For Us, the Living - Robert A. Heinlein

For Us, the Living

Author: Robert A. Heinlein

  • Publication Date: 2004-01-06
  • Category: Science Fiction
4 Score: 4
(From 7 Ratings)


A man awakens to a changed world in the long-lost first novel by the author of Starship Troopers—“a major contribution to the history of the genre” (The New York Times Book Review).

From the author of Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and other masterpieces of science fiction, this never-before-published debut novel, written in 1939, introduces ideas and themes that would shape his career and define the genre that is synonymous with his name.

July 12, 1939: Perry Nelson is driving along the palisades when suddenly another vehicle swerves into his lane, a tire blows out, and his car careens over a bluff. The last thing he sees before his head connects with the boulders below is a girl in a green bathing suit, prancing along the shore. . . .

When he wakes, the girl in green is a woman dressed in furs and the sun-drenched shore has transformed into snowcapped mountains. The woman, Diana, rescues Perry from the bitter cold and takes him inside her home to rest and recuperate.

Later they debate the cause of the accident, for Diana is unfamiliar with the concept of a tire blowout and Perry cannot comprehend snowfall in mid-July. Then Diana shares with him a vital piece of information: The date is now January 7. The year . . . 2086.

When his shock subsides, Perry begins an exhaustive study of global evolution over the past 150 years. He learns, among other things, that a United Europe was formed and led by Edward, Duke of Windsor; former New York mayor LaGuardia served two terms as US president; the military draft was completely reconceived; banks became publicly owned and operated; and in the year 2003, two helicopters destroyed the island of Manhattan in a galvanizing act of war. This education in the ways of the modern world emboldens Perry to assimilate to life in the twenty-first century. It is an adjustment that will test his mental and emotional resolve. Yet it is precisely his knowledge of a bygone era that will serve Perry best, as the man from 1939 seems destined to lead his newfound peers even further into the future than they could have imagined . . .

Heinlein could not have known in 1939 how the world would change over the course of one and a half centuries, but we have our own true world history to compare with his brilliant imaginings, rendering For Us, The Living not merely a novel, but a time capsule view into our past, our present, and perhaps our future.

“A neat discovery for Heinlein and utopia fans.” —Booklist

Includes an introduction by Spider Robinson and an afterword by Professor Robert James of the Heinlein Society