The Door Into Summer — Robert Heinlein (1956)


Publisher: Pan Books Ltd.

2nd Pan Printing, 1974

Cover Art: Patrick Woodroffe

Plot Synopsis (of cover): The technology is finally here—a century after he walked on the moon, mankind has perfected the science of travelling between parallel worlds. The Multiple Universe Theory, once mathematical speculation in the notebooks of Hawking and Pathria, has blossomed into fully-realized engineering. Lt. Col. Biff Manly was on the short list to be the first human to traverse the membrane between our world and another. His scientific expertise, peak physical form, and immovable coif were considered by the leading minds of the time to be indispensable in making first contact with another world. His reluctance to join the project, however, made recruitment an expensive proposition. “We can’t make you do this, Manly,” the generals would tell him, “and we are certainly willing to entertain any requests you may have… within reason. But you can’t really expect us to send you to a universe inhabited by libidinous college co-eds! Be reasonable, man!” Of course, another important asset the aforementioned leading minds highly valued was Manly’s unwavering resolve…

Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: Fans of Heinlein will recognize his style here, and it’s probably a useful book to use as a lighthearted intro to his work (if you’re the kind of person who loans out books to others). I did end up reading this in an evening, and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a delightful romp through the seventies and naughties as conceived of by 1950s Bobby H., with time-travel and magical zipperless science pants. It’s also appropriate for the timid who may have been put off in the past by the author’s more “blue” material. There is also a cat in it, and everybody loves cats. The non-cat protagonist is pretty great, too. I appreciate the use of an engineer as a sympathetic character, which Dilbert fails to do every time I read it. Mostly, this book is just great fun. I’m also enchanted that Heinlein conceived of the Roomba forty years before the first prototypes hit the tech shows. Yeah, it’s not H.G. Wells predicting the atomic bomb, but Heinlein came along later, and shit’s gotta be fresh.

Rating: 9.2 Freeze-Dried Tabby Cats

Questions for Critical Cover Viewing:

* Are Tighty-Whities the underpants of the future, or are those the same sort of trunks Dr. Frank-N-Furter made Rocky wear?

* Are those the kind of flowers that make it so you don’t slip in the shower?

* Should the formula for gravitation be updated to include an inverse square law relating an object’s distance to boobies?

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