I haven’t previously managed to get through any of Heinlein’s work, but I am nothing if not determined, so I finally picked this up and decided to have a jolly good go. And it was okay. The style is easy to read, conversational; matter of fact, even. It’s almost not like reading a story, except of course you know that few of Heinlein’s predictions work out (though he did predict the Roomba).
It’s an interesting take on cold sleep/time travel, and a personal one. Dan isn’t saving the world, he’s just setting some personal wrongs right. Despite that, I didn’t find it particularly driven by character: my sympathy for Dan as a character comes from the situation he’s in, not for any personal qualities.
The best bits about the story are Dan’s cat, who has a personality all his own, and who I rooted for more than anyone else in the book. Cat lovers will appreciate this one, and I think Heinlein got close to poetry in the way he talked about Pete, particularly at the end. It was certainly the best of his prose.
People rightly find the plot with Dan’s friend’s stepdaughter, Ricky, pretty creepy. I mean, he meets her when she’s a kid, she has a crush on him which he knows about but treats as a joke… until the grown woman he’s engaged to turns out to be scamming him, and then suddenly he says that if Ricky had been a little older, he’d never even have looked at Belle. And then follows a whole plot where he wants to track her down and marry her, and ends up going to her while she’s still a kid and telling her to put herself in cold sleep when she’s twenty-one so that he can then marry her when she’s an adult. It’s a bit of a fairytale anyway, a kid that age knowing what she wants and going through with it like that without ever doubting or changing her mind (not that we get to see Ricky’s thought processes or how she grows up). But knowing her as a kid and deciding, based on that, that he wants to marry her, without ever meeting her as an adult — yeah, kind of disturbing.
All in all, it’s an easy read and interesting, but I can’t say it’s converted me to being a liker of Heinlein. I do want to try one more of his, since all I’ve read is this and part of A Stranger in a Strange Land, but it’s the sort of thing where you have to keep the words “of its time” very firmly in mind.