[[quoteright:278:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/GloryRoad_9683.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:278:That cover is both entirely accurate and grossly misleading.]]
->''ARE YOU A COWARD? This is not for you. We badly need a brave man. He must be 23 to 25 years old, in perfect health, at least six feet tall, weigh about 190 pounds, fluent English with some French, proficient with all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure. Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger. You must apply in person...''

''Glory Road'' is a ScienceFiction novel written by Creator/RobertAHeinlein and published in 1963, originally in serial form. It is a {{Reconstruction}} of the standard pulp adventure novels of the era.

TheHero, Oscar Gordon, is a dashing ne'er-do-well who gets through life mainly by figuring out creative ways to avoid any real responsibility, while practicing such esoteric arts as swordsmanship. The DistressedDamsel, Star, is in reality an Empress, who is seeking out Oscar because a very sophisticated computer analysis determined him to have precisely those qualities needed to rescue the [[MacGuffin Egg of the Phoenix]], a device containing all the accumulated wisdom of millennia of Emperors and vital to ruling the Twenty Universes. She is accompanied by a shifty fellow by the name of Rufo who seemingly embodies all the [[CombatPragmatist dirty fighting]] tricks known to mankind.

Together they embark on a swashbuckling romp to confront the thief, in which all of Oscar's qualities come into play. After an exceedingly narrow victory, the triumphant hero travels to Star's planet where he [[StandardHeroReward marries her and becomes her consort]], with all the riches and knowledge of the Twenty Universes at his command. Then he discovers that he's [[SoWhatDoWeDoNow completely unsuited to this life]] and is far happier out on the Glory Road [[InHarmsWay having adventures]].

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!!Provides Examples Of:

* AbsurdlyYouthfulMother: Star is Rufo's grandmother, but looks much younger, due to the way their society's LongevityTreatment permits the recipient to choose their desired physical age. Star wants to look youthful and Rufo wants to look like an old curmudgeon.
* AchievementsInIgnorance: Oscar, knowing nothing of hypergeometry, somehow manages to feed Igli ''to himself'', thereby killing the unkillable construct. He is complimented on this by Star and Rufo.
* TheAgeless: Star is described in this fashion when Oscar first sees her and finds it difficult to place her exact age. It turns out to be a pretty accurate assessment of her age and that of others from her culture.
* AuthorAppeal: Casual nudism, a strong female protagonist, multiversal travel, a FreeLoveFuture, and a Libertarian utopia -- all trademarks of Heinlein's writing.
* AuthorAvatar: When asked by a fan which of his many characters was intended to represent himself, Heinlein jokingly claimed it was [[TheOgre Igli]].
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: Count Cagliostro, an adventurer/con artist who claimed to be immortal is explained as being one of Star's relatives who underwent the same longevity treatment.
* BigLabyrinthineBuilding: The Mile-High Tower, where the bad guys hid the Egg. It's so elaborate that hundreds of Star's spies died figuring out the route to its hiding place.
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: Star is shocked to find out that sex is a salable commodity in Oscar's reality. In her world, a woman's sexuality is considered an integral part of her spiritual existence and it can not be bought and sold, only partaken of as a gift of the woman. She's also unpleasantly surprised to find out that Oscar turned down the sexual advances of their host's wife and daughters the night before. While he was perfectly willing to bed the wife, Oscar deflated at the thought of bedding the youngest daughter; she triggered his age taboo. Their host is so insulted that Oscar turned down their gift that he expels them from his home at first light. After the problem is explained, however, Oscar ends up with the host's wife and older daughter.
* BotheringByTheBook[=/=]ObstructiveBureaucrat: Oscar remarks, "Regardless of T.O., all military bureaucracies consist of a Surprise Party Department, a Practical Joke Department, and a Fairy Godmother department. The first two process most matters, as the third is very small; the Fairy Godmother Department is one elderly female GS-5 clerk usually out on sick leave."
* BrainUploading: The Egg contains the recorded memories of thousands of years of Emperors/Empresses. Part of each Emperor's job is to use the Egg to imprint himself with the memories of all their predecessors, and leave their own memories in turn.
* TheCallLeftAMessage: After giving him a [[NakedFirstImpression glancing over]] on Īle du Levant, Star recruits Oscar by printing a classified ad [[BatmanGambit specifically tailored to be irresistible to him]].
* ClarksThirdLaw: Oscar reflects that the technology in use by Star's folks is so advanced that it might as well be magic.
* CongruentMemory: Rufo learned to shave by doing it on corpses, so he can only shave Oscar while he's lying down. He claims to have learned this from his time as an undertaker. Star says she can't remember him ever being an undertaker, but since both of them lie as easily as they breathe, it's hard to tell who's being honest there.
* DagwoodSandwich: Oscar offers to create one for a girl he meets at a party on Center, primitive Earth culture having at least this novelty to offer.
* DangerouslyCloseShave: After their conversation about [[CongruentMemory the source of Rufo's shaving skills]], he and Oscar start a semi-serious RunningGag with the DeadlyEuphemism, "shaving a corpse."
* DeathWorld: Karth-Hokesh. Humans can survive there for only a few hours. It may also count as {{Mordor}}, since the novel hasn't dropped all pretense of being a fantasy story by that point.
* DemocracyIsFlawed: A doctor of sociology of a highly advanced civilization mentions to the hero (who is from present day Earth) that Democracy is, "a good system for beginners", while stating that advanced civilizations have far better ways of government.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: Oscar; nothing on Earth seems to properly suit him.
* DinosaursAreDragons: The "dragons" that the party fights on one world are dinosaur-like in appearance but breathe fire. Oscar proceeds to [[LampshadeHanging hang a lampshade]] on this trope.
* DoingInTheWizard: Up to and including the Mile-High Tower, the book is a fairly straightforward fantasy novel. Afterward, most of the "magic" is revealed as advanced technology from elsewhere in the Twenty Universes.
* DraftDodging: Oscar tries very hard to avoid getting into the unnamed conflict in Southeast Asia, but eventually resigns himself to it as there are no other viable options. Interestingly, the conflict seems to be in Vietnam, although the book was published in 1963, well ''before'' the period of major U.S. combat involvement there began.
* DuelingScar: Oscar considers attending Heidelberg so he can earn dueling scars. He thinks they'll be worth extra pay from a defense industry job.
* DyingTruce: After Oscar Gordon manages to mortally wound the Never-Born (AKA The Eater of Souls), he and it talk for a while before it dies.
* EarthIsTheCenterOfTheUniverse: Embarrassingly averted; Earth is such a backwater that Star's civilization doesn't even have an embassy there. It's just very convenient as a major hub in the PortalNetwork.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Oscar was born "Evelyn Cyril". His nickname, "E. C.", or "Easy", isn't much better. He's quite pleased when Star dubs him Oscar.
* {{Flynning}}: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] and averted -- Oscar's final duel with the Eater of Souls is decidedly ''not'' play fighting.
* FreeLoveFuture: Marriage in Star's society comes in infinite varieties and with infinite customs; the one rule she makes about it is that everyone has to respect everyone else's rules. In Center, the heart of the Empire, they work on a "toss your shoes" rule. Marriage is as simple as moving in, and if she wants you out, you'll find your shoes on the doorstep.
