Reviews of Number of the Beast, the (1980)
Review by loraxe (2003-03-21)
This book probably rates as my favourite of all time, and is definitely my favourite Heinlein. His deft switching back and forth between well forged characters is what drew me in, but it's the whole concept of the universes that keeps me coming back. This book is also a bit of a meta journey for readers and may be a bit hard to follow if you haven't read the many authors he is paying tribute to. Still, if you want to travel among the universes, these are the people you want to take with you.
Review by kirwar4face (2003-03-21)
Intended as Heinlein's farewell novel, "...the Number of the Beast" (original title, but just try getting the publisher to print it that way on a cover!) was widely, and rightly, criticized as self-indulgent, pointless, and almost unreadable, though it has wonderful, mysterious moments almost worth slogging through interminable multiple-ego dialogues to get to. Probably the master's only really bad novel. After retirement, when Heinlein's health improved, he found he could not get along without writing, and turned out several more quite well-received novels, none of them in my opinion as good as his best pre-retirement work. The opening chapter(s) of 'tNotB' debuted in Omni magazine in Oct/Nov 1979 prior to publication of the book.
Review by rootbeer (2003-03-10)
What would a Heinlein character do if he found himself in a world created by a different author? A group of Heinlein super-people (unbelievably competent, brilliant, and altogether better-than-you at everything) try to get along as a team (difficult since they are all incredibly stubborn and used to working alone) for basic survival, crossing dimensions as they look for a new home that's not to dull, and not too dangerous. A good read if you've been through enough of his other books, but the plot tends to get bogged down under the weight of witty dialogue that overstays its welcome and pages of methodical, detailed planning that more often than not winds up going nowhere. I found myself wishing Heinlein would hurry up and get on with the plot already at several points, but when it did, it made up for the bad pacing. Not for the short of attention span.