. It. Stank.

One. Star.
Profile Image for fourtriplezed .
467 reviews100 followers
August 27, 2023
I read this back in my younger sci fi days and it was so bad I never read another Heinlein book. An old bloke becomes a young girl of very good looks and the point is laboured for about a 1000 pages. Well that was what it felt like anyway. Great cover though, that smoking skull. Good name for a book too.

Hey what the heck, after having a look around Goodreads it all remind's me of some of the complete trash I once read. I Will Fear No Crap Book I Once Read......
Profile Image for Whitaker.
294 reviews511 followers
February 7, 2017
I was having dinner with some friends the other night when I was reminded of this book. Well, this one and several others. We were talking about how teens in Singapore these days have so much more access to positive representations of gay men and gay life than when we were young. It’s not only because of the internet and gay celebrities coming out. It’s not even only because at the time I was a teen, it was the decade of AIDS and mainstream representation of gay men was singularly stereotypical and derogatory. It was also because gay novels and films were not imported into Singapore. In addition to a perceived lack of demand, there was also the nasty problem of censorship.

Well, evidently, the censors only went for the obvious stuff. And evidently nobody bothered to check the science fiction novels. So my teenage self, already an avid fan of fantasy and science fiction, discovered—surprise, surprise—positive representations of gay men in these novels. There was Damon Knight’s The Man in the Tree (1984), Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover (1981), and my favourite Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint (1987). But even before I read any of these, there was Robert Heinlein.

His most well-known work, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), mentioned gay men but in a slightly derogatory fashion. In Glory Road (1963), he was more relaxed about it. The heroine, Star, even admonishes the hero for his prejudice against a gay character. By I Will Fear No Evil (1970) and Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984), it was all systems go.

I Will Fear No Evil was probably the most explicit about this: its plot involves after all the brain of an old man transplanted into the body of a young woman. Heinlein examines in detail the constructs of gender and sexuality. Man on woman sex, woman on woman sex, man on man sex, it was all about loving and sharing. I recall vividly even now a scene where two of the hero(ine)'s male bodyguards have sex together. It was depicted as loving and caring, and very explicitly labelled as such. And let me tell you, it was ambrosia to my avid teenage brain.

I’ve never ever particularly felt self-hatred for being gay. My family was never religious, and there was not a lot of open homophobia then – I think a lot of society was simply ignorant about the concept. And while I’ll never know how much an influence these books had, they must have had some influence on my young mind. And I will forever be grateful: these were books that didn’t call it a sin, that said it was okay to be gay. In that sense, they made it normal. I can imagine now the howls of conservatives convinced it was these “evil” books that made be gay. I think rather that it was these books that helped to save me from a life of self-hatred.

It was only a few short years later that books like Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series started being sold openly on Singapore bookshelves. But for me at that crucial period of my life before Maupin’s books were available, these books helped to set up the mental structure of my thinking and values, a set of values that said, “There’s nothing wrong with man on man sex, with being gay.” So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Robert Heinlein.
Profile Image for Chris.
91 reviews443 followers
January 5, 2008
I took me about a month to read this sluggish piece of pelican crap. Every day I’d pick it up, read about 5 pages, and immediately become so bored I actually started ‘cutting’. Yea, right. I may not have started outwardly displaying my inner pain by blading like a distraught high school dork destined to be the next trench-coat mafia moron, but anyone who liked this book probably should.

Having read the lauded Heinlein classic Stranger in a Strange Land about a year ago, and not enjoying it, I really can’t comment on why the hell I’d think this largely ignored (and rightfully so) work might be some sort of improvement. But, the resale shop down the street has paperbacks for 50 cents, so, I guess that was the impetus for buying it.
I got about 1 percent of that investment back, at least, I will.... should I ever be stranded on a frozen tundra and need to burn this for heat. It seems Heinlein is unable to write a book without having an integral character that's ancient, beyond-rich, seething with sarcasm, unspeakably clever, and possessing an unparalleled sexual appetite.

This time, that character is the focus of the book, old-ass Johann Smith, entrepreneur/billionaire/life-supportee. In order to cheat death as he’s cheated the IRS, legal system, and the masses for years, he enlists a controversial Aussie doctor to perform a brain transplant into a fresh, young vessel for him, giving him another chance to do whatever the hell he wants. Alas, the transplant takes place, but his consciousness is unceremoniously dumped into the body of the ultimate male sexual fantasy; his former secretary, Eunice, the epitome of male desire and a genuinely decent person to boot. While trying to overcome the remorse and guilt that such a beautiful life was lost in order to extend his own wretched timeline, Eunice’s body actually retains her ‘essence’ and the two fuse into one in a very cumbersome and unreadable manner.

And then they start fucking everyone. Seriously.

Absolutely everyone. Nurses, doctors and orderlies (male, female, or transgendered) from the hospital where Johann was housed. Johann’s longest-tenured friend and lawyer, his entire security crew, and anyone else able to get their groove on joins in, including Eunice’s former husband and his new love interest.

Is the book a tongue-in-cheek statement to how sexually-repressed American’s have become? Is the wanton promiscuity even remotely interesting? Is the cerebral debating between brain and host body ever close to redeeming over the course of 500 pages? Absolutely not. This book has threesomes, foursomes, and more-somes, but it completely lacks any redeeming substance. The same bullsh!t repeated incessantly about the divergent sexual mores and public misconceptions between Eunice’s day and some prehistoric epoch in the dawning Iron Age when Johann could still get it up.
You’d expect that there would have been something of interest concerning the social impact of the transplant procedure, something involving anyone outside the microcosm of Smith’s immediate group of friends that might take place. Nada. If it doesn’t involve a sticky climax between awkward relations, it didn’t make the cut, and that’s the main reason this book doesn’t have anything to offer. Sure, Heinlein probably realizes that his focus in books is a bit too narrow, so he has little introductory recaps of the goings-on in the larger world before some chapters. This only exposes the reader to the realization of how large a gap this is, and detracts from the tale if anything.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
April 7, 2014
Can Science-Fiction Writers Really Predict the Future? (part 94)

Not, who's just acquired a new Lenovo ThinkPad, has spent the last hour getting familiar with the speech recognition capabilities. She's been reading out bits of text, looking at what comes up on the screen and editing the mistakes, all using nothing but voice commands. After a while, I realized why it seemed oddly familiar: there's a scene early on in this 1970 novel where the hero's sexy PA does exactly the same thing. The way she uses the speech-enabled word-processor is described in considerable detail, and is remarkably similar to what I saw just now. And - if you aren't sufficiently impressed already at Heinlein's skills as a prognosticator - the novel is set in 2015. Spooky or what? In fact, there's only one important detail he gets wrong. Not was fully clothed, while Eunice in the book is wearing nothing but a lot of body makeup and an entrancing smile.

