Slave dealer

Time Enough for Love

Time Enough for Love is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published in 1973. The work was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1973 and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1974.

Plot summary

The book focuses on the adventures and musings of Lazarus Long, the oldest living human, who has grown weary and has decided that life is no longer worth living. It takes the form of several novellas tied together in the form of Lazarus's retrospective narrative. There is a reverse Arabian Nights theme to the novel, in that Lazarus will consent not to end his life as long as his companions will listen to his stories.

The Tale of the Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail concerns a 20th-century U.S. Navy cadet who manages to move up the ranks while avoiding any semblance of real work by applying himself wholeheartedly to the principle of "constructive laziness". The events and descriptions parallel Heinlein's own Navy career. After the Naval Academy the protagonist becomes rich by taking advantage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which paid farmers not to farm their land. Heinlein disdained government interference in business, especially in the form of handouts, and the level of taxation necessary to sustain such programs.

The Tale of the Adopted Daughter is a lengthy, Western-style story about Lazarus' days as a pioneer, which is rather un-SF fare for a book marketed as science fiction. On the other hand, the pioneering does take place on another planet, and several genetically engineered animals — notably some talking, fertile mules—accompany Lazarus on his venture. The segment begins with a short scene-setter written after the style of "The Song of Hiawatha". The theme of the story relates to several of Heinlein's favorite aphorisms, beginning with "Never pick up a stray kitten".

The Tale of the Twins Who Weren't is a story about a pair of slaves, brother and sister, whom Lazarus buys from a slave dealer on a planet with a culture like that of the medieval Middle East (cf. Citizen of the Galaxy). He immediately manumits them. Because they have no experience in living as independent human beings, and no education to speak of, Lazarus finds himself cast in the role of the "parent," and proceeds to teach them "how to be human." The two are the result of an experiment in genetic recombination where, essentially, two parent cells were separated into haploid gametes, and recombined into two embryos. The resulting zygotes were implanted in a woman and gestated by her. Although both have the same mother and genetic parents, they are no more related genetically than any two people taken at random. Since the two are in love and have been prevented from having sex by a chastity belt, this is of some concern to Lazarus once he frees them, not wishing to have to deal with the product of a combination of unfavorable recessive genes from what may be an incestuous union. It should be noted that if there are no unfavorable recessive combinations, Long does not see any moral difficulties with the union and the breaking of the incest taboo.

There are two "Intermission" sections, each some six or eight pages long, taking the form of lists of provocative phrases and aphorisms. Some of these have become quite popular and can be found (amongst other places) in Internet signature blocks to this day. (They were also published independently as The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.)

Another piece of bridging material involves the high-tech colonization of a planet in the "modern" way. In this section, we learn that Lazarus has regained his zest for life. It is followed by the concluding tale, in which Long, in a quest to experience something "new" (another theme of the novel) makes an excursion back in time to the 1920s in order to experience it as an adult. An error in calculating the time "jump" places Long in an earlier date than he intended: 1916 on the eve of America's involvement in World War I. The immediate result is that he must destroy most of the money he brought with him, since it was dated later than 1916. An even more unintentional result is that Lazarus meets and falls in love with his own mother. In order to keep her esteem and that of his grandfather (a very dominant figure, reminiscent of "The Old Man" in The Puppet Masters and, to some extent, to Lazurus himself when we first meet him in the novel), Long enlists in the army, which ultimately gets him involved in the First World War—as a combat soldier in complete contradiction to his firm intention when he traveled in time to that period. After this Long and his mother, Maureen, consummate their mutual attraction.

Long very narrowly avoids having his very long life terminate at an anonymous grave in the trenches of the Western Front—his "future family" manages to determine the time of his death by the failure of a transponder implanted in Long's body and rescues him at the last moment.


  • 1973, Ace, hardcover, ISBN 0-7394-1944-7
  • June 1, 1973, Putnam Pub Group, hardcover, 605 pages, ISBN 0-399-11151-4
  • 1974, Berkley Medallion Books, paperback, ISBN 0-425-02493-8
  • December 1976, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-03471-2
  • October 1978, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-04373-8
  • March 1980, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-04684-2
  • December 15, 1981, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-05490-X
  • December 1982, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-06126-4
  • November 1983, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-07050-6
  • September 1984, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-07990-2
  • November 1986, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-10224-6
  • November 1994, Ace Books, ISBN 99948-63-95-9
  • November 1, 1994, Ace Books, paperback reissue edition, xvii+589 pages, ISBN 0-441-81076-4
  • January 1, 2000, Blackstone Audiobooks, cassette audiobook, ISBN 0-7861-1876-8
  • 1 January 2000, Blackstone Audiobooks, cassette audiobook, ISBN 0-7861-1894-6
  • December 1, 2004, Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 0-7861-8961-4

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