I Will Fear No Evil

I Will Fear No Evil

infobox Book |
name = I Will Fear No Evil
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First Edition cover of "I Will Fear No Evil"
author = Robert A. Heinlein
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = G. P. Putnam's Sons
release_date = 1970
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"I Will Fear No Evil" is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialised in "Galaxy" (July, August/September, October/November, December 1970) and published in hardcover in 1970. The title is taken from Psalm 23:4.

Plot summary

Ancient billionaire Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is dying, and wants to have his brain transplanted into a new body.Smith advertises an offer of a million dollars for the donation of a body from a brain-dead patient. Coincidentally, his beautiful young female secretary, Eunice Branca, is murdered, so her body is used, since Smith never thought to place any restriction on the sex of the donor. He is rechristened Joan Eunice Smith.

For reasons never made clear, Eunice's personality continues to co-inhabit the body. (Whether Eunice's personality is real or a figment of Johann's imagination is addressed but never fully resolved in the novel.) Joan and Eunice agree never to reveal her continued existence, fearing that they would be judged insane and locked up. The two of them speculate that it may have something to do with the supposed ability of animals to remember things using RNA rather than the nervous system. (At the time the book was published, biologist J.V. McConnell had done a series of experiments in which he taught a behavior to flatworms, ground them up, and fed them to other flatworms, which supposedly exhibited the same behavior. McConnell's experiments were later discredited, but they were used in science fiction by several authors, including Heinlein, Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman,and Dean Koontz.) However, Joan and Eunice decide that this possible explanation is irrelevant, and near the end of the book, a third personality, that of Joan's new husband, joins them by means that can only be explained via religion or mysticism, not science.

The story takes place against a background of an overpopulated Earth, whose dysfunctional society is clearly an attempt to extrapolate into the future the rapid social changes taking place in the U.S. during the 1960s. Heinlein suffered from life-threatening peritonitis while working on this novel, and it is generally believed that his wife Virginia handled much of the editing. Detractors of this novel sometimes invoke Heinlein's overall ill health as a reason for its perceived poor quality. Much of the book is devoted to a description of Joan's exploration of emotional and sexual (but mainly sexual) love from the point of view of her new sex. A typical episode in this long series of escapades involves Joan having an experience that is new to her from the female point of view, with internal dialog between Joan and Eunice to the effect that there is nothing new under the sun, and all of this was going on a hundred years ago when Johann was young and male. These dialogs form the bulk of the book, and it is often hard to believe that they could happen during the gaps in the exterior scene being describedOr|date=September 2008. The book deals with many of Heinlein's favorite themes, such as radical individualism, immortality, free love, and the relationship between sexual and emotional love.

As in his story "All You Zombies—", we have a male undergoing a sex change and then impregnating herself. It is also interesting to compare this book with the original version of "Podkayne of Mars". Like "Podkayne", "I Will Fear No Evil" ends by moralizing about the fundamental purpose of human life, which is to take care of children, and in both novels the moral has no clear relationship to the main events of the story. (Given that "I Will Fear No Evil" is almost entirely about sex, and its moral, as finally stated, is the importance of procreation, it is remarkable that procreative sex is entirely absent; Joan becomes pregnant by artificial insemination.) Both "Podkayne of Mars" and "I Will Fear No Evil" have female-point-of-view characters who are portrayed as ideal, almost saintlike types, and both end with the death of the protagonist (using Heinlein's original ending of "Podkayne"). Joan, however, ends up being a rather flat character, and not nearly as believable as Podkayne.

The book contains some demonstrations of Heinlein's frequent success as a . For example, Eunice operates a device called a "stenodesk" that works quite a bit like a modern personal computer or workstation. (Heinlein's 1957 novel "The Door into Summer" similarly envisaged the development of CAD systems, and his 1982 novel "Friday" portrayed something very like the modern Internet, and perhaps most specifically the modern websites Wikipedia and YouTube.) The novel is also notable in that it contains one of SF's first sympathetic fictional portrayals of a same-sex couple.


*January 1970, Putnam, hardcover, ISBN 0-399-10460-7
*Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-06820-X
*Penguin Putnam, paperback, ISBN 0-425-02321-4
*1971, Berkley, paperback, first printing edition, ISBN 0-425-02085-1
*January 1975, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-02806-2
*November 1975, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-03099-7
*October 1976, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-03425-9
*September 15, 1980, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-04386-X
*January 1982, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-05613-9
*December 15, 1982, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-06171-X
*February 1983, MacMillan, 401 pages, ISBN 0-8398-2449-1
*May 1984, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-07508-7
*July 1985, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-08680-1
*July 1986, Berkley, paperback, ISBN 0-425-09554-1
*September 1, 1990, Ace, paperback reissue edition, 512 pages, ISBN 0-441-35917-5

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