Saturday, September 13, 2008

Robert A Heinlein: Friday

I’ve had a copy of Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday since it came out in paperback in 1982. I’m sure I read it back then, but as I re-read it I remembered absolutely NOTHING. Normally I would remember major plot lines, or significant events, just not contextual details. Maybe the difference this time is that there are no major plot lines or significant events.

Miss Friday is a genetically enhanced and engineered “Artificial Person”. As she says, her mother was a test tube and her father was a knife. (Actually in her time, that is considered an insult.) She works for a crotchety old man, Boss”, as a courier. She is skilled at crossing borders, and kills easily when necessary.

Friday is caught out of the office on vacation when a global disruption known as “Red Thursday” breaks out. She traces a route from British Canada, to the California Democracy, the Texas Republic, the Chicago Imperium, and then back to British Canada and the California Democracy trying to get back to the office. She overcomes a variety of obstacles at the borders.

Another series of adventures involve Friday trying to make her way to an off-world colony. Should she go to an existing colony? Or should she join a group pioneering a new planet?

This being a Heinlein book, we get a lot of pre-AIDS, 1960s style “free love” attitude. Friday is a pretty friendly girl. Fortunately we do not get too descriptive past a lot of kissing.

We follow Friday through her many adventures, but the main theme seems to be dealing with racism. She is an “Artificial Person” passing as human. She deals with a lot of prejudice against “APs”. We also get a healthy dose on the declining stages of civilizations.

To me the plot of Friday wanders almost as much as the character Friday. She is pretty interesting, but most of the supporting cast is pretty shallow. Although there was quite a bit of action, it was easy to put the book down, because I didn’t care too much about what would happen next. I was confident that Friday could handle it.

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