Confused about the date? This review was written before I started this blog and imported later for posterity.
I love reading science fiction from the 1950s because it’s neat to see how very wrong people back then were about what the future was going to be like. I don’t fault them for it, of course, but there’s something amusing about reading in 2012 a book written in 1956 about happenings in the 1970s and early 2000s. It would be really cool if we did have that cure for the common cold and all those robots, oh man.
Anyway, Robert Henlein’s The Door into Summer is about an engineer who takes a cryogenic ride into a future he had a vital role in creating, sorta like Disney’s Meet the Robinsons but with a cat instead of a dinosaur. It’s a breezy time-travel adventure story that moves along at a decent pace and managed to hook me into reading all of it in more-or-less one sitting and doesn’t really deal with any heavy issues or try to be much more than it is on a surface level.
The view it takes on the mechanics of time travel (You Already Changed the Past, to use TVTropes vernacular) is refreshingly simple, and, unlike most time-travel stories, doesn’t leave you with a pile of questions and a headache.
The romantic subplot, without veering into spoilers, is probably well-intentioned, but it’s hard not to see it as at least a bit creepy, even factoring in the sort of sexism one expects from 1950s novels. It could be much worse, and there are likely ways of arguing it’s not so bad, but it’s bound to leave a bad taste in most readers’ mouths.
All in all, The Door Into Summer is a fun little read, especially if you like cats. There worse ways to kill a few hours.