Well, it's hard to score 100% on these things...
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
February 16, 2009
So, earlier today, I was talking with Choupette (apropos Houellebecq) about the fact that men and women have different perceptions of sex. As I said, there are good biological reasons why it has to be that way. If you're potentially capable of producing thousands of offspring, with only a few minutes of work invested in each one, your mind is just hardwired differently from the way it's going to be if each baby takes nine months of pregnancy, followed by a painful and dangerous birth and then years of looking after the child. When you consider it, it's almost inevitable that women see men as irresponsible and sex-obsessed.

That discussion reminded me of Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, a book I loved as a teenager but really haven't thought about in years. For people who haven't read it, the basic plot is that you have this old billionaire who decides he'll cheat death by having his brain transplanted into someone else's body. He has a super-hot young PA that he kind of has a very abstract thing with (he's no longer in shape for any concrete things). Not only is she stunningly gorgeous, she's also a really nice person.

Due to a bizarre series of accidents, she gets killed the same evening he's going to have the transplant operation, and his brain ends up in her body. When he wakes up and finds out what's happened, he goes a bit crazy; he's been in love with her, and it's too much to handle. He starts fantasizing that she's still somehow there, and he can talk with her. It's never made clear whether this is pure fantasy or not. He/they decide to live his/their life according to his idea of how a hot young 20-something chick ought to live it.

Looking at other people's reviews here, Chris complains that the book contains way, way too much sex. Denise, on the other hand, complains that she really shouldn't like this book so much, but somehow still does. (Interesting, by the way, that the negative review comes from a man, and the positive one from a woman). I'm more inclined to side with Denise. I think it's what Orwell called a good bad book; for all its faults, the psychology isn't unrealistic. A man who somehow ended up in a super-hot woman's body probably would spend most of his time having sex with everyone! He might honestly believe that that's what the body's original owner would want him to do; it's less obvious she'd agree with him. In a way, Heinlein's saying some reasonably interesting things about how hard it is for a man to see the world through a woman's eyes, even though the situation is set up to give him the best possible chance to do so.

I was also reminded of a joke I saw a couple of years ago in the British magazine Viz. If you haven't seen it, it's a strange beast; the humor is ostensibly as crude and stupid as possible, but under the surface is often remarkably sensitive and sophisticated. The joke came from a fake sex advice column. In the letter, supposedly from a male reader, the guy complains about the fact that his girlfriend sometimes refuses him sex. "If I were a girl," he says, "I'd be up for it all the time. Oral, anal, you name it. She says that if I were a girl I'd want to be treated with more respect. Which of us is right?" The (supposedly male) advice columnist replies "You are right and your girlfriend is wrong." It's quite funny when you think about it!
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,715 followers
July 19, 2015
The Bad --
Sexism (Misogyny?): Reading Heinlein's books today, any of his books, it's hard not to wince at the things that just aren't acceptable by today's standards. His sexism is probably the most difficult, so reading a book where the main character, Johann Sebastian Bach Smith has his brain transplanted into the gorgeous and perfect Eunice Branca -- effectively becoming a woman -- is bound to be off-putting. And it is.

The way that Heinlein saw women would make anyone taking a Women's Studies course angry, give a Professor of Women's Studies an aneurysm and make most of the rest of us cringe -- at least. Once Johann becomes Eunice, or Joanne Eunice as s/he has everyone call him/her, we enter Heinlein's vision of what it is to be a woman. His concepts of a woman's power and "utility" are inextricably bound to a woman's sexuality and ability to procreate. Through the lens of today it is undeniably sexist and would more than likely be considered a misogynist vision of femininity.

Conflict: There isn't any. I suppose one could imagine that an ancient man becoming a young, beautiful girl is conflict enough, but it turns out that's not the case. Sure there were a few minor impediments to Joanne Eunice's easy life, which occurred every chapter or so (and more than a few social complications due to his/her surgery), but they were so mundane and handled so perfectly by Joanne Eunice as to be non-starters. No problems in the book, made for a big problem in readability.

The Title: Kept waiting for the "evil" in the title that the characters wouldn't fear and it never came. One of Heinlein's worst titles.

The Weird --
You might think that the idea of a gender reassignment brain transplant from the seventies would be the "weird," but that really wasn't all that weird after all. What was weird was this:

The Juxtaposition: The bulk of I Will Fear No Evil takes place in the mind of Johann Smith, but along with Johann/Joanne, up in that grey matter, is Eunice Branca, so what we get is a constant back and forth between the two. A sort of half flirtation - half support group wherein the two voices navigate their world with one wanting to become the perfect woman and the other making sure he always gets it right so that they can cheer each other on and pat each other on their metaphorical backs. They never argue, so even the multiple voices fail to generate conflict. Joanne Eunice is all harmony. And when those two voices are eventually joined by a third voice and still nothing changes other than to add another harmonious voice to the mix, well, it is one of the weirdest bits of narrative I have ever read (and not terribly effective).

The Good (or maybe just The Interesting)--
A Reminder:: Our western view of sex and sexuality has shifted so much in the decades since I Will Fear No Evil was written that I think many of us who lived through those times forget what the attitudes were, and those who didn't live through those times find it difficult to understand just how different the attitudes were from what they now are.

We take for granted today, for instance, that there are homophobes out there, and that there are people who are belligerent towards the transgendered, but we generally see them as kooks or bigots or flat out evil. Most of us are accepting (and increasingly so) of sexuality and gender fluidity and see that acceptance as a no brainer. We ask the question "Why wouldn't we be?" and expect that we all know the answer. As a bisexual man I am surely pleased with this cultural shift, but I have also been very sensitive to the situation over the years and often had it in the forefront of my mind when dealing with the world.

