Heinlein - Double Star

November 18, 2004

Robert A. Heinlein
"Double Star"
A Heinlein trio
Garden City, N.Y. : Nelson Doubleday, Inc., c1957.

Double Star is my favorite RAH novella. I grabbed this trilogy because I wanted to re-read it, and because I wanted to re-read "Door Into Summer." As expected, I liked this one better.

The premise is simple, the characters are all capable, and the prose is good by pulp standards. Our hero, the Great Lorenzo, is an incredibly talented actor who is flat broke and out of work. Once we accept that premise, the rest follows. Lorenzo is approached by some spacemen who want him to do a job, he accepts and then discovers that he is to impersonate a politician who MUST be at a certain place at a certain time but who has been abducted to keep him from being there. Lorenzo accepts, and things progress from there. Eventually, Lorenzo ends up taking over for the politician, in the process transforming himself from a purely selfish nebbish to an altruistic and highly effective statesman.

It is an interesting story because it draws on Franklin's notions of self-creation and self-re-invention, a powerful American legend. Lorenzo copies his man so well, studies him so closely, that he begins to write speeches in the man's voice - as he gets better (with the man's edits after he is retrieved but the impersonation goes on) he gets closer and closer to the man's voice.

I was reminded of Sheila O'Malley as I read this - here is the imagined love child of Marlon Brando and Charlie Chaplin, a highly skilled practitioner of the art of acting and stagecraft who works through, effectively, becoming his character. He did that on the stage, he does it to disguise himself in the second scene, and he does it in spades while becoming the statesman.

This is a story of becoming, a bildungsroman about an adult going through a second chrysalis.

Oh, and it is set in a solar system with Martians on Mars, Venusians on Venus, and an interstellar Constitutional Monarchy where government is through an elected parliament while the head of state for the solar system is the head of the House of Orange. You gotta like fiction where Holland rules the solar system.

Posted by Red Ted at November 18, 2004 11:03 PM | TrackBack
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