Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Genre: Science Fiction
Robert Heinlein, one of the greatest authors of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, originally serialized The Door Into Summer in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from October to December of 1956. Interestingly, a song performed by The Monkees in 1967 shares a title with this book. The folly of accumulating wealth and living life to the fullest are themes contained in both the book and the song. Otherwise, there is not much similarity in content between the two.
Spiritual Content: Spirituality is not really discussed in this novel.
Language/Crude Humor: The characters use profanity such as h*** and d*** regularly. Unfortunately, the name of the Lord is taken in vain several times as well.
Sexual Content: The main antagonist in the story is the seductive fiance of the protagonist, Dan. He is rather distracted by her physical appearance in a few scenes, and describes her in rather sexualized terms.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Dan drinks regularly. This is presented as a neutral practice. He and several other characters attempt to drown their sorrows and disappointments in alcohol. It is never very effective, but they try it anyway. Belle, the antagonist, uses a mind-controlling drug on Dan. Later, she is shown as addicted to many substances. This is definitely not portrayed as a good thing.
Violence: There is one scene in which Belle and Miles attack and drug Dan in order to force him into the “long sleep.” There is no gore or blood, and that is the only intensely violent scene in the book.
Other Negative Content: One scene takes place in a nudist colony. Nothing is described in great detail, but it is still the setting for an important portion of the book.
Positive Content: The lying, cheating villains lose in the end. They reap the rewards of their evil. Dan learns contentment after his madcap dash through time.
Dan Davis has everything an engineer/inventor could want: a flourishing robotics company, a beautiful fiance, and a loyal cat. Everything changes after a disagreement with his business partner, Miles Gentry, over whether or not to merge with a larger corporation. Belle, Dan’s fiance (who is also part of the company), sides with Miles. The two fire Dan from his position. After a drinking binge, Dan decides to take the “long sleep”, a newly perfected method of cryogenic suspension. He plans to sleep for thirty years, then wake up and take revenge on Miles and Belle. However, when he is sober, he decides to face them himself, without taking the sleep.
When he visits his old business partners, who are now married, Dan is drugged and forced to take the long sleep by his enemies. He wakes up thirty years later, in the year 2000. This future has been revolutionized by the technologies he invented, which are now owned by a totally different company. Dan becomes suspicious as to how this company got a hold of his ideas. He ends up seeking out a professor who discovered the keys to time travel in order to rightfully claim ownership of the flourishing robotics technologies he has- or will have- designed.
The Door Into Summer is not usually considered among Heinlein’s most notable works. There is not too much thematic depth to the novel, in my opinion. It is fun, exciting, and fast paced. The time travel element is fun and a bit unexpected. Even if you know that there will be time travel in the story, the way it is utilized may take you off guard. Heinlein’s style is light, sarcastic, and a bit comical, making all the strange shenanigans believable.
The character of Dan is an every-man caught up in a strange set of circumstances. He is fairly relatable, though he is not explored in as much depth as he could be. This seems to fit the overall light tone of the book, however. One of the main characters of the story is Pete, Dan’s cat, who is as much of a person as any of the human characters. The other main hero of the story is Miles’ younger sister, Frederica, called “Ricky.” She seems to be the only reasonable person Dan knows. The villains are presented as sympathetic at first, but as soon as they turn on Dan, the reader is led to hate them just as much as he does.
Towards the end of the book, I couldn’t help but enjoy how insanely convoluted things were getting. If you enjoy a good time-and-space bending episode of Doctor Who, you’ll probably enjoy The Door Into Summer.
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