Glory Road

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This article is about the fantasy novel. For the film about the 1966 college basketball champions, see Glory Road (film). For other uses, see Glory Road (disambiguation).
Glory Road
GloryRoad 1st ed.jpg
Cover of the first edition of Glory Road.
Author Robert A. Heinlein
Cover artist Irv Docktor
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy, science fiction
Publisher G. P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
1963
Media type Print (Hardcover and paperback)

Glory Road is a fantasy novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (July – September 1963) and published in hardcover the same year. It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964.

Plot summary[edit]

Evelyn Cyril "E.C." Gordon (also known as "Easy" and "Flash"[1]) has been recently discharged from an unnamed war in Southeast Asia. He is pondering what to do with his future and considers spending a year traveling in France. He is presented with a dilemma: follow up on a possible winning entry in the Irish Sweepstakes or respond to a newspaper ad which asks "Are you a coward?". He settles on the latter, discovering it has been placed by Star,[2] a stunningly gorgeous woman he had previously met on Île du Levant. Star informs him that he is the one to embark on a perilous quest to retrieve the Egg of the Phoenix. When she asks what to call him, he wants to suggest Scarface, referring to the scar on his face, but she stops him as he is saying "Oh, Scar..." and repeats this as "Oscar", and thus gives him his new name.[1] Along with Rufo, her assistant, who appears to be a man in his fifties, they tread the "Glory Road" in swashbuckling style, slaying dragons and other exotic creatures.

Shortly before the final quest for the Egg itself, Oscar and Star get married. The team then proceeds to enter the tower in which the Egg has been hidden, navigating a maze of illusions and optical tricks. Oscar scouts ahead and encounters a fearsome foe who resembles a 17th-century swordsman, the final guardian of the Egg.[3] After a long fight, the party escapes with the Egg. When they arrive in the universe of Star, Rufo informs Oscar that Star is actually the empress of many worlds—and Rufo's grandmother.

The Egg is a cybernetic device that contains the knowledge and experiences of most of her predecessors. Despite her youthful appearance, she is the mother of dozens of children, and has undergone special medical treatments that extend her life much longer than usual. She has Oscar unknowingly receive the same treatments.

Initially, Oscar enjoys his new-found prestige and luxurious life as the husband of the empress of worlds across the Twenty Universes. However, as time goes on, he grows bored and feels out of place and useless. When he demands Star's professional judgment, she tells him that he must leave; her world has no place or need for a hero of his stature. It will be decades before she can complete the transfer of the knowledge held in the Egg, so he must go alone. He returns to Earth, but has difficulty readjusting to his own world, despite having brought great wealth along with him. He begins to doubt his own sanity and whether the adventure even happened. The story ends as he is contacted by Rufo to set up another trip on the Glory Road.

Reception[edit]

Samuel R. Delany called the novel "endlessly fascinating" and said it "maintains a delicacy, a bravura, and a joy."[4] It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964, losing to Way Station by Clifford D. Simak.[5]

History[edit]

Various editions of the novel have been published:

Star is one of several characters Heinlein included in his 1985 novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.[6] Star is also mentioned in The Number of the Beast.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b M. E. Cowan. "Oscar Gordon". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  2. ^ a b M. E. Cowan. "Star". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  3. ^ M. E. Cowan. "Never-Born". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  4. ^ Samuel R. Delany. "Glory Road". Powell's Books. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  5. ^ "1964 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  6. ^ David Bradley (December 22, 1985). "Superlunarian Follies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-21. "In between there are riots and revels and roisterous orgies and bad puns and, for the readers Mr. Heinlein has delighted for decades, appearances (some far too brief) of characters from earlier fictions: Manuel Davis, from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress; Star, empress of the Twenty (now 90) Universes from Glory Road; Jubal Harshaw, the lawyer-doctor-hack writer from Stranger in a Strange Land." 

External links[edit]