Who wrote Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Door into Summer’?

That’s obviously a trick question. Or is it?

If there are any of Heinlein’s novels I’ve not read, I’m not aware of them. His mid-1950s yarn ‘The Door into Summer‘ is one of my favourites, and speaks to me in a particular way. I read it first in my mid-teens, and remember well being unable to identify with the protagonist, Dan Davis, because he is introduced as being ‘on the right side of thirty by a few days’. I was, at the time, only half that age. I read it several times in the following years… and made a special point of reading it again when I was thirty. And again when I was sixty. (It being a tale with a time-travel theme, that seemed fitting.)

And then, not long ago, I discovered that there was a movie adaptation.

The Door into Summer (夏への扉 キミのいる未来へ) (2021)
Language: Japanese
Directed by: Takahiro Miki
Written by: Tommoe Kanno

Wait, what? Written by who?

This movie is, without a shadow of a doubt, based upon the novel of the same name by Robert Anson Heinlein.

In this adaptation, the characters all speak Japanese. That’s not a language I know, but that’s no problem; I’m perfectly comfortable with subtitled foreign movies. This one begins with quote, an entirely appropriate epigram:

The past, like the future, is indefinite, and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities

Stephen W Hawking (19422018)

… and, in the end credits, the source of that quote is openly acknowledged, again in English:

Special thanks
Professor Stephen Hawking – The Estate of Stephen Hawking

2021 movie ‘The Door into Summer’, end credits

Other than that, the movie features no English at all. And that, well, I have a problem with that, because, surely, the story’s originator ought to be given credit. Not doing so (particularly as Hawking’s minor contribution is so clearly presented) smacks of discourtesy, if not dishonesty.

In the trailer I found on YouTube (see below), the subtitles tease that this is “The long-awaited theatrical adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Door into Summer”. But the movie itself is silent on that point. Inspecting the end credits, I found this:

I think (but don’t know for certain) that that gives Heinlein credit for the original story. But why is it not in plain English? I consider the effective burial of Heinlein’s crucial role in this endeavour appalling, and that egregious omission coloured my initial impression of the movie.

On my first viewing, I felt that the story had lost its heart, and much of its depth. As is often the case with movie adaptations of novels, this one featured changes that didn’t enhance the tale; they just made it different.

In the book, the story begins in 1970; in the movie, it starts in 1995. That minor alteration is not a big deal; it’s understandable to want to bring the story up to a more current timeframe. However, one of the most interesting characters in the novel, Dr Hubert Twitchell, the ‘Unsung Genius’, is sidelined. Most of his interactions with Dan Davis are absent. That’s a great pity. It would have been wonderful to see on screen the dramatic scene in which Dan persuades Twitchell to flick the switch to send him into the past (or into the future).

Another change is the addition of a character named Pete, an artificial person – who doesn’t feature in the original yarn. This may be a nod to the book’s ‘Protean Pete’, a prototype machine. Or perhaps it’s a conflation of that ‘Pete’ with, arguably, one of the most important characters of all: Petronius the Arbiter, AKA Pete, the cat – who is the whole reason the story came to be.

When we were living in Colorado there was snowfall. Our cat—I’m a cat man—wanted to get out of the house so I opened a door for him but he wouldn’t leave. Just kept on crying. He’d seen snow before and I couldn’t understand it. I kept opening other doors for him and he still wouldn’t leave. Then Ginny said, ‘Oh, he’s looking for a door into summer.’ I threw up my hands, told her not to say another word, and wrote the novel ‘The Door into Summer’ in 13 days.”

Heinlein interview with Alfred Bester; ‘Redemolished‘ p487, ISBN 0-7434-0725-3

Now, Pete (the cat) does appear in the movie, too. In the book, Pete is a feisty, ornery cuss who knows his own mind, suffers no fools gladly, and takes no prisoners at crunch time. In the movie, his part is played by an overfed, feeble feline; a simpering, cuddly lap cat. In the scene in which Pete bests Belle, I suspect he probably had to be thrown across the room to make it appear as though he was moving at all.

I find it totally unforgivable that Petronius the Arbiter was denied his finest hour.

But that’s just me. In its own right this movie is pretty good, and well worth watching. By the third viewing, I admit that it had begun to grow on me. Please don’t let my issues with it dissuade you.

The Door into Summer (2021) Japanese Movie Trailer English Subtitles (夏への扉-キミのいる未来へ- 特報映像 英

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in ... wait, what?, art, Critiques, People, Rants, Science Fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Who wrote Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Door into Summer’?

  1. I somehow missed this book Now I have to find it

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bigm57 says:

    I quite agree that it is seriously bizarre to make a fuss about a Hawking quote, but to virtually ignore the original author!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Colie says:

    I haven’t read “The Door into Summer” and probably won’t and most certainly won’t watch the movie. I do remember when the word grok entered the counter-culture vernacular and read most(?) of “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It didn’t kindle joy or hold my interest at that time (early 1970s?). However, some years later I happened upon “Time Enough for Love” while sailing for US Steel, Great Lakes Fleet (an absolutely horrid way to live and work). I was so enthralled by this novel that I read it twice, consecutively. I’ve recommended it many times over the years which were all ignored. Of course, while the main body was thoroughly enjoyable, the best parts were the “Intermissions,” aka the rambling musings of the main character, Lazarus Long. The best advice from those selections I provide freely and often, Moderation is for monks. Life’s too short, take big bites.


    • peNdantry says:

      I think I only read ‘Time Enough for Love’ once, maybe twice, as a teenager. I should probably add it, and ‘Methuselah’s Children’ which leads into it, to my bucket list to read again, as the intervening years will certainly have lent them a different perspective.

      Generally, I found Lazarus Long’s axioms entertaining, and sometimes insightful† – but not always. “Moderation is for monks” is one that never struck a chord with me as it feels like an incitement to over-indulgence (a trait that is making a rubbish tip of Spaceship Earth).

      Thanks for your visit, and your comment. As RAH said: “May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.”

      † Such as

      Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields, but experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.


I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.