The Door Into Summer

Robert A. Heinlein
The Door Into Summer Cover

Contentment's elusive litterbox


This is still one of my favorite books by Heinlein. The way the love story unfolds combines the abstract and natural affection a man should have for a little girl with the very real attraction that unfolds between a man and a woman who is less well known to him. Dan's determination to succeed throughout the story is driven not by the greed of Ayn Rand's characters but by a desire to create new things and to make life easier for people. It is fueled by his own delight in understanding how things work and being able to manipulate those things to serve imaginative purposes. The time travel gimicks used in the story are well conceived, allowing for the current impossibility of either of them. The ending is much better than that of The Puppet Masters, wrapping up as it does with a logical and natural sequence of closure. The bitter-sweet sense of aging, especially as it is represented in Pete the cat is beautifully connected to the concept of looking for a path to contentment or as the title has it, a door into summer. The final answer to the question of the location of that door is in the willingness of an individual to work diligently along the lines of a moral plan, to make things happen according to that plan, and to hold his own chosen circle of love up to the highest point of priority, taking risks and getting burnt, but knowing that not trusting people is the way of the hermit. Contentment is only to be found in the meeting of individual minds over the natural gulfs of our lives.