Double Star

Robert A. Heinlein
Double Star Cover

Political Thriller in a Science Fiction Setting


OVERVIEW: Double Star, winner of the 1956 Hugo Award, is Heinlein's first novel to win the award. As much political thriller as science fiction, Heinlein seems merely to use the science fiction backdrop to discuss much weightier issues, such as prejudice, politics and corruption. Laurence Smith (aka the Great Lorenzo) is a pompous, arrogant, prejudiced, actor who is tricked into impersonating a great political figure, John Joseph Bonforte. Apparently, Bonforte has been secretly kidnapped by his political enemies during a time where is appearance is absolutely critical. Written in a first person style, we follow the story of Lorenzo as he assumes the role of Bonforte, in his adoption into a Martian Clan. Unfortunately, even after Bonforte is released he is in no shape to assume his rightful place without the ruse being made public, so Lorenzo reluctantly continues his impersonation. Little my little, Lorenzo crawls in the psyche of Bonforte and finds that he himself changes far more than he cared to admit. To me the real theme of the book is the evolution of Lorenzo, from a self-absorbed fop to someone who actually cares what happens to the human and non-human races. I won't give away the ending, and it is rather predicable, but it is satisfying and left one with the feeling that there is hope in the universe (typical of science fiction of this time).

Well written, with good story flow, Double Star is definitely a product of 1950's science fiction. While full of Martians, Venusians, slide rules and thinking robots, the retro feel never gets in the way of the story. I can easily imagine Double Star being dramatized in the radio shows of the 50's such as "X Minus One" or "Dimension X", of which several of the episodes were based on stories by Heinlein.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: I enjoyed this book a lot. If you can get past the vintage science fiction and the somewhat predictability of the story, it is a good read. This is the first Heinlein book I have read in a long time and realize what I have been missing. The story telling is top notch, the character development is realistic, and the story is a fun read. I look forward to reading more of Robert Heinlein in the future.