"New" Robert Heinlein novel coming out this fall

The version of “the number of the beast” that got published was not the only version of the book written. An alternative version that departs radically from the published one has been reconstructed from Heinlein’s papers and is getting published in the fall of 2019.

Considering that “Beast” is the weirdest and one of the least liked as a story of Heinlein’s novels, this is extremely interesting news.



Liked less than, “I will fear no evil”?

I did not think that possible. Oy gevalt.


Of all of his books that is probably one I would happily reread. Yes it is horribly sexist but it is also so batshit crazy that it doesn’t matter. If you just roll with it the story is great fun.


So… this is the version of that story he didn’t think was good enough for publication?


Ok, one of the least liked, as a story. There are heinlein novels that today read as just skeevy (Door into Summer, Time Enough For Love) or offensively racist/sexist (Farnham’s Freehold, Friday). But Number of the Beast stands out as one that many people bounce off of it because the story doesn’t work for them.

The info in the press release is pretty scant. Heinlein prided himself on never revising except to editorial order. But from the sound of it, he wrote Number of the Beast from act two on, twice. One version got published, the other didn’t and had to be reconstructed from scattered pages (so he didn’t even keep a copy).

The version as published has the characters meeting up mostly with characters from other Heinlein novels. Sounds like the version as not published had them meeting up more with characters from novels not by Heinlein, and in the end he went with the more self-indulgent version of the book.

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The sexism was par for the course, but I just found it tedious.

Bonkers stuff I am in for. Maybe I just find bonkers film more tolerable than bonkers books.

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Oh yeah. Holy shit. No joke. Wtf.


It turns out the MS for this has been known for a while. Written in 1977, it was a first “go” at Number of the Beast which he filed away as being “not best work.” Two years later he tried again and got a version of the story he liked.


Having read all of Heinlein’s YA novels, and Stranger in a Strange Land, as a teenager, I confess I still have a grudging affection for him, but I drifted away from him, or he drifted away from me. His work became increasingly problematic over the years.

While I wasn’t too comfortable with many of his ideas, he still told a good story, and how could a SF fan not read him back in the day? I read most of his work up until The Number of the Beast, but I couldn’t get through that and gave up about a quarter of the way in. (I checked the last quarter to see if it got better. Nope.)

IIRC, NotB was written while Heinlein was recovering from a mini stroke and a blocked carotid artery, as well as other health issues. I don’t think anyone who wasn’t Robert Anson Heinlein could have got such a self-indulgent, incoherent mess published.

I don’t think I’ve read any of his subsequent work.

Exactly the adjective I would have chosen. :wink:


He started out as a leftist who supported Upton Sinclair’s socialist End Poverty In California political campaign. Then after the war he married Virginia Heinlein, a rabid anti-communist, and started moving right. By the 60’s he’d started admiring the John Birch society, advocating a gold standard, and writing diatribes against welfare bums. And things went downhill from there.

He wrote the first version before the blockage event, decided it was not up to his standards, and put it in a drawer. He wrote the second version after recovering from bypass surgery to correct the blockage, and decided it was good enough to publish. I think it’s unwise to point to that one health incident as being responsible for whatever the hell went wrong with NotB. More generally, I think sometime in the 70’s he lost the ability to tell what parts of a draft he’d written weren’t working right and needed to be cut to make the story better. Since he had always written by the seat of his pants instead of planning and plotting things out in advance, this made his later books very hit or miss, as well as far too bloated.


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