Friday (novel)

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For the Michel Tournier novel, see Friday, or, The Other Island.
First Edition cover of Friday
Author Robert A. Heinlein
Cover artist Richard Powers
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Publication date
April 1982
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
ISBN 0-03-061516-X (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 7875946
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3515.E288 F77 1982

Friday is a 1982 science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It is the story of a female "artificial person", the eponymous Friday, genetically engineered to be stronger, faster, smarter, and generally better than normal humans. Artificial humans are widely resented, and much of the story deals with Friday's struggle both against prejudice and to conceal her enhanced attributes from other humans. The story is set in a Balkanized world, in which the nations of the North American continent have been split up into a number of smaller states.

Friday was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1982,[1] and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1983.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The book's protagonist is Friday Baldwin, a genetically engineered human (known as an Artificial Person or AP) who is in many ways both mentally and physically superior to ordinary humans. Friday conceals her AP status as she faces great prejudice if discovered.

Employed as a highly self-sufficient combat courier for a shadowy private organization, her various missions take her across the globe and to some of the near-Earth space colonies. Friday is returning from her latest mission when she is captured, tortured and interrogated by an enemy group. She is then rescued by her own people, who tell her that her highly critical mission was in fact successful as her captors failed to find the data implanted in her body.

After recovering from the ordeal, Friday takes a vacation to visit her group family, composed of several husbands and wives and many children. In an argument over racism, Friday reveals to her family that she is an AP, and they promptly divorce her.

On the way back to her company's headquarters, she meets and befriends the wealthy Tormey family. Friday is their house-guest when a worldwide civil emergency known as Red Thursday occurs. Various groups claim credit for the assassinations and sabotage, but Friday later learns that it is the result of a struggle between rival factions within the ultra-powerful Shipstone corporation. Her last mission was to carry information about the attacks before they occurred.

Facing detention under martial law, Friday kills a policeman who attempts to arrest her and Georges (a member of the Tormey family) as non-citizens. The two become fugitives, traveling across the various countries of a Balkanized North America as she attempts to return to her headquarters. After several adventures, she succeeds in rejoining her company, leaving Georges to rejoin his family. However, Friday's boss soon dies and the organization disbands, rendering her temporarily homeless and unemployed. She learns that her boss left her money in trust, to be used only for the purpose of relocating to an off-Earth colony of her choosing.

Friday eventually finds another courier job which will incidentally allow her to visit and evaluate several of the colonies she wishes to explore. However, after embarking on an interplanetary cruise ship for her mission, she learns that agents of her employers are watching her constantly, and that she is a virtual prisoner on the ship. Realizing the top-secret nature of her mission, she fears that her employers will kill her when it is over. While the ship is docked at a rustic colony world, she escapes with the Tormeys, who have been on the run since the policeman's death and happen to be fleeing Earth on the same ship. After evading the ship's authorities, they all join the colony and settle down to lead a quiet life.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Friday received nominations for the following awards

Literary significance and reception[edit]

The 1982 Library Journal review said that Heinlein "returns to an earlier style of brisk adventure mixed with polemic in the saga of special courier Friday Jones."[5]

Allusions/references to other works[edit]

Friday is loosely tied to the novella "Gulf", which appeared in Assignment in Eternity, since both works share characters—"Kettle Belly" Baldwin and "Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Greene". (The latter two do not appear in Friday, but are mentioned as two of the title character's genetic progenitors.) The motif of a secret superman society in the latter work, however, is not mentioned in Friday, where the heroine is an artificial person and is not part of a secret society; the principal reason to be secret about her artificial nature is to avoid discrimination. However, at his death, Baldwin leaves Friday a subsidy to finance her emigration to any planet of her choice, except Olympia, where the "supermen" went at some indeterminate time in the past.

The Shipstone, the extrasolar colonies Fiddler's Green, Proxima and Botany Bay, and the start of the balkanization of North America are mentioned in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. It is stated that Roger and Edith Stone from The Rolling Stones are now living in Fiddler's Green. Botany Bay is also featured in Heinlein's novel Time for the Stars, and another extrasolar colony, Halcyon, is featured in Starman Jones.

Homages/references from other works[edit]

Charles Stross has stated that his 2008 novel Saturn's Children is an homage to Friday.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ a b "1982 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  2. ^ a b "1983 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  3. ^ "The Locus Index to SF Awards: 1983 Locus Awards". Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  4. ^ "Prometheus Award for Best Novel -- Nominees". Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  5. ^ "Friday (Book)". Library Journal. 107 (10): 1013. 1982-05-15. ISSN 0363-0277. 
  6. ^ "Interview - Charlie's Diary". August 27, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Saturn's Children by Charles Stross". Bookmarks. November 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ Willis, Jesse (April 26, 2010). "Review of Saturn's Children by Charles Stross". Retrieved January 6, 2015. 


External links[edit]