* GiantFlyer: The blood hawks.
* GoodBadGirl: Star is this by the standards of Oscar's reality; see BlueAndOrangeMorality.
* GoodScarsEvilScars: Oscar is named by Star for the scar on his face, earned during a bayonet fight with an enemy soldier.
* HeroesPreferSwords: By Vietnam-era Earth history, swordsmanship is an obsolete art; the [[JustifiedTrope fact that Oscar knows it]] is one of the things that makes him attractive to Star as a potential Hero, and it turns out to be absolutely vital. Oscar [[DiscussedTrope remarks]] that all true heroes should have one.
* HideousHangoverCure: Star knows one, and the mnemonic for it is a ShoutOut to ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'': "Eye of newt and toe of frog..."
* HyperspaceArsenal: Literally. The trunk that Rufo and Star bring with them is collapsible down to the size of a small pack but opens up into a massive armory. In a rare realistic treatment, the amount of energy required to accomplish this causes the thing to explode like a bomb when it's accidentally dropped into a swamp.
* IHaveManyNames: Star has truckloads. It comes with being the monarch of Twenty Universes.
* InHarmsWay: Oscar's primary occupation. He calls it "being a Hero".
* IShallTauntYou: Used on the indestructible construct Igli to get him mad enough to disregard common sense tactics.
* KinkySpanking: [[AuthorAppeal Typically for a Heinlein novel]], originally as a threat by Oscar following the BlueAndOrangeMorality incident mentioned above, and later as foreplay.
* LongevityTreatment: Longevity therapy is standard in Star's culture (very similar in principle to that discussed in ''Literature/TimeEnoughForLove''). She herself has lived several centuries and has Oscar treated the same way, unknowingly.
* {{Magitek}}: From Oscar's point of view, all of Star's gadgetry and "witchcraft". From her point of view, it's just science.
* TheMilkyWayIsTheOnlyWay: Although Star rules the Twenty Universes, it is unclear whether any of them managed to get out of their local version of the Milky Way -- if they even have one, as the laws of physics are different in each one.
* TheMultiverse: Inter-universal as well as interstellar travel is part of Star's technology. At times the lines blur between whether a planet is in a different universe or merely a different solar system.
* MummiesAtTheDinnerTable: Star relates a tale of a woman who had her deceased husbands stuffed and mounted and kept them in her house.
* NakedFirstImpression: Oscar first meets Star on Īle du Levant, a Mediterranean island where casual nudity is accepted and indeed required.
* NamedWeapons: Oscar's sword, "Lady Vivamus". He named it from the motto etched onto it, "Dum vivimus, vivamus!" (While we live, let us live.)
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: The Eater of Souls, a witty, FauxAffablyEvil construct set at the heart of the Tower of the Egg who waits for TheHero to come so he can [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech dissect his character]], shortly before dissecting his body.
* PortalNetwork: The basis of interstellar and intergalactic travel; Earth is important mainly as it's a major hub.
* ReallyGetsAround: Star, partly as a result of the FreeLoveFuture but also as an acknowledged relief valve for the enormous stress of running the Twenty Universes.
* Really700YearsOld: Star's age is never nailed down; Oscar says she looks somewhere between 18 and 25, depending on what she's doing. After the Egg is recovered, she's revealed to be [[spoiler: Rufo's grandmother]]. She admits that she deliberately makes herself look the age where "a woman has just stopped growing and started aging."
* ScienceFantasy: Up until the Mile-High Tower, the book reads like a fairly standard fantasy adventure novel. After the Tower, [[DoingInTheWizard enough of the technological nuts and bolts are revealed that the story becomes much more strongly science fiction]].
* [[ShoutOut/{{Literature}} Shout Out]]: Numerous shout outs to myth, legend and the few fantasy novels in existence in 1963, including references to NorseMythology, ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', ''TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'', ''Literature/TheHobbit'' and Cyrano de Bergerac (the Never-Born).
* SoWhatDoWeDoNow: What does a Hero do after beating the bad guy, saving the Twenty Universes, and marrying the Empress? Oscar finds himself asking this exact question.
* StandardHeroReward: Oscar's reward for adventuring and monster killing is marrying Star and living a life of luxury. He is so uncomfortable in such a life that he goes back to adventuring.
* StellarName: Star, of course.
* StrangerInAFamiliarLand: When Oscar returns to Earth, he discovers that it's lost any appeal for him.
* TheStrengthOfTenMen: Oscar quotes, "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure," sarcastically.
* VertebrateWithExtraLimbs: Horses with eight legs (which are a ShoutOut to Sleipnir, Odin's horse in NorseMythology).
* WaterfallShower: Oscar and Star bathe under several waterfalls in the area called the Singing Waters (so named for the sounds the water makes falling over them).
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Occurs almost literally to Oscar in the Mile-High Tower -- crawling through a lightless tunnel with [[WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes rats]] for company. The fact that it may have been an illusion created by the Eater of Souls makes him no less brave for overcoming it.
* WhoNamesTheirKidDude: Oscar's father bestowed "Evelyn Cyril" on him out of respect for a deceased ancestor, but he remarks that it caused him to learn to fight before he learned to read.
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: Oscar has a terrible fear of rats. Naturally this comes into play at the climax of the quest.
* WillNotTellALie: Star. She is, however, a master of partial truths and leading you to believe what you want to.
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