Similarly and in the other direction, we forget that child molestation/paedophilia was seen differently too. Today we accept it as a horrible evil, but as recently as the Seventies and Eighties our societies saw it as the gateway to the far worse and more disgusting crimes of ... wait for it ... homosexuality and sex change operations. In the city I grew up in, everyone I knew from every community in the city had a child molester living somewhere in their suburb. Everyone knew his or her name, everyone lived calmly with the molester there, and everyone was complicit in sweeping the molestation under the rug. We were trained to steer clear of the molester and if we didn't, it wasn't really a big deal. That's the attitude I grew up with. It came from home, it came from school, it came from friends, it came from television. It came from everyone. We don't feel that way anymore, but we did, and not just the kooks and bigots or those who were flat-out evil.

I Will Fear No Evil is a good reminder (or a primer), for anyone who needs one, of how society saw sexuality not so long ago. I am not entirely sure that this was anywhere in Heinlein's intentions, but there it is for all to see. His strange little novel of Joanne Eunice is a fascinating moment in sexual time, and it is worth a read just for that (of course, don't take Heinlein's sexual fantasies as part of that snapshot. Be careful not to confuse his extreme horniness and rejection of monogamy has part of the reminder, although ...).

Credit to Heinlein: All the sexism (misogyny) aside, who the hell else would write about gender reassignment (Marge Piercy, but only much later) in the seventies, but even more, have all those around the reassigned accept it without even the slightest hint of unease. Every man and woman who comes in contact with Joanne Eunice is instantly at ease with the gender and sexuality of the situation. If they have any problems at all they are about greed or memory, not about gender or sexuality. If nothing else is impressive, this, at least, is.
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,220 reviews169 followers
May 2, 2023
I first read this book in high school from the school library. I liked the title and the cover (the skull one) and I read lots of science fiction but this is one of the books from that time that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t remember which book was my first Heinlein but I doubt it was this one because I should absolutely hate this book! It is so hilariously sexist, some of things he says make me shake my head and laugh out loud, it’s so ridiculous. What’s the plot of this stupid stupid book? A mega rich old dude has his brain transplanted into the hot body of his secretary after she’s killed in a mugging. For some strange reason that is never explained, Eunice is there in Johann’s brain when he wakes up and instantly teaches the new ‘Miss Smith’ to behave like a lady. Now a perfect woman in Heinlein’s world is beautiful, smart and ready for sex at all times with everyone and everybody and that’s what happens while the legal status of this new entity is established. There’s lots of conversations (much of it tedious) between the two voices in (now known as) Joan’s head. And in the meanwhile the rest of society and the world outside the rich enclaves is going to hell. Violence, suicide, riots, illiteracy, environmental collapse ….complete disaster. But that’s just presented as an aside. Would I recommend this book to anyone? No it’s rubbish, but I love it.
Profile Image for Denise.
40 reviews10 followers
January 14, 2008
Oh, God, I shouldn't love this book as much as I do. I really, really shouldn't.

Okay, first off, let's get this out of the way: This book was written in 1970, and it reads as horribly dated to a modern reader, especially with the gender and sexual politics. You're going to have a few moments where you look at it and just go "...I can't believe he just said that." This also isn't at all a good introduction to Heinlein (for that, try The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress or Tunnel In The Sky or even Stranger In A Strange Land), and a lot of people consider this book to be the turning point where Heinlein started going off the deep end completely.

That having been said: I still love this book. A lot.

Quick plot summary: Ultra-rich mega-billionaire Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is dying of old age, discovers that a surgeon has successfully transplanted the brains of two chimps into each other, and resolves that he will spend his money to have his brain transplanted into a new body; thanks to the fact that he has a rare blood type, his potential donor pool is limited, and when an accident befalls his beloved (young and highly nubile) secretary Eunice, who has signed up to be a potential donor should she die before he does, the transplant is performed. Johann wakes up in Eunice's body and discovers that her consciousness and personality is still there for him to talk to. (Fans of Stargate: SG-1: think Tok'ra.)

Like Kipling, Heinlein must be read in the context of his times, and a lot of this book can be taken as a dialog between Heinlein (Johann shares a lot of his upbringing) and his extrapolation (surprisingly accurate) of what society would be, thirty or forty years from the point the book was written. It is absolutely fascinating to watch the progression. Again, a lot of the gender and sexual politics can be troublesome, but in context, coming from a man of Heinlein's time, they're shockingly progressive.

A contemporary treatment of this idea would work out quite differently -- and I'd love to read it -- but as it stands, this book fascinates me and I love re-reading it. The ending goes off the deep end, and is fairly weak -- especially for Heinlein, who usually manages to produce very satisfying endings -- but the first 90% of the book is one of my old favorites.
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,263 reviews66 followers
August 24, 2017
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. How can one book be so progressive about sexual identity and so sexist at the same time?!?

When one thinks about it, this is an incredibly forward thinking book. Published in 1970, it accepts the idea of multiple labels for sexual desire, beyond hetero/homo. It also takes the idea of not seeing gender but just loving a person to a new height. And yet, it is probably one of the most sexist books towards women I have ever read.

To Mr. Heinlein sexual freedom for women means sex is all they think about. The only female characters are nurse, secretary, and model, and they spend most of the book naked (because that is the acceptable dress-code for females in the workplace, not the men, they still seem to wear suits) and on their backs. Just writing about it makes my blood pressure rise.

But this same books identifies six different sexual orientations, mind you this was published in 1970. This juxtaposition makes it almost impossible for me to write a justifiable review. Here is what I will say on the topic. I finished this book. I never once considered DNFing it. But, I'm not sure if I would recommend it to anyone.
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books284 followers
June 13, 2022
Като ученик много се кефех на Хайнлайн – даже по едно време го бях обявил за любимия ми автор, защото главните му герои или поне важни второстепенни герои в романите му бяха едни всезнаещи възрастни мъже, които крият меко сърце под циничен характер и безкомпромисно поведение. Освен това жените на Хайнлайн са винаги секси, силни характери и не се дават на никого, а сексуалните отношения са едни такива либерални и освободени…

Хайнлайн обаче е автор от 60-те и 70-те години и това си личи. В началото, преди десетина години, започнах да се дразня на прекалено голямото внимание, което отделя на половите, семейните и сексуални отношения и как голяма част от диалозите на героите му са насочени към това да се уверяват едни други колко са отворени и разкрепостени, как тройки, четворки и т.н. са нещо нормално и как хората се разхождат голи и мислят само за секс и как това е обикновено нещо в бъдещето. То ясно, че е така, ама от толкова наблягане върху това почва да нагарча, а и диалозите никога не са му били силната страна.

