Double Star Quotes

quotes from Double Star (1956) by Robert A. Heinlein

TitleRating# of Ratings
A Modest Man3.824
Always Take Sides4.333
Best You Can for 8 Billion People3.720
His Bow to Me2.417
Never Impressed by Formal Schools of Ethics3.818
People Don't Want Change4.37
You Tend to Your Knitting3.414

Review of Double Star

Double Star (1956) by Robert A. Heinlein

Double Star (1956)
by Robert Heinlein

I came across Double Star while perusing the fiction section at the local library. Since it is written by Robert Heinlein, a great sci fi writer, I picked it up. Then I noticed that it received the Hugo Award. Although I'd never heard of it, I figured that it must be a decent sci fi novel.

Double Star is a first-person novel as told by Lorenzo Smythe. Lorenzo is an actor that is out of work despite what he considers extraordinary talent (and we come across a few other characters in the book who agree). He meets someone at a bar who recruits him to impersonate someone else in real life. The recruiters leave out the details until Lorenzo is already on his way to do the job. Lorenzo then learns that he is to impersonate a very famous and powerful politician. The story follows Lorenzo as he deals with the obvious difficulties of pretending to be someone that you are not.

Since it is written in the 1950's like many of Robert Heinlein's novels, Double Star has some funny quirks. For example, one of the characters uses a slide rule to do some math. One part that made me laugh out loud was a comment Lorenzo makes to Dak, a spaceship pilot. Lorenzo is talking about his disinterest in politics:

"Hmm...Dak, how did you ever get into it? Offhand, I would figure voyageurs to be as unpolitical as actors. And you in particular."

Perhaps in the 1950's actors were unpolitical, but with the likes of George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I certainly don't think this is the case any more.

There were a few things that made Double Star a good sci fi read.

The idea was somewhat original (I believe there may have been an earlier book and movie that actually used a similar idea, but I don't know the details). It's been copied in movies like Dave, but the idea of an actor replacing a real political figure is interesting. Moreover, Heinlein does a good job of following the intricacies of the act: how the actor learns the part, how it affects him, and the risks of the mere attempt. In fact, the transformation of Lorenzo into Bonforte, the political figure, is intriguing to follow. Lorenzo must take on all the attributes of Bonforte that he can. As he acts, he begins to believe the speeches that he is delivering in proxy.

Double Star also does a good job of showing what a good politician is capable of. (Some of us still believe that "good politician" is not an oxymoron.) Bonforte inspires his followers. His staff believes in his cause and respect him as a person rather than just as a politician. Lorenzo doesn't like Bonforte at first, but as he studies his speeches and interacts with his staff, Lorenzo also begins to admire Bonforte.

There were also some things that I didn't like about Double Star.

Some of the lingo and dialog in the novel are somewhat annoying. It could just be personal taste, or perhaps it's a disconnect between norms now and norms in the 1950's when the novel was written. I'm not even sure that I can explain this effectively.

The novel was a bit slow in the middle and I had to push through a few parts; however, the copy I read was only 243 pages, so it wasn't a big deal.

Double Star also had a plot line which led to a few quasi-climaxes rather than one large climax at the end. Granted, this was no Foundation or iRobot, but at one point I was surprised that there were still 100 pages left (and this in a 243 page book).

Overall, Double Star was a good read. It's low-committal brevity makes it worth picking up (it reads very quickly). The plot is good and it has a nice twist at the end to top it off. The ideas are classic sci fi. While it's not a top-ten, I'm certainly glad that I read it.

Double Star