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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I feel like a grain of sand reviewing a Heinlein novel! I do like his " this is the way it is" tone, but find the plot lines jolting! The future of Methuselah's Children is technologically advanced, but this leads to overly explained space flight that is tedious. If you love the unexpected, however, get ready for the bumpy ride!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
this book is one i keep going back to reread. the political consequences and interpersonal impact of people living much longer that everyone else is so thought provoking. as my peers pass around me and as my friends and coworkers seem to get younger each year, i have to deal with similar problems as lazarus long. Weird!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A classic Heinlein originally serialized in the 1940's, published in book form in 1958. Like all novels from the master of science fiction, this is a fantastic example of classic science fiction literature.
Double Star :: Friday :: Podkayne of Mars :: The Door into Summer :: Time Enough for Love
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Never becomes old. I read this book years ago and loved it. Although it has not been updated it still seems fresh. Heinlein was a master beyond his time. You will enjoy this book and his other writings. Jan W.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
filipe bernardes
A really fun read. Heinlein has the unique ability to grab your imagination and not let go. He uses science fact to build his fiction. Set aside lots of time to when you start this book; you won't be able to set it down until you finish it. Then you will want to start reading another of his books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Fascinating and imaginative, three book was an enjoyable read. My only real gripes are that the reaction of the public is irrational in the extreme and imo wouldn't happen I'm real life and the paseing wasn't as good as I'd hope.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andrea l
I almost finished my third Heinlein book and it is quite satisfactory. I am bit curious how much different is this 'expanded' verion from the original published in 1941. It is always faxcinating to compare the fiction of these sf writers with reality decades later. Clark is usually credited with the concept of utilization of geosynchronous satellites but Heinlein mentions it in this book. Most likely it was added 1958, years after Clark mentioned it.

Some reviewers provide a synapsis of the book - a useful thing but not necessarily a review. Does a real literature require evolving characters? I do not think so, Heinlein characters are surely exactly the same at the beignning of the book as at the conclusion.

The scientific mumbo jumbo seems to me bit more realistic than what Mr. Spock used to say in the original Star Trek. I always admired the actors to keep their faces straight when they uttered the nonsensical lines. It is easier in the books, of course.

I read somewhere about the three founding fathers of science fiction: Asimov, Clark and Heinlein. The first two seem to have a great tendency to get mystical and supernatural while Heinlein tries not too. Most positive characters are 'engineers' working with real stuff, sometimes impossible to describe in words.

I really liked the concept of inadequacy of words to convey meaning of real phenomena. General theory of relativity is not too difficult to talk about, quantum mechanics is much more so (and rejected thus by Einstein). The current string theory is just not sutiable for verbal interpretation at all.

Did Heinlein realized that in 1948? Even in 1958 it would have been a bit of accomplishment, I think.

It is useful to read more than one review - it is impossible for me to rank them in the terms of 'usefullness'.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrea o dell
This is a tale involving a schism in the development of the human race and of the jealousies and tragedies that can befall the characters. Very spellbinding story that will eventually become part of Heinlein's future history stories. Excellent attention to detail.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read Methuselah's Children when it was first published and now with many years under my belt I understood it more fully and enjoyed it just as much. I recomend Heinlein for anyone who wants to think about what they are reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
saara raappana
Great book, one of Heinlein's "Future History" novels. Follow up with "Time Enough for Love" and "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" for the complete tale of Lazarous Long, an immortal who deserves- yet escapes- being knocked off.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This book provides some useful background information for his later book, The Cat Who Walked through Walls. It traces the fate of members of the long-lived Howard Families. Heinlein was a good writer, the dean of science fiction, but this book doesn't hold a candle compared to Stranger in a Strange Land, I Will Fear No Evil, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress or my personal favorite, The Cat Who Walked through Walls.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This story is not really holding up well like maybe Dune has. The story was spicy when I read it in the 80's for the first time. Now it comes off as sexist and old fashioned. It really could use a rewrite to keep the good parts but update the tech and lose the sexist commentary.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
justin deal
I would like to review any KINDLE books by author Robert A. Heinlein.
The following are among my favorites, but only the first two are available on the Kindle.
Robert A. Heinlein Novels
featuring Lazarus Long:
* Methuselah's Children
* Time Enough for Love
* The Number of the Beast
* The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
* To Sail Beyond the Sunset
Walt Piemme
[email protected]
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This book shows some of Heinlein's old brilliance but, like many of his books written in his older years, gets hung up on sex. It is almost as if he were writing his teen fantasies of sex. It was still a good book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
poncho l pez
I love Heinlein's novels but, this one was a major let down for me. The action and the language is very dated, but i guess that's because the novel was printed back in the 50's. Lazarus long is one of Heinlein's characters that i have always had a distaste for. He is very two dimensional to me. I mean this guy wears kilt, yet he's an American who uses British slang-like bloke. No American would use British slang, not even in the future because, it is too foreign sounding, but anyway, Lazarus likes to pump up his ego a lot and it makes him appear more campy than he already is in this novel. I like the concept of the Harold Families it is a good idea that could have been utilized a lot better with other characters in another setting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
margarida monsanto
I have read the book several times over the decades. In fact, to me, the real measure of a book is whether it can be re-read with pleasure. I call that kind of book my "literary comfort food." (smile)
Well, during the part when the Howard Families are crammed into a cargo freighter in order to escape to the orbiting starship the New Frontiers, I got to wondering how large a spaceship would be needed to hold 100,000 people - even if they were stacked like cordwood. Below are some calculations that I did to satisfy my curiosity.

