The Plot

Robert A. Heinlein’s The Door into Summer forecasts themes that appear in his later work and packs many facets of the science-fiction canon into its abbreviated length. Although the plot is understandable, if incredible at points, the novel is difficult reading primarily because the reader must suspend disbelief and recall that this dark, yet advanced, view of 1970 and 2000 was written from the perspective of the 1950’s. By the standards of the genre, the book is short, but it unveils Heinlein’s projections for the future, including a well-developed cryonics program, time travel, and robotics.

The story begins in 1970, shortly after the Six Weeks War, a confrontation that decimated much of the eastern United States, causing all governmental officials and documents to be relocated near Denver. As the tale opens, the protagonist, Daniel Boone Davis, is contemplating cold sleep, a precursor of cryonics, which will allow him to disassociate until the year 2000. He has reached this rather desperate alternative because his best friend and colleague, Miles Gentry, has just married Daniel’s fiancée, Belle Darkin. Together, they have swindled Daniel out of the company he founded. The firm, Hired Girl, churns out robotic assistants, invented by Daniel, for harried housewives.

After Daniel makes arrangements for both himself and his cat, Petronius the Arbiter (Pete), to go into cold sleep, he makes a complete reversal and decides that revenge might be...

(The entire section is 606 words.)


Aldiss, Brian. Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction. New York: Atheneum, 1986.

Franklin, H. Bruce. Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Gifford, J. Daniel. Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader’s Companion. Sacramento, Calif.: Nitrosyncretic Press, 2000.

McGiveron, Rafeeq O. “Heinlein’s Inhabited Solar System, 1940-1952.” Science-Fiction Studies 23 (July, 1996): 245-252.

Nicholls, Peter. “Robert A. Heinlein.” In Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day, edited by E. F. Bleiler. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982.

Olander, Joseph D., and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. Robert A. Heinlein. New York: Taplinger, 1978.

Panshin, Alexei. Heinlein in Dimension. 1968. Reprint. Chicago: Advent, 1974.

Patterson, William H., Jr., and Andrew Thronton. The Martian Named Smith: Critical Perspectives on Robert A. Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Citrus Heights, Calif.: Nitrosyncretic Press, 2001.

Stephens, Christopher P., comp. A Checklist of Robert A. Heinlein. Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Ultramarine, 1994.

Stover, Leon. Robert Heinlein. Boston: Twayne, 1987.