The Door Into Summer

ISBN: 0345413997
ISBN 13: 9780345413994
By: Robert A. Heinlein

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About this book

It is 1970, and electronics engineer Dan Davis has finally made the invention of a lifetime: a household robot with extraordinary abilities, destined to dramatically change the landscape of everyday routine. Then, with wild success just within reach, Dan's greedy partner and even greedier fiancée steal his work and leave him penniless, and trick him into taking the long sleep—suspended animation for thirty years. They never imagine that the future time in which Dan awakens has a very limited form of time travel, just enough that Davis can travel back and recover his research. He then again undergoes suspended animation, and awakens again in the high-tech future of the year 2000, with his reputation, fortune, and his sweetheart.

Reader's Thoughts

Thom (T.E.)

Several people whose tastes I trust have read this novel and praised it as refreshing with a steady hum of unusual energy coursing through the tale and Heinlein's telling.Damned if they weren't right. But, a major caveat: this story is old-school in more than one regard. It deals in time travels that both begin and end in periods that are both now of the past. To me that matters barely one whit. I was (slightly) put off by Heinlein's well-known strains of libertarianism and his peculiarly patronizing misogyny--though here they are thought about, considered...instead of merely dumped on the readership as gospel. Meanwhile, there is a cracking yarn going on. It moves swiftly as a plot and as a read, and the temptations to emphasize crime-story and more violent twists are regularly passed over. Instead, this is a tale of envineering inventors and those in their orbits. Themes here ask, "what makes clever people happy?" and explore whether rule-breaking gives one extra time (i.e., fulfillment) or takes it away.One thing in particular makes this a minor classic: it's not cinematic at all. This is a book--not a prototype for a movie. Discussed herein, albeit without withering detail, are the roles of patents and intellectual property laws in society; the companionship value of cats; and how brilliant work inches both science and society forward but may not make for fame or proper reward. There is so little of science fiction--and novels in general--that doesn't point toward its own cinematic potential that I agree with those who find this a refreshing gem.