После, преди пет години, се зачудих на наивизма на неговия либерализъм, четейки Луната е наставница сурова и спомняйки си за другите му книги. Обществата, които описва са чудесно либерални и либертариански, но авторът, разбира се, прекалява и идея няма как такива общества биха действали наистина.

Последния пирон в ковчега на любовта ми към Хайнлайн нанесе „Няма да се уплаша от злото„, в която един… е, съмнявате ли се… дърт и циничен, но с добро сърце богаташ, трансплантира мозъка си в тялото на своята млада секретарка, която приживе е била … е, съмнявате ли се… секси, силен характер и не се дава на никого. Съзнанието й обаче остава в тялото и двамата си съжителстват и водят пространни диалози за… е, съмнявате ли се… за половите, семейните и сексуални отношения и как двамата се уверяват едни други колко са отворени и разкрепостени.

Едва ли някой може да ме обвини, че се давам на феминистките и че съм фен на политическата коректност в отношенията между половете, но издържах само 1/3 от книгата. Както и в предишните му книги, в тази Хайнлайн показва в цялост смешното си хипарство, съчетано с дълбоки комплекси спрямо жените – до степен даже на … да де… циник като мен това да му е противно.

Жените на Хайнлайн са жените от 50-те, с малко умствен грим. Основната цел на тяхното съществуване е да служат на някой мъж и на мъжете като цяло. Колкото и да са умни, каквото и да работят, основната им грижа е да са винаги секси облечени/съблечени, основното, за което мислят и говорят е кой мъж ги гледа и какво си мисли, основното, за което се притесняват е дали косата им е разрошена, а основната им реакция при притеснение или вълнение е да си поплачат.

Изтърпях множество подобни глупости, в безкрайния диалог, но когато главния герой казва прави комплимент за много красивото тяло на главната героиня, която е образът на силна и независима жена в романа, а тя отхвърля комплимента с притеснението че маникюрът и е ужасен, захвърлих книгата. Милият автор се опитва да се прави на много либерален, но в същината си е ситно комплексарче, което си няма идея от силни и независими жени и вероятно иска да спи с нагримираната си и с маникюр майка.

Самата книга най-вероятно е интересна де, като останалите му.
Profile Image for Chris.
341 reviews975 followers
November 6, 2010
One of the things I enjoy about Heinlein is that he likes to play with Big Ideas. While he did dip into the well of action and adventure, especially for his juvenile stories, he treated his readers like they were only slightly intellectually inferior to him, and so explored concepts that required a lot of heavy thinking. The need for war, the inevitability of messiahs, revolution, life, death, immortality - he's not afraid to shy away from some of the greatest philosophical topics that reside in the human heart, and this book is no exception.

Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is a very old, very sick, very rich man. He built himself up from nothing and rose to financial prominence in what is a little more than a regular human lifetime. Smith had it all - a rich and exciting life, complete financial security, good friends and good memories in a world that had, frankly, gone to hell. He had very nearly everything a person would want to have.

What he didn't have was time. He lived in daily pain, kept alive by only two things: an ever-increasing number of machines and a plan to release himself from the geriatric horror his life had become. He knew that this plan would probably fail. He knew that he was facing death no matter what happened. He knew that it was crazy, and not necessarily crazy enough to work. But it was all that stood between him and suicide.

That plan was, in theory, very simple: transplant his healthy brain into the body of a healthy young person. By doing so, he would gain a whole extra lifetime to enjoy the fruits of his first lifetime's labor. Not being a monster, he was prepared to do this in a legal and ethical fashion. With his legal, medical, and judicial contacts, he made arrangements with a medical advocacy group to get the body of a healthy young person who died due to some massive brain trauma. And - and this is important - who consented to having their body used for medical experimentation. Everything would be above-board, legally sound and ethically certain. All Smith had to do was stay alive until a body became available.

When it did, however, he was in for a double surprise. Not only was the healthy, youthful body that of a female, it was that of his healthy, youthful, beautiful secretary, Eunice Branca. Eunice had been murdered, but her body was in excellent condition. She had the right blood type, and had consented to have her body used for Smith's experiment. The one doctor in the world who could perform the surgery was brought in to perform it, and against all odds, it worked. Johann Sebastian Bach Smith was reborn as Joan Eunice Smith, and her new life began.

But she was not alone.

By some means, Eunice's mind survived to live with Joan, and tutor her in all the ways of being a woman. Joan dove happily into her new life, exploring her new femininity and sexuality as best she could.

In that sense, this whole book is an exploration of sexual identity. Here we have a man who is now a woman, even though that was never his intention. He soon finds himself thinking like a woman, though, bringing up the question of whether gender is determined by a person's mind, or by the body it inhabits. If you put a male mind into a female body, with the vastly different hormones and sensory inputs, will that male mind start to act like a female? And even if it does, should it?

Smith makes a decision to, with Eunice's help, be the best woman he can be, mostly because he feels that is what is expected of him. After a lifetime of conforming to male societal roles, Smith wholeheartedly embraces the female ones, up to and including seducing his best friend of many decades. Gender identity in this book is a tangled mess of biology and intention, and it looks at being female from a distinctly male point of view.

Which brings me to my first problem with this book: the casual misogyny. I know it's a pretty loaded word to throw around, and it's not entirely accurate, but it was the one that kept coming to my mind. While Heinlein is certainly capable of creating strong and independent female characters, and emphasizes over and over again that both Eunice and Joan are actively choosing the lives they lead, those lives are almost entirely dependent on and revolve around men. One of Smith's first actions when he goes from Johann to Joan is to latch on to a man - her old friend Jake Saloman. She views her identity as a woman as incomplete without a man to base it on, and spends most of the book trying to figure out who she is in relation to men - Jake, her security guards, Eunice's widower, and more. She repeatedly mentions how helpless she is without a Big Strong Man in her life, and all of this culminates in what is possibly one of the most misogynist moments I have ever read in sci-fi: a spanking scene.

