Books Book Club of the Damned: I Will Fear No Evil, Part 2
posted by May 21 at 15:28 PMon
Last week, I started reading I Will Fear No Evil, by Robert A. Heinlein. I am reading this book because Brad bet me fifty bucks that I couldn’t do it. Last week, I was 122 pages in. Now, I am on page 283. I hate this book so motherfucking much.
So far, the inordinately wealthy male businessman Johann Sebastian Bach Smith has had his brain implanted into the nubile young female body of his secretary, Eunice. Somehow, Eunice’s thoughts have survived the loss of her brain, and so the two are communicating mentally via dueling parentheses, like so:
(Eunice, would you still be willing to have a baby by me?) (What? Boss, don’t joke about it. Don’t mock me.) (I’m not joking, beloved.)
Eunice has started referring to Johann, who now answers to Joan Eunice, as “Twin.” In the last hundred and sixty pages, they have made out with a lot of men. That’s just about all that they have done.
The thing that nobody told me was how goddamned slow this book is. It’s never-ending. Conversations between Joan and, say, her lawyer, go on for dozens of pages, in part because Johann and Eunice also have their parenthetical commentary going on during the boring science-fiction legal talk. There’s a big lawsuit for the Smith fortune, you see, and our…hero?…has to prove that he or she is who he or she says he or she is. There were two virtually identical passages where Joan convinces people that she is Johann and then they kiss. These passages, together, made up about sixty pages. This is atrocious writing. I have never wanted to quit a book more, but I’ll continue because I am going to win this stupid, stupid bet.
1. Did Heinlein have an editor at this point in his career?
2. Is this really as nasty as it’s going to get? Everyone warned me that this was a horny, horny book, but all that Joan has done is kiss and make out with people, and then wake up after heavily-hinted actions had gone on. I know that this was heady stuff for 1970, but are genitals going to be more than talked around, at least?
3. What’s the point of all this? Is the climax going to be Joan’s affirmation of his/her identity? Or is it going to be the birth of his/her own child? And, either way, what conclusions could possibly be drawn from any of it?
4. Seriously: Where the hell was Heinlein’s editor?
I’ll be done with this Bookclub of the Damned—one way or the other—next Wednesday.