S.c. Jensen

I didn't read this book with the intention of writing a review, so you'll excuse me if I don't go into great detail. Let me just summarize "the feel" of the book...It is not very often that I read a book that makes me smile the entire time I'm reading it; this is one of them. From the hilarious anachronisms of the 1950's Futurist to the brilliant side-kick cat, Pete. (Cat lovers will appreciate this book on a completely different level than other readers). I was laughing out loud at least once every 20 pages or so.It is only because I read some of the other reviews for this book that I felt the need to write a review myself. After seeing that a number of reviews that charge The Door into Summer (and sometimes Heinlein himself) as being both misogynistic and perverse, I felt the need to defend it (and him).First of all, on the complaints that Heinlein's vision of the future (from 1956, remember) is sexist, misogynistic, anti-woman, etc.:There are not many women in this story, true enough, which may be a mark against it in and of itself. Because of this, the heinous Belle stands out as being a particularly unlikable femme-fatale. Though I would argue that, had Belle not been foiled by Dan's foray into time travel, her plot would have succeeded and she would have made a respectable villain. She was well-equipped for it: calculating, edgy, violent, and un-emotional. But because the other women in the book (Jenny Sutton, the Girl-Scout Matron, and later Ricki) are fairly minor they do little to offset the influence of Belle and rather support the 1950's housewife stereotype. And Dan Davis' engineering vision of rescuing women from the drudgery of housework is a little dated, to be sure.However, I consider these to be the faults of a novel written in the 1950's. I always find it best to approach a book with the understanding that it is a product of the time in which it was written. If a novel breaks through the conventions of its time, great! But it would be unreasonable to expect it every time one picks up a new book. Our modern sensibilities might be offended by some archaic ideas, but out-dated notions don't necessarily devalue an otherwise good yarn. (not to mention historically important works)It's true that science fiction often pushes boundaries: of politics, religion, war, gender, sexuality, human nature, etc. But it is not necessary. And it is certainly not necessary to push all of them at once. The Door into Summer is not a book about gender roles. It reflects opinions common to the time in which it was written, but it does not address them specifically. It cannot be said to be particularly forward thinking on the subject, but at the same time it is a passive position. Heinlein is not actively or purposefully oppressing women in this novel, but he is describing a world very similar to the one in which he lived. Which, for me, is enough that I didn't hate the novel for its faults.Heinlein has shown in this and other novels that he is not rigid in his notions on the future of gender roles. In Starship Troopers women make the best fighter pilots because of their superior reflexes and mental dexterity. In this novel, there are suggestions that--outside of the narrative--women are fulfilling more diverse roles than we see them in. Dan Davis, when discussing the merits of his engineering robot 'Drafting Dan', admits that most women don't care much for it unless they are engineers themselves! The offhand nature of this remark is indicative that it is not an alien idea to Dan. Perhaps his housekeeping robot is more liberal-minded than we initially supposed, if it has freed women from the role of housewives to pursue their dreams outside the home. Something to consider, anyways.With that out of the way, I wanted to talk about the so-called perversion of Dan's unconventional (temporally speaking) romance with Ricki. Many people have commented on the "disturbing" nature of the love story sub-plot. And maybe it's because I've recently read Lolita, but I really didn't feel too put out about it. I actually found Dan and Ricki's relationship kind of cute, mostly because Dan falls in love with Ricki because she understands and appreciates his cat--which Dan feels is indicative of the kind of person she is (although she is only a child). It is important to note that there are no overtly pedophilic suggestions in this book, unless the reader supplies them (I'm sure there are those who will disagree)When it comes down to it, Dan's romantic feelings towards Ricki are not directed at her juvenile self but at the woman he imagines she will become. It is not unusual, I think, to idealize and idolize romantically (particularly after one has had ones heart broken). Ricki is the only female that Dan has ever felt any connection with, and he values her friendship. It is only after Belle betrays him that he begins to think "if only Ricki were older". Not because he fantasizes about being with a child (obviously, he wouldn't then wish she were older) but because he fantasizes about being with someone he loves and trusts.He cannot even be said to be taking advantage of her childish crush on him. He tells Ricki to wait until she's 20 to decide if she wants to be with him (he is, and will remain, 30). Ricki has 8 sobering years to decide if she still has feelings for Dan once she is an adult, during which he can supply no pressure. Thanks to the invention of suspended animation their love is possible without being creepy!Ok, so that's a longer rant than I intended. But there it is. Thanks for bearing with me if you got this far!

Nicholas Whyte[return][return]it's a good sf novel. Written in 1956, set in 1970 and 2000, hero is a bit of an asshole (alas, unintentionally - a hint of things to come), suspended animation takes you forward in time, the mad professor's time machine takes you back. I kept on recognising bits from films - surely that last was part of the inspiration for Back to the Future? Surely the scene with trying to get the cat into suspended animation is consciously echoed by Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Jones (played by himself) in Alien? OK, there are one or two plot holes, and the hero's relationship with his colleague's stepdaughter could not possibly be written as an innocent friendship these days, but taken as a novel of its time it's pretty good. The hero is 30 in 1970, born in 1940, so the book's key target readership when it was first published would have been able to think of this as their own possible future.[return][return]Of course, now that we are four years beyond the year in which the end of the book is set it's also interesting to read it as futurology (as one can also read, for instance, Bellamy's Looking Backward: from 2000 to 1887). Heinlein has a mid-1960s nuclear war, and the capital of the USA moving to Denver, which of course didn't happen; nor was suspended animation commonplace in 1970 or even 2000. But the spread of household appliances (the source of our hero's wealth) is a good call, even if he got the modalities somewhat wrong; his nearest hit is the engineer's drawing board, not too far removed from our CAD. He hints (as far as you could in 1956) at a more liberal and liberated sexual culture in the future - indeed, some would argue that Stranger in a Strange Land helped to bring that about - but completely misses the improvement in rights for non-whites as far as I can tell. (Farnham's Freehold was still eight years in the future.) The English language, thank heavens, has not changed as much in the last thirty years (or fifty) as he predicted.[return][return]Anyway, that was worth the


Having only ever read one other Heinlein book, I was really hoping this would be good. I wasn't let down at all.This book has it all! Time Travel, a cat that understand english (or a man crazy enough that he imagines he does), a bizarre love triange, an even more bizarre and complex controvercial relationship with an 11 year old girl, did I mention time travel? Oh, and stasis, called the Long Sleep, or Cold Sleep! There's love, there's loss, and there's revenge!This book is brilliantly written. It's believable, it's compelling, and at times it may even make you smile or laugh in amusement at some of the narrative, which was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.This book deserves 5 stars, and it gets it. Heinlein is the master of Science fiction, and this is precisely why I have bought every single Novel he has published, include two which were published after his death, and 7 short story collections!!Read this if you like classic, believable, well written, amusing and compelling science fiction, or are just looking for something really neat and odd!

