The Number of the Beast

The Number of the Beast

by Robert A. Heinlein

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Overview

When two male and two female supremely sensual, unspeakably cerebral humans find themselves under attack from aliens who want their awesome quantum breakthrough, they take to the skies — and zoom into the cosmos on a rocket roller coaster ride of adventure and danger, ecstasy and peril.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449130704
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1986
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 6.84(w) x 4.12(h) x 1.11(d)

About 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 he 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.

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1907

Date of Death:

May 8, 1988

Place of Birth:

Butler, Missouri

Place of Death:

Carmel, California

Education:

Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, 1929; attended University of California, Los Angeles, 1934, for graduate study in physic

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The Number of the Beast 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
RAH takes some ties to his universe and heads off on a completely different tack. Friends have initally said they didn't like the '666 book', but admitted that it just took them by surprise. This book could easily have been written in 2000, it is RAH, modern. Most of his previous work is in the grand old style of SF.(my personal favorite). Very entertaining as any good book has to be, and Heinlein but...different.
JayInAmes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not stay interested, book was meandering all over the place. Not a good representation of the work of Robert A. Heinlein.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must admit: this book was my first experience with Heinlein. I had never read anything of his before that. Part of what drove me to read it was that I had heard all of my sci-fi reader peers say that Heinlein was "amazing" or their "favorite author" or some other such laudatory comments. Another part was the fact that I am a die hard Wizard of Oz fan, and make it a point to read as much as I can with respect to the whole Oz mythos. The third, and quite possibly the strongest part, was that my economics teacher in high school gave me the book, and it had been sitting on my shelf until I finally picked it up and read it.I dare say, true fans of Heinlein will not like the conclusion I have come to: I did not fully enjoy this book. Maybe I need to read every other Heinlein book first, or maybe I just read one of the "bad" Heinlein books, or maybe the neap tide was happening and that affected my enjoyment, or one of a million other reasons. The fact of the matter is, I did not enjoy the book.I loved the fact that it was crossover fiction. If you were to see my bookshelf, you would see several examples of crossover fiction. So, it's not the fact that it was discombobulated.I think it was the way people talked. I'm not sure if it was how people talked "back then," when Heinlein wrote it (back in the '80s... you know, the 1980s). I find it hard to believe that anybody in the future would feel the need to make a distinction between the '90s and the Gay '90s, or that anybody would actually know what the Gay '90s was, unless they took a modern history class recently.I'm convinced that it was entirely the dialogue that turned me off to the book. And it's strange, too, as the dialogue in Asimov's stuff didn't set me off to it, and his characters made very large segues into things like economics or physics or one of the other billion of topics Asimov knew vividly.Maybe it was just too danged uncharacteristic, or maybe everybody talked too much. Maybe it felt as if every single aspect of the book had to be qualified. Oh, Deety has an internal clock? Great! We don't need to hear about it every few pages. Stuff like that. Also, what's up with them playing dress-up all the danged time? "Let's go to Mars! But first, let's dress up like were in an ERB novel! Whee!"I guess I would have enjoyed it better if they actually had more believable dialogue, and less dialogue at that. And would have actually done things to move the plot. There were some interesting tidbits in the book, but not enough for me to consider it a favorite, or even one that I greatly enjoyed.You may like it if you're a die hard Heinlein fan. But if you are a die hard Heinlein fan, wouldn't you have already read it?
shelley582 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very zany - you either like this one or hate it.
Audacity88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heinlein's dialogue is always rather poor; his characters appear to take delight without end in snidishness. Partway through The Number of the Beast, I'm putting it down. Though curious as to how Heinlein connects the worlds of L. Frank Baum and Edgar Rice Burroughs with his own, I am put off by the conversational inanity - enough that continuing reading is more of a chore than a pleasure.
Kellswitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've always enjoyed this one more for the ideas than the actualization of them. I like the idea of the different worlds in fiction having their own universes and being real.However, the witting is rather sad, the dialog can be abysmal and his views on sex....well, off putting is one word that works. I read this as a teen and found it very confusing and a bit disturbing, but not enough to not read it.My family have always categorized Heinlein as having three periods of writing, his Boyscout Period (Space Cadet), his Good Period (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress) and is Insane Period, (I Will Fear No Evil and on), though there is some debate about Friday.I would recommend this book to Heinlein fans or completists, or someone who can read a book f and enjoy it for the ideas alone vs. quality writing and entertainment.
Unreachableshelf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not among my very favorite of Heinlein's books, I still found this to be an enjoyable read. It does fall apart a little during the last section, L'Envoi, and I spent a lot of time wanting to throw something heavy at Jacob for repeatedly deciding that he was being an idiot and planning to reform while never doing it. However it does feature several sentient computers, one of the things Heinlein does best, and is rather reminiscient of Time Enough for Love even before the Longs show up. Fans of that segment of Heinlein's work should enjoy it.
thomasJamo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a little different. It starts out as a space adventure in a airplane/car equipped with an n-space interdimensional transporter device. This is the book that first introduces Heinlein's Pentheistic Solipsism / World as Myth story arc. It is a crucial read if you enjoy the Lazarus Long books even though Lazarus Long doesn't actually appear until the last couple hundred pages. But it is crucial to the Lazarus Long story line.
