farnham's freeholdRobert A. Heinlein
G. P. Putnam
1964

Farnham is a self-made man who sees nuclear war coming and who builds a shelter under his house; only to find it thrust into a strange universe when the bomb explodes. In this future world all civilization in the northern hemisphere has long been destroyed, and Farnham and his family are fit to be slaves under the new regime.

Not that I’m trying to start a fight amongst the literary sci-fi fandom community, but let’s face it.  Robert A. Heinlein was a bit of a hack writer.  But, he was a pleasantly brilliant hack writer, fashioning imaginative yarns that were fast-paced and had enough hard science fiction to keep the genre fan pleased.  Sort of a common man’s Issac Asimov, or something like that.

Although the story was quite intriguing, I don’t think that Farnham’s Freehold was one of Heinlein’s better work.  I didn’t like it as much as, say, Doorway Into Summer or The Puppet Masters, but the narrative kept things going at a good clip.  Things got a bit slow when Farnham and his group get stranded in the futuristic society, and the ending seemed to have a big neon DEUS EX MECHINA stamped on it.  The characterization seemed a bit thin as well- one-dimensional and melodramatic to the point of near parody.  I kept imagining Farnham being played by William Shatner.

I did, however, dig on the themes of the book, with societal conceptions of slavery and racism in a so-called “advanced and enlightened” world turned on its ear.

In the end, Farnham’s Freehold is a decent time travel post-apocalyptic yarn.  Nothing too heavy, but not one I’d pick up again any time soon.