Joanne Moyer

I loved this book and can't believe I've never read it. I've always known who Robert Heinlein is but I'm not a big true science fiction fan so have never read any of his books. I've seen some people say that The Door into Summer is different from most of his other work which maybe is a shame because I found it interesting and most surprisingly funny. I decided to check it out because a cat is a main character AND it had the bonus of time travel. I also find it interesting to read an older book, this one was originally published in 1956, that takes place in the 'future' world of 1970 and then the more future world of 2000 just to see what the author's take on what the world will be like by then


If ever I own a Cat his name will be Pete, for short.


Somewhat unusually for Heinlein, this is a cute, fun book which doesn't try to ladle a bunch of right-wing ideology down your throat, or O.D. you on dubious sex. There's some time travel, a sympathetic main character, a Bad Girl, and a cat who steals the show every time he appears on stage. He even gets the title: the reference is to his endearing habit, during winter months, of making the hero open each door in the house in turn, just in case one of them happens to lead into summer...


Dan Davies es un ingeniero dedicado a crear robots que ayuden con las tareas del hogar. Siempre anda ideando posibles proyectos en su cabeza, en busca de robots cada vez más perfectos y eficientes. Tiene un socio, su amigo Miles, y una prometida, Belle. Al inicio de la novela se nos presenta a un Dan destrozado y hundido por la traición; está tan desesperado que ha pensado someterse al Sueño Largo, es decir, criogenizarse, durante treinta años (la acción se sitúa en 1970) y despertar en el año 2000.'Puerta al verano' es un clásico de los viajes en el tiempo. Para ser un libro escrito en 1957, Heinlein se las apaña muy bien. No es una novela con grandes ideas, pero sí contiene esos toques de ingenuidad e ilusión de la Edad de Oro de la ciencia ficción, que junto a algunos toques de humor, hacen que pases un rato agradable con su lectura.


** spoiler alert ** I read a lot of Heinlein growing up but hadn't read this one. The man was a visionary when it comes to technology and a great story teller, manipulating twists and turns in complicated ways and tying everything up in a satisfying (for the most part) bow at the end. This book has that but the ending was not very satisfying for me due to the disturbing elements I mention below. I have a couple of cats and dogs and am happy to see how Heinlein knows the ways of cats. Pete was my favorite character in this book. This book was written in the 50's and it was fun to read what Heinlein thought the 70's (and then in the year 2000) would be like. The language in the book still smacks of the 50's (for instance, everyone says "cripes") even when his character travels to the future! The disturbing element in Heinlein's writing, however, exists even in these early works. He has a very dated view of women and the way he writes about Ricky is also disturbing. I enjoyed the story overall but these elements influenced my rating of this book.


ah, Heinlein: when he's not completely off the fucking deep end into icky-sex territory(1), he's such a fun writer. I think a lot of times, the kookoo stuff in his later works overshadows his body of work as a whole, so it's nice to come back to one that's fairly free of insanity(2).in classic Heinlein fashion(3), our protagonist is a salty, quick-witted, ex-military man, equally keen on being his own boss as he is on the aerodynamics of a woman's brassiere. he's an engineer working on household robotics in a very down-to-earth, practical (sellable!) fashion(4); his unfortunate general lack of business sense and a trusting nature get him thoroughly screwed over by his business partners, hijinks involving cryosleep and time travel ensue. pros: it's fun, it's breezily quick, Heinlein's distinctive chatty voice makes even mundanities seem like adventures, revenge is about outsmarting & outliving the jerks rather than about, well, vengeance. cons: lots of bla-bla about cats(5), it's kinda shallow - interesting exploration of paradox issues relegated to cocktail hour chat. footnotes may be slightly spoiler-ish:(1) I'm looking at you, Time Enough for Love(2) nudist colonies being rather tame stuff, especially when discussed without a drop of salaciousness(3) and yet, somehow not much the dude version of a Mary Sue, being not particularly annoying, other than the endless praises of tomcat philosophy(4) this casual, DIY, "it's easy if you just muddle with it a bit" approach to science is exactly the sort of thing that would inspire a young reader to consider a career in science well within their reach(5) spay & neuter your pets, folks!!


