Cover of the first edition of Glory Road.
|Author||Robert A. Heinlein|
|Cover artist||Irv Docktor|
|Genre||Fantasy, science fiction|
|Publisher||G. P. Putnam's Sons|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and paperback)|
Glory Road is a 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. Like other works, such as the works of Roger Zelazny, it is difficult to categorize Glory Road as either fantasy or science fiction, somewhat in line with Arthur Clarke's observation that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Evelyn Cyril "E.C." Gordon (also known as "Easy" and "Flash") had 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, 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. 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 marry. 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, though unnamed, is clearly the legendary 17th-century swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, the final guardian of the Egg. After a long fight, the party escapes with the Egg. When they arrive in the home universe of Star and Rufo, 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 (via egg donation), 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 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 along the Glory Road.
Samuel R. Delany called the novel "endlessly fascinating" and said it "maintains a delicacy, a bravura, and a joy." It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1964, losing to Way Station by Clifford D. Simak.
Various editions of the novel have been published:
- 1963, G. P. Putnam's Sons, hardcover
- January 1976, Berkley Publishing Group, paperback, ISBN 0-425-02834-8
- January 1976, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-03134-9
- November 1977, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-03783-5
- October 1979, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-04349-5
- April 1982, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-04865-9
- May 1983, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-06438-7
- February 1984, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-07311-4
- December 1984, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-08156-7
- August 1985, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-08898-7
- August 1986, Berkley Publishing, paperback, ISBN 0-425-09666-1
- August 1, 1991, Ace Books, paperback, ISBN 0-441-29401-4
- May 1, 1993, Baen Books, hardcover, 304 pages, ISBN 0-671-72167-4
- January 1, 1996, Baen, paperback, 304 pages, ISBN 0-671-87704-6
- October 1, 1999, Sagebrush, library binding, ISBN 0-7857-1328-X
- October 1, 2004, Tor Books, hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN 0-7653-1221-2
- M. E. Cowan. "Oscar Gordon". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- M. E. Cowan. "Star". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- M. E. Cowan. "Never-Born". A Heinlein Concordance. Heinlein Society. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Samuel R. Delany. "Glory Road". Powell's Books. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
- "1964 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Retrieved 2014-11-23.
- "1964 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- 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.
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