James's Reviews > Farmer in the Sky

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
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Jul 21, 11

bookshelves: sci-fi
Read from July 17 to 21, 2011

Farmer in the Sky is one of a series of juvenile novels for the kids of the time. Robert wrote about 12 of these before deciding he wanted to write more adult fiction. This book is told from the viewpoint of Bill, a boy who lives with his father in some far future, and from what I have been able to gather, from beyond the 22nd century.

Man has made it to the surrounding planets and has terraformed Mars and Venus and there is a base on the Moon. Not a lot of people are travelling though, with Earth suffering under a large population and keeping track of rationing to stretch the food supply.

With new ships, they are able to reach the moons of Jupiter and are looking for colonists. Bill and his father (he calls his father "George" rather than "Dad." I thought this interesting. Heinlein does have a way of letting us know of social convention within his fictional society which I really appreciate.)

Anyway, Bill has trouble with school, is a Boy Scout and is trying to get over the death of his mother Annie. He feels betrayed by George when George hooks up with a new woman, Molly. Bill gets mad and thinks George does not respect the memory of his mother. Of course this is silly, but that's how he sees it.

We see here that Bill has a lot of growing up to do.

Eventually we get to the point where they head off to Ganymede, one of many moons orbiting Jupiter. It took many years to terraform it and he is one of the first colonists. Most of the story goes over their adventures, near misses and the death of thousands, but oddly without getting really deep about it.

Spoiler: At the end, even though he has discussions with George, he decides not to go to MIT but to stay on Ganymede, despite the fact he needs the higher education to be an engineer. I couldn't disagree with that more, since he will never be an engineer and go off to colonize the other Jovian moons.

Bottom Line: Overall, a quick read. Lots more talking than action, and there are a few places in the book that could be a bit shocking to a young teen reading this. Overall, a fine example of a Heinlein juvenile novel, even if not his best.


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