Glory Road Review

5 August 2017
5 Aug 2017
3 min read

“I wanted the world to be the way they promised it was going to be…instead of the lousy, tawdry, fouled up mess it is.”

Today I’d like to review a book that I have read many times titled Glory Road. Glory Road  is a science fiction book written by Robert Heinlein. It is the story of a man on a quest; he gets sucked into an adventure, and realizes that that’s what his life has been missing this whole time. This struggle between a life of adventure and a life of peace gives the book its title: the protagonist is “walking the glory road.” To me, this book is one of my favorites because it captures the struggle to find meaning in life as well as the hunt for a purpose. This is a story of finding one’s place in the world; something we can all relate to.

Narrative Arc

The book follows a typical arc for a Heinlein science fiction. We find that our protagonist, Oscar, had to enlist in the military because he lacked funds to complete college. From there, we find the book’s raison d’etre; he answers a classified ad in the newspaper and starts to explore different cultures with the heroine, Star, and his groom, Rufus. These different cultures and creatures demonstrate the authors command over Science fiction and magic; there are other cultures explored and fantastic creatures to fight. Finally, we have roughly half of the book devoted to what happens after the adventure is complete. To me, this is equally as interesting as what happens before, even though there is less “action.” Heinlein has a tendency to wax philosophically and this is in full display during the latter section of the book. I found myself delighfully engaged due to this book having helped to crystallize a fundamental question about life: what is it for?

Potential turn off

One aspect that may prove distasteful for readers is that it was written in the 60’s and is a product of its times. There are statements about the differing gender roles that may be distasteful to some; however, I submit that there is still value and truth to be found while reading this book. If this is the type of thing that can ruin a novel for you, I humbly recommend passing and finding a more modern book to read.

What it makes me think of

One of the most intoxicated parts about reading is coming back to a book, and finding out if it still has a similar effect on you. I can say that I still rank this book highly in my mind; however, now there are different sections of the book which are more meaningful to me. Initially, I found a quote early on discussing what the hero wants from life to be very impactful; now I relate mostly to the post-adventure portion of the novel. When Oscar discusses the struggle between the sedentary life and a life of adventure, I find myself wondering if I am spending my life in the best way.

Overall, I think that this book is fascinating, both as a case study and as a tool for reflection. As a case study, this book is a perfect example of hero/heroine science fiction written in the 60’s. Also, this book raises several questions for living a better life such as if people can settle down and what happens when automation destroys a majority of jobs in the upcoming years?1


  1. I can’t help thinking about how automation plays into this; a universal income seems lovely, but what happens when humans don’t have a reason to wake up in the morning. [return]

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