Literature: Farnham's Freehold
"FARNHAM'S FREEHOLD: TRADING POST & RESTAURANT BAR — American Vodka, Corn Liquor, Applejack, Pure Spring Water, Grade "A" Milk, Corned Beef & Potatoes, Steak & Fried Potatoes, Butter & some days Bread, Smoked Bear Meat, Jerked Quisling (by the neck), Crepes Suzettes to order. !!!Any BOOK Accepted as Cash!!!! DAY NURSERY !!FREE KITTENS!! Blacksmithing, Machine Shop, Sheet Metal Work-You Supply the Metal. FARNHAM SCHOOL OF CONTRACT BRIDGE Lessons by Arrangement. Social Evening Every Wednesday.
Ring bell. Wait. Advance with your Hands Up. Stay on path, avoid mines. We lost three customers last week. We can't afford to lose YOU.
No sales tax.
—Hugh & Barbara Farnham & Family, Freeholders"
Written by Robert A. Heinlein
in the early sixties and published in 1964, Farnham's Freehold
is one of his most Genre-Busting
works.The novel begins with a sequence of events inspired by the Cuban missile crisis. The story is told from the point of view of Hugh Farnham, whose dysfunctional family is abruptly faced with nuclear Armageddon. Hugh's homemade fallout shelter provides them with temporary sanctuary... but one of the bombs dropped - a secret Soviet super-weapon - inexplicably sends the shelter and its occupants somewhere else.
They arrive on Earth, and in the same spot - but they cannot tell if this is Another Dimension
, the past, or the future. The climate has shifted and there is no sign of humanity at all. The 'second act' of the story is a tale of basic survival, the slow disintegration of Hugh's family - including the death of his beloved daughter - and a period of Unresolved Sexual Tension
between Hugh and his daughter's friend Barbara.Then hovercraft appear, abducting the survivor/settlers and ushering in the third act - which is set in a racist dystopia dominated by people of African ancestry, in which whites are slaves kept tranquil by drugs and, in some cases, butchered and eaten.
The survivors become slaves of varying status... except for their former servant Joe, who as a black man is automatically entitled to 'free' status and parlays his experiences into high status. Hugh's wife and son become 'content' with their low rank, but Hugh and Barbara commit themselves to escape at any cost. When an unexpected ally offers them a risky method of returning to their own era, Hugh and Barbara leap at the chance. The book ends with the quote above, stating that they survived the apocalypse and implying that they spend the rest of their lives trying to avert the Bad Future
This novel provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Ponse is a prime example of the trope. Hugh even acknowledges it, lamenting that Ponse is the worst kind of evil there is, simply because he's always incredibly nice, yet constantly reminding you how evil he *could* be if you cross him.
- After the End: A nuclear apocalypse provides Book Ends - via time travel.
- Author Filibuster: Not subtle - even by Heinlein standards.
- Crazy-Prepared: Hugh Farnham. It is the source of much antagonism between him and his son Duke, who sees him as a Crazy Survivalist. Hugh's planning constantly paying off doesn't improve their relationship any.
- Death by Childbirth: Farnham's daughter.
- The Dragon: Memtok is an unusual variation.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibalism is used as a way of showing just how screwed up the dystopian future his characters found themselves in After the End was.
- Naming Your Colony World
- No Need for Names: A female slave is assigned to Hugh Farnham, and she doesn't have a name. He ends up calling her 'kitten' after the cute way she curled up in bed when she was tired.
- Parental Incest: Farnham's daughter mentions to him that, of the three men she's been stranded with, he's the one she'd prefer to father her child (if she weren't already pregnant just now). Her dad is completely undisturbed and in fact flattered by this.
- People Farms: In the post apocalyptic society, lower castes of people are often used for food.
- Persecution Flip: The members of a white family are the slaves of cannibalistic black masters.
- The Starscream: Duke is constantly on the verge of mutiny under Hugh's leadership.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Hugh Farnham and his son, Duke are strapped to an operating table where they're about to castrate both of them until Ponce decides not to have them do this. Later, hey actually end up doing this to Duke.
- Used Future
- Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Barbara is quite surprised to find that the cat, named Dr. Livingston, is pregnant, since she'd believed the cat to be male. The five other human members of the group have known the cat a lot longer than Barbara has, and consistently use male pronouns, which probably adds to the confusion.