Oh, 1950s science fiction - is there nothing you can't do?One of the downsides to our modern information age is that we have so much information available to us. If I see a reference on a blog or in a book that I don't know, it's a quick hop over to Google or Wikipedia to find out what it is, and if it's really interesting I can find myself learning about something I never knew before. And so, if I want to know more about cold sleep, robotics or time travel, there's a whole host of ways that I can not only learn about it, but learn why it's just so hard to do. I mean, think about robotics - we've been looking forward to the perfect household robot for decades now. One that can cook and clean and do all those tiresome chores that we would rather not spend our time doing. The problem is that those tiresome chores are actually marvelously complex tasks, involving not only precise physical movements, but some very complicated judgment calls. Every time we figure out how to get a robot to do one of those things, we then have a hundred other things that need to be done to get it even close to human-like competence.I know this because the internet knows this.But back in 1957, this stuff was all new and fresh and unknown, so if Robert Heinlein wanted his main character to cobble together the perfect household robot with some off-the-shelf parts and a little bit of magic tech (the Thorsen Memory Tubes), then why not? Assuming we had the technology, what couldn't we build?Thus is the set-up for The Door into Summer, an adventure in engineering, patent law, and economics, with a little bit of time travel thrown into spice it up. Our hero, Daniel Boone Davis, is an engineer of the purest sort - he got into engineering to solve problems, and that's what he does. He doesn't want to be just one guy working on one cog for a huge corporation; he wants to make things himself that he knows will benefit everyone. He's a real Populist Engineer, too - his creations are made with replaceable parts, specifically so that the owner can quickly deal with any mechanical problems themselves, rather than have to wait for a repair shop to do the work. The parts are all off-the-shelf, too, which not only makes the machines easier to produce, but makes the production cost lower. In other words, he's making machines that will benefit as many people as possible, and the first one is the somewhat misogynistically-named Hired Girl.This machine (which is a very close approximation of the Roomba, by the way) becomes an instant success, and the company that Dan forms to take care of it is looking to become fantastically wealthy. Unfortunately for Dan, his business partners - Miles and Belle - are far more interested in becoming filthy rich than helping mankind. So when it looks like Dan's newest creation, an all-purpose household robot named Flexible Frank, is going to be a wild success, they manage to freeze him out of the company. Literally. They steal his inventions out from under him and force him to take the Long Sleep - to be frozen cryogenically for thirty years. He wakes up in the year 2000, without money, without a job or prospects, and without his beloved cat, Pete.A word about the cat angle to this story - if you're a cat person, like me, then the relationship between Dan and Pete will really resonate with you. Its clear that Heinlein himself was a cat person, as he shows a wonderful understanding of the human-cat relationship, including the absolute uncertainty as to which one is in charge at any given time. While the cat is not absolutely necessary to the plot, it's a nice addition to the story. If you're not a cat person, well... you should be.Anyway, in the wild future of 2000, Dan discovers that something very strange was going on around the time he got frozen, and the more he uncovers, the more it looks like there can be only one explanation - time travel!This is really classic science fiction at its best. The narrator is a brilliant man who never meets a problem he cannot solve, at least not eventually. He's a certified genius, and were it not for his blind spot for pretty women and his trust in his business partner, he would have had a fantastic life as an inventor. But his love of making stuff gets in the way of how the real world works, and sets him up for a series of thefts and betrayals. But you never really worry about him, because he is a man with no uncertainties. He doesn't wallow in self-loathing and moral dismay when he encounters a problem like being thirty years in the future with no means of supporting himself. No! When he sees a problem, his first thought is, "How do I solve this?"In other words, he's an engineer.It's a remarkably optimistic book, too. While the future of 2000 isn't perfect, it's still a whole lot better than 1970. And while 1970 certainly isn't perfect, it's a whole lot better than 1957. The book rests on that wonderful mid-century assumption that while human innovation can't solve every problem (and indeed often succeeds in creating more problems), it is, in the long run, a force for good. For the modern reader this may seem terribly naive, but I found it refreshing.So while the story is really pretty predictable, it's a fun ride. Even the time travel element isn't quite as risky as Heinlein tries to make it out to be, since the reason Dan opts for time travel is that he's found evidence that he's already done it. Therefore no matter how dangerous it might be, he knows for a fact that he'll be successful. He doesn't mention this, or even seem to notice it, but the sharp-eyed reader should pick it up pretty quickly.While most of the driving force of the book is what I would normally consider pretty boring - patent law and engineering - there is one element to it that is distinctly Heinlein: the universality of love. Dan is done in by his belief that he loves Belle, who turns out to be a gold-digger of the lowest order. But in the end, Dan knows who he truly loves. The only problem is that she's an eleven year-old girl. Whether in the publication year of 1957, the year Dan starts in, 1970, or the far-flung future of 2000, a grown man marrying a pre-teen is something that is generally frowned upon. They're able to settle this problem with a little time travel/cryogenic jiggery-pokery, but when you stop to think about it, the situation can be somewhat... unconventional. If you stop to really think about their relationship, there's some strange moral ambiguity going on there. Fortunately, the characters don't really care and the book ends without going into the ramifications of what they've done.The book isn't about moral complexity, though. It's about solving problems and finding happiness, no matter what you have to do to get it. It's about overcoming adversity, betrayal and even time itself to get the life that you know you deserve. It's about finding that door into summer, when all the other doors lead you only into the winter. While we may not be able to solve our problems quite as neatly as Dan Davis did, we can still follow his example.Except, perhaps, with the romancing eleven year-olds. That's still not cool.

Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)

I first read this many years ago—probably about the time in which it is set: it was published in 1957 (just before I was born) but most of the story is set in 1970 and the rest in 2000/2001.  The only thing that really stayed in my memory was the reason for the title.  Dan Davis once lived in Connecticut in a house with twelve doors to the outside. In Winter, his cat Pete (Petronius the Arbiter) would make him open every door, looking for the one that led to Summer. Pete's not present for the majority of the novel, but he's very definitely a major character. I pretty much stopped reading Heinlein after Time Enough for Love. He got increasingly misogynistic and right-wing (or else, he'd always been that way and just felt he could get away with writing about it in his old age). But I'd forgotten the immense vision he brought to his earlier stories like The Roads Must Roll, the very first Heinlein I read, and Waldo and Magic, Inc, and this one. My first introduction to Science Fiction was Arthur C. Clarke, and Heinlein was my second. They share that vision of the possibilities of the future, and Clarke may actually have been technically more capable (when Clarke suggested satellites in Earth-orbit, I suspect he could have built one, with help—when Heinlein builds a general household robot he's imagining what we would want to have done, and the way it should operate, but I can't imagine he actually could have designed the necessary circuit boards), but Heinlein is far and above the better story-teller. Like many futurists, Heinlein's 50s vision of 1970 was a little too optimistic, and his vision of 2000 was much too optimistic, but still he wrote about so many things that have come to pass almost as he described. It's so stunningly accurate that the few anachronisms that creep in are totally hilarious. "For my money Chuck was the only real engineer there; the rest were overeducated slipstick mechanics."  Looking back from 60 years into Heinlein's future, it's hard to imagine that anyone would have missed the fact that "slipsticks" (slide rules) would be non-existent in 2000, and were on their way out in the 70s (I learned to use a slide rule in the early 70s, bought a beautiful one in 1977—at a huge discount—and have probably not seen one for sale since). In 2001: "The nearest twenty-four-hour bank was downtown at the Grand Circle of the Ways." I actually remember when there were less than a handful of bank machines in the whole of Toronto (~1981), but in a novel that centres on the life of an engineer who specializes in automatons, it's funny that he never imagined we could do away with physical banks for the mere dispensing of money. But those things don't detract in the slightest from the things he got right (if not necessarily pinning them to the right time). Heinlein goes into great detail describing "Drafting Dan"—a way to automate drafting, so that an engineer can design without hunching over a drafting table. And what he describes is pretty much AutoCAD, only about a decade and a half too early. He describes Roombas. He places them nearly three decades too early, but the physical description of the way they will ensure that a whole room is vacuumed and then return to their charging stations is uncanny. One thing he got wrong, but it just goes even further to demonstrate his vision. In 2000, he postulates that, for some reason, gold has become very cheap. This leads to a great deal more automation, because all his robots need a lot of gold (perhaps not individually, but certainly in total) and with higher gold prices it becomes cost prohibitive. The prices of gold, platinum, and numerous other metals do in fact currently limit a great deal of our technology. I recently finished The Man who Folded Himself, a time travel story that's all about paradox. Heinlein takes a different view (and one that, failing actual experimentation, must be just as likely): 'But I'm not worried about "paradoxes" or "causing anachronisms"—if a thirtieth-century engineer does smooth out the bugs and then sets up transfer stations and trade, it will be because the Builder designed the universe that way…. He doesn't need busybodies to "enforce" His laws; they enforce themselves. There are no miracles and the word "anachronism" is a semantic blank.'  Heinlein's idea of time travel is that you can't do anything that you haven't already done. "Free will and predestination in one sentence and both true". I've been trying to wrap my head around this idea, possibly even before I first read this story: I remember arguing with Calvinists as a teenager, who insisted that everything was predestined, but that we still had complete free will.  It's actually easier to believe in time paradoxes!  Anyway, this particular story probably doesn't deserve the 5-star rating. I use that for life-changing books, and in Heinlein's case, that is probably The Roads Must Roll, but somewhere over the decades I lost that book so I can't reread it unless  I find another copy. This one certainly has similarities and can stand in until I find another copy of The Roads Must Roll!


