Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tunnel in the Sky” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Tunnel in the Sky
Robert A. Heinlein
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tunnel in the Sky

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  10,486 Ratings  ·  394 Reviews
One of the classic Heinlein "boy's books", this riveting adventure features a group of teens stranded on a planet far distant from Earth when the final test for a course in survival tactics goes disastrously wrong.
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published January 14th 1955 by Charles Scribner's Sons (first published January 1st 1955)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tunnel in the Sky, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tunnel in the Sky

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
Stargate! Minus all the gods and the missions and the ascension crap.

Add survival, walls, and GOVERNMENT! Wooooo.... um... well at least the survival bit was fun. :)

Seriously, this YA is still a very can-do Americana book, with a seriously heavy Liberterian bent, but I have no issues there. I love that crap.

Still... I think I prefer Miles Vorkosigan's conception of the most important survival tool better. Tipping the invisible hat was one of Bujold's greatest inventions. But Heinlein had the sam
After reading Brad's review just now, my fingers, as far as I can tell entirely of their own volition, googled "strong female characters in Heinlein". They knew what they were doing! Within a few seconds, they'd found us this interesting article.

Well, all I can say is that I'm ashamed. I like to imagine that I'm an independent thinker who goes where the data takes him, and I find I'm just another herd animal. Convinced by the first two examples that popped into my head (okay, one of them was Eun
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very original and entertaining Heinlein adventure.

This was one of my favorite Heinlein juvenile books and concerns a Stargate type of portal (did this influence the later films?) where colonists are sent out into the farther reaches of the universe. But before a band of colonists would attempt to settle a planet, adventurous types would go out first to provide reconnaissance and determine of the habitat was livable.

Many of Heinlein's later ideas are revealed here, and his hard scrabble libertari
Mike (the Paladin)
One of Heinlein's youth books that stirred my imagination more than most. I really liked this book and read it many times in my youth. A class of young "survivalists" (college and high school students taking survival classes in school) are sent to a distant un-colonized planet to survive...and are lost. They then have to survive on their own with no way to get home.

As I said as a "youth" I loved this book. Rod Walker's teacher is worried about Rod taking the final exam in the survival class (bei
I'm in that place again where I went back to the well of my teen reading loves and found the book wanting.

Is this, I wonder, the form a mid-life crisis takes in the literary minded? We go back to the books we loved in the past, the things we held fond memories of, and destroy that love once we wonder how on earth we, the people we are now, could have ever loved something so [fill-in-the-blank].

Tunnel in the Sky is just such a book for me. I listened to an audio version this time, after redisco
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the correct edition. Mine is an OLD mono rip from cassettes done probably 20 years ago or more.

I'm 2/9 of the way in & quite impressed (no, not by the sound quality) by all the things Heinlein's managed to pack into the beginning of this novel. It's not just the neat new way of traveling to the stars, but the whole way he's done the colonization idea. The contrast between low tech pioneering & super high tech travel is economically & socially feasible.

I have to say, sen
3.5 stars. A good, solid Heinlein "juvenile" SF about a group of young adults stranded on a distant world during the final exam of an "advanced survivor" course. I really liked the first half of the book in which the world is introduced, the concept behind the "tunnels" is explained and the effect that the tunnels have had on the form of society. This part is top notch Heinlein and I would have given 4 to 5 stars.

Once they find themselves stranded, I thought the story became less interesting an
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi_general
Classic sci fi from a classic sci fi author -- gotta love it :) Best part is the plethora of kickass female characters, starting with the main character's sister who is a commander in an advanced military division known as the Amazons. She didn't need to be for the story to work, which makes it even better. Not deep or epic or philosophical, but an entertaining story well told.
For years, a good friend has been recommending Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky to me and for years it's sat on my to-be-read shelf, silently accusing me of neglect. One excuse I'd used was I was part of a sci-fi/fantasy book group that read a novel by Heinlein to start the year and I figured we'd eventually get around to Tunnel.

But the book group became extinct and the book just kept sitting there, expectantly. So, I finally dusted it off and cracked the cover.

If you follow my reviews, y
Deborah Ideiosepius
In this classic science fiction novel Heinlein is takes us through the experiences of a young man, Rod Walker, who as part of a final exam (high school, no less) on a survival course must complete a period of a few days on an alien planet, surviving on his own.

