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


** spoiler alert ** This was my first sci-fi novel in years, perhaps decades, and my first ever Heinlein. Until Dan Davis took the Cold Sleep, I couldn't put it down. Heinlein has a wry (although sometime eye-rollingly wry) style - reflecting the mindset of the nuts-and-bolts hands-on practical man that the engineer protagonist is, that keeps the story moving and the reader chuckling along with it. Published in 1957, describing the "present" of the 1970s is almost as big an imaginative task as describing the story's "future", the 2000s. And Heinlein does OK. There is nothing jarringly wrong about the 1970s he describes, and, while he completely misses out on the kind of automation that would typify the 2000s and the whole digitization thing, he makes brave and plausible (and consistently upbeat) attempts at picturing how things would be. The protagonist, Dan Davis, is depicted as a purely practical man who likes nothing better than to be holed up and applying his engineering wits to a problem. He is not a social man, or, by extension, a businessman (a lack of business acumen being his initial undoing). Ruptured connections with an evil fiance and a greedy business partner, who dupe the naive hero, lead to his taking the Cold Sleep. After he wakes from it, he really starts needing people more than before in order to achieve the tasks he sets himself - tasks designed to amend the faults of the past and facilitate a blissful future with the (to begin with, underage) love of his life.Yet here the story reveals its major failing. Heinlein does not manage to make Dan Davis the kind of person who can plausibly influence people. His interactions with others are in the form of brash, cartoonish, corny dialogs that Heinlein uses much as Dan Davis uses cheap components from the local hardware store to help put together his Flexible Franks and Hired Girls. Heinlein's "cheap components" are basically the kind of slapstick dialogs of sitcoms, and he uses them to bridge inconveniently disparate stages in Dan Davis's adventures more as an engineer would than a novelist should.Some bad examples that come to mind are exchanges with people in positions of authority, who inevitably crumble and divulge what they shouldn't for the sake of such cheesy ploys of the "Well, you don't say? I had an Aunt May too!"-type. And the worst of all is the most crucial "bridge" in the story: that of riding the time machine. I'll leave the reader to sit through the seat-squirming cringing ineptitude of that one.So, sure, The Door into Summer is a brave and fun adventure, but its author suffers the same weakness as the protagonist: a complex techie vision at the expense an ability to understand - or at least an impatience with - the subtleties of human interaction. As such, I finished this book feeling I'd been given a lecture on the physics of time and space, the possibilities it holds for time travel, with some philosophical musings - all clumsily dressed up for convenience's sake in fictional "real life" examples.

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.


This is the first Robert Heinlen book I have read. I am not normally a fan of first person perspective but Heinlen's prose is breezy and fun channelling the voice of the protagonist, a 30 year old inventor about to be embroiled in an adventure through time. The first couple of pages was the most endearing introduction I've read in a while. While the rest of the book doesn't quite live up to that start, it is still a thoroughly engaging time travel adventure told with much old fashioned charm and splendid vision. The story is set in the 1970s and the beginning of the 21st century. As the book was written in the 50s, its both fascinating and charming to read the author's vision of the future (ie our recent history), politically, technologically and socially. There are a couple of nice technological predictions that eventually came true in a way but otherwise we might as well treat the story as a vastly different alternative timeline to what we are familiar with.The dialogue is snappy and entertaining and the story moves along briskly, not meandering too much on details. While the story is clever and entertaining, it is unfortunately very predictable in how it will all end from quite early on. Furthermore, the last act had no sense of urgency and thrill. There is a missed opportunity to make this a thrilling finale but it just leisurely ambles its way to the predictable conclusion.I also felt some dissatisfaction on a couple of primary character's closures but that comes down to the drawback of telling a story in the first person perspective. There is one very controversial element or rather ethic in this book which I did feel incredibly uncomfortable with. I cant unfortunately say what it is but it may certainly make you feel uncomfortable too. Again, this is a different era where society were honed in a more un-pc mentality at the time.Another thing that wont please the modern PC abiding readership is the typical 50s stereotype of women. Either the very manipulative type or the overly submissive to men are featured in their full glory here. You have been warned. But the biggest star of the novel for me was a cat called Pete, whom Heinlein gives more character and depth than the supporting human characters. I dont even like cats but Heinlein's brilliant writing has converted me into a cat lover. Pete is awesome, I will in time forget all of the other characters, even the main protagonist but I wont forget Pete the cat.So to sum up, this is an endearing and breezy time travel journey, no big twists just a very pleasurable ride but a missed opportunity to inject more excitement for the final act.I give this 3.5 stars.

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!

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


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!!


