enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Robert A. Heinlein, Assignment in Eternity

I read this book about 30-Sep-2002. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1953. This note was last modified Saturday, 19-Aug-2006 10:43:11 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


One of the original Heinlein collections. The pieces in it are copyright considerably earlier, going back to 1941 for "Elsewhen" and "Lost Legacy". Incidentally, these show a strong interest in parapsychology considerably before John W. Campbell was insisting on it.

I picked this up to read "Gulf" in close proximity to Friday finally. They both have a "Kettle Belly" Baldwin, running an espionage organization. Now that my memory has been refreshed, they're not very compatible; in particular the one in "Gulf" is running an organization of "supermen" who use an invented language that gives them incredible powers. No sign of any of that in Friday, even as history. This seems to me to be typical Heinlein semi-connectedness, which happened all the time before the return of Lazarus. My favorite examples are Hazel Meade Stone in The Rolling Stones and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and the martians in Red Planet, The Rolling Stones, and Stranger in a Strang Land.

"Lost Legacy" has a very early mention of portable phones, and Heinlein makes the same point about them as he did in Space Cadet 7 years later—that people would sometimes want to escape from them. He does it in an amazingly compact form, too:

"How come," he asked as he came abreast, "they had to search for you?"

"Left my pocketphone in my other suit," Coburn returned briefly. "On purpose—I wanted a little peace and quiet. No luck."

Pocketphones appear to be ubiquitous, and the surgeon is finding that being accessible at all times is a drag.

I even read through "Jerry was a Man" again, and it's not entirely as light as I remembered. Quite. There's a lot of background information on the society that's interesting—everything from the profession of "shyster" (but you can't let the court know you consulted one if you want to be taken seriously) to, again, portable phones (this time carried in a purse). And instead of the "electronic leash" effect, this time the problem was being overheard while using it (by somebody physically present rather than over the air, but the mistake clearly happened because she had her own phone in her purse).

The copy I read this time is a Signet edition (P-3163) which says it's a fourth printing. Not much in the way of date clues, though. The cover price was 60¢.

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David Dyer-Bennet