ρ = approximate human body density = 1,000 kg/m³
m = average human body mass = 70 kg
v = average human body volume = to be determined

ρ = m / v
vρ = m
v = m / ρ
v = 70 kg / 1,000 kg/m³
v = 0.07 m³

N = number of persons in the Howard Families = 100,000 people

V = Nv = total human volume = 7,000 m³
M = Nm = total human mass = 7,000,000 kg

So the total mass of the Howard Families is more than that of a fully-loaded
Space Shuttle sitting on the pad, ready for launch!

Considering the cargo ship used by the Howard Families to escape to the
orbiting starship New Frontiers, let's specify that its cargo space is 10,000
cubic meters and that its total volume is 20,000 cubic meters.

If the cargo ship is a sphere …

Vs = volume of a sphere = 20,000 m³
r = radius of a sphere = to be determined

Vs = 4πr³ / 3
3Vs = 4πr³
3Vs / 4π = r³
r³ = 3Vs / 4π
r = ³√(3Vs / 4π)
r = ³√[3(20,000 m³) / 4π]
r = 16.84 m = 55.25 ft

D = 2r = diameter = 33.68 m = 110.49 ft

If the cargo ship is approximated by a cylinder …

Vc = volume of a cylinder = 20,000 m³
A = cross-sectional area, specified as = 200 m² (average floor area of U.S. single-family home)
L = length = to be determined

Vc = AL
Vc / A = L
L = Vc / A
L = 20,000 m³ / 200 m²
L = 100 m = 328.08 ft

rc = radius of cylinder = to be determined

A = π(rc)²
A / π = (rc)²
(rc)² = A / π
rc = √(A / π)
rc = √(200 m² / π)
rc = 7.98 m = 26.18 ft

D = 2rc = diameter = 15.96 m = 52.35 ft
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Methuselah's Children introduces us to Lazarus Long, a popular character in several of Robert A. Heinlein's books. Lazarus, who wears a kilt (but there's guns strapped to his thighs!) and can't remember how old he is, is descended from one of several families who, long ago, were bred for their health and longevity. Lazarus and his extended clan live very long lives -- so long that they must eventually fake their own deaths and take new identities so that others don't get suspicious about their supernatural abilities. This has become a problem, however, as technology in the United States has reached the point where people are identified by their DNA and it will soon be impossible to hide. So some of the family members are experimenting with a new plan; they're outing themselves -- telling their friends and neighbors about their longevity and hoping for a good response.

Unfortunately, this has backfired. The government doesn't believe that genetics is the cause of their longevity; they think the families are hiding information and techniques that anyone could use to delay death, and they see this as treason. The families are now on the run. They plan to hijack a spaceship and escape the planet before they're all rounded up for examination. Then they'll cruise the universe, looking for some other world where they can live happily ever after.

Methuselah's Children is short (7 hours on audio) and mildly entertaining. The book, originally published in 1941, has aged fairly well and deals with the topics of class warfare, civil liberties, personal property, privacy, freedom, and the need for meaningful work. Further features include some dull meetings, some aliens who remind us that humans are pretty weird, and a trite resolution to the whole affair. At the end I was left wanting to see more of Lazarus Long, and wondering if Heinlein has written any books for adults that don't include incest.

Brilliance Audio's version was narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He has a really nice voice and, judging by his photo on the back of the audiobook (which I enjoyed looking at much more than I liked looking at the cheesy cover art for Methuselah's Children) I thought he looked too young to pull off a convincing 200 year old Lazarus Long. Wrong! He was really good.
Originally posted at FanLit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ruth suehle
After spending most of his career never writing a sequel or revisiting his characters, Heinlein did that very thing many times in his last several books. He choose this as the book to use as the foundation for those future characters, starting with the hero of this novel, Lazarus Long.

