To Sail Beyond the Sunset

ISBN: 0441748600
ISBN 13: 9780441748600
By: Robert A. Heinlein

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About this book

Heinlein fans rejoice, for the science fiction master's most beloved characters here gather once more. Maureen Johnson, the somewhat irregular mother of Lazarus Long, wakes up in bed with a man and a cat. The cat is Pixel, well-known to fans of the New York Times bestseller "The Cat Who Walks through Walls." The man is a stranger to her, and besides that, he is dead . . .

Reader's Thoughts


Wish I hadn't bothered; this book is terrible. The thesis (oft-repeated) seems to be "Maureen is an amoral wench," and this is backed up by pages and pages of her sexual exploits. In between the incest and polygamy is nonsense about alternate timelines and an assassination squad. All this is tied back into other novels like Time Enough for Love, and since it's told from a different perspective (Maureen's), hard core Heinlein fans will enjoy some of it. But ultimately it's only a few excellent paragraphs on the folly of "warm body" democracy, paper money, and bad parenting that make up the book's redeeming qualities.


Arminzerella's recommendation. Pretty good so far, albeit a tad confusing.About halfway through now. This book should be subtitled "A Time Traveler's Guide to Eugenics Through Multidimensional Incest."I guess it shouldn't be a surprise after reading Starship Troopers that any of Heinlein's other works should be head-bludgeoning social commentary thinly guised as science fiction.I'm tempted to say this is proto-Mary-Sue-by-proxy... or maybe not by proxy, I don't know enough about Heinlein to be sure. Still, it's entertaining, if you can get past the multi-generational parallel-reality incestuous orgies every few pages.Or, depending on what gets you off, maybe that's the entertaining part. I can remember a time not long ago when this book would have elicited a monthlong erection from me... guess I've mellowed some.So, yeah. Finished. Interesting in parts, but... nothing really happened. Nobody was ever in serious jeopardy. I never would have thought that the memoirs of a time traveling red-headed nympho would be so... dull. I mean, stuff happens AROUND her all the time, but very little of anything interesting happens TO her. The parts that ARE interesting are brief vignettes, mostly flashbacks. The part where she has to fight some of her kids who have gotten out of line (altho what "out of line" means for a completely amoral family is questionable on its own) might have been interesting, if, say, those kids had turned out to be the ones working against the Time Corps to change reality. Hell, maybe they did, in one of the six or seven other books set in this multiverse; but I'm not terribly inclined to follow up.Sorry =

Robert Magness

Heinlein is always interesting to read. And his whole concept of "the past through tomorrow" is always entertaining. I love that he veers wildly left and right with his ideals and beliefs; there's he's so far off the middle yet there's nowhere else to put him...I kind of look forward to meeting a woman like Maureen Johnson, but if I did that would most likely mean she would bed me and then admit that she is my kin from another dimension/era. The only thing holding back the fifth star is the incest. There's a point to it and a meaning, but it's still a little much for me at times. And I really don't want to say "maybe that will change as I get older" because that really would just make it worse. With that, I hope I've enticed you enough to read it.


WARNING: Please read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Revolt in 2100, Methuselah's Children, Time Enough for Love, The Number of the Beast, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls prior to reading this. A familiarity with the "future history" stories are also recommended. Maureen Johnson, born in 1882 and mother of Lazarus Long, is one horny gal. This is her memoirs, told to us while being held in a jail on some unexplored timeline. Let me just say straight off that if you have a problem reading about incest, you should probably skip this (and the rest of the World as Myth series as well). If you can get over that, you'll find Maureen's life pretty interesting, sort of a rounding out of what we've been told before about Lazarus' mother and grandfather. The reasons for the jail cell and the eventual climactic rescue of...someone... cap the book, but I think deserve to have been a little better explained. This isn't my favorite of Heinlein's books, but it is his last full-length novel and the "end" of the World as Myth Series, so I recommend you read it if you've gone that far. It's also a (very) little better as a standalone than the two previous World as Myth books.

