Farnham's Freehold

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Farnham's Freehold is a science fiction tale set in the near future by Robert Heinlein. A version edited by Frederik Pohl was first published in Worlds of If magazine in 1964. The complete version was published in novel form in 1965. It is a post-apocalyptic tale, as the setup for the story is a direct hit by an nuclear weapon, which sends a fallout shelter containing a man, his wife, son, daughter, daughter's friend, and domestic servant into the far distant future. Heinlein drew on his own experience in building a fallout shelter under his own house in Colorado Springs in 1950.

The book is popular with survivalist groups as it combines the civil engineering and physics of fallout shelter survival with the social dynamics of "lifeboat rules," or autocratic authority under extreme conditions, a theme further explored in depth in The Number of the Beast. To paraphrase Mr. Farnham, "How do you know who is the officer in the lifeboat? The one with the gun."

As the novel develops the family finds themselves marooned in a far future where a decadent but technologically advanced black culture keeps either uneducated or castrated whites as slaves. Each of the characters adapts to the sudden role-reversal in different and sometimes shocking ways.

Both Farnham's Freehold and Sixth Column, another novel by Heinlein, deal extensively with issues of race, but whereas Sixth Column is perceived as racist by some readers, Farmham's Freehold depends for its impact on reversing the racial roles.

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