In Methuselah's Children the long lived Howard families suffer a crisis when the rest of the world decides they have a technological secret to long life. Their escape leads to a series of interesting interplanetary adventures and plenty of Heinlein's interesting and provocative essays on life and common sense, and just what makes humans the race we are.

As do all of Heinlein's juveniles, he takes us to the brink of another story just as interesting and leaves us dangling there. I'd love to read the story of what Laz and Andy did right AFTER this book, but alas it was never written. But that is the way I feel about virtually all of Heinlein's "juveniles", and this is no exception.

You'll find several of Heinlein's common themes and plot devices entertainingly merged into Methuselah's Children: characters on the run, infuriating authority, social experimentation, and an imagination that takes us to places no one else ever did.

Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Finally a "CLASSIC" that live up to the billing.
I had grown weary of the same old trite - "You HAVE to read"s - that just didnt live up to the billing.

Having read a lot of Larry Niven, and now starting on the Heinlein series', I think it is safe to guess Niven grew up on Heinlein, as I see some pretty serious similarities between Lazarus and Louis Wu, but since I have loved the Niven, it follows I loved the Heinlein.

I may have been aided in this by expecting to be let down after slogging thru the endlessly repetitive Fantasy of David Eddings that folks seem to eat up like crazy - dont get me wrong, I enjoyed the Belgariad, but everything after that just seemed to be a remake of the same story.

But Methuselah's Children was what I expect good old fashioned hard Sci-FI to be. Men of Earth head out to the stars - without all the mind-numbing complications and needless enumeration of every potentially adverse event taking place over the course of the story (Sorry Ben Bova - but you are the worst at this)

The almost scary part of this is that he wrote it in the 1940's ([...] credits this at 1941) making it so ridiculously ahead of its time as to be either laughable or scary.

At any rate - if you like hard sci-fi that doesnt get all bogged down in its own clever attempts to beat you to death with boring science, but still rings true enough to buy into, AND still maintains a level of human involvement - give this one a spin. It isnt perfect, but it is just what I was looking for.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
james kuan
Expanded from a short story published 17 years earlier, Methuselah's Children is about a subset of the human race (the Howard Families) who are exceptionally long-lived due to selective interbreeding. When the rest of humanity turns on them, mistakenly believing they are holding back some secret of longevity, they hijack a starship and go in search of a new home. This journey eventually leads them to a couple of planets with indigenous inhabitants that end up posing different sorts of threats that allow author Robert Heinlein to make a few points about liberty and the nature of Man.

I enjoyed the story for the most part though the alien civilizations were rather underwhelming. Frankly, I'd rather have seen the Howard Families either duke it out with earth's administrators or find an uninhabited planet they have to colonize, which would generate conflicts and disagreements that would make interesting reading. Nevertheless, a fairly enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rhilda miller
The first appearance of this story dates back to 1941 as a serial in Astounding Science Fiction, and as such places this as one of Heinlein's very early works, and the first novel-length work that was part of his Future History. He revised and expanded the original considerably for the book publication that appeared in 1958, though without any basic change to the story structure. Like most of Heinlein's `early period' works, the focus of this work is far more on action rather than long philosophical polemics, though there are certainly some comments and opinions expressed about prejudice, morality, mob psychology, and basic human nature and its incompatibility with being a `kept pet' or eternal idlers.

It also marks the first appearance of Woodrow Wilson Smith, better known as Lazarus Long, who at the start of this book is a mere 213 years old, a product of the Howard Family trust which sought to lengthen human life-spans through simple breeding choices. Lazarus is only a product of the third generation of this project, but through chance apparently has just the right genetic code to keep him young and healthy far longer than `normal' people. The book starts in the year 2125, after the overthrow of the Prophet, and with a healthy 70 years of rule under the Covenant that has helped guarantee basic rights for everyone that was adopted after that overthrow, the Howard families feel that they can reveal just who they are and what their life expectancy is. This is a bad mistake, and the Howards quickly find themselves on the run from all those out to force the `secret' of their long lives from them.

