Great Hugo Readthrough 1956: Robert Heinlein’s Double Star

First Time/Reread: Reread
Acquired: Owned

Other Nominees
Nope, none yet. Still have a few years to go for that.

Background: Serialized in Astounding Science Fiction, it was Heinlein’s first of many wins. (To this day, he has more Hugos for Best Novel and nominations than any other author.) (We’ve already seen Farmer in the Sky, but that was a Retro Hugo, not a standard Hugo.)

Synopsis: The politician John Joseph Bonforte has been kidnapped on an important trip to Mars, and the two-bit actor The Great Lorenzo, who looks nearly identical, is corralled into posing for him until he can be rescued. It’s a pretty interesting take on the Prince and the Pauper story archetype.

Verdict: Yes, this one definitely deserves it. The Great Lorenzo, A.K.A. Lawrence Smith, is one of the most flawed and interesting of Heinlein’s protagonists. The book does, however, fail the Bechdel Test- the only female character, though she is strong and capable, is largely in there to be a romantic interest. To be fair, I think we’ve only had two books so far that pass, The Mule and (I think) the Demolished Man. Anyhap, really short book, definitely recommend it. I initially had a lot of complaints (How is someone supposed to mimic someone else with technology that advanced, fingerprints or DNA testing (which, admittedly, weren’t really a thing when this was written) would have given up the game?) but they’re largely answered well later on. (Bonforte and Smith’s medical records get switched).

Trivia: Well, this happened in 2000. Weird.

<1955: Mark Clifton and Frank Riley’s They’d Rather Be Right
1958: Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time>