Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
The latest of my sci-fi reads, and a favorite author of mine ever since middle school when I first read him. However, reading Friday reminded me of the reasons that I like and dislike Heinlein. Yes, like and dislike. Let’s start with the likes!
The best parts of Heinlein novels are always the characters, always. I loved Stranger in a strange land and A door into summer mainly because of the characters; they felt like real people. Oddly enough, Friday is an artificial intelligence creation that is so realistic she is indistinguishable from actual human. This becomes her downfall because she knows and other humans claim that they could spot an A.I. piece of cake and are prejudice against them which bothers her greatly. The other great part about his novels are the ideas that drive the story and fuel the characters. An A.I. who longs to be accepted like any other human though she is mistaken for one–a man raised by martians on Mars then practically worshiped as a deity when he returns to Earth–a man who tries to right all the wrongs with his time traveling machine (Friday, Stranger, A door, respectively).
The writing isn’t the greatest but it’s more like a script and still very readable. They aren’t really novels to be read and reread, and I had one friend who really didn’t enjoy Stranger as much as I remember liking it. Since middle school, I’ve tried and failed to reread that one of his, getting stuck early on just after Michael leaves the hospital. That’s when the realization set in that the writing and steering of the plot were just okay. Heinlein has a way of enticing the reader and spurring them on, though, so he’s still a fave author of mine but not one that I will reread.
It just so happened that last week at the ALA Annual conference, I heard George R.R. Martin speak, saying that Heinlein’s Have spacesuit will travel started him reading and thus lead to him later writing. I’ve not read this YA novel of Heinlein but again, it might be one that I pick up to find out what about it hooked Martin all those years ago. It’s always fun to connect with someone on authors, and especially particular books because, at least to me, they really become a part of who I am and it’s something that you can tangibly know about a person–a shared bond over a story and characters. While Friday wasn’t as quick a read for me as I hoped, after hearing Martin praise Heinlein, I delved back in with renewed vigor and finished it while at conference; fun reading for an otherwise packed week.
Recommended?: It depends. If you like Heinlein or sci-fi then maybe/yes. This is a fun read, an adventure story more so than a groundbreaking, earth-shattering, beautifully written novel. Like I already said, I won’t reread it but I’m glad that I read it and now have Friday in my life as another very strong woman to draw upon. She’s feisty, fearless, and speaks her mind–right up my alley.
In other news, Camp NaNoWriMo didn’t go as well as I hoped; gee, going to conference last minute sure didn’t help my productivity! However, I did write 20,000 for my novel so it is a great chunk that I can now work further with. There’s always August for another chance, or November if I wanna try and get some real reading done this summer. Steve going to Cyprus for a week will help!