The major portion of the first half of this novel is just what the Howards, Lazarus, and the head of the world government do about this situation, ending up in a `con' job that effectively manages to swindle everyone in the world - a setup that is tailor made for Lazarus, the world's ultimate pragmatist, and he shines here as both hero and someone you wouldn't let in your front door - a characterization that continues to be fleshed out in several later books, most especially Time Enough for Love. The second half deals with a rather amazing jaunt to a couple of other stars, and what is found there just might cause you to end up with a few nightmares and with a need to curl up and think about just what the ultimate purpose of man is.

This work is not as polished as his later material, with some dated slang (rare, but also something Heinlein almost totally eschewed in his later works), and characterization for anyone other than Lazarus is not as full bodied as would later be customary for him. The second half of the book doesn't have the same action quota as the first half, and there is a quite noticeable change in tone between the two halves. There's a lack of cohesion in theme between the two halves, almost as if Heinlein couldn't quite figure out where he was going with this book.

However, this is fine example of just what Heinlein was capable of even this early in his career. The constant action helps hide some of its weaknesses, his science, as usual for him, was as accurate as possible given what was known at the time of writing, his predictions for scientific advances are solidly grounded and plausible (some of which have come true, some may still happen, and a few are way off the mark - but Heinlein's batting average in this area is far higher than almost any other sf author).

For those new to Heinlein, this book would not be a bad place to start, though doing so without having read the prior books in the Future History (The Green Hills of Earth, The Man Who Sold the Moon, Revolt in 2100) will mean you'll miss a few of the references here. It's great advantage is its introduction to Lazarus, possibly the finest scoundrel to ever course the worlds of science fiction. Trust me, you'll like him (but hold on to your wallet).

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
c j carter stephenson
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert Heinlein is a short early novel. This is part of Heinlein's "Future History" series of stories and the start of a series of Heinlein novels that continued later in his career. This story is good science-fiction. I do not call it excellent because Heinlein was about to enter the peak of his career with better writing.

The reader may conclude that Heinlein shows his philosophical side more than his science fiction side. Over fifty years, I have read everything I can lay my hands on that Heinlein wrote. I came to appreciate Heinlein's philosophical side. He helped me exercise my brain. I promise, there is more plot here than may seem apparent.

"Methuselah's Children" introduces us to the 'Howard families' and Lazarus Long, a character that appears in a number of Heinlein's later novels. It also introduces a neat 'roadable vehicle', two separate 'interstellar drives', and some unusual 'aliens'. (Question: If we travel to a planet with sapient beings, are they the aliens or are we the aliens? Answer: Good question! One's point of view is important!) When I first read this story, the ending seemed to be a bit of a letdown. However, four decades later, I realize that it does reveal something about the nature of human reality and about technological problems. I guess I can say that 'obvious' alternate solutions to technological problems can be non-obvious to someone who is too close to the challenge. One can have troubles seeing the forest when the trees keep getting in the way.

This is very good science fiction reading! I recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This book is fun and entertaining. It is only the second book by Heinlein I have read. I enjoyed the character of Lazarus Long. The overall plot was pretty well done. Heinlein puts forth some interesting ideas in this book. Those of personal freedom vs persecution and searching for a new home while missing the old one, for example. The book was entertaining.

The reason I'm giving this three stars is for two reasons:
1st - the dialogue on physics and math was a little tedious. Although it did not slow down the story, it didn't really do much for me since I have no background in physics and no understanding of math beyond algebra.
2nd - although the story was fun and I enjoyed the character of Lazarus Long, I don't see myself reading this book again. I like books that I can enjoy more than once and this just didn't fit the bill.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erica neely
"Methuselah's Children" by Robert Heinlein is a short early novel. This is part of Heinlein's "Future History" series of stories and the start of a series of Heinlein novels that continued later in his career. This story is good science-fiction. I do not call it excellent because Heinlein was about to enter the peak of his career with better writing.

The reader may conclude that Heinlein shows his philosophical side more than his science fiction side. Over fifty years, I have read everything I can lay my hands on that Heinlein wrote. I came to appreciate Heinlein's philosophical side. He helped me exercise my brain. I promise, there is more plot here than may seem apparent.

"Methuselah's Children" introduces us to the 'Howard families' and Lazarus Long, a character that appears in a number of Heinlein's later novels. It also introduces a neat 'roadable vehicle', two separate 'interstellar drives', and some unusual 'aliens'. (Question: If we travel to a planet with sapient beings, are they the aliens or are we the aliens? Answer: Good question! One's point of view is important!) When I first read this story, the ending seemed to be a bit of a letdown. However, four decades later, I realize that it does reveal something about the nature of human reality and about technological problems. I guess I can say that 'obvious' alternate solutions to technological problems can be non-obvious to someone who is too close to the challenge. One can have troubles seeing the forest when the trees keep getting in the way.

