I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his table, Dr. Richard Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions, where a plot to rescue a sentient computer could alter human history...
I believe this novel is the last Heinlein in my reading project and I can’t say that distresses me. I realize that this was written late in RAH’s career, after bouts of serious illness. Maybe that had something to do with the quality of these later works. The Cat picks up where Time Enough for Love and The Number of the Beast left off, retreading much of the same territory.
I must say in Cat’s favour that there are far fewer sex scenes, and as a result less incest and pedophilia. There is still an excessive amount (to my taste anyway) of dialog spent expounding Heinlein’s political and social views—some of which I can live with, others are just icky. He has managed to take a couple of interesting ideas—the multiverse and being able to travel between alternate universes, and an exploration of the meta-universes of fiction—and make them boring by sandwiching them back into the world of Lazarus Long.
Great Goddess, is Long ever a bore! And Richard Ames, our new main character, is even more boring, if that is possible. Although there is plenty of flitting about and (as mentioned previously) enormous amounts of pointless dialog, nothing much really gets done.
The best part of the whole thing, in my opinion, is the lovely book cover. When it was first published, I remember that cover catching my eye in the book stores and I thought then that I wanted to read it. I’m unsure why I didn’t purchase a copy back then, but I am thankful now that I didn’t. I had only read Stranger in a Strange Land at that point and would probably never have touched another RAH book if Cat had been my second.
I appreciate that if you read this in your teens or are a die-hard Heinlein fan, your opinion will differ substantially from mine. That’s fair enough, there is a lid for every pot. Unfortunately RAH’s late fiction doesn’t work for me at all, to my disappointment.
Book 208 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.