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Publisher's Summary

The Pursuit of the Pankera is one of the most audacious experiments ever done in science fiction by the legendary author of the classic best seller Starship Troopers.

Robert A. Heinlein wrote The Number of the Beast, which was published in 1980. In the book Zeb, Deety, Hilda, and Jake are ambushed by the alien "Black Hats" and barely escape with their lives on a specially configured vehicle (the Gay Deceiver) which can travel along various planes of existence, allowing them to visit parallel universes.

However, unknown to most fans, Heinlein had already written a "parallel" novel about the four characters and parallel universes in 1977. He effectively wrote two parallel novels about parallel universes. The novels share the same start, but as soon as the Gay Deceiver is used to transport them to a parallel universe, each book transports them to a totally different parallel world.

From that point on the plot lines diverge completely. While The Number of the Beast morphs into something very different, more representative of later Heinlein works, The Pursuit of the Pankera remains on target with a much more traditional Heinleinesque storyline and ending, reminiscent of his earlier works.

The Pursuit of the Pankera was never published, and there have been many competing theories as to why (including significant copyright issues in 1977). Over time the manuscript was largely forgotten but survived in fragments. A recent re-examination of these fragments, however, made it clear that they constitute the complete novel.

And here it finally is: Robert A. Heinlein's audacious experiment. A fitting farewell from one of the most inventive science fiction writers to have ever lived: a parallel novel about parallel universes, as well as a great adventure pitting the forces of good versus evil only the way Heinlein could do.

©2020 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about The Pursuit of the Pankera

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Stupid production

4 main characters, 4 narrators and each narrator doing all 4 characters? What an idiotic idea. You never know who’s talking. Just about the time you can identify the characters the next chapter begins with a different narrator and 4 different voices. Enjoyed the story in spite of the frustration but they really did the author’s work an injustice.

35 people found this helpful

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still listening so not final

I needed to comment on the performers pronunciation. just as our hero's reach the first stop of their interplanetary voyage Heinlein refers to a famous Edgar Rice Burroughs creation the Thoat (sounds like throat) several puns follow. But the readers read it as "tho at"like calling a boat a 'bow at' when you say a pun like "a man can't eat with his thoat cut" but mispronounce it as tho at, the puns don't work. This should never get past the editors.
Up to now the book is identical to The Number of The Beast.

23 people found this helpful

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Sadly Walk Away

I grew up with Heinlein. Tracked down everything he wrote. Skipped my own house warming when someone showed up carrying a pre-release copy of Friday. But I never could quite get on with his crafting of female characters. Sorry, Spider.

Unhappily, I couldn't finish this book - and I wanted to. As a trufan I wanted to spend just one more time with the Meister. From the opening dialogue which displays the dated ruffles and flourishes of 1940s social interaction (check out a Cary Grant film - you'll see what I mean) to the intellectualized discussion which follows, it was clear that what was just painful in 1980 had become unbearable now.

There was a time (about 40 years ago) when this would have been a neat addition to Heinleiniana.

21 people found this helpful

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Fleshes out Number of the Beast

When I first read Number of the Beast, the shift to grafting it into the whole Lazarus Long mythos seemed forced. It didn't feel at all like where the story was going, and as a result, the way the story wrapped up was unsatisfying. I still enjoyed it at the time, and count it as one of my Heinlein favorites, but narratively, it really didn't work.

Now I know why. It wasn't supposed to be that way, and at some point, Heinlein decided to ditch the original ending in favor of that change.

Is it dated? Of course. Are the female characters poorly written by today's standards? Of course - anyone who knows Heinlein would probably be shocked to find otherwise. Do the clear attempts at being sexually enlightened for his age fall flat half a century later? Duh. Should this be someone's first experience with Heinlein? Likely not.

But seen through the lens of already being a fan, and as a window into an already favorite book, it's a joy. I can't help but fantasize a "supercut" edition that includes all of what's in Pursuit of the Pankera that then transitions into Number of the Beast's ending (leaving out the incest in Number of the Beast, by personal preference). Or better yet, especially since by then Heinlein was essentially publishing a serialized universe, a sequel of its own.

The extended scenes in Oz and the whole delving into Barsoom were wonderful - and shouldn't have been cut from Number of the Beast, though it would have made that version ridiculously long. This version made much better use of the multiverse. And while I have no doubt someone who took more time than I care to might find continuity errors between the two, there's really no major reason not to see this as an extended version of the middle of Number of the Beast, and picking that book up where this one ends to continue the story - if you squint a bit. It doesn't detract from Number of the Beast in any meaningful way.

I'll agree with the people who found the shift in narrators a bit jarring, but I didn't have much trouble keeping track of which character was speaking at any given time. All of the narrators gave excellent performances given the text they had to work with, and I think doing the whole thing as a mult-cast drama with each narrator speaking individual characters would have been more distracting. There was a bit of an internal shift each time the narrator changed, but then I was on track again.

Is this the best novel ever? No. But it was an unexpected joy to have it turn up so unexpectedly and polished up so beautifully.

19 people found this helpful

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better than Number of the beast.

I admit I am a Fanboy of Mr Heinlein, but this book was amazing. the narrators were excellent, and I thought the ending made much better use of these characters.

5 people found this helpful

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that man could write!

whole lot nostalgia influenced my love of this book
like going home. written in 1st person but four perspectives like Dracula now I have to re-read number of the beast

5 people found this helpful

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i want more

I know Heinlein is with us no longer but this book leaves me wanting more. his masterful weaving of the multitudes of multiverses into a congruent whole is gratifying. I acknowledge his treatment of "fragile" women is dated but he recognizes their brilliance at the same time.
there is an aspect of clearing out the universes of "vermin" that is disturbing but Zeitgeist appropriate.

the performance by the voice actors adds much to the story.

I don't relisten or reread often but this is likely one I will reenjoy

5 people found this helpful

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Great Spin

I like this version better than The Number Of The Beast. Great story telling.





5 people found this helpful

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a parallel story

start like an old friend and ended with a new neighbor a parallel story is true.

4 people found this helpful

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new and improved

I enjoyed this version much better than the original. it really fleshes out the story.

4 people found this helpful