And not a sexy one, either. In a moment of adolescent pique that Jake won't sleep with her when she wants him to, Joan throws a fit, disrupting their dinner plans. Jake proceeds to throw her over his knee and give her a spanking because, and I'm quoting here, "You were being difficult... and it is the only thing I know of which will do a woman any good when a man can't do for her what she needs." Joan accepts the spanking meekly, not only thanking Jake for his spanking, but also claiming that she had her first orgasm while he did it.

Wow. That's nearly as bad as the other major female character, Winnie, who talks about a gang rape experience with what can almost be imagined as fondness.

Oddly enough, this is not my biggest problem with the book. I mean, it was written in the late '60s, and it reflects the thinking of that era. For all his progressive beliefs, Heinlein was still a man of his time, and it really shows here. Legend [1] has it that he was really sick when he wrote this book, and that may have had something to do with the fact that no matter how many complex hot-button issues he touches (gender roles, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, overpopulation, government overreach), the fact remains that there is no story in this book.

Let me explain. A story needs conflict. It needs not only a protagonist that is trying to achieve something, but obstacles that impede that achievement. There were so many potential goals and obstacles to be explored in this story - a man's brain in a woman's body - but Heinlein manages to artfully dodge all of them. The story of Smith's inner struggle to resolve the gender he grew up with with the gender he now possesses would have been fascinating. But it didn't happen. Smith pretty much accepts the change right away, with few if any reservations. Even so, he could have struggled with how to live as a woman – should he adopt the identity that a patriarchal society would confer upon him as a woman, or forge his own as a uniquely gendered person who has gone from the privileged to the unprivileged sex? Unfortunately, the conflict doesn't even occur to Joan. She decided to be the best woman she can be, constantly asking others what that entails, rather than asking herself.

Or how about the concept of Identity itself? Smith is an old brain in a new body, so is he legally the same person he was before the surgery? That would be an amazing story as he tries to prove that Johann has become Joan, and that even though Eunice's body is still walking around, she's actually dead. But no - Smith has some powerful legal friends with ironclad arguments, and the legal proceedings are pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Or how about rejection by society? Regular transgendered people have a hard enough time getting society to accept the modification of the body they were born with - what about when someone takes on an entirely new body entirely? Joan could have struggled to get her friends and family to accept who she has become, to stand before the world with her head held high. But no.... She has enough money that she doesn't really need society's approval, none of her friends have any trouble with what she's become, and even Eunice's widower has only a moment of uncontrollable emotion before accepting that his wife is dead, but still walking around. And he might get to sleep with her again.

One last one - the soul. Joan hears Eunice's voice in her head, but it's unclear whether it is really Eunice or if it's just Joan's imagination. What's more, they never fight. They never have a serious disagreement and have to resolve their differences so that they can continue to occupy the same skull. Eunice and Joan live together like wisecracking sisters and never have to deal with the problem of living with someone you can't get rid of, even if you're not sure if they're real.

In other words, there's no there there. It's a long, talky, philosophical exploration of some fascinating topics, but as a novel, it's incredibly dull. You keep waiting for the blow-up, for the accident, for the Big Problem that Joan and Jake have to struggle to overcome, and it never arrives. Everything works out either through money or force of will or Heinlein's trademark Sheer Damn Reasonableness. Between that and the constant thought of, "He did not just say that," I found this book rather stressful to plow through. It offers up a lot of big ideas to think on, raises some very important questions, and Heinlein's gift for dialogue makes some fun conversations, but I think I would have liked it more if it had been completely different.

"Sir, if you want to give me a fat lip, I'll hold still, smile happily, and take it. Oh, Jake darling, it's going to be such fun to be married to you!"
"I think so too, you dizzy bitch."
- Joan and Jake, I Will Fear No Evil by Robert Heinlein

[1] Wikipedia
Profile Image for Jersy.
808 reviews67 followers
April 24, 2022
This is absolutely not were you should start with Heinlein whatsoever.

Usually in his works, he walks a very fine line between beeing a creepy old man and telling a compelling story with interesting ideas. This, however, is pure creepy old man without any ideas worth exploring beyond the basic premise. The whole novel is wish fullfilment: the old protagonist gets a new hot female body and there is little page time that isn't spend on him hitting on everyone and beeing supported to do so by everyone else. It reads like embarrising and cheap porn without any of the explicit scenes.

It is still sometimes entertaining in the same way really bad movies can be entertaining, that's why it still gets 2 stars. Also, I just really like Heinlein's style and how, in a lot of his works I've read, his main cast is just really harmonious.
I'm glad I've read this shit show so now I can relate more to what is basically the criticsm to every later work of his and know how bad it can get.
Profile Image for Denis.
Author 1 book22 followers
February 25, 2023
This is my second (and probably last) read of this novel. It is from the "late period" of the Heinlein cannon. It is a brick of a novel that takes on, amongst other items, the issue of sexual identity by way of an old wealthy man who has his brain, and therefore “id” or “self”, transferred into the body of his recently deceased secretary - this was not the original plan but how it turned out. However, within that body, she continues to be present as a conscious presence–the old man is in the driver’s seat, and they go on with their life as dual-ego team.

It is a gimmicky vehicle that gives Heinlein the opportunity to discuss, primarily, alternatives to current sexual conventions.

It has been documented that by the end of writing this novel, Heinlein had gotten ill and could not edit the first draft, leaving this task to his wife Virginia. It appears that she found it difficult to cut anything from the original manuscript (I would too. I would not want to have to justify cuts to the likes of RAH). If given the opportunity, I like to think that had he had the opportunity, he might have put together a much better novel than this, but honestly, I actually doubt it. If you read both the cut and uncut version of Stranger back to back, the evidence is clear, this work ought to be done or advised by someone outside of Heinlein's circle.

On this, my second reading, I found the book almost unreadable. Heinlein always wrote with the spirit and voice of his time (compare the film-noir dialogue of “By His Bootstraps” (‘41) with the beatnik jazz prose of “Glory Road (‘63) and later, the near cyberpunk lingo of Friday (‘82) but this, though it may have reflected the tone of its time (the swinging spirit and attitude of the post sexual-revolution early 1970’s), was no justification for the icky-factor within the pages of “I Will Fear No Evil”. Old men and young women, who wanted nothing else in life but to jump each others bones regardless of age (way way too inexcusably young in instances) or... anything really.

This novel is set during the "Crazy Years" according to RAH's "Future History" - though it is not officially part of that framework, and yes, this book was that: Crazy.

