Time Enough for Love Essay - Critical Essays

Robert A. Heinlein


Patterned after Scheherazade’s tales of the Arabian Nights, stories within stories, Robert Heinlein’s novel is an epic piece of science fiction exploring many of the various science-fiction themes as well as versions of eros and agape. Although he is not nearly as sexually explicit as many mainstream writers of the time, Heinlein still manages to titillate with his sexual and love themes while instructing with his knowledge of science and sociology.

“The Tale of the Adopted Daughter,” recounting the philosophies of Lazarus Long, could stand alone as a story. It offers some of Heinlein’s most emotionally moving work.

As an overall structure for Time Enough for Love (subtitled Or, The Lives of Lazarus Long), Heinlein uses the structure of an opera, with the musical terms Prelude, Counterpoint, Intermission, and Da Capo outlining the entire novel. The work returns to Heinlein’s earliest fiction, as a nominal sequel to Methuselah’s Children (1958; serial form, 1941) and acts as a precursor to his final book in his Future History, To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987), which tells the story of Lazarus’ mother.

Heinlein received the Nebula Grand Master Award in 1975, the Locus All-Time Author Award in both 1976 and 1987, and Hugo Awards for Double Star (1956), Starship Troopers (1959), Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966). For an excellent analysis of Heinlein’s philosophy of solipsism (the theory that nothing exists or is real but the self) as expressed by Lazarus Long, see George Edgar Slusser’s Robert A. Heinlein: Stranger in His Own Land (1976).