In the continuing quest to bring to our readers some of Heinlein’s works, I have decided to focus today on one of his most misunderstood ones (second only to Starship Troopers). In this novel, one written during the latter half of his prolific career, the reader is faced with a series of moral, ethical, and medical dilemmas. In doing this RAH forces the reader to either make certain assumptions or fight against the author the entire time. The premise itself is a simplistic question, where does “self” reside; is it in the mind, the root of intelligence or in the body, the root of all being at the cellular level?
The paradox is discussed within the mind of the protagonist, whose brain has been transplanted into the body of the “other” main character. The duologue between them gives you, the reader, the option to form one of 2 conclusions. One, two separate selves can coexist within one body; or two, there is only one persona alive and it is insane, trying to cope with a situation far beyond its ability. Unlike earlier incarnations of this theme, where the murderous hand of a killer is transplanted on the arms of an unwilling innocent in need of a transplant, this is handled with both a wry humor and skilled storytelling, making the most absurd situations seem more than normal, all within the framework of a dystopian future and a society gone well off kilter.
This is Dome sayin’: Read it, you might actually enjoy the experience.