This was a quick read. I've always heard how good Heinlein is, and this book does well to prove it. Being only the second I've read by him, I don't have a real good base yet - the other was The Puppet Masters, which was okay - but I really liked this one a lot.A goodly amount of time-travel - not too much, and he doesn't bog you down with technical jargon like some authors do. Ahem. And he does have a good reason for it. And the way he introduces it kind of surprises you in the book. It's like you forget you're reading a time-travel tale, then suddenly he springs it on you about in the middle. And you're like, oh yeah, hey. It's great.The only thing that concerned me a little bit was (view spoiler)[his fancy for Ricky - the eleven-year-old girl scout. I know what it feels like to have a little sister you adore and can't get enough of. But seeing her as anything other than a sisterly figure - sexually, to the point - is just nothing but uncomfortable. He sees this little girl and wants her to take "the Long Sleep" so he can marry her? Just a little disturbing. (hide spoiler)]But other than that, it was a great read. The first quarter or so, when you're watching him (view spoiler)[get screwed over so bad by his friends (hide spoiler)] was a maddening affair. I was getting frustrated and antsy. Good job, Mr. Heinlein. Well done.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Alice Lee

My first Heinlein, wasn't impressed. I heard some random dude on the bus one day loudly singing its praises and it piqued my interest, since Heinlein was an author I intended to try out anyway... Maybe this just wasn't the best first book to read. I'm thinking of trying Stranger in a Strange Land next; if that is another fail then, oh well, another author I don't care for.

Maree ♫ Light's Shadow ♪

The first time I read this book was years ago at the suggestion of a boyfriend and I don't know if that colored my opinion of the book or what, but I thought it was merely okay/didn't really like it. But in rereading, I find I have a much better opinion of the book and I'm not sure if it's just that I understand it better, having had that first experience, or if my tastes have changed since then (in boyfriends as well as books ;).The Door into Summer is a classic time displacement novel and I very much enjoyed how it doesn't follow the standards of today by throwing someone years into the future or past and having them experience life in a changed society. Society doesn't change too much for Dan, aside from the invention of all sorts of wondrous things that he himself seemed to have a hand in making. This is a science fiction story, yes, but it's all based on human interaction and emotion and take place within the span of 30 years. The reasons for Dan's traveling through time are for those reasons, not for exploration of and old or new century, which is a refreshing take on it, even though this is a rather old story.You don't want Dan to succeed because he's a great character, because really, he's not much. But his circumstances and the story are what propel the reader into sympathy and rooting for his success.

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