The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

I recently read The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein. As a teenager, I enjoyed The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Orphans of the Sky, so I was intrigued by the idea of rediscovering Heinlein as an adult when I ran across this book at a used book sale at my kids school. Maybe you can’t go back, but I was disappointed by the lack of quality in the writing. I found myself skimming the text quickly with impatience to get to the end and when I did I felt that I missed something important because it didn’t feel right. I checked the Wikipedia page and discovered that I hadn’t missed anything, the ending just doesn’t make much sense and wasn’t satisfying emotionally.

I had expected that the author would be revealed as a character in the story as a consequence of the theory of world as myth. The book is a Greatest hits compilation where characters from previous Heinlein stories populate most of the pages, and it has all of the time lines and worlds that Heinlein created converging into one connected universe. Only the author was missing. The actual ending was a let down in comparison.

In truth, much of the references were lost to me because I didn’t read enough of Heinlein. Every Heinlein bio described him as the author of Stranger in a Strange Land, which I never read. My impression was that it was centered on Heinlein’s free love ideas that were not appealing to me. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has plenty of sex in it, but I didn’t find it arousing or psychologically believable. The political themes of Moon and the religious/philosophical themes of Orphans of the Sky were very well done and I reread those books several times. Perhaps a fanboy would have enjoyed all of the references more than I and I should instead try another novel to find out if my tastes have changed.


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