Throughout this short novel, and many of his novels, Heinlein touched repeatedly upon technology. The theme of technology dominates Waldo, and it dominated his writing as a recurring character can dominate a series of books. He focused on many aspects of technology: the fact that effective technology uses the natural properties of resources available in particular times and places, the observation that technology which makes a noticeable and positive change in people's lives will be quickly adopted, and the opinion that people ought to use good tools. There is no point to a fascinating gadget, in this or any Heinlein novel, if somebody is miserable.
When the story introduces Waldo Jones, the man is as skilled with tools and inventing as he is unskilled with people. One would pity Waldo, feeble and isolated in his orbital home, except that he is contemptuous of mere ordinary intellects. As the story progresses, he refines his studies so that he not only answers a scientific query but changes tools and techniques to meet the needs of people using the tools. Waldo begins the story as a gross figure, obese and weak from myasthenia gravis. He ends it lithe and agile as a tap dancer, displaying how his inventions and deductions have improved his own life and health as they have revolutionized industry.
Waldo is a quintessential Heinlein character, first of all because he understands technology, and secondly because he applies it more...
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