EmScape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WARNING: Do not read this book until you have read Heinlein¿s Time Enough For Love, Revolt in 2100, Methuselah¿s Children, Stranger in a Strange Land, Glory Road, Podkayne of Mars,and The Rolling Stones. You should also have at least a familiarity with The Land of Oz, Edgar Rice Burroughs¿ Mars series, and Wonderland. Fans of Science Fiction from the 1940¿s to 1980¿s will be most capapble of enjoying the work in its entirety.During the last years of his life, it seems Heinlein had a desire to gather the characters he and others had written over the years to attend a conference. So, he set about devising a way to make that happen. This book is the result. Four scientists have invented a ¿continua device¿ that allows for travel through time, space, and ¿fictional¿ worlds. These are very Heinlein-esque characters, so if you hold strong sexual taboos, or disagree with his philosophy as a whole, you will probably not enjoy reading this very much. If you are a Heinlein fan, this book (and its sequels) is/are the ultimate payoff.
5hrdrive on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heinlein comes up with a terrific idea for a "continua" machine, able to instantaneously transit to any time or place. He then proceeds to go absolutely nowhere with the idea. Honestly, for 511 pages nothing happens! Well, actually everyone gets upset at everyone else (repeatedly) and then a big deal is made over kissing and making up, over and over, etc., ad nauseum. Would have made a mildly entertaining 150 page novella, but this is a mess.
tdrumhel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good start, awful ending.
ShelfMonkey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are few things more distressing ¿ from a bibliophile point of view, anyway ¿ than a favoured author who fails.Certainly, the literary world is rife with examples of acclaimed authors who fail, at various times in their lives, to meet expectations. Is there any Ernest Hemingway novel more disappointing than ISLANDS IN THE STREAM? Should Joseph Heller really have written CLOSING TIME? Has Nicholson Baker destroyed his career with CHECKPOINT? Add to the list of the ignoble this entry: Robert A. Heinlein should never, NEVER have written THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. It should have remained locked away in a file drawer somewhere, gathering dust, and consigned to eventual destruction in an unfortunate house fire.Heinlein is a grand master in science fiction, and indeed in literature. His best works such as STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS hold up not only as classic sci-fi, but classics in literature. Even his lesser efforts have been nothing if not fun; THE PUPPET MASTERS is an oft-imitated piece of paranoia, STARSHIP TROOPERS is a great, goofy, right-wing, ridiculous wartime auctioneer, and THE DOOR INTO SUMMER is a marvelous little time-travel love story.There is consensus, however, that his later works lack the bite and sparkle of his early successes. Yet even in the autumn of his career, after suffering a stroke, he still managed to write clever fictions: FRIDAY is a non-stop auctioneer that harkens back to his earlier pop fictions, and JOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICE, if overlong and prone to bouts of speechifying, is an intellectual workout.But NUMBER OF THE BEAST is abominable, a failure at every level. Generally considered with good cause to be his worst novel, it is an indulgent, gangly, and hopeless mess, an amalgam of every one of Heinlein¿s worst tendencies.The plot involves four hyper-intelligent and deeply over-sexed geniuses who, on the run from some undefined alien entity, jump from time to time and universe to universe in a souped-up wondercar named Gay Deceiver. Along the way, they break through several imaginary barriers, spending time with Glinda the Good Witch in Oz, as well as other fantastic landscapes better left in the books they came from. And at all times, the four engage in bizarre and amateurish dialogue that reads as the ramblings of Dan Brown on his worst day. And that¿s saying something. The Hardy Boys would have quit their detective duties and gone into exile if they were forced to recite dialogue this inane.Here¿s a typical example (and remember, such dialogue goes on for pages):Our men came back looking cheerful, with Zebbie carrying Jacob¿s rifle and wearing Jacob¿s pistol. Zebbie gave me a big grin. ¿Cap¿n, there wasn¿t a durn thing wrong with me that Carter¿s Little Liver Pills couldn¿t have fixed. Now I¿m right.¿¿Good.¿¿But just barely,¿ agreed my husband. ¿Hilda ¿ Captain Hilda my beloved ¿ your complex schedule almost caused me to have a childish accident.¿¿I think that unnecessary discussion wasted more time than did my schedule. As may be, Jacob, I would rather have to clean up a `childish accident¿ than have to bury you.¿¿But-¿¿Drop the matter!¿¿Pop, you had better believe it!¿ sang out Deety.Jacob looked startled (and hurt, and I felt the hurt). Zebbie looked sharply at me, no longer grinning. He said nothing, went to Deety, reached for his rifle. ¿I¿ll take that, hon.¿Deety held it away from him. ¿The Captain has not relieved me.¿¿Oh. Okay, we¿ll do it by the book.¿ Zebbie looked at me. ¿Captain, I thoroughly approve of your doctrine of continuous guard; I was too slack.¿And on, and on, and on, and on, until the reader is screaming at all four of them to shut up! As the annoying quartet continue to quarrel amongst themselves as to the correct mode of discipline, all the while throwing around asides and quips that would make Henry Youngman ashamed along with technobabble that reads like a quantum mechanic instruction manual, it is all one can do to focus on the page
rakerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is when Heinlein started to flake out, as he built a grand design to unify all his books, as some other SF authors have attempted. This one was passable, everything else that came after in this series (The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, To Sail Beyond the Sunset) was total garbage.
mpierce11964 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read this book at least three times over the last 10 years and I always comes dow to a strong begining, where it suck you in and seems to be going somewhere. The hoping around to other planets or realities is very interesting and makes the storyline more enjoyable. In the last part of the book the story seems to loose direction and the basic plot. Many questions are never answered.
esperanto41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Heinlein's very best. Two husband-wife teams pilot a computer-controlled time-machine into multi-dimensional universe. Like most RAH books, plot is haphazard at best, but the scenic route is breathtaking. I especially enjoyed the increasingly sophisticated oral "programming" given to the semi-sentient computer as it flies the voyagers into alternate universes. (Because this book revisits many Heinlein characters and themes from earlier works, new readers should start with STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND or TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE.)
szarka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You'll probably enjoy this book more if you're already a Heinlein fan, or at least conversant with classic scifi. Not his best, but it does have its charms. (I've always wondered whether the creator of the TV series Sliders read this one.)
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