For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs is one of those books that have been on my to-read list forever, and I just got around to reading it over my trip to Asia. It is by Robert Heinlein whose sci-fi stories I had read when I was younger. He is probably most well-known in mainstream for having written Starship Troopers.

For Us, The Living piqued my interest because it was his first novel and not published until after his death. It was written in 1938 and tells the story of a gentlemen who “died” in 1939, only to re-appear in 2086. This premise is really a vehicle for Heinlein to describe his idea of what could be the future of the Unites States. It’s not a description of an utopia, but rather an attainable future, although there would be lots to study within an English class.

He goes into quite a lot of detail describing a new economic system, how its different than the one used in 1939 (which I guess is still similar to what we use now) and how its better. He also discusses a new moral system (which are the customs) which seems like it could work (but I can’t see how we would convince an entire society to suddenly switch to this approach).

There’s also bits of traditional sci-fi elements (i.e., new tech) but what was interesting to me was they discussed going to the moon. This was a far-fetched dream in 1938, but it happened less than 30 years later!