Great Lakes Geek Book Review

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
by Robert A. Heinlein

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

While browsing some Playaway titles, I found an old Heinlein classic, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

So for the next few weeks I listened to 16 hours of the unabridged story as I walked the dog. Heinlein has been called "the dean of science fiction writers." Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are the three heavy hitters from the Golden Age of classic science fiction.

Warning. If you are new to Robert A. Heinlein, this is not the book to start with.

Read/Listen to Stranger in a Strange Land or The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress to get a taste of Heinlein before reading The Cat. In fact, The Cat builds on characters and themes from Methuselah's Children, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Time Enough for Love, and The Number of the Beast.

The hero is based on Heinlein himself. The book is written in the first-person as Richard Ames, a disabled military veteran who becomes a writer, speaks into a recorder. His female lead is said to be based on his wife Virginia.

It was published in 1985 and many references seem to predict an Internet-like data source available for access from terminals. The Richard Ames main character, and others in the book, use the acronym TANSTAAFL that Heinlein coined in 1966 in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. TANSTAAFL, of course, stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

Computer types will appreciate that Heinlein also coined the word "grok" among others. Grok was first used in the Heinlein novel Stranger in a Strange Land:

"Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed-to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science-and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man."

The cat in the title of the book is named Pixel, and actually only shows up about 2/3rds of the way through the book. Pixel is able to somehow appear wherever the narrator/Heinlein is in the book and the characters talk about the 20th century Schrödinger's cat.

If you are a Heinlein fan, you will like this book as it is almost the story of who Heinlein thinks he is/wishes he had been. It's not his most innovative or well-crafted but it's a nice addition to his catalog.

Great Lakes Geek Rating:3 out of 5 pocket protectors.

Reviewed by Entreprenerd Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

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