To Sail Beyond the Sunset

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Those people who insist that, in the character of Maureen Johnson, Heinlein created a liberated woman have made quite an error. Women’s liberation implies the securing of individual freedom from male domination, yet it is likely that Johnson never recognized the dominion of any source of authority other than her own considerable will. This “somewhat irregular lady,” as Heinlein refers to her in the subtitle of his latest tour de force, never accepted the comfortable designation of mankind as a generic phrase denoting the entire human race. Insofar as Maureen Johnson was concerned, “mankind” was always two words and did not involve a permanent condition in most instances.

TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET picks up where THE CAT WHO WALKED THROUGH WALLS left off and is a biographical treatment of the mother, wife, and possibly daughter of Lazarus Long, who first appeared in METHUSELAH’S CHILDREN and later in the justly acclaimed TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE. Maureen Johnson is one of the most irresistible, irrepressible, and lusty women in contemporary fiction, science or otherwise.

In previous novels, Heinlein has seldom neglected an opportunity to comment upon the history of the human community, criticize that which is worthy of censure in the present, or suggest alternative approaches for the future, and TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET is no exception. Those who are familiar with Heinlein’s works will find not a few ideas reaffirmed, as well as a host of new propositions worthy of careful consideration, regardless of one’s political convictions. Mrs. Grundy, to cite Maureen Johnson, will not approve of this book, but many readers will enjoy Heinlein’s thought-provoking insights.