The Pursuit of the Pankera - A review
#1  Greg Anos 03-16-2020, 08:10 PM
The Pursuit of the Pankera – A Review

Robert Heinlein wrote this book before his famous carotid bypass surgery. It was consider “not good enough” by his first reader (his wife). As soon as he recovered from the surgery he re-wrote 2/3 of the book totally and polished the first third. The results were published as The Number Of The Beast'.

The original story (in the first draft) remained in his papers, and in pieces, for decades. Finally, his literary trust decided to make a few bucks and publish the first, different, draft. The result was The Pursuit of the Pankera.

First off, note the “used with permission”s, on the copyright page. These may have been the reasons, for not publishing in the first place.

The first third (or so) of the book is a first draft of what was in The Number Of The Beast (TNOTB). This can be considered a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one's preferences. In TNOTHB, there was a lot of added sexual banter, which is much less in the Pankera. On the other hand, Mark Twain noted that good writing consisted of using the right word, all the time, rather than its second cousin. It's clear that finding the right word was still progressing in the first draft. There was no major change in scene or actions between the two versions.

Once the action changes, it changes big time. Instead of the British Empire in TNOTB, you get straight Barsoom, right out of Burroughs. Think of it as fanfiction, but written by a master writer. You may not like the conversation subjects, but it was both philosophical and fun at the same time (if you like Burroughs). Lots of secondary Burroughs characters get “air time”. To me, this is the most fun part of the book.

OZ get short shrift, just a few scenes, in Pankera. Most of the Oz parts get shifted to the next piece of fanfiction, The Lensman world.

Now, I'm a big fan of most of E.E.Smith PHD. But this is a bad take on that writer's universe. Every note hit on characterization is off, Port Admiral Haynes was a totally different person that E.E. Smith portrayed. Only Lensman Ted Smith was properly portrayed.

The last part was terrible. I don't even want to get into it. Using a hammer as a screwdriver just doesn't make for good products.

That's my review.

#2  ZodWallop 03-17-2020, 03:52 PM
Thanks for that. I supported the Kickstarter, though I likely won't read the book. I'm not a Heinlein fan. But I thought it was a neat idea and wanted to support it.

#3  Greg Anos 03-17-2020, 07:02 PM
I tried to give a review without a bunch of spoilers.

#4  binaryhermit 03-17-2020, 08:09 PM
I got an email with the files from my preorder of the bundle of this book and "The Number of the Beast" from the publisher

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