Here's a recording of Chopin's complete Mazurkas. Feel free to listen to a few or all. They're so cheery, how can you not be cheerful with them? Especially since here in Texas this morning it is a glorious 71 degrees.
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I like vintage Science Fiction novels and this fit the bill in every way. In many ways the science fiction of the 1950s were adventure stories that just happened to take place in outer space. The characters were even called "Space Cowboys" because the heroes did not act much differently then the romanticized versions of cattle herders.
How did such a tedious job like taking care of cows metamorphose into a glamorous, "good guys conquering the villains" persona? Why did not skilled artisans ever develop such a reputation?
"Bif, the brick layer smelled trouble. Slowly he pulled out his trowel, and stealthily advanced toward the fast disappearing shadow just around the corner..."
Back to the review:
Double Star is a fun adventure story that had me wondering what was going to happen to the very end and, unlike some stories, resolves in a satisfying, convincing and also poignant way.
"If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he owned the place, he's a spaceman."
This is the first sentence of the story and the observation is made by our main character, Lawrence Smith, aka "the Great Lorenzo."
He might have been great but now he is an out of work actor trying to avoid creditors. He is sitting inside a bar when he sees the aforementioned man walk in. He strikes up a conversation with him and soon finds himself sucked into the vortex of an adventure.
I do not want to give anything away, but briefly, the spaceman Dak Broadbent needs the great Lorenzo to perform his greatest act ever: impersonate an intergalactic political figure for the future of the universe. If that sounds like a tall order, it is.
John Joseph Bonforte has made great strides in diplomatic dealings with Martians. So much so that the Martians want to make him one of them and have him perform a "nesting rite". Don't ask what that is. The upshot is that it will make Bonforte a fellow Martian and family. This will go far in bringing Martians into the Empire because they will see themselves as having a voice in the intergalactic government, something they don't have now, even though Earth has colonized the planet, although they apparently have not overpowered the Martians, which would make them a formidable foe if uncooperative with the empire's plans.
There is a faction, both human and Martian that are against this kind of union. They have therefore kidnapped Bonforte so he will be unable to attend the Martian rite.
Now, one thinks, so what? Surely the Martians will understand that he has been kidnapped and contrary to his own will, will not attend the ceremony.
No, they won't. Their idea of honor is that one deserves to die if they for any reason, even those beyond their control, do not follow through on their word. They are willing to die themselves for failing to follow through and would expect no less from a human.
The kidnappers know this and hope to destroy all diplomatic relations with Mars and the Empire as a result.
The solution? Hire an actor to impersonate Bonforte for the ceremony. The kidnappers won't dare reveal what they have done because it would turn everyone against them.
At first Lorenzo balks, but he soon grows attached to the idea of not only the challenge of what would undoubtedly be his greatest performance but of achieving something not just for himself but something greater for man (and Martian) kind.
The story is told in first person narrator by Lorenzo. He is a very likeable person and very human as he struggles with the part he is to play in this adventure and also how he thinks and calculates to pull everything off. We see his transformation as he "becomes" Bonforte. Heinlein succeeded in creating a character worth following around on this rather suspenseful story.
Things, naturally don't go smoothly, or it would be a much shorter story, so we get to ride along bumps and twists as unexpected plot turns arise.
This might be called an "old fashioned" science fiction story, but it is my favorite kind and they are mostly be the kind I read.
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