The 'Tunnel in the sky' actually refers to the method in which a future society has developed to colonise far worlds. Heinlein remains coy about the date, so all we really know is that it is a future Earth and future society. Once on this
Doug Turnbull
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Copyrighted in 1955, Tunnel in the Sky is the 9th of the Heinlein juveniles and it is noteworthy in several respects. First, while it is set in the future and on another planet, the bulk of the novel isn’t really science fiction at all, it is more of a survival tale. Second, while some of the story involves Robinson Crusoe type details on improvising basic technology, a major portion of it is social and political commentary made through the actions and statements of the characters. And third, th ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Humans are colonising the galaxy, thanks not to rocket ships capable of taking us to remote star systems, but gateways through hyperspace that allow us to travel anywhere in an instant. But before people are allowed to start a new life in a frontier world, they must take survival classes which culminate in a test in which students are dopped into alien environments and must survive or die.

Our protagonist is takes his test and is sent to an alien world (along with many other students) only to fin
Mary Catelli
One of Heinlein's juveniles. Though you've got to notice that it starts with a college course that has a final of being dropped on some planet -- and surviving. And bright kids can take it in high school.

Rod Walker just learned with the rest of his class that it's the next day. Sees some of his world, filling us in, and has some conflict with his family, but ends up going. His military sister talks him out of a gun but gives him an additional knife.

When he arrives -- the title tunnel in the sky
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Survival stories are frequent in YA literature, and Tunnel in the Sky was probably one of the first, originally published in 1955. It is referred to as one of "Heinlein's Juveniles," and is a great tale of adventure with a life-threatening scenario. Rather than making a statement, as some of Heinlein's works attempt to do, this book is just danger and kids using what they have learned to create a new society and survive on an alien planet. Anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games or Ender's Game woul ...more
Lynda Engler
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this classic YA novel. I always knew it was a "lord of the Flies" type story but the way the teenagers interacted and the way they faced situations was so well done that's its clear why Robert Heinlein was one of the masters of science fiction. Although written over 50 years ago, the book isn't dated much at all. A few turns of phrase that aren't in vogue today, but basically, it is such a good view of the human condition that it is timeless.
When Gene Roddenberry was pitching the original Star Trek to skittish network executives, he used the phrase "Wagon Train to The Stars".

That might actually have been a working title for this book, since the society it's predicated is based on LITERAL wagon trails to the stars (? or alternate universes? It's not really clear...) via stargates.

The basic conceit ('survival' courses for high school seniors, with a final practicum 'graded' so that you pass if you survive a set period in an unfamiliar
I'd like to give this book a higher rating, because it does do some things very well, but I just can't. Things it does well include excellent world-building, a very good record for coming up with interesting or surprising (or both) takes on the situation, at least acknowledging alternat epoints of view (rare for Heinlein), and a relatively unpredictable plot--in a juvenile, this is especially noteworthy.

Unfortunately, Heinlein's virtues often go for naught, and that's largely true here, though p
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
OMG this book started out with such a great premise and then totally TANKED like halfway through. SERIOUSLY "let's get stranded on another planet with infinite social possibilities and make sure to reinstate all the most booooring institutions FIRST THING." urgh. plus heinlein is a sexist sexist jerkface.
Here’s the latest reread of Heinlein’s works, as I go through the Virginia Edition series.

And this one is the most personal (so far) for me. Tunnel in the Sky was the first ‘proper’ SF book to grab my attention when I was about 8-9. It was this book that determined that I would spend the next forty-plus years reading the stuff, and continuing to enjoy it (on the whole.) In essence, it was this book that pretty much put me where I am today.

I still have my original copy, a rather battered second-h
Martin D
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Heinlein's more youthful books. It had several really good twists and wasn't as dramatic as other "youths-surviving-in-the-outdoors" type of books (like Lord of the Flies). That made the story more interesting and harder to foresee, since it didn't fully follow the most mainstream types of story evolution. It also makes some small criticism of anthropology and consumerism (not directly linked together). A good and sound book to read that left me with a nice warm feeling.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The main message of the story was that every one has its own beast which he has to fight in a new environment. The beast will be different all the time. But it is there and it has to be fighted when you will survive.
I read this book in just a week during my study. And I had to fight a lot of beasts then. Test, exams, books to read for the study, stupid Professors and ass*** students.
But I found allways a way to get back on the way.
Therefor I have to thank R.A.H. for this book.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stargates, nice. A retelling of Lord of the Flies that more matches what I'd expect.
Jim Mcclanahan
I find myself wondering if Heinlein had read Golding's "Lord of the Flies" (1954) before publishing this novel in 1955. If I'm charitable, I'll assume he didn't. Otherwise, I would have to conclude that he was portraying a society built by kids from scratch that works (after a fashion) as opposed to one that emphatically does not.