One can say he covered or even predicted the acceptance of the LBGT community, sure, that's all in there, and there is a fair bit of near dystopian world building and lots of interesting near future speculations here - the random Brunner, "Stand on Zanzibar"-like news stories inserts that come in now and then are entertaining, there is yoga elements in it, emigrating to the moon is also thrown in there, but the bulk of the novel is mostly on and on, page after page, of nonsensical dialogue of "you lecherous old goat would love to..." between several old men and young women.

I can handle, with an open mind, "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Number of the Beast", "The Cat That Walks Through Walls", Time Enough for Love", "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" and such, but this should never have been published, at least the way it had been. I know, with much coaxing, by an editor (if Heinlein needed the money during this time) a much better book could have been written with this premise and overall ideals. I fixed it (or justified it) in my own mind - the only way any of this could have made sense in order to tolerate this, was that Johann Sebastian Smith's transplant had actually not succeeded and all of this was a Wizard of Oz-type delusional situation as he had simply fallen into a deep coma and eventually succumbed to the rejection of the brain organ.

Heinlein's most "gaga" publication. Not recommended, skip this one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chloe.
350 reviews554 followers
May 26, 2013
I’ve always had a deep love of the nerdish arts. I cut my teeth on genre fantasy books, the sword and sorcery epics of R.A. Salvatore, J.R.R. Tolkien, David Eddings and the like when in grade school. When I was a teen I began to migrate from the ceaseless repetition of the Campbellian monomyth to the more conceptual realm of science fiction. What appealed to me about these worlds was that literally anything was possible. Bound only by the limits of their imagination, writers can ruminate at length on the topics of faith, love, sentience, race, or what-have-you from a safe remove, exposing unsuspecting readers to a host of radical thoughts that they would laugh at if suggested within a policy discussion.

I devoured all the greats of the Golden Age. Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Pohl, E.E. “Doc” Smith: all of their books have passed through my hands at some point. There was no writer that grabbed my teenage mind as thoroughly as Robert A Heinlein did, though. Looking back now it’s easy to see all of the problematic elements in his writing- the sexism, the idolization of militarism, the vein of libertarianism that runs through so many of his stories (though nowhere as much as in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress about a libertarian revolution on the moon). At the time though I was thrilled to find a writer addressing topics that were very much on my teenage brain and I offered little in the way of criticism as I tore through his oeuvre.

I still remember the first time I stumbled across I Will Fear No Evil, a later work of Heinlein’s in which a rich industrialist tries to escape death by having his brain transplanted into a younger body. Through a series of mishaps his brain ends up in the body of his nubile young secretary, gender of his transplant body not being something that he had considered until the switch had been made. In his new body he revels in his regained youth while at the same time coming to grips with being alternately gendered.

There is a ton that is problematic about this read, but I think it’s what Orwell called a good bad book. For all its faults, the psychology isn’t unrealistic. A man who somehow ended up in a super-hot woman’s body probably would end up having as much enthusiastic sex as Heinlein sprinkles into these pages. In a way, Heinlein’s saying some reasonably interesting things about how hard it is for a man to see the world through a woman’s eyes, even though the situation is set up to give him the best possible chance to do so. The sex was certainly titillating to my hormonal teen self, but what caught my mind more were the little things- the wardrobe, makeup, learning new mannerisms, speech patterns.

It was fascinating to me. Here was an author who was writing what I had been dreaming for so long. Sure, it was very much through a hetero-male gaze, but it is still the closest I’ve seen science fiction get to addressing transgender ideas. To a kid just starting to sort through the swell of emotions and dysphoria that puberty brought about it lit a fire in my imagination that still burns today. For that I will always count Heinlein among the greats.
Profile Image for Sam.
207 reviews22 followers
February 5, 2017
I’ll “tell ya bang”, using the books slang, that you have to sift through a mountain of “hoo-hoo” to get to what little good this story has. Basically a lecherous 90-year-old brain gets implanted into 20-year-old swinging beauty queen, with a geriatric fetish, as written by a fantastic author in his creepy old man phase and edited by his equally old disturbed wife. Let's do the math:

Horny[(Heinlein(Wife*Author))+(Nonagenarian*Tart)] = Boredom. Yep, that about sums it up. Who said I'd never use algebra outside of class. Heinlein is usually amazing at creating characters but in this case he didn’t leave them with much other than a few good quotes:

“No, 'Miss' Smith-do you know the technical term we physicians use to describe girls who depend on rhythm?" "No. What?" "We call them 'mothers.'"

He pointed at the Moon. "Eunice, I suspect that our race's tragedy has been played endless times. It may be that an intelligent race has to expand right up to its disaster point to achieve what is needed to break out of its planet and reach for the stars. It may always-or almost always-be a photo finish, with the outcome uncertain to the last moment, just as it is with us. It may take endless wars and unbearable population pressure to force-feed a technology to the point where it can cope with space. In the universe, space travel may be the normal birth pangs of an otherwise dying race. A test. Some races pass, some fail."

Profile Image for Sally.
Author 128 books321 followers
September 3, 2010
Before we get into things, let’s deal with the most common complaint regarding the book. Yes, it is sexist, anachronistic, and often patently offensive in it’s portrayal of BOTH genders. It’s also a book that was first published in 1970, and is the work of a man who began writing science fiction as early as 1939. Critiquing Heinlein for not being properly progressive regarding gender equality 40 years ago is like lambasting Mark Twain for not being politically correct regarding race 135 years ago.

Anyway, the book introduces us to Johann, an elderly, crippled, bitter old man who also happens to be exceedingly rich. He knows his body is dying, but his brain is just fine. So, he comes up with the idea of transferring his brain to a new body upon his death. He doesn’t actually expect it to work, but figures it’s better to waste his money on a sliver of hope than to let his children squabble over it.

Not only does he not expect it to work, but he certainly does not expect to wake up in the body of a woman – specifically, that of Eunice, his beautiful young secretary. Fortunately for Johann, something of Eunice has survived to share her body with him. It’s never made clear whether this is her spirit, her memory, or just his imagination, but it serves to jumpstart the plot past the awkwardness you’d expect of a man who is suddenly a woman.

Once the legal/ethical/philosophical issues are dispensed with, much of the book deals with Johann’s (now Joan Eunice’s) sexual exploits. Again, yes, they’re sexist and sometimes crude, but also thoroughly entertaining.

