The Door Into Summer

Robert A. Heinlein
The Door Into Summer Cover

The Door Into Summer


In 1970, a brilliant young inventor/ engineer Dan Davis has created the ultimate robot to tackle household chores, which will dramatically change everyday living. But his backstabbing business partner in collusion with Dan's hard and avaricious fiancee conspire to cheat him of the business, leaving him penniless, and with the patents stolen from him. The callous pair bundle him off to a cryogenic centre to be reanimated in 30 years. But somehow he finds in 2000 that all his patents, which will make him fabulously wealthy have mysteriously turned out to still be in his name. When he stumbles upon the secret that there is a limited form of time travel he is determined to go back to 1970, to see what happened. From there on we have a fast frenetic time travel adventure, and Dan solves everything and lives happy ever after with his cat Pete and his wife Ricky.

This is Heinlein at his funniest and most inventive , with a Heinlein get-up-and-do-it hero who rarely pontificates in the sometimes tedious way of later books, and only one scene of nudity (and thats at a nudist colony) One odd quirk is that the girl he wants to marry is only 11 at the time, but it just about passes under our sensitivity radar today, and probably seemed quite charming in 1957.

This book has an endearing optimism for the future, which I found delightful after just finishing the dark and seedily downbeat Neuromancer, and the gruesome horrors of The Sandman: Preludesu and Nocturnes. Ths optimism is ingrained in the hero, but a sweet anecdote at the start of the book links title and theme together. Dan's cat Petronius, known as Pete is a cantankerous, belligerent warrior, boss of the neighbourhood. He hates the winter, so insists on Dan showing him every door in the house before he goes out, just in case there is a door leading into summer. Pete steals the show every time. . There is a priceless scene where he punishes the fiancee and the faithless partner for drugging Dan, wonderful stuff. And at the end, when life is settled and all is going well, there is this bittersweet comment about Pete;

"Pete is getting older, a little fatter, and not as inclined to choose a younger opponent; all too soon he must take the Very Long Sleep. I hope with all my heart that his gallant little soul may find its Door into Summer, where catnip fields abound and tabbies are complacent, and robot opponents are programmed to fight fiercely - but always lose - and people have friendly laps and legs to strop against, but never a foot that kicks. "

Don't bother too much with trying to understand the time travel paradoxes, or be amused at the odd ideas about the future (I never bother about such things. I just assume we are in an alternate universe, and thats the way such universe had developed! !), just relax and enjoy this fun read. It didnt win any awards at the time, but today it is deemed worthy of the SF Masterworks series, and David Pringle's best 100 SF novels of all time, and that's good enough for me.