A couple of weeks ago I visited at Star Cat Books (as remarked upon below). This is a used/new book store concentrating on science fiction and children’s literature (though they have a lot of other things).

I was there for two days, and during some down time I started re-reading Friday by R. A. Heinlein. I’d started it back in 1982 when it came out, but bogged down in Chapter VI, during the interminable discussion of a group-marriage’s finances.

One of my character flaws is that I’m unable to not-finish a novel once I’ve started. So, despite the 30+ year gap, there I went. This time around I soldiered on and finished it. So: a few observations.

First, the protagonist, Friday, despite the light-skinned blonde seen in some of the cover paintings, is a person of color: she speaks about “this built-in suntan of mine.” She explicitly compares her skin tone to a Maori or a Tongan.

Second, when asked to define a “sick culture” she says, “Dominance of males over females seems to be one of the symptoms.”

Later the “Old Man” character (seen in so many Heinlein novels under a number of names), says, “a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

Beyond that, while in 1982 I wouldn’t have known this, now I can say that Mr. Heinlein had never been to Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape school, and didn’t run this book by anyone who had. The number of bone-headed SERE blunders that the protagonist (and all of her friends) make is purely mind-boggling.

The overall message of this book seems to be that civil disruption can be a lot of fun provided you’re fabulously wealthy, gorgeously beautiful, brilliantly intelligent, young, healthy, athletic, and swimming in a sea of casual sex. Alas, the interesting novel set in this world would be the one in which the protagonist was none of those things.

Very late, very minor Heinlein.

One thought on “Friday

  1. Yeah, completely agree with your criticism, based on my distant memories of the novel, anyway. I thought the book had a lot of potential from the early pages, but fell flat over the course of the story to really lay an egg at the end.

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