Ultimately, what I took away from the book was an appreciation for the dilemma of sex vs gender vs sexual orientation - what does it means for a man’s mind to desire other women (while in a woman’s body), or for a woman’s body to continue desiring men (while guided by a man’s mind).

As I said, it’s an interesting book, and one that makes you think. It’s not the greatest story every written, but certainly a great concept.
Profile Image for Steven Cole.
284 reviews9 followers
August 16, 2011
As an exceedingly brief summary, this is the story of a brain transplant and the dual-sexed multiple personality that results from it.

I read this book the first time when I was about 15 or 16, I think, and it really hasn't stood up to my growth as an adult. I remember being especially thrilled by the idea of bodypaint that couldn't be distinguished from clothing, but in these days of the internet, that's hardly the unique idea it was to a testosterone-flooded teenager of 25 years ago.

Today, this book isn't about bodypaint, it's about Heinlein's man/woman stereotypes thrust into your face. There's not much more than dialogue in this book, and so there's no relief in plot exposition or anything else. There's just a constant back-and-forth inside the main character's head about how women and men should spend their time seeking pleasures of the flesh. Now, in normal circumstances, I think this is a great idea---pleasures of the flesh are quite pleasing, after all---but there's so much sexist baggage piled on top here that it often left an icky taste in my mouth.

Not one of Heinlein's best. 3/5.
Profile Image for G.R. Reader.
Author 1 book169 followers
April 20, 2014
If we could just transplant the brain of a horny old billionaire into the body of his hot young PA, we'd find out more in a month than we have in fifty years of academic gender studies. But for some reason it's impossible to get the experiment funded.

Well Bob, at least no one can say it's your fault.
Profile Image for Heather's Mum.
142 reviews33 followers
September 12, 2007
FYI: The title is taken from Psalm 23:4.

Although the work probably deserves only a 3 or 4, I gave this 5 stars for sentimental reasons.

I Will Fear No Evil was one of the first Robert A. Heinlein novels that I read as a young adult. I was forever "hooked." Continuing to read Heinlein's works, I soon realized it wasn't his best - possibly because he was quite ill while writing this book.

What tantalized me most about the plot was the co-existence of the two personalities, of opposite sex, in the same body. Their communication with one another and shared responses piqued my imagination.
2 reviews
June 6, 2022
I usually stop reading books that are bad enough to rate 1 star, so I think this rating deserves an explanation.

First, the good parts:

I thought the core idea, two personalities sharing one body, was compelling, and it still is: A Memory Called Empire, for example, incorporates it.

Also, Heinlein continues his tradition of bucking 1970s cultural orthodoxy regarding race, religion, sexuality, and gender. But…

On the problematic side:

Heinlein’s approach to that bucking just reads HORRIBLY, especially in his descriptions of how women* and men* should interact: The main character kissed almost every male (and maybe female, too) character in the book, and her approach to marriage / partnership was very 1950s obedient.

* In the situations referenced, I can’t decide if Heinlein thinks sexuality is fluid or if women should be kissing everyone. He talks about man-to-man sexuality, but we never see it on-screen. He doesn’t seem to be suggesting that men should kiss men to say “thank you for carrying those packages”.

I could further analyze the book’s approach to sexual orientation and gender identity, but it would distract from the worst part…

It. Is. Horrible. To. Read.

Pages upon pages go by, and nothing happens except internal dialog inside the protagonist’s head.

And the internal dialog is half about how a woman should speak and dress to manipulate men to make them happy and get her way. The other half is about sex: having it in the past, having it in the future, who had sex with whom, will there be spanking, and much more that I’ve forgotten.

So, it gets 1 star mostly because it is so hard to read.

P.S. I just remembered the bit where gang rape is ok because the female victim kinda liked it, and was drunk on champagne, and one of rapists was nice and she had consensual sex with him later. That should go up above, but I can’t be bothered to rewrite properly.

P.P.S. This review says what I am trying to say, but better: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for John.
358 reviews4 followers
September 22, 2011
This was, without exception, and by a wide mile, the worst novel I've ever had the displeasure of slogging through. This was the fourth Heinlein book I've read and, despite the fact that there is one more waiting for me on my bookshelf, it is likely to be the last. How this author was ever identified as one of the great masters of 20th century science fiction boggles the mind. Certainly, what lies between the covers of this book is nothing more than filth. The only reason I read it all the way through (which was a struggle) was to earn the right to criticize it. Where to even begin...?

What starts out as an interesting premise with a lot of potential -- an old man's brain being transplanted into a young woman's body -- descends into a celebration of debauchery and degeneracy. Heinlein seems to prefer protagonists who are filthy-rich older men without any real problems to speak of. As in this novel, they are typically surrounded by bought and kept women and men whose sole purpose in life is toadying. Thus, the central character of this book is an intolerably egotistical, self-important, pampered, deceitful, bullying megalomaniac, while nearly every other character is a ridiculous, two-dimensional caricature. This, in and of itself, might not be enough to sink a book, but Heinlein's adolescent "philosophy" makes up the difference and then some.

Among the atrocities the author clearly condones are the following: Lying; cheating; theft; infidelity; violence; rape; incest; pedophilia; murder; and an illiterate working class. And that's just for starters. To add more fuel to the fire, every character (especially Johann Sebastian Bach Smith, the central character) is so unrelentingly "witty" that if you ever encountered such a specimen in real life, you'd probably commit homicide. The characters are so enamored of themselves and each other that the dialogue threatens to cause diabetes: No real person would ever use the words "dear," "dearest," and "beloved" with such regularity, but Heinlein's characters waste page after page on the non-stop exchange of such platitudes. The same goes for the frequently repeated "harumph," which I, for one, have never heard any real person utter earnestly. The dialogue is further mired in "clever" catch-phrases (Heinlein was clearly hoping for another "grok") such as "rozzer" (understand), "no huhu" (no problem), and the incessantly repeated corruption of the Buddhist mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" as "the Money Hum". (This latter, in itself, is all one needs to know about how utterly wrong-headed and ignorant Heinlein's philosophy is).

Heinlein's women are helpless creatures who have no purpose in life but to serve men, sexually and otherwise. The men, in turn, treat the women as little more than chattel to be claimed by force. Not one of them has the slightest compassion for the human race at large; compassion is reserved strictly for the elite. The sole motivating forces for nearly every single character are sex, money, and power over others, in roughly that order.

