For Us, the Living

  • by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
  • 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

July 12, 1939: Perry Nelson is driving along the palisades when another vehicle swerves into his lane, a tire blows out, and his car careens off the road and over a bluff. The last thing he sees before his head connects with the boulders below is a girl in a green bathing suit, prancing along the shore.
When he wakes, the girl in green is a woman dressed in furs, and the sun-drenched shore has been replaced by snowcapped mountains. The woman, Diana, rescues Perry from the bitter cold and takes him to her home to rest and recuperate. Later they debate the cause of the accident, for Diana is unfamiliar with the concept of a tire blowout and Perry cannot comprehend snowfall in mid-July. Then Diana shares with him a vital piece of information: the date is now January 7, the year 2086.
When his shock subsides, Perry begins an exhaustive study of global evolution over the past 150 years. He learns, among other things, that a United Europe was formed; the military draft was completely reconceived; banks became publicly owned and operated; and in the year 2003, two helicopters destroyed Manhattan in a galvanizing act of war.
But education brings with it inescapable truths—the economic and legal systems, the government, and even the dynamic between men and women remain alien to Perry, the customs of the new day continually testing his mental and emotional resolve. Yet it is precisely his knowledge of a bygone era that will serve Perry best, as the man from 1939 seems destined to lead his newfound peers even further into the future than they could have imagined.
A classic example of the future history that Robert Heinlein popularized during his career, For Us, the Living marks both the beginning and the end of an extraordinary arc comprising the political, social, and literary crusading that is his legacy.

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What the Critics Say

“A major contribution to the history of the genre.” (New York Times Book Review)
“There’s something eerie about this novel…Never mind science fiction; this is prescience fiction.” (Kansas City Star)
“A neat discovery for Heinlein and utopia fans.” (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Should have stayed in the shoe box

I have been a Heinlein fan for a long time. It is for this reason that I find this work so disappointing. Heinlein was prone to a certain amount of preaching but this book contains little else. I fear the author would have been terribly embarrassed by release of this work. It is clear that the writing was preliminary to several other stories but was not complete in itself. It contains lengthy expositions that are simply wrong and always have been. The work is poorly conceived, having little plot, scant character development and amazingly wrong guesses as to the future. I winced at the descriptions of the futuristic space program. I suppose Heinlein's inclusion of the future use of cigarettes and asbestos is understandable but the entire work seems to contain little besides these archaic bits of guesswork. Of course there are the truly mind numbing lectures on religion, politics, economics, law and sociology. These run for hours as you wait for a story. If you are a fan, skip this one and reread The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress or Stranger In a Strange Land.
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- Jeffrey C. Coyne

A view in the the grand masters mind

This title was written in 1939, but found and released in 2003 after the authors death. It presents an alternative future based on the events that took place just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. In classic Robert Anson Heinlein style, the characters are very detailed and you can identify with them easily; however, this book is a "dialog" of all the events that have taken place since the main characters reentry to the world. In this book, most likely his first work, the plot is nowhere near the caliber he will show in his later works. This is not a good example to see his craftsmanship, but is a wonderful insight to see his transition from former life to the master of a genre.

It is fascinating to read a Utopian description of a world that never came to be. This is not a crystal ball of things that will come, but more a parallel alternative to those events that could have been. The author uses his characters to describe events in long discussions. I can see why many publishers might not have wanted to bring this book out to the public for a new writer; however, for long time fans, this book is fabulous. It gives a look into the mind of our old master of things yet to come. The roots of many of the topics that Heinlein will use in later works to present non-mainstream views are all here, finding these gems in his earliest work is quite a thrill.

I am going to rate this a solid 4 stars, but with explanation, The method used by the author is not very enjoyable to read; the dialogs are LOOOONG and can dwell laboriously in some points. The plot is thin and leaves many unanswered questions. Had it not been for the uniqueness of the ideas, the rich characters, and quite frankly, the fact that we get to see that one of the greatest authors of all time needed to mature some before he was able to produce his masterpieces, makes this book worth your time.
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- joe

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-17-2011
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.