• To Sail Beyond the Sunset

  • The Life and Loves of Maureen Johnson (Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady)
  • By: Robert A. Heinlein
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 17 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (867 ratings)

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To Sail Beyond the Sunset

By: Robert A. Heinlein
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
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Publisher's Summary

Maureen Johnson, the somewhat irregular mother of Lazarus Long, wakes up in bed with a man and a cat. The cat is Pixel, well-known to fans of the New York Times best seller The Cat Who Walks through Walls. The man is a stranger to her, and besides that, he is dead.

So begins Robert A. Heinlein’s To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Filled with the master’s most beloved characters, this compelling work broadens and enriches his epic vision of time and space, life and death, love and desire. It is also an autobiographical masterpiece—and a wondrous return to the alternate universes that all Heinlein fans have come to know and love.

©1987 Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein, trustees (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Thoughtprovoking…. Considerable wit and energy!” ( Newsday)

What listeners say about To Sail Beyond the Sunset

Average Customer Ratings
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Don't Dilly Dally, Dolly

Counting the Heinlein I started after this book, I have read three Heinlein's in a row, in which a female character, states that her dad sexually excites her and that he could have her in bed anytime he wants.
In this book a girl born in the late 1800's sets out to lose her virginity at the age of 15. She not only has her dad's blessing, but he encourages her. He also tells his daughter that adultery is good. He tells her to keep his conversations with her about sex a secret from her mother. I don't want to see it, but I have noticed that RAH never has a boy who wants to sleep with his mom. I wonder if he thought that was perverted.
I think it is obvious to most normal people that Heinlein was a sexual deviant and I am amazed that these books ever got published. I listen to erotica from time to time and I have several reviews available on the books I have listened to, so I have no problem with sex, I just think these manuals on incest are sick.

22 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Perhaps it rates in x's and not stars.

Where does To Sail Beyond the Sunset rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the top.

What did you like best about this story?

Oh loved the change of perspective to hear from Lazarus's mother. This was a great change from the Methuselah's series.

What about Bernadette Dunne’s performance did you like?

A talented reader who can change voice tones on a dime to meet new characters coming in to the story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book is extreme and rubs against social norms of present society. Its content may not be new for long time readers of Heinlein work, but new readers may be shocked by the content. This read is not for children or Harry Potter readers.

Any additional comments?

It was great to have this in audio version as I have commute time and little time for sitting and reading paper copies at present.

14 people found this helpful

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Sad, Awful, Cringe-worthy, High Ick Factor!

My first hardback purchased as a child in the 50's was by RAH. I loved his books up to and including Glory Road (Audible, please produce it!!), and I fully grokked "grok." This piece of trash almost ruined all of them for me. There may be a plot somewhere in this mess, but the ick factor of the incestuous sexual themes and descriptions and the seemingly endless focus on repetitious, badly presented and poorly written sexual encounters, whether they advanced the story or not, thoroughly defeated any effort it made to surface.

I refuse to believe that RAH even contributed to this story, choosing to believe instead that his estate decided to milk one last story from old notes found in a set of "bad idea" story files. The uncoordinated attempts to tie in Hazel Meade, Jubal Harshaw, and even Mycroft Holmes only served to emphasize the the barrenness of the plot, story-line, and general theme of the story.

Even alone in my car as I drove to work or home, I was embarrassed to be listening to "To Sail Beyond Sunset." I truly felt more than once like I would need a good scrubbing if I listened one more second to the production. I never skip, but I used the Sector Advance button more than once in search of something to redeem this whatever it is. I never found it. Audible, a credit refund would be appropriate and very welcome.

11 people found this helpful

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The Cycle Is Incomplete!

What did you love best about To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

I freely admit to being a Heinlein addict. This final masterwork does not disappoint,

What was one of the most memorable moments of To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

The beginning...nothing like starting with a bang!

Which character ??? as performed by Bernadette Dunne ??? was your favorite?

Bernadette Dunne allowed me to remember far more of the story than when I read it as a paperback.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. Absolutely yes!

Any additional comments?

My only "complaint" is that as a cycle or series this did not feel "complete" without an audio version of the master's other novel, The Number of The Beast. I hope the people at New Frontiers will take note!

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It's 2% scifi 98% sex

Really just know what your buying. This isn't starship troopers or methuselah's children. This is a book where 80% of the pages are devoted to romance/sex and it's neither high romance nor titillating.

It's really not a bad novel and a very interesting last novel by a great writer. But just know what you're getting yourself into.

If you didn't like Time Enough for Love you'll hate this. If you did like TEfL you might like this.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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classic Late Heinlein

I have read much Heinlein and this was an interesting part that ties a lot of other stories together. This should not be your first RH book.

7 people found this helpful

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I wish the reader had more inflection in her voice

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This has always been one of my favorite Heinlein stories

What other book might you compare To Sail Beyond the Sunset to and why?

All of the Lazarus Long stories are great

What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I feel it would have been better with a smokier voice

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Heinlein book written from female side of story

Would you listen to To Sail Beyond the Sunset again? Why?