The only real conflicts in the entire novel are legal and bureaucratic. Heinlein largely reserves his speculation about the world of the future to obviously tacked-on "news flashes" at the beginning of many chapters, which rarely relate in any direct way to the story at hand and, more often than not, simply confuse the reader with their meandering verbosity. A huge volume of words is, similarly, wasted describing the minutia of the most mundane topics: specifics of meals, including their contents, preparation, and presentation; endless references to the high-priced luxury items purchased, used, and consumed by various characters, many of which would be unfamiliar to most readers (I had to reference a dictionary on more than a few occasions); and more detail than any writer should provide about fashion choices and "proper" upper-crust etiquette. Finally, to make matters even worse, the ending (which I will not reveal here) is a cheap shot that does little more than insult the reader.

I couldn't care about these characters if you paid me a king's ransom. But I might be able to fake it.

(PS: If I could rate this book less than one star, I would surely do so.)
Profile Image for Desiree.
3 reviews2 followers
March 10, 2010
So far, I'm not impressed. Seems a repeat of his other highly sexual works. I'm not engaged with this persons journey through sex change and I'm not quite understanding the meaning behind most of his setups. Maybe that will change in the end, but I doubt it. I have only truly liked one of his books in this genre: Stranger in a Strange Land. The others have left me wondering why / what / how?

Perhaps I am just not smart enough to understand Heinlein. Everyone else I know that reads him truly loves him. I personally just get tired of reading about how everyone should be having sex with everyone. It, on the surface, seems very enlightened. However, as I read I am always struck with "Man, this guy has serious issues..." and I don't see the empowerment of it anymore. I just see that he wants a lot of sex...with everyone. His writing style is really non-traditional also, so that may be another road block for me. It's not like most books where you feel like there's an internal dialog happening with the main character. In Heinlein's case, it is always disassociated enough that what the characters do and say almost feel disjointed and empty, void of true emotion. I have never truly empathized with any character he's written in all the books of his I've read.

Maybe someone can enlighten me on Heinlein. I really want to understand and related with him as so many have.

Now, I have never read Tunnel in the Sky or The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and those two have been specifically recommended to me, so perhaps I will change my mind on some of this then.
72 reviews
May 30, 2022
Okay, before I start, know that I was in high school when this book was written in 1970 and have read a lot of SF, and Heinlein. This is one of his I hadn't read so decided to give it a shot. Whew, I wish that I hadn't!
The plot: a 90 year old male (head of a large corporation), is dying and has his brain implanted into the body of his dead female secretary (it takes place in about 2015). So you think that maybe the plot has the female run this large corporation in an era where it was (and is) almost unheard of? A nice feminist view? Nope! The main character, who before was this strong and tyrannical male, turns into this sex-starved super-fem! Just because his brain is now in a female body! It is probably what a misogynist truly believes would happen. It is sensitive in the way that Hugh Hefner was sensitive about women. The character (once named Johann, now is Joan) also becomes sex-obsessed with his old friend and lawyer, his bodyguards, judges, doctors, nurses, etc., all who know about the transplant. Weird, just weird.
And, to make it stranger, the secretary's personality is still in the body as well (huh?!). Much of the book are these back and forth conversations between the two people in the body, mostly about sex, that just gets very annoying and distracting.
It is very creepy at times, including obsession with a 13 year old female child by the old lawyer/friend (now husband) of Joan. And it gets even more far-fetched and weirder...
I would avoid this one. I only gave it two stars because it was Heinlein, one of the "big three" in science fiction.
I read and liked "Stranger in a Strange Land" back in the 70s, but I don't think I will re-read it, I may be disillusioned...
904 reviews8 followers
August 28, 2015
This book is written by one of my favorite authors! Considering it was written in 1970 it's amazing how prophetic it is. Many of the tools and technology represented have in fact, become common place. Fortunately the horrible crime has not. I'm not sure about colonizing the moon if that is a good or bad thing. However, this book definitely shows what was on the minds of Americans in 1970. The moon, sex, sexual equality, and the differences between the sexes. It's obvious this book was written by a male, and some of his insights about women are spot on....others...well, you'll have to find for yourself.

The reason Mr. Heinlein is one of my favorite authors is because he manages to weave social issues, political issues, science fiction, economics, fantasy( but well thought out fantasy), he even touched on the media that still plagues America today. He's a smart writer and extrapolates from what is currently happening and then writes about a future based on the actual present. He started out writing for young boys, but has become very well known for his adult themes and books.

If you like this, my two other favorites are better. "Stranger In a Strange Land" and "Job: A Comedy of Justice". The young adult, although written much earlier (he started in 1930's) are very good and some have become movies.....are also very good. More fantasy and sci fi than based on the above items.

Still, 45 years later, a book that a book club can read and have a LOT to discuss.
Profile Image for Dawn.
126 reviews19 followers
May 22, 2013
Bizarre. Very bizarre. One other reviewer said this is where he thought Heinlein started going off the tracks--well, if it isn't, it's dang close. The book drips sex, sex, sex, and more sex--and that's not necessarily the bizarre part. Now, I'm not adverse to sex in a novel (so long as it's written well and not gratuitous), it's part of the human condition and all, but this was ridiculous! And I'm used to old Heinlein's free love characters. But did he really think we're all like this? Of course the character is curious about sex from the female perspective and is eager to try it; I think most people would be in these circumstances. But from then on, every 3rd thought is about sex, whether for pleasure or using it to "bribe" others. Please, not everyone's minds work like that.

And speaking of thoughts, his set-up for the internal chatting is very confusing--all those parentheses! Hard to keep tabs on who was talking. And then the end just came out of nowhere. Very unsatisfactory.

Side note: in Time Enough for Love, Lazarus says he knew of a man who was transplanted into a female body and the shock (or something) killed him. While Heinlein certainly did self-reference himself, I'm not sure if this the case Dates might not be right and this is not the time line of Lazarus Long. But I'm wondering if that's not what got RAH thinking.
Profile Image for Jay Wright.
Author 4 books32 followers
May 25, 2023
Dnf at 200 pages in. I can't anymore. I think I just like the idea of Robert A Heinlein. Keeping it for the sick title and cover
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