This is very good science fiction reading! I recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the book that introduced Lazarus Long and the Howard Families who will appear so prominently in his later books, TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE, TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET etc.

In the 19th century a young man name Ira Howard, worked hard, prospered and...died, but before he died he realized that his life, like that of so many, was going to be much too short to do all that he wanted to do and so left his fortune to solving this problem. The result was a long term experiment to increase the human life span. Within a hundred years the experient had resulted in over 100,000 individuals who could reasonably expect to live two to three times as long as the average human.

This group, known as the Howard Families, in honor of their benefactor, had long kept their existence secret. Now many of the group felt that the rest of humanity was ready to learn of their existence. They were wrong.

As the Howards were being rounded up the eldest of the Families, Lazarus Long managed to escape. With a bit of luck and a lot of underhanded dealings most of the Howards escape to the stars.

This would be an excellent place for anyone not familiar with the 'future history' stories to begin and is, of course, a must read for any RAH or Lazarus Long fan.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Knowing where to start with Heinlein can be a tricky business. Some of his early work is both stiff and/or dated. His later work is very divisive due to some of his themes and opinions. Methuselah's Children (An early novel, first serialized in the 1940's) suffers from neither of these. It is solid science fiction, telling the story of a group of extended families endowed with unusually long life. They find themselves persecuted by the rest of the population who mistakenly believe they hold the secret of immortality. Threatened with extinction, they take to the stars to find a new home. From that point we see some of why Heinlein is such a lauded writer. His descriptions of alien cultures are both plausible and intriguing while the aliens are thoroughly alien in nature and appearance. Also, this novel introduces one of the most interesting of all Heinlein's characters, Lazarus Long, who makes a stronger appearance in Time Enough For Love, and to a lesser degree in some of Heinlein's later novels. If you are interested in the works of the master, Methuselah's Children is a great starting point with a small investment, as it is a short book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dave gilbert
Methuselah's Children is a critical component of Heinlein's remarkably impressive body of work. Not only does it culminate the Future History series of stories, it also points the way toward a better understanding of Heinlein's later writings. Perhaps most importantly, this novel introduces us to Lazarus Long and other prominent members of the Howard family of long-timers. This story opens well after the fall of the First Prophet theocracy described in Revolt in 2100; democracy, liberty, and freedom once again mean something in America-at least until the populace learns of the existence of a large group of men and women with lifespans more than double the norm. Believing that the Howard families possess the secret of eternal life, the government takes action to seize all long-timers using any means necessary, including the abhorrent torture treatments made famous by the hated former theocracy. The embattled administrator of the country believes the Family trustee and representative Zach Barstow when he tells him that there is no secret to be had, that the lifespans of the family are determined by heredity. To the great fortune of all 100,000 long-lifers, the remarkable Lazarus Long decides to return to the Family fold he once left behind out of sheer boredom. His leadership results in the Family escaping earth and making their way out into space in search of a new home planet. Their travels are extensive, and their contact with other intelligent beings is as fascinating as it is intriguing-both culturally and scientifically. Heinlein puts a lot of science into his description of the ship's interstellar voyage and the means by which the people plan to survive for a journey of many light years. The colonists' interaction with the alien cultures they encounter is also delightfully original and compelling. The ending did not display a final blast of power, but it serves as a more than acceptable conclusion to events.
I was most impressed by Heinlein's success at tying this novel in to the series of past Former History stories, going all the way back to Life-line and the genesis of the whole saga. A few characters who seemed unimportant earlier in the stories quickly became important actors in the drama, such as astronavigator Libby from the story "Misfit." I have a much better appreciation of the earlier Future History stories after reading Methuselah's Children; things I saw as unimportant in earlier stories are now revealed in a whole new light and made inherently interesting. Lazarus Long, with his fierce independence, refusal to go around without his kilt (with his blaster concealed underneath), youthful old age, free spirit, and lust for activity or adventure is a singular character one cannot soon forget. His story is only begun in this novel, but it is something to behold from the very start.
This novel is intriguing and entertaining on its own merits, but I would encourage you to read the preceding Future History stories first (which can be found in The Man Who Sold the Moon, The Green Hills of Earth, and Revolt in 2100). Without this background, you will miss completely some of the subtleties and references that make this novel extra special. Likewise, if you are going to read Heinlein's later novels such as Time For Love this book serves as necessary background reading. I see Methuselah's Children as the crucial intersection separating Heinlein's early stories and later novels, so it is incredibly important whichever way you look at it. The science is well told, oftentimes prophetic, and perfectly believable and the sociological speculation is thought-provoking, but this novel is first and foremost an engaging, thrilling read that no Heinlein or vintage science fiction fan should miss.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristin b
Methuselah's Children (1958) is the fourth SF work in the Future History series. It was originally published as a serial within Astounding in 1941. It was later expanded to a full length novel.

