Friday by Robert Heinlein
I first came across Friday when I was doing background research for my thesis and found out that one of the books I chose, Saturn’s Children, was an homage novel to Friday. I considered myself duty bound to pick up Friday and read it for research purposes. Reading an imitation or a model without ever seeing or even knowing an original exists is nothing special, but going back to the original afterwards is a rather unique experience. It would be as if you watched the Harry Potter films from film two onwards and then afterwards went back to the first one. It is an experience that is illuminating in many ways, but also unsettling in others. You get a feel of the references and the jokes, but in some ways the things you never noticed dawn in your mind and you start to feel differently, you begin to ask questions.
Without giving too much away, it was impossible to read Friday and not see Saturn’s Children. Friday is a genetically engineered courier for an organization she can never name in a society where there is fierce discrimination against artificial persons like herself. In time Friday learns about who she is as well as how the world works and as chaos ensues, Friday struggles to find her place in the new world order. The two novels are good siblings from the small details, such as names, all the way to plot structures. Two instances that stood out to me as far as larger differences were the extent of the story. In Friday there is an extensive time spent on courier tasks, as is her profession, but even more on her existential crisis as being excluded from humanity as well as discrimination against her identity. While both of these conflicts are dealt with in their own way, Friday as a protagonist spends more time on her back than Freya and the society Friday lives in is more conducive to her exploration of her identity as human. The endings, while I thought they would be quite similar from reading the Wikipedia synopsis, are more different than expected in a good way. Friday examines herself and her quest for belonging more than Freya who becomes a courier, not really by her own choice.
There are more instances of difference that merit speaking about, but they reveal too much of the plot. Everything Friday knows is turned around and she must deal with challenges she did not believe she could. As a novel on its own, Friday is an entertaining read about a quirky engineered being just realizing her own potential and struggling to figure out her place in the world.
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