Monday, 19 December 2016

Deal Me in Challenge: All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein (1959)

Card Drawn:

There is something odd about that bartender...

Woah. What the hell did I just read? Seriously. I've read my fair share of time-travel stories but Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies" completely blew my mind. It took me a second reading to figure out the overlapping timelines and paradoxes but after assembling the different puzzle pieces, Heinlein's master narrative reveals itself. It is completely astounding to me that he was wrote this in 1959! Even though this my first exposure to his work, I can see why many consider him to be one of the founding fathers of science-fiction alongside Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke who were responsible for catapulting the genre into the mainstream. This particular story is accessible enough but does require a certain amount of effort from the reader to deconstruct the perplexing gender-bending and time-travel narrative. 

A bartender notices a certain patron sidling up to the bar and initiates a conversation. What follows next is not your typical bar scene and from there, well...let's just say things start to get a little weird. A further description of the plot is unnecessary since it would totally ruin the fun. However, the title is worth noting, which initially struck me as peculiar. This castigation uttered by the narrator at the end of the story is part of a tirade against humanity and by association, the reader. He asserts his identity as an authentic human being for knowing his origins whereas everyone else is just walking around like zombies or the living-dead. Discovering one's family roots is important in this story but the way Heinlein goes about exploring this theme is done in such a meticulous and unorthodox way. For  anyone who is skeptical towards the science-fiction genre or just looking for something truly original, I implore you to check out this story. Strap yourselves in and prepare yourself for a wild ride. 


  1. I've heard of this story title but have never read it. Now I want to. I may have mentioned this before, but I found Asimov's autobiography ("I, Asimov") to be great reading (not to mention having a great title).

  2. I think you would get a kick out of this story, especially if you like Asimov. That is such a perfect title for his autobiography! He lived a long and fascinating life so I would be curious to read it.