Book Report: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein (1979)

This book is a bit unlike most genre fiction, where you have an obvious sort of plot problem that, once it’s overcome, the book is done. Instead, we have a character (Friday), an elite “courier” who happens to be an Artificial Person looking for an identity in a world of humans who don’t view AP or the lesser petri dish Living Artifacts as human, and we have her situation: in a post-breakup world run by batteries and without internal combustion engines, intrigue amid the nation-states, and a wave of assassinations. When Friday is rejected by an open family and is cut off from her corporate benefactors, she has to rely on her wits and her augmented reflexes to survive and find her way home.

The book is a later Heinlein; I have only the barest memory of reading anything but Stranger in a Strange Land in high school (the other stuff came in middle school) and Farnham’s Freehold last year. This book is more like the former, with its reliance on free-and-breezy sexuality, than the latter, a more straight ahead science fiction story. I mean, the Heinlein moral code is there in both, but not so vigorous in the earlier work. I’m not going to spend a lot of time pooh-poohing it because I’m not a prude, but I am a family guy. So I prefer the old school Heinlein.

The book doesn’t answer many questions the reader will have about what’s happened between now and the time the book takes place to break up the US, for one thing, and eliminate internal combustion engines. Nor does it really draw to a close the questions it brings up nor conclude the macro-background big deals and big events in which the story is set; instead, we have Friday removing herself from the situation as a resolution.

Perhaps consistent, perhaps on message, but ultimately it weakens the book.

On the plus side, this book is fairly common at book fairs, so you can get yours cheaply if you don’t want the ease and convenience of enriching me by clicking the link below.

Books mentioned in this review:

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