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Tunnel in the Sky

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  12,441 ratings  ·  541 reviews
A classic novel from the mind of the storyteller who captures the imagination of readers from around the world, and across two generations. The final exam for Dr. Matson's Advanced Survival class was meant to be just that: only a test. But something has gone terribly wrong...and now Rod Walker and his fellow students are stranded somewhere unknown in the universe, beyond c ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Pocket Books (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  12,441 ratings  ·  541 reviews

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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
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-shelf, sci-fi
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Tunnel in the Sky (Heinlein's Juveniles, #9), Robert A. Heinlein

Tunnel in the Sky is a juvenile science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, published in 1955.

The novel is set in the future, when Malthusian overpopulation on Earth has been averted by the invention of teleportation, called the "Ramsbotham jump", which is used to send Earth's excess population to colonize other planets. However, the costs of operating the device mean that the colonies are isolated from Earth until
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
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
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pre-80s-sf
“The extradimensional distortions necessary to match places on two planets many light-years apart were not simply a matter of expenditure of enormous quantities of energy; they were precision problems fussy beyond belief, involving high mathematics and high art-the math was done by machine but the gate operator always had to adjust the last couple of decimal places by prayer and intuition.”
I do love Heinlein’s style of tech-talk, sounds great, and seems to make sense with just about the right am
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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, sending mules &
Feb 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, kid
One of Heinlein's juveniles, which I read at just the right age and era. I remember thinking it was a pretty good adventure. I had already read his Starship Troopers and was impressed that he'd created a female equivalent to the Mobile Infantry (called, unimaginatively, the Amazons) and that they could screw up just as well as any man could. It challenged my '60's era thinking. But Heinlein always had a way of seeing which way things were headed. His philosophy towards survival in alien environm ...more
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. ...more
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
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
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
This is a pretty decent read from one of my favorite authors. A bit on the short side, it's a solid read nonetheless, and one thing to its credit is that near the end, we find out the source of the mishap that left the narrator, and others, stranded on this planet to fend for themselves and survive.

Like with many of his other books, politics and philosophy are discussed much here, and applied to practical use as the young adults and teenagers marooned here try to figure out how to get along and
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
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
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was tempted to set down my comments here in verse that would fit with the Norman Greenbaum tune, but I resisted. You're welcome. This is one of Heinlein's better "juveniles," full of can-do American spirit and Libertarian-tinged philosophy. It's got an optimistic Lord of the Flies vibe, too. It's remarkably sexist in some ways, and remarkably non-sexist in others, and I wonder how it will be viewed after another sixty-some years. I noticed that Rod is portrayed on the cover of the audio versio ...more
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
Michael Burnam-Fink
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018
Tunnel in the Sky is an underappreciated gem of a Heinlein juvenile. In the future, an overpopulated Earth expands into space through wormhole gates. Any job in the Outlands, as the other worlds are called, requires passing Outland Survival. The final exam is being dumped on an unknown planet, and surviving a few days until recall. Rod Walker is a high school student facing such an exam.

We meet his family, and get some cool hints at the expanded setting. A new religion called Monism has joined t
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
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
Lynda Engler
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi

So, Heinlein novels can be broken down into two (maybe three) categories. The first category are the Heinlein juveniles published between 1947 and 1958. These were primarily YA-targeted books like Have Space Suit—Will Travel, The Rolling Stones, and Starman Jones. The characters are usually young (high school age), the plots often revolve around family, the endings tend to be upbeat, and the moral lessons are (for the most part) non-controversial.

All this changed with the infa
Julie Davis
Mar 10, 2021 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this since I like man against nature survival type stories. Plus I think Heinlein's juvenile stories are his best. I can see how it would have been a favorite if I'd have read it when I was young. ...more
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
Joseph Hirsch
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Rod Walker is a young New Yorker in a future in which Malthusian catastrophe has forced humans to discover and colonize far planets. This goal has such primacy that young people are basically trained from childhood on into early adolescence to prepare for potential hardships in the quest to colonize the distant reaches of space.

Rod, in addition to dealing with well-meaning but overbearing parents, is preparing for his own "Jump through the Gate," a sort of trial period in which he must survive
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
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The final for a high school Survival Class is for the class to survive on another planet for 2-10 days with only what they can carry on their person. Unfortunately, the gate between earth and the planet is broken, leaving the students to fend for themselves for 2 years. They create their own city with its own government and marriages.

I found this book to be quite an interesting read. Heinlein definitely included his military survival training knowledge in the situations the students encountered
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
...been reading a lot of my old Heinlein paperbacks lately....this one is my 3rd or 4th favorite Heinlein. It's basically a survival story. Rod Walker is sent along with other young men through a hyperspatial tunnel to another planet. All they have to do is survive for a limited time till pick-up. But then the deadline passes.... I enjoyed this book immensely when I first read it back in elementary school--and I enjoyed rereading it 50 years later! ...more
Martin DH
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. ...more
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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

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