science fiction by Robert Heinlein, one of the defining volumes of his assorted "future history" novels. Through a genetic quirk and rejuvenation technology, Lazarus Long
, born 1916 as Woodrow Wilson Smith, has survived until 4272. The story opens here, with the Chairman of the Howard Families
(Ira Weatheral) using every means at his disposal to dissuade Long from exercising his right to end his life. For this purpose, he enlists the efforts of his AI computer (Minerva
), Long's own shipboard computer (Dora
), a couple of frolicsome senior staff of the Rejuvenation Clinic (Ishtar
), and his (Ira's) own daughter (Hamadryad
). Together, they coax Long through the rejuvenation process, meanwhile encouraging him to spill the stories of his extended life, as Minerva runs a process to search for new experiences to entice Long to continue his adventures.
The title is echoed in Lazarus Long's dialogue, on page 184:
"...the saddest thing about ephemerals was that their little lives rarely held time enough for love." (referring to a short-lived couple he adopted out of slavery)
and on page 398:
"Although long-life can be a burden, mostly it is a blessing. It gives time enough to learn, time enough to think, time enough not to hurry, and time enough for love."
The narrative is an inquiry (sometimes roundabout) into the twofold nature of love: Eros and Agape. Heinlein's self-aware computer characters are lovers, designed for agape but deeply curious about eros. Their understanding of sex is compared with the blind man's understanding of rainbows - they may know all the technical details, but they can't "know" in the (corporeal) common sense. One major plot thread involves Minerva's frustration at being unable to express eros with Weatheral, to complement the agape she experiences as his hypertrophied PIM.
Heinlein's non-juvenile fiction is chock-full of (softcore) sex. If you've read The Number Of The Beast, Stranger In A Strange Land, or To Sail Beyond The Sunset, the polyamorous and incestuous antics in Time Enough will come as no shock. However, there's no mistaking an abiding respect for the nuclear family model, and an interest in enduring, growing relationships over casual flings.
Trivia tidbit: Lazarus' genetic twin sister-lover, Lorelei Lee, shares her name with Marilyn Monroe's character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
"Have you noticed how much they look like orchids? Lovely!"
- "More From The Notebooks of Lazarus Long" (pg 349)