Book Review: Glory Road

Glory Road

by Robert A. Heinlein


294 pages.

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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When “Scar” Gordon read a personals ad promising “very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger”, with physical requirements, except for the part about being “handsome”, that fit him to a T, he answered it, and was interviewed by an Amazon in a lab coat who hired him on the spot. Soon Scar, in company with the most beautiful woman he’d ever met, was off on that Glory Road.

First Sentences:
I know a place where there is no smog and no parking problem and no population explosion… no Cold War and no H-bombs and no television commercials… no Summit Conferences, no Foreign Aid, no hidden taxes– no income tax. The climate is the sort that Florida and California claim (and neither has), the land is lovely, the people are friendly and hospitable to strangers, the women are beautiful and amazingly anxious to please–

I could go back. I could–

My Thoughts:

This is not for you. We badly need a brave man.
He must be 23 to 25 years old, in perfect health, at least six feet tall, weigh about 190 pounds, fluent English, with some French, proficient in all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure. Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger. You must apply in person, rue Dante, Nice, 2me étage, appt. D.”

That’s the personal ad “Scar” Gorden replies to.  It is, after all, written especially for him, the perfect model of a typical chauvinistic male.  My husband told me to read this because it makes fun of male chauvinism and I would appreciate it for that alone.  It’s part of his own personal library, and he has been trying to get me to read more of his collection for years.  If not for my husband, I would never have discovered the Vampire Earth series by E.E. Knight. I enjoyed that recommendation from him, but Glory Road is just “okay” at best.

Good ole’ “Scar” Gordon, a US Soldier, is living the lazy life of a wanderer after an injury obtained on duty.  Though it is referred to as an unofficial war, it’s fairly obvious the story is referring to the Vietnam War.   He finds himself living the lazy life in France and wondering if he should cash in a horse race ticket he won in a poker game.  Not the most interesting beginning, but I didn’t mind reading on.

Following a formula not unfamiliar to me, he meets a woman that’s he compares to the beautiful “Helen of Troy” and can’t get her out of his mind.  After seeing an ad that he is almost sure was meant for him, he answers it and discovers that she is the one who indeed placed it for him.   She is in need of a hero to go on a dangerous quest and wouldn’t you know, she sees him as the perfect candidate.  And so it is that the woman he now refers to as Star, her old dwarven assistant Ruflo, and he– the only man fit to be called a hero– set off on a journey to another planet, using portals to travel.

Together, they embark on the journey to reclaim a stolen Griffin egg.  And they must fight there way through dangerous rats, dragons, horned monsters, golems that can’t be killed and finally the legendary 17th-century swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac.  I must point out here that the identity of the swordsman is never actually confirmed, it is merely “made obvious” to those who are familiar with him.  I am not one of the lucky ones who knew the name, so I had to rely on my Google skills.  And even afterward reading about the guy, I still didn’t make the connection that the final foe was Bergerac without question.

The main character annoys me to no end, as he is indeed a male chauvinist.  He threatens to give Star a “good spanking” for “acting like a brat” on numerous occasions and she submits to his jackass antics without hesitation.  And so it is that the guy gets to be the hero, marry the ideal beautiful girl, the ‘duty’ of acting as a mating stud for a house full of women so as not to offend the headmaster, and wouldn’t you know it, all the riches he could ever dream of.  The surface of it made me roll my eyes more than I care to admit.

I will admit that in the grander scheme of it (and this contains spoilers), that it does indeed overall poke fun at male chauvinism. The hero fits the definition perfectly, but in the end, we find out that it is Star who possesses all the true power, as she is Empress of the 20 Universes who keeps needs “a weak-minded man” to complete her quest for her, and afterward gives him longevity of life, endless wealth and a life that most people would kill for.  Of course, he gets bored and doesn’t take kindly to Star treating him as a pet, so he ultimately decides to leave her planet and return to living life on Earth.

What I found crazy about this book is that the actual adventure is over in just over half of the book.  The remainder discusses universal politics, which is governed by the idea that if you just leave it alone, it will work itself out eventually. Once the quest is over, the book drags along.  I found myself opting to do chores that I normally hate just to get a break from it.

The single thing that I found most interesting about this novel was its use of geospatial theory; however warped it may have been when put into play, to solve certain problems.

I didn’t hate this book by any means, but as a book that mixed elements of of both sci-fi and fantasy, I must say I was expecting it to be more interesting.

Favorite Quotes:

“Logic is a way of saying that anything which didn’t happen yesterday won’t happen tomorrow.”

“An insult is like a drink; it affects one only if accepted.”

“I object to conscription the way a lobster objects to boiling water: it may be his finest hour but it’s not his choice.”

Final Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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