Stewart Harding

** spoiler alert ** This is a weird book. I love Heinlein's "classic" sci-fi and this has some interesting elements of it. However, it's a bit of a shame that every single character is exactly the same. Brilliant polymaths, with a ludicrous libido and a bizarrely libertarian attitude to sex, incest and paedophilia. Sex is easily his favourite subject, and despite never describing it specifically, everyone is always thinking about it or doing it.The main character Maureen Johnson is an extreme 60s male idea of what a feminist is. She has 17 children and takes all of her pride in being a housewife and a babymaker. Well, everyone does. As I said all the characters are the same. I counted at least 20 characters with the same motives, wants and dialogue. There's a very particular Heinlein dialogue, usually between men and women, that is used heavily in this book as it is in all of his other books which use the same characters in the same universe.Saying all that, and I could go on, I quite enjoyed it. It's basically the life story of Momma Maureen mixed with her 'current' situation which is briliantly described in the first lines of the book."I woke up with a man and a cat. The man was a stranger. The cat was not."Heinlein fans will love it. Anyone new to his style will find it bizarre. The best example of this is in the line:"I liked to surprise men with the strength of my vaginal sphincter"I laughed out loud.


Partly similar to Time enough for love, maybe a little bit more sexually liberal. In general, if you enjoyed TEFL, you will also enjoy reading this book. Expect less sophisticated plot and more straightforward stories. The book reads very easily and until very end of the book I didn't feel bored, not once.


Because this is Heinlein's last book, it is worth a look, however, the writing doesn't hold together, and it seemed more of an opportunity for him to present his quasi-Libertarian ramblings within the format of a novel. This is the final 'Lazarus Long' book, and Heinlein further elaborates his thoughts and feelings on time travel, parallel dimensions, free love, incest, and a grab-bag of other culturally or politically discouraged subjects. He refers to his doctrine as, 'World as Myth', but I didn't think that the plot-line supported his intellectual flights of fancy, and the weak story-line sank his oddball conjectures.I have always felt that Libertarians are Republicans who wish that they could change the drug laws so that they could smoke pot, and Heinlein's Libertarianism seems to advocate an easing of sexual prohibitions to enable an acceptance of a kind of 'polymorphous perversity'.Sections of the novel were interesting due to his unusual viewpoints, but the story was needlessly too hard to follow, not concise or focused, and comprised of too many characters.Obviously, telling the tale did not seem to be his foremost concern.


Although I've been reading sci-fi for forty years, I was never a Heinlein reader. Not sure why, he was just not someone I had discovered and followed. But of course I was familiar with him. And so, in the late '80's I read The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and had picked up this book, a follow-up (and Heinlein's last) novel. This has been on my shelf all these years and I finally got around to reading it. And I'm sorry that I did.My perception here is that as he was ending his career and life, Heinlein became a dirty old man. There is nothing in this book other than a great deal of sex, described in moderately good detail, though rather clinically (ie boring) so.I'm hardly a prude, and the sex itself didn't bother me (though the incest and the rape, handled so cavalierly, strikes me as morally wrong), but I saw no purpose to the sex. It's character-defining, sure, but 400 pages of character and no plot is just, frankly, dull.Although this is an homage to many of his previous books, I would still never recommend this to anyone.


When choosing shelves, I of course looked for science fiction first, Heinlein being the 'Dean' of the genre. But then I spotted the label 'Social criticism' and I must admit that it fits this book even better. Still more than in his other novels, Heinlein promotes his libertarian and promiscuous world view.As an excuse for his ramblings, Heinlein invents the story of Maureen Johnson, a human female who by rejuvenating techniques has lived through many centuries. She wakes up on a strange planet, in a bed with next to her only the cat Pixel and the body of a dead man whom she does not remember.Might become an interesting murder mystery, but it doesn't. Instead, Maureen starts to talk in flashbacks about het childhood and her several husbands and children. Given her age, that can take a while. She starts out shortly after the American independence and discusses political history throughout the twentieth century and onwards. About het personal life we get a promotion of adultory and the preachings of her good father, who encourages her to have sex with as many partners as possible, as long as she uses the occasional French purse.Now I am pro adultory and against narrow-minded morality myself. But when reading this novel, I couldn't help but thinking: "That is all very intersting, Robert. But what about the murdered man and the cat?". Only once every fifty pages does Heinlein return us to the frame story, with which he deals quickly in just a few sentences and then another flashback of a many decades starts.So after a while it becomes clear that the frame story is just a fraud, an excuse to keep us reading while Heinlein beats around the same bushes and puts many of his favourite characters from other novels on the stage. But it is just too little to keep readers interested. Heinleins ideas are fine, but this is no longer a novel.


The biography of an immortal, time traveling red headed babe.Entertaining, but you really need to have read some other Heinlein books to get what he's doing here, as it doesn't stand on it's own very well, as he uses this book to retell some parts of other books from a different POV.Enough humor and interesting 'debates' on life, sex, politics etc to keep you from realizing not much is happening and it's taking a lot of pages for nothing to happen.This book and 'The cat that walked through walls' were basically used to tie all his other books into one big 'Heinlein-verse'. Entertaining for fans, but rough going if this was your first Heinlein book.