Again and again and again as I do with all Heinlein books except one or two. I am a patent Heinlein. I have only ever read two of his books I did not like.

What was one of the most memorable moments of To Sail Beyond the Sunset?

The most memorable was the ending. Loved it. However, there were many high points. Many of her discussions with her father were very stimulating and interesting with multiple themes. Her tale about breaking up with Brian Smith, her first husband, and how she handled his instinctive greediness toward his new family was wonderful. Dealing with her last two children and their incest was also great. As was her reintroduction to Woodrow.

There are many, many moments which are memorable in this book.

Which character – as performed by Bernadette Dunne – was your favorite?

Maureen Johnson Smith herself.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When Brian left her for another woman. When Maureen was reintroduced to Woodrow.

Any additional comments?

I have always believed at least part of this book was polished and finished by his wife, Virginia Heinlein. Robert probably had written a draft of the book, but there is a feminine outlook in this book no other of his books has; and could not have because Robert was so patently MALE.

It has always been one of my favorite Heinlein books, along with Time Enough for Love, Stranger in a Strange Land and (I can't remember the title) the one where 'his' brain was transplanted into a female body. (Darn! I hate those brain farts!)

5 people found this helpful

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Very mixed reaction

On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the lead character and her sexual libertarianism. But every time I was starting to feel respect & affection for Maureen and her free thinking ways, she'd launch into a sophomoric right wing, objectivist rant that bespoke an appalling shallowness of her Weltanschauung and uncritical acceptance of (Ayn) Randian principles. .

3 people found this helpful

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not a book for the ages

I had read all of Heinlein's books over the years and noticed his growing pre-occupation w/sex. Forgot that this book was the culmination of them all w/incest, sex and little else going on in the book of note. There was a storyline but that is what it involved.
I like the narrator but was unable to give many points because couldn't listen to the story after a while

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 08-30-21

yuck

world as myth, confusion and far too much cavalry coming and saving the day. way too many time/story strings to tie up. worst Heinlein book ever.

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  • LC
  • 04-18-21

Read this one last

Makes sure you read this book after having first read all the other Heinlein books, if you are intending to read them, at it will then be more meaningful because it refers to characters and events from those books.
I found this one to be a little slow at starting but then quite enjoyable in the context of having already read most of the other Heinlein books.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • struggling
  • 06-08-19

Scraping the bottom of the barrel

The story isn't up to much: it's partly a rehash of an episode in a previous book (Time Enough for Love), from the viewpoint of a different character, partly reminiscence about how good the old days were, and bringing in characters from other books. Maureen become tedious after a while, as does her sexual attraction to anything that moves (including her father, who seems extremely unattractive but Maureen yearns for him anyway).

Heinlein would have done better to have left this unwritten, not because the sex is shocking (Maureen has sex with a lot of men, including one of her sons), but because it's so boring and the subplot about her being in a different timeline accused of murder isn't particularly good either.

The book is slow, very slow, despite the promising beginning and the narrator, Bernadette Dunne, doesn't make any attempt to pick up the pace. She might be reading a shopping-list for all the feeling she puts into her narration andher attempts at male voices are painful.

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  • Radoxthegreen
  • 06-12-18

Enjoyable listening!

This was my second time listening to the book and I read it at least twice before. Still a brilliant story!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul Hamer
  • 06-07-17

Challenging contents covering taboos

An exciting romp, with quirky attitudes to challenge our social norms.
The vivid exploration of incest can be troubling at times.
Expertly read though with good characterisations.

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  • Roy Oestensen
  • 05-06-17

Maybe the weakest of Robert Heinlein's novels

Heinlein does know how to create a good story, but this one regretably has a lot of weaknesses. In actual fact some of his views (stated through the protagonist) to me were in many ways more interesting than the story itself. I think Heinlein's main excuse for writing the story is that it is an old goat's wish for meeting an amoral and horny lady. In actual fact the description isn't very believable. Will a woman really go into the most minute details regarding her sex life to strangers? I find that difficult to believe, especially when she does her best to hide her sexual feelings from society.

Another thing is that Heinlein seems to believe that if you catch a VD, you can just pop down to your physisist and be healed, just like that. If that's the case, why then may as many as 1/3 of the adult population in the world have herpes? And that in the West. As far as I know, it is one of the VDs that still is not curable, so "free sex" may not be that free after all, contrary to what Heinlein seem to believe.

So the main reason to read this would either be for Heinlein's views on general right to vote, education system, religion and other topic. Some you may agree with and others you may heartedly disagree with, but at least I found them interesting. And of course to get the conclusion of his Future series.

Regarding the performance, Bernadette Dunne did a valiant effort, but I didn't feel she was totally successful to imitate the voice of the male characters. She just didn't seem to get her voice low enough without straining it. But having to read descriptions that I'm sure she would crinch from, is admirable.

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  • Karl Johnson
  • 05-02-21

Vert good story but,

The story is very good but most of the references in the story relate to other books
and stories by Heinlein which are not available as audio books therefore it is necessary to read print copies of the other Heinlein books to understand the story as written. This book does not stand alone!