is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in the July,
August, and September 1941 issues. It was expanded into a full-length novel in 1958.
The novel is usually considered to be part of Heinlein's "Future History" series of stories. It introduces the Howard families, a fictional group
of people who achieved long lifespans through selective breeding. The space ship in this novel, the New Frontiers, is described in the Future History
timeline as a second generation ship, following the Vanguard, the vehicle for Heinlein's paired novellas "Universe" and "Common Sense"
The Howard Families derive from Ira Howard, who became rich in the California Gold Rush, but died young and childless. Fearing death, he left his
money for the prolongation of human life, and the trustees of his will carried out his wishes by financially encouraging those with long-lived
grandparents to marry and have children. While the Families (who, by the 22nd Century, have a life expectancy of 150 years) have kept their existence
secret, with the enlightened human society established under The Covenant, they decide to reveal themselves.
Society refuses to believe the Howard Families simply 'chose their ancestors wisely', instead insisting they have developed a method to extend life,
and the Families are persecuted and interned. Though the beleaguered Administrator of the planet, Slayton Ford, is convinced the Families are telling
the truth, he is helpless to control an increasingly irrational public and their efforts to force the Howard Families to reveal their "secret" or
The eldest member of the Howard Families, Lazarus Long, realizes this as well, and proposes to the Administrator that he help the Families hijack the
colony starship New Frontiers, so they can escape.