Keeping that in mind, I also find that RAH ascribes much more maturity and stalwart nature to his characters than is likely to be the case in reality. The snappy repar
Jeff Yoak
Robert A Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky is fairly typical of his juvenile novels. It has a fast-moving plot, interesting child characters (though a little older than is typical for him) and a fantastic speculative setting.

Rod Stewart is precocious enough to be taking Advanced Survival in high school instead of the more typical college timing. The final exam requires spending 2-10 days on a raw frontier planet, transported there through a trans-dimensional gate. Accident causes the gate to stop fun
Glenn Conley
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Awesome book. Quite the compelling read. Damn thing kept me up all night. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Which kind of sucked because I started it around 2am. So, here I am. It's 6am now, and I just finished this book. And there's no way I'm getting any sleep because damn... This book was so gripping. It has my mind in a vise.

That being said, the book is pretty much "The lord of the flies" in space. Or, on a different planet, anyway. Its a pretty simple story. It's just very well wri
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a book aimed at teenage boys this was definitely better than I was expecting. Heinlein does some really interesting things with gender roles in this book, which considering it's aimed at male teenagers in 1955 is very good. There are strong women characters, fighters, and warriors, and while everyone still shares 1950s prejudices and seem far too keen on getting married, there is still a new perspective being offered that I really liked. The plot of this book I found interesting, a far futur ...more
Our family loves listening to Heinlein youth novels on long drives. This one has a sci-fi Robinson Crusoe element to it, which is irresistible to adolescent boys and adults alike. I think what I like most about these novels is that they ooze a post WWII sense of optimism and love of democracy and country. These novels are clearly seeped in the mid twentieth century. They feel dated, but not in a bad way-in a nostalgic way. They are fun to read.

Heinlein is going to be Heinlein, so if you have rea
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those new to the science fiction genre.
Recommended to Linnae by: my husband
Rod Walker and his classmates at Patrick Henry High have only the final exam left in Dr. Matson's survival class. A 5-10 day solo survival field trip--any planet, any conditions. They can bring any gear they want to bring, will be equipped with the weapon of their choice, and as long as they are still breathing when the gate opens back up to Earth, they pass (assuming they make it back through the gate.)

Only there's been a glitch. The test period has long been over, and no gate has opened back
Karen Mardahl
The idea for this story is quite amazing. The technology for travelling to distant planets is a kind of compact wormhole tunnel. It is also used to get around planet Earth rather quickly. You can work in New York and live in Arizona thanks to such technology. Very cool and intriguing.
The idea of the "bootcamp" follows that technology. How do you train people who go to live on faraway planets that might have a dangerous environment? You send them off as senior high school students to to a anothe
Although it's not really heavy on the science fiction (it's a survival story that involves spending time with low levels of technology surviving on an alien planet that isn't significantly different from Earth), this is a good story that reminds me a lot of the survival portion of Shards of Honour. The characters feel very real, although a few of them, such as the teacher, sound like they are probably extensions of Heinlein himself. There's a lot of world building packed in here, but it made the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • David Falkayn: Star Trader (Technic Civilization 2)
  • Dinosaur Planet Survivors (Dinosaur Planet, #2)
  • Skylark of Valeron (Skylark #3)
  • A Life for the Stars (Cities in Flight, #2)
  • Janus (Janus, #1-2)
  • Oath of Fealty
  • Callahan's Key (The Place #1, Callahan's Series #8)
  • The Currents of Space (Galactic Empire #2)
  • Homeworld (To The Stars, #1)
  • Orphan Star (Pip & Flinx #3)
  • Iceworld
  • Polymath (Zarathustra Refugee Planets, #2)
  • Voyage from Yesteryear
  • Red Thunder (Thunder and Lightning, #1)
  • Against the Fall of Night
  • Exodus (Starfire, #5)
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

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 about Robert A. Heinlein...
“      "When a cat greets you, he makes a big operation of it, bumping, stropping your legs, buzzing like mischief. But when he leaves, he just walks off and never looks back. Cats are smart.” 2 likes
“Gulliver's Travels sardonically proposed that Irish babies be fattened for English tables;” 1 likes
More quotes…