The Howard Foundation was established in the 1870s to lengthen the span of human life. Using well established breeding principles, young men and women with living grandparents were encouraged to marry each other. In 1875, the first child of the Howard Families was born.

At first, they were just a bunch of people trying to improve the lifespan of the members. After a century or so, however, they were forced to start the Masquerade. Many members had grown too old, so ways were found to allow them seemingly to die and then to take on other identities.

In this novel, Lazarus Long is a member of the Howard Families. He was born 1n 1912 with the name Woodrow Wilson Smith. Now he is 213 years old and the Eldest living member of the Families.

Mary Sperling is also a member of the Howard Families. She was the Eldest until Lazarus reappeared.

Zaccur Barstow is a member of the Howard Families. Zack is also the Speaker for the Howard Trustees.

Andrew Jackson Libby is a member of the Howard Families. Andy was last seen in "Misfit" as the intuitive mathematician.

Slayton Ford is the Federation Administer. He has the problem of the Howard Families dumped into his lap by the Council.

In this story, Mary is leading an emergency meeting of the Family heads and things are looking bleak. When Lazarus complains about the long and wellknown review of facts before presenting new information, Mary gets him to admit his age. As the Eldest, Lazarus is now expected to moderate the meeting.

Others point out the improbability of maintaining the Masquerade. Some members -- about ten percent of the group -- had voluntarily admitted their extended lifespan. Although the initial impact on the public was small, a sense of anger and disbelief has been growing exponentially.

All present are impressed by the facts and calculations, but their voiced opinions are not very helpful. The members are undecided and unable to agree on any approach to the problem. Lazarus has them break up into like minded groups to work out better solutions and then adjourns the general meeting until the next morning. As he later admits to Mary, they are probably not going to agree on any workable approach.

Mary is being pursued by Bork Vanning, the Minority Leader of the Federation Council. The next morning, Bork comes to press his suit. He mentions the Howard Families and states that the secret of longevity is close at hand for important officials and their wives. Mary then tells him that she is one of the victims of this witchhunt.

Bork refuses to believe her until Lazarus steps into the conversation. Although his knife convinces Bork to leave, both Lazarus and Mary know he will send proctors to arrest Lazarus. They get out barely in time and take Mary's car out to kill time until dark.

After some evasion, they reach the Families' Seat and Mary hurries to the sanctuary to send a message through the telepathic sensitives. She sends a recall to all sites run by the Howard Families. Then they hold another emergency meeting.

During the meeting, many options are discussed. Leaving the planet is brought up, but dismissed since the only really habitable planet in the Solar System is Earth. Then Lazarus remembers the ship being built in orbit for the Second Centauri Expedition.

Lazarus proposes that the New Frontiers be used to leave the System. He learns that Andy had not been involved in the design of the New Frontiers, so there are probably ways to increase the boast. But this proposal is tabled while other options are discussed.

The meeting is interrupted by a call for Zack from the Federation Administrator. Ford now knows a lot about the Howard Families from captured members, including the location of the Families' Seat. But he doesn't think that the Families have a hidden secret of longevity.

This tale takes the Howard Families into custody and then onto the New Frontiers and into interstellar space. Most of the group are very disgruntled by the whole affair. Yet there are few adventurous souls who are looking forward to the voyage.

Lazarus Long is an anomaly. He was a third generation child in the longevity experiment called the Howard Families. Even so, his genes must have been exceptionally good. Few from that time would have lived more than a century.

The New Frontiers is the second spaceship sent to the stars. The next installment in this series tells the story of the first starship -- the Vanguard -- in Orphans of the Sky. Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Heinlein fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of interstellar voyages, longevous culture, and Lazarus Long. For those who want more tales by Heinlein, this and many other stories are also included in The Past Through Tomorrow.

