To Sail Beyond the Sunset

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If the subtitle, ``Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady,'' evokes Fanny Hill, it's no accident. For although there's a science fiction story here, involving time travel, alternate history and super-longevity, the true subject of the book is sex. As the heroine, Maureen Johnson Long, says after one of many incestuous encounters: ``What the world needs is more loving, sweaty and friendly and unashamed.'' One way or another this idea is endlessly repeated, out of the mouths of any number of the absurd characters populating this novel. The heroine, born in 1882, engages in what Heinlein imagines to be clever, iconoclastic conversation with her father before the turn of the 20th century, and later with husbands, friends and offspring; they are all so smug and self-righteous it sets the teeth on edge. While spewing out homilies on the proper conduct of life, they are generally engaging in activities more appropriate to a tale involving the Jukes or the Kallikaks. Heinlein seems to be on a mission, but he has made his message unpalatable. And far from being admirable, his characters are virtually moronsthey are totally closed, the world can teach them nothing. Not surprising: they're all inbred. Publication date is Heinlein's 80th birthday. (July 7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441748600
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/1988
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 335,806
  • Product dimensions: 6.92 (w) x 4.24 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University of California. In 1939 he sold his first science fiction story to Astounding magazine and soon devoted himself to the genre.

He was a four-time winner of the Hugo Award for his novels Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), Starship Troopers (1959), Double Star (1956), and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966). His Future History series, incorporating both short stories and novels, was first mapped out in 1941. The series charts the social, political, and technological changes shaping human society from the present through several centuries into the future.

Robert A. Heinlein's books were among the first works of science fiction to reach bestseller status in both hardcover and paperback. he continued to work into his eighties, and his work never ceased to amaze, to entertain, and to generate controversy. By the time hed died, in 1988, it was evident that he was one of the formative talents of science fiction: a writer whose unique vision, unflagging energy, and persistence, over the course of five decades, made a great impact on the American mind.


Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Butler, Missouri in 1907. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he was retired, disabled, in 1934. He studied mathematics and physics at the graduate school of the University of California and owned a silver mine before beginning to write science fiction in 1939. In 1947 his first book of fiction, Rocket Ship Galileo, was published.

Heinlein was guest commentator for the Apollo 11 first lunar landing. In 1975 he received the Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Heinlein died in 1988.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Anson MacDonald; Robert Anson Heinlein (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 7, 1907
    2. Place of Birth:
      Butler, Missouri
    1. Date of Death:
      May 8, 1988
    2. Place of Death:
      Carmel, California

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    beyond the sunset

    Heinlein is a great writer, he gets you involved in the story. I also like how he has recurring players in his other novels. this book ties alot of his books together with his characters and his story. This is one of the books I had a hard time putting down. It a great science fiction book and is a great one to have in your library to read again and again. after all a good book is like a good friend, you don't mind seeing them again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2007

    Don't Start With This One. ie, Reagan Era Tripe

    If you are new to RAH avoid this book. It's long, dry, sanctimonious, and generally boring. Especially so if you haven't read the other books in the series. It is meant to give more background information on the character Maureen. It comes off very smug and self-satisfied. It's basically a narration of what would happen if Mary Poppins went whoring. It's all told in retrospect. Has a 'and then I did this, then I did that, and everything was perfect' style. I got this feeling that the author used this book (last published during his life) to spout off his views, rather then actually tell a story.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2006

    Ups and Downs

    There is a good story in this book. Unfortunately it gets bogged down in more and more of the free-love that RAH seemed obsessed with later in his life. If you've read the other books in the Lazarus Long series you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't go read the others first because this is the last. This one is about Maureen, LL's mother, and is essentially told from one sexual encounter to the next until near the end. Worse, even more so than in the other books, the sex gets downright disturbing as it moves casually into incest between parents and their teenage children, brothers and sisters, etc. All of that said, if you're a fan of the LL series you'll need to get through this book to wrap things up. The sex-obsession aside, Maureen's life is rather interesting, and the end is the happy fairy-tale ending we've all been secretly hoping for for these people, even 'fixing' some of the tragic endings in some of the other books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2001

    An Excellent Addition to any Heinlein Fan's Collection

    To Sail Beyond the Sunset is a wonderfully crafted book that reviews in detail the life of Maureen Johnson, the mother of many other Heinlein characters. It is witty and involved, staying true to Heinlein's style. It is a wonderful insight into the lives of other Heinlein characters, and also into his own life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2000


    I found this book to be quite intriguing; also very hard to put down. When I first saw this book on the shelf of my high school library, read the back of it, let me tell you, I was caught, HOOK, LINE, and SINKER! I would suggest this book to just about anyone.

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