Heinlein has always struck me as the weakest of The Big Three. His writing isn’t as good, his stories often lacking in any truly big or interesting ideas. He always felt more like a holdover from the adventure magazine days only with a wider sandbox in which to play. So I suppose it goes without saying that I wasn’t expecting anything from Double Star. And as is always the case, it was in this exact apathy that he delivered an oddly prescient and fun little novella.
You’ve got an out-of-work actor turned reluctant politician decades before Reagan and nearly half a century before Schwarzenegger. It predicts the pomp and pageantry of modern politics before the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. Combine that with a bit of alien strangeness that would feel right at home among the works of Philip K. Dick and you’ve got an enjoyable if not slightly watered down beer.
Asimov said that Double Star is Heinlein’s best novel. This far into his not inconsiderable bibliography I am prone to agree with him. It shuns the easy appeal of violence in the name of an imperfect contemplation on just how insincere and overbearing political power actually is.
“Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong – but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Double Star