-Arthur W. Jordin
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica phillips
This is meant to be a review for veteran Heinlein-readers who have just recently discovered this book. That's the position I was in when I picked it up not a week ago. For people who like Lazarus Long, this is another novel full of his derring-do, with all of the usual trimmings. Unfortunately, the story didn't expand too much beyond those lines. There seems to be an indifference in the treating of the characters, especially in the case of Mary Sperling. While it still has that Heinlein touch, overall there seemed to be something lacking, an incompleteness. Still, the recognizable Heinlein touches are there, and it kept me interested throughout.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Before you judge my review purely by the low rating please read my defense and reasons. First of all, if I was still a 13 year old boy this would have been very good, however, even then I would have been slightly disappointed by how much Heinlein has to offer and how little he actually develops in Methuselah's Children. I understand how important this novel is in the Future History works of Heinlein but sadly, as a stand-alone story, it falls woefully short of greatness.

Summary (contains spoilers): Heinlein first wrote the story in 1941 before expanding it into a full-length novel in 1958. It traces the Howard Families, the product of a very old eugenics program to extend life, through the persona of Lazarus Long (a beloved character of Heinlein fans - whose life is explored in detail and length in the 1973 novel Time Enough for Love). The Howard families are persecuted on Earth since they are believed to possess a secret to longevity although its just selective breeding which results in living so long. They highjack a space ship and head for a distant planet. The creatures they meet are domestic animals to higher intelligences that want to make the new colonists subservient as well. They continue on to another planet of group mind creatures which can change plants and animals forms and tastes etc... So, they have a large meeting and with Lazarus Long's prodding they decide to go back to earth, now an easy three-month long task because of technological advances learned from the aliens.

Pros: Heinlein fills this novel with fascinating ideas. The concept of domestic aliens (in some aspects more intelligent than humans) subservient to a greater intelligence - that's enough for an entire novel. The technology for a massive space ship that can hold a 100,000 people and the social ramifications that might follow, again, that's enough for an entire novel. A group mind alien civilization etc... The resolution of the novel, that humanity is somehow drawn to earth, is a powerful concept that many later writers explore in detail. Considering the time Heinlein wrote this story, the concepts are fresh, and fascinating. Lazarus Long is a great character as well: funny, likable, rakish, and morally upright. All this should make a great novel but -

Cons: The bane of so many writers is that they think they can take twenty brilliant ideas and meld them flawlessly together into a coherent novel. Heinlein fails at this, essentially Methuselah's Children is multiple short stories pasted together with little connection besides "seven years went by." What is worse is that when he comes to something interesting instead of having the characters discover it themselves, he writes a detached essay on the topic of group creatures, or seven years of space ship life etc... The characters are thus not actively involved in the action - this is a massive flaw, which halts forward movement and excitement. Most of this is due to the fact that Heinlein had a page limit but he could have easily just written more than one connected novels. Heinlein soon learns from this mistake with his next work, Starship Troopers, which is focused and crisp. Besides Lazarus Long, the characters are one dimensional and wimpy. Again, this is a feature of the time so it can be partially forgiven except that Heinlein DID succeed in making Lazarus's character. Why did he not put that skill to Mary Sperling? Or Captain King?

Heinlein simply falls short. He offers so many interesting concepts that they overload and ultimately, make no deep impression on the reader. Many juvenile novels from the time explore a single technology, or social idea and make a story, I wish Heinlein had kept this in his original short story form.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
charlotte crowley
Methuselah's Children is the beginning of Heinlein's love affair with Lazarus Long, who appears as a main character in most of his late novels. This tale is far less complex and has less character development than those later books, being more along the lines of his earlier space operas - lots of action and interesting plot twists, but somewhat plastic characters. However, if you are a fan of Lazarus, this is certainly a must read as it sets the stage for everything to come, and is the character's first major appearance (lazarus does make a brief prior experience in the much earlier short story Lifeline - if you haven't read this, you really should!).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
When the general population learns of the Howards and their mutant ability that lets them live much longer than normal people, there is a crackdown, and the government starts hunting them down.

A compromise does happen, even with pressure as th e ability is revealed to be genetic, not a treatment.

