A classic novel from the mind of the storyteller who captures the imagination of readers from around the world, and across two generations
Science Fiction Grand Master
ROBERT A. HEINLEIN
It was a desperate time, when one's next meal and the comforts of home couldn't be taken for granted. Max Jones, a practical, hard-working young man, found his escape in his bel...more
Max is a hillbilly & has an impossible situation at home. He runs away, gets fake ID with the help of a rough, but kind stranger. He gets a job on a space ship cleaning pet cages. Menial, but honest work that...more
One of Heinlein's so called teen novels and a good read. It dates back to 1953 and as I said is...more
I think of this as the exemplar of Heinlein's writing in this period. The hero is a sympathetic lad with special talents, the mentor is old but not a lecherous coot, the plot complications involve interpersonal tension as well as external problems, the problems are both technical and alien-mediated, and the solutions require the protagonist to shoulder responsibilities and become a man. This is a fine young adult novel and one of two science fiction novels (the other being...more
The age of the story was most apparent in the technology. Max has to study a computer by opening a panel & tracing circuits. Logs were pulled out of the tables in books (Anyone else remember those?), problems were m...more
YA and pulpy, but moves quickly, with characteristic heinleinian asides regarding law, politics, and science. Some nifty geeking out on the science of FTL travel.
Some have said that the text lays out a critique of labor unions, which may be the case. But it's not unambiguous, as the setting involves less unions than guilds, a significant distinction....more
It is also the first of his juveniles to postulate interstellar travel. All of the earlier books confined travel within the solar system. The protagonist, Maximilian Jones, or Max as he is known, comes from unspecified hill country, possibly the Ozarks, where he is living...more
Max Jones is a young farmer, working hard to support his unlovable stepmother after his father's death, but he dreams of the life his Uncle Chet lived, as a member of the Astrogators' Guild. Chet had promised him that he'd nominate him for membership, but died while Max was still too young to join, and then Max's father, before he died also, made him promise to take care of his stepmother.
But when his stepmother remarries and she and her new h...more
Reputations accrete in funny ways, and often we end up with a mental picture of a person or his work that's less than accurate. Take Robert A. Heinlein for example, the so-called dean of science fiction writers. Though Heinlein's career spanned nearly half a century, most folks today know him for the militaristic Starship Troopers, whose characters blasted not only intergalactic arachnids but Marxism as well. But theme-heavy SF doesn't compose the entirety of his oeuvre...more
The hero of this Alger-esque story has an identic memory. Whatever he reads, he remembers. He's told not to rely on this, as what matters to an astrogator (read: astronautical navigator) is knowing how to do (and check) the calculations. They have records, but to use said records without knowing how to check them is to perpetuate errors.
Turns out that the eidetic memory is not (quite) irrelevant, after all--but the initial advice was good, as the...more
That was some years ago, but things have gotten worse everywhere. There are no longer any places that get dark at night. (Possibly with the exception of Arizona, where the astro...more
Starman Jones is your basic boys' adventure story: Max is a kid from Earth who runs away from home when his stepmother marries an abusive bum. He meets an amia...more
I found Jones to be a very typical Heinlein hero – abused boy running off to make a better life for himself. Of course, he finds a girl in his explorations and for some odd reason she’s into him. He’s into her too, but o...more
This is a classic coming of age story, with enough twist and turns to stay interested in it. I especially like that the story contains some elements of redemption for its main characters, especially Sam.
For a Science Fiction book written...more
On re-reading the book recently, I winced a bit at some of the attitudes towards women, but that was par for the course in 1953 and the female protagonist was a tough cookie, as were some of the other women....more
The story is a moves right along, the characters are interesting and varied, and the action is as fast paced as you would want, without feeling like a Stel Pavlou book. Nothing against Stel, he just writes in an awful damn hurry. It bogged down a little for me on the unknown planet, the capture by the creatures seemed a bit much, but otherwise I dont know that I would change much if I Buettnered this tomorrow and rewrote it in my own homage s...more
This is however another one of Heinlein's great juvenile novels. This book follows the adventures of Starman Jones as he runs away from home to be an astrogator and follow in the footsteps of his uncle. Things don't always go as p...more
I continue to be amused by Heinlein's preview of a future where humans are the weakest (but necessary) link in the starship/computer interface. However, his characters are likable in this coming of age story, in which the Farm Boy wants to go to Space, and actually reaches his goal... but not without a few n...more
As a rule his juveniles all have to be classed as 'coming-of-age' stories starring a gifted youngster who might have a history of getting in trouble, of the 'too smart for their own good' verity, but is generally naive. The story would just be a series of episodes involving no real danger but providing opportunity for limited growth.
This one though has a beginning, middle and end; it just comes rather abruptly. It is almost as if he hit his...more
Obvious inspirations: "A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms" for the aliens and Horatio Hornblower novels for naval (here space) customs. In both cases the novel does not quite live up to the originals, but one wouldn't expect it to.
Good sci-fi for when you want a quick entertaining read. Some Heinleinian philosophy about trade unions and liberties of the frontier.
Also: Jo Walton's review on Tor.com.
Plus, no overt sex or bad language. So -- you probably know a teen who will enjoy this, if not for yourself!
Haven't re-read it yet, but I imagi...more
Sometime later the chief 'Astrogater' dies and the ship is seemingly lost in uncharted space. The Captain cannot cope. They land upon the nearest habitable world...more
He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre...more