To Sail Beyond the Sunset Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of To Sail Beyond the Sunset

The final book ever written by Robert A. Heinlein isn't really science fiction, not most of it, but that doesn't prevent it from being a fascinating read. It's the autobiographical story of Lazarus Long's Mom, Maureen Johnson. She describes how she grew up in Missouri as a young girl, and what it was like growing up as a sexually promiscuous Howard in the rather victorian early 1900's. Maureen describes in detail how she had sex with a lot of guys, and made an incredible number of babies, but what makes the book really interesting is the window it gives into life in the 1900's. The story also crosses path with Lazarus's time travel back to Maureen's then-present, and how she used the information he gave her to subtly change certain aspects of the future.
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During the recitation of this story there's a vague subplot of how Maureen was captured/hijacked/diverted by some unknown assailants, and there's a parallel story that proceeds as she describes her childhood and adulthood back on Earth, but it's mainly the story of her growing up that's the real story. Once Maureen is rescued by the Longs, there's no new group of people for her to have sex with, so they go back in time to rescue and recruit her father, so she can have sex with him too. It seems that Heinlein, in his final book, couldn't think of anything more shocking to end with then having a daughter have sex with her father; but after mutiple books of (somewhat wearying) incest, polygamy, and other group sex activities, it doesn't really come across as anything new. However, the book is well worth reading as historical fiction.

The review of this Book prepared by Steve

Chapter Analysis of To Sail Beyond the Sunset

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 50%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 30% Tone of book    -   very upbeat FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Romance    -   Yes Repressive society story    -   Yes Repressive because:    -   controls your sex Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Cultural problems, alien culture    -   Yes Culture clash-    -   one person from different culture of other persons

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   homemaker Age:    -   long lived adults


Earth setting:    -   20th century A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a futuristic society Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed    -   a moderate amount of scientific explanation Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing    -   descript of touching personal anatomy    -   actual description of sex How much dialogue?    -   mostly dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Robert A. Heinlein Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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