I haven't previously managed to get through any of Heinlein's work, but I am nothing if not determined, so I finally picked this up and decided to have a jolly good go. And it was okay. The style is easy to read, conversational; matter of fact, even. It's almost not like reading a story, except of course you know that few of Heinlein's predictions work out (though he did predict the Roomba).It's an interesting take on cold sleep/time travel, and a personal one. Dan isn't saving the world, he's just setting some personal wrongs right. Despite that, I didn't find it particularly driven by character: my sympathy for Dan as a character comes from the situation he's in, not for any personal qualities.The best bits about the story are Dan's cat, who has a personality all his own, and who I rooted for more than anyone else in the book. Cat lovers will appreciate this one, and I think Heinlein got close to poetry in the way he talked about Pete, particularly at the end. It was certainly the best of his prose.People rightly find the plot with Dan's friend's stepdaughter, Ricky, pretty creepy. I mean, he meets her when she's a kid, she has a crush on him which he knows about but treats as a joke... until the grown woman he's engaged to turns out to be scamming him, and then suddenly he says that if Ricky had been a little older, he'd never even have looked at Belle. And then follows a whole plot where he wants to track her down and marry her, and ends up going to her while she's still a kid and telling her to put herself in cold sleep when she's twenty-one so that he can then marry her when she's an adult. It's a bit of a fairytale anyway, a kid that age knowing what she wants and going through with it like that without ever doubting or changing her mind (not that we get to see Ricky's thought processes or how she grows up). But knowing her as a kid and deciding, based on that, that he wants to marry her, without ever meeting her as an adult -- yeah, kind of disturbing.All in all, it's an easy read and interesting, but I can't say it's converted me to being a liker of Heinlein. I do want to try one more of his, since all I've read is this and part of A Stranger in a Strange Land, but it's the sort of thing where you have to keep the words "of its time" very firmly in mind.

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.


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!


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.


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"]>


I like Robert Heinlein's early stories with their running-monologue narrative style that only he could pull off well. "Door Into Summer" is such a book, originally published in around 1957, it gives an interesting view of the "future" of 1970 and the even more distant "future" of 2000!"Despite the crepe-hangers, romanticists and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands ... with tools ... with horse sense and science and engineering." - RAHI've read a few of Heinlein's early books and this one was the first to delve into time travel. Not really as good as his Methuselah books, still a fun read. Dan Davis is a creative engineer - not much sense when it comes to business nor to love, and gets cheated by both! Bella the secretary turns out to be a shyster - and his business partner Miles is as much a victim as Dan is.Dan describes the world of 1970, with its recent nuclear war and the capital of the USA in Denver, CO - and he decides to take the Long Sleep - a cryogenic place, run by insurance companies (who else?) and he sleeps for 30 years. And in this mix is Pete the Cat -- finiky and self-serving, as any cat can be!He is enamored by the year 2000 with its zipperless clothing and "grabbies" (movies). But what interests this reader is how he adapts the environment so well, bends it to solve his current problem of getting his former protégé Ricky (now a grown woman) and is bummed to see she is married - but that's actually not a bad thing, as we find in the last chapters.The discovery of an experimental time machine (temporal device) saves the day. The how and why I'll leave to Heinlein.Bottom Line: Enjoyable, sometimes a bit too wordy and self-narrative chatty, but overall a typical Heinlein yarn. Enjoy.Other Heinlein Collections (there are many!):Requiem: New Collected Works by Robert A. Heinlein and Tributes to the Grand MasterTOMORROW THE STARS. A Science Fiction Anthology. Edited and with an Introduction by Robert A. Heinlein.Analog Anthology # 2


** 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.

Nathan Van Coops

This book has a great beginning and I was immediately taken with the explanation of the title as related to the cat. As a cat lover, it was easy to relate to the protagonist on at least that point. I put the story down a few times, wandering off to other pursuits, but of the couple of books I was reading it was the least dull so I kept coming back. I never did get completely immersed. The writing was solid and the character's voice was strong, but his overwhelming confidence in his ability to succeed at everything robbed the story of much of its potential tension. The romantic story was a bit suspect as well. I found the resolution of the romance to be convenient and more than a little unrealistic. Overall, I enjoyed the story. Seeing the author's vision of the future and getting the feel of the era he was in was a nice change of pace from contemporary writing styles. I'm glad I read it, to see what all the fuss was about, but doubt I would pick it up and read it again, except for the beginning. I thought the first couple pages were authentically great.


Gratuitous Mary-Sue fiction with some seriously creepy overtones and characters with the depth of a cardboard cutout.While the book has some interesting takes on time and moving back and forth in it, these really aren't explored so much as used as justification for a hackneyed romance story and revenge.The protagonist lacks any human vulnerabilities or frailties, and is only ever put in jeopardy by treachery, of course of the feminine type. There are only three women in the novel, and they're all discussed entirely in terms of their relationships with men. The protagonist agrees to marry a 13 year old girl who calls him 'Uncle' and he repeatedly refers to as thinking of as family, and only via the magic of TIME TRAVEL avoids statutory rape charges.The main story doesn't even start until perhaps halfway through - before, we get exciting engineering talk, and become quite familiar with how brilliant and wronged our protagonist is. Hints at this very different 1970 of the future are given, but they're never explored.I'd have liked to see this book, written in the late 1950s, give us two takes on the future - the 1970s and 2001. Touching on both of these and giving us an idea of how the author envisions technology progressing and shaping human society could have been an amazing read. Instead, we get them as a convenient backdrop for a story more appropriate for a daytime soap.

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