Jeff Yoak

As a huge Heinlein fan who has read many of his books several times, it was a delight to realize that I hadn't read this one at all. When I was younger and going through his novels I had a general dislike for the World as Myth later novels and I guess skipped this one entirely.I still dislike this aspect of the novel, but as I've become a diehard fan, it was a chance to spend some more time with characters whom I deeply love. Seeing Jubal, Lazarus and others again, and with a new story, made the experience.Nonetheless, I wouldn't suggest to anyone who isn't either a similar die hard fan or possessed of an intent desire to explore Heinlein's attitudes about sexuality. (The book serves as autobiography for Mama Maureen, and mostly details her century and a half of sexual exploits.)

Jay Daze

More late period Heinlein, well past his prime. Unfortunately books from this period mostly seem to have been published because of the genuine affection and admiration for his earlier books. Go look at Starship Troopers, A Mooon is a Harsh Mistress and other books from the 60s and earlier. (A Stranger in a Strange Land was a favourite when I was a teenager but I'm afraid too pick it up because Heinlein was transitioning into his more bloated later period by that point.) I don't mind that his ideas are sexist or rightist or just not my particular way of thinking, that can be fun to argue with as long as there is a good story and characters, but I just get the sense that past a certain point Heinlein believed everything he wrote was gold and there was little or no editing.Anyways this is a review based on my hazy recollections of reading the book when it came out. Unfortunately, or fortunately, books like this from aging sf authors was part of what sent me out into the wider world of books. I've come back to sf and fantasy since then and thanks to greatly improved critical eye I've found many rich, well crafted stories within the field.

Robert Beech

Read this several years ago, and had forgotten most of it. Got the audiobook for a long car-trip, but didn't like it as much as I had remembered. However, it was interesting to hear Bernadette Dunne, who narrates Tamora Pierce's "Protector of the Small" series (a perennial favorite for our family and its tough-minded girls) do the voice of the very different main character in this book.


Sometimes this ties for fave with Stranger in a Strange Land, but most of the time this one wins. It's actually a pivotal book in the Lazarus Long series, because it deals with his mother and his origins. Frankly, I find Maureen, his mom, about a million times more interesting than Lazarus himself. This book was really forward thinking in portraying a smart, capable woman who really, truly pursued what she wanted in life, and was kind and even-handed in doing it. Maureen is a real role model in a lot of ways. The one downside into recommending this (or any other Heinlein book for that matter) is the sheer amount of sex in them. He doesn't write sensual books; all the situations are described obscurely or used to illustrate something else but they are undeniably sexy and sometimes very forthrightly. This book also deals with the idea of polygamy, open relationships, and incest, all in very positive terms (Heinlein tends to use human biology and science to explain his position on open, honest sexuality and commune-like communities). In this book, the sex is actually a major plot point, in that it is a theory of encouraging people genetically disposed to long life to marry and procreate to extend the human lifespan over generations. Perhaps with current science it seems a bit simplistic but it's very believable in the book. It also, like all his books, deals with time travel as well. Really a fascinating read.


Holy frack, what the hell did I just read? I don't know whether to be app[alled or impressed… so maybe I'll be impalled?Anyway. So yeah. This is all about the life of Maureen Johnson, the mother of Lazarus Long. There's a flimsy frame story that might have been interesting except it largely gets lost in Maureen's memoirs. Also random characters from Heinlein's other works show up, too.So. I don't quite buy Maureen as a woman, but I found her oddly engaging. Even when I wanted to throw my book against the wall--not advisable considering I was reading it on an expensive electronic device--I truly wanted to keep reading. Maureen was fascinating, and I was drawn to her story.That said… there was a lot of WTF to wade through between good parts. My major issue with Time Enough for Love was that Lazarus Long had a crush on his mother when he went back in time to meet her in the last book. Now we see that the incest theme continues. Maureen has an unrequited crush on her dad, two of her kids insist on shacking up, and everybody ends up in some weirdly incestuous group marriage at the end of the book. But while Heinlein is totally blasé about incest, he's just short of homophobic and there's a point at which he's like, "People who use whips and chains should be locked up and kept away from the rest of us." Dude, you can't have it both ways. Either don't judge your fellow freaks or keep your mouth shut.I don't really know how to rate tis. When Heinlein wasn't talking about Maureen wanting to boink both her dad and her son, it was a delightful read. But the WTF squick factor brings it down a lot.

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