Cue Lazarus Long here. The rogue returns to provide a focal point for the mutants, and we get some space adventuring after this.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
amber j
Methuselah's Children sets the background for my favorite novels Heinlein later wrote that included 'Lazarus Long' aka the 'Senior.' The Senior is a long lifer. The longest living human on earth. The story is filed with great Characters including Long who are persecuted for the secret of their long life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book is excellent for young readers. The overal presentation isn't as harsh as Heinlein's Starship Troopers. This book is also not satirical as Stranger in a Strange Land. This book was written for a young adult audience. For experienced readers, this book is still worth reading as it presents another facet of Hienlein's writing and makes for an easy read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shari seitz
There's something comforting in being able to revisit a first love. Methuselah's Children is just that. I read this book when I was young, and fell hard for Heinlein and his character, Lazarus Long. Although a shorter story than other LL stories, it doesn't take away the appeal of the story. A group of persecuted humans leave earth to find a better life, and eventually find their way home. Coming back and rereading the story after years is just that for me...finding my way home!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shawn edrei
Had no idea it had been almost forty years since I originally read this book. First time was under my covers with a flashlight. Found it in a used book store the other day while buying stranger in a strange landfor a friend. Its simply amazing how non-dated it is. so happy to have found an old friend.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
A Howard "Family" have a life expectancy of 150 years. They kept their existence secret. In the hope that society would be ready to accepts them, they started a limited exposure of themselves. Society refuses to believe that the Howard Families simply 'chose their ancestors wisely', instead insisting that they have developed a method to extend life. When the Howard Families fail to produce any such techniques, the Families are persecuted and interned. The Society's prosecutor, Prime Minister Slayton Ford, can visualize only two horrific solutions: mass execution or mass sterilization. A genocide in either case. Slayton Ford turns his wheels and assist the families in hijacking the colony star ship New Frontiers. To survive, the Howard Families must embark on an exodus to the stars. They invent light-hugging stardrive and land on two planets. In the first the meet humanoids, who are merely domestic animals belonging to the planet's true masters. In the second they find group mind race who are masters of genetic engineering. One of the Howard family members transposes herself to group in order to become immortal. But this horrifies the families because humans are what they are because they are individuals. They return to earth after 74 year of exile to find out that artificial blood has achieved to keep population "young".

The story is a continuation of Revolt in 2100 which played with imagined history of church being the supreme dictator. The events in "Methuselah's Children" take place after that war was over. The problem with Heinlein's early works is not lack of imagination, but too much of it in one story. This 1958 published book had 144 pages where all these events are packed in. The early juvenile Heinlein books all share common trait where the books try to mimic comic book action scenes. This leaves character development at the stage of 12 year old.

Two (2) stars. The only character that is somewhat developed here, is Lazarus Long, the 200+ year old person, who takes the lead of the Howard family. But there are many, many interesting persons that we would have liked to know more about. Sadly, the speed of action is no substitute for lack of good characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Considered by many to be the most intruiging book of Heinlein career. Methuselah's Children is the backbone of Heinlein's universe. It sets up the story of the long lived famlies that are part of many of his other stories ie. Time Enough For Love, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, The Number of the Beast, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, and many others. This is a must for every Heinlein fan, and a good starting point for those who want to get to know the great author better. 5 Stars just isn't enough!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
muness castle
I've heard a lot of good things about Heinlein, so I finally decided to read one of his novels. As someone approaching this novel with no prior experience with his works, I suspect that my review will be different to those by people already familiar with this author. And what I thought was that this was nothing special. To be honest, I found it quite boring. It was a struggle to read, especially during the middle.

My copy of the book tells me this story was first published in 1958, and it definitely shows. I expect it would have been a good read for its time, but to me it seemed horribly outdated. I found it very hard to suspend my disbelief throughout the whole book. Major events in the plot rely on the assumption that certain technologies we have today don't exist 200 years from now. Reading this, I couldn't believe that Heinlein could conceive of a society in which aliens existed and spaceships could fly faster than the speed of light, and yet not even have genetic testing. The United Nations (or any) agreement on human rights seems to have been completely ignored as well. The existence of either of these things would have gone a long way to resolving the main plot, which sees long-lived humans persecuted in a Nazi-like fashion by the government for withholding the secret of longevity. Partly because of this, I found the main plot to be very frustrating, because it seemed so outlandish and unrealistic, particularly for a futuristic society which should have learnt its lesson from past events such as WWII. Instead, the book seems like it's set back in the 1940s or earlier, even earlier than it was actually published! I also don't see the logic at all in the government killing off the people they want to learn secrets from. Experimentation would make so much more sense!

Another issue I found, reading this, was that the characters seemed to have very little individual personality. Here the plot was clearly first priority, and characterisation seemed to be sacrificed for its sake - a poor choice, in my opinion. Every character in the book used the same sort of dialogue - dry, serious, explanatory. I felt like I was reading a book about the lives of a group of physics teachers in lecture mode rather than diverse human beings. I found it a very dull read. Everyone was very polite, even in the most extreme situations. Again, I expect this was probably influenced by the era, since social norms have changed drastically since 1958, but I still found it to be a significant obstacle to my enjoyment of this book.

In short, this wasn't for me. I'm hesitant to give Heinlein's books another try after this, despite the good comments I've heard. If all his books are this dry and unemotional, then I think I'll stick to more modern fare.
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