#72 – The Door Into Summer Review – Robert Heinlein

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The Door Into SummerSummary | Review | Buy
Like most of Robert Heinlein’s protagonists, the main character of The Door into Summer is a thinly veiled reflection of Heinlein himself. Much like his creator, inventor and engineer Daniel Boone Davis is a rugged individualist and scientific thinker. And while at times Heinlein may use Daniel as a means to pontificate on his own theories and insights on various topics, he more than makes up for it by sending him along on a fast-moving, ingeniously plotted and ultimately satisfying tale of betrayal, revenge and time travel. What starts out as a simple case of backstabbing and corporate intrigue, eventually turns into a time-bending story of one man’s attempt to get back what was taken from him. While some critics and fans have expressed discomfort at the romantic elements of the novel (which involve Daniel’s friendship with an emotionally mature 11 year old named Ricky), I don’t personally have a problem with them. In the end, Heinlein cleverly uses time travel to mitigate the age difference. In fact, compared with some of Heinlein’s other works, this is relatively tame stuff and shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the book.

The Door Into Summer Summary: When we first meet Daniel, he’s been drinking for a while – drunk and despondent at losing control of the company he founded with his business partner Miles Gentry, Hired Girl Inc. While the company┬áspecialized in robot vacuum cleaners, Daniel was hard at work on an all-purpose household robot, tentatively named Flexible Frank. Through flashbacks we learn that Daniel was hoodwinked by the company’s beautiful and manipulative secretary, Belle, into giving her just enough stock in the company to team up with Miles to gain complete control. After objecting to the sale of the company to a large corporation, including the rights to Frank, Daniel is given a large financial settlement and fired as the chief engineer of the company.

In his grief, he decides to take the “cold sleep,” a form of suspended animation, in the hopes of awakening into a better future with the value of his stock in the company having multiplied. Unfortunately, the doctors at the sleep facility won’t let him make the decision while drunk. After sobering up and mailing his stock certificate to the one person he knows he can trust,┬áMiles’ 11-year old stepdaughter Frederica “Ricky” Gentry, he unwisely decides to┬áconfront Belle and Miles in their home. After injecting Dan with a drug that makes him temporarily complacent and docile, they go about forging documents giving the corporation ownership over his remaining shares. Their final act of betrayal is to put Dan into cold sleep anyways so that he can’t cause them anymore trouble. Dan wakes up 30 years later with no friends, no money, and almost nothing to live for…except revenge.

The Door Into Summary Review: I won’t spoil the fun of learning exactly how Dan exacts his ingenious revenge. I will say, however, that Heinlein’s use time travel paradoxes to foreshadow and then reveal how Dan manages to reinvent and re-imagine his own timeline is a thing of beauty. While his ability to understand complex engineering details and causality paradoxes and seamlessly weave them into his stories makes his a master of Hard Sci-Fi, his ability to use those concepts in the service of a compelling story is what truly sets him apart from almost every other science fiction writer in history.

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#72 - The Door Into Summer Review - Robert Heinlein, reviewed by Andrew Kaufman on 2010-01-13T07:04:00+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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4 comments on “#72 – The Door Into Summer Review – Robert Heinlein

  1. I accidentally stumbled into this book at the age of 12 in a pile of left over paperbacks at a garage sale. On a hunch I bought it for 10 cents and brought it home and started to read it. I devoured it in one day. I can honestly say that this is the one. The book that got me to start reading science fiction. I am now 43 and still pick this book up every few years to reaquaint myself with my past (or should I say future). Heinlein proves with this book that he is a great story teller, a great predictor of future technology and has an uncanny ability to take a novel that was written in 1956 and not make it feel dated (excuse the pun). This may not be his most famous novel. But it is certainly one that everyone should read.

  2. Pingback: #52 – The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov

  3. I came across this title when reading your review of The End of Eternity and decided to give it a try. I read it in one day. Time travel written like this is the work of true genius. Only the “romance” with Ricky was handled clumsily in my opinion. But on the whole the book is great.

    • Glad you liked it too! I agree, the romance angle was a bit clumsy (and a little creepy actually), but overall it was a great read. Definitely a read-in-one-sitting type of novel.

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