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Citizen of the Galaxy

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  14,087 ratings  ·  608 reviews
In a distant galaxy, the atrocity of slavery was alive and well, and young Thorby was just another orphaned boy sold at auction. But his new owner, Baslim, is not the disabled beggar he appears to be: adopting Thorby as his son, he fights relentlessly as an abolitionist spy. When the authorities close in on Baslim, Thorby must ride with the Free Traders — a league of merch ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Pocket Books: Gallery Books (first published July 1957)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Citizen of the Galaxy (Heinlein's Juveniles #11), Robert A. Heinlein

Thorby is a young, defiant slave boy recently arrived at the slave auction at planet Jubbul's capital Jubbulpore, where he is purchased by an old beggar, Baslim the Cripple, for a trivial sum and taken to the beggar's surprisingly well-furnished underground home.

Thereafter Baslim treats the boy as a son, teaching him not only the trade of begging, but also mathematics, history, and several languages, while sending Thorby on err
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A, Heinlein was first published in 1957 and is generally considered one of his juvenile novels as Scribner’s published it.

An astute reader of Heinlein, though, may consider that this was published just a year before Have Space Suit—Will Travel, the last of the Scribner’s juveniles, in the same year as The Door Into Summer and only four years before Stranger in a Strange Land, so his transition from the more typical pure science bildungsroman of his earlier works
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
Some of my all-time favorite sci-fi novels were written by Robert Heinlein. Some of the worst, stupidest, most incoherent, hipper-than-thou sci-fi novels were also written by Robert Heinlein. So every time I check out a Heinlein from the library, it is with great trepidation.

I am happy to say that Citizen of the Galaxy is one of the first category – a good Heinlein. It is creative, likeable, possibly even inspiring. The hero, Thorby, is one of his better characters. A lot of things happen to hi
Manuel Antão
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, 1985
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

8XK40367 : “Citizen of the Galaxy” by Robert A. Heinlein

"Goodnight, son," the old beggar whispered. "Good dreams . . . and good luck!"

In “Citizen of the Galaxy” by Robert A. Heinlein

I should ask the Heinlein estate permission to use one of his characters in a new story. I could see Thorby going after the slavers, there are so many other characters. Lazarus Long, Started Max Jones, Lip Russell and his spacesuit, Bill Lerner and his farm
Mike (the Paladin)
Somehow I had managed (over the decades) to miss this Heinlein novel. It like so many others is in many ways a masterpiece. We begin with a young boy who's a slave. His memories of who or what he was before his slavery are essentially nil. On the block he still shows some spirit, enough to get him cuffed.

But he doesn't sell. Being young, small and scrawny no one seems willing to put in the time and money it would take to train him up into a useful slave... No one buys him that is until a local
Juho Pohjalainen
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I haven't gotten to read anything by Heinlein before - and as far as first experiences go, it's not bad at all. It flows well and has a bunch of curious scifi settings and cultures, and raises questions about freedom and what it really means, and that perhaps no one is really free. Also, slavery is bad.

That said, I feel like there was a bit of a missed opportunity with Thorby's heritage. I thought the book was going to go with the route of making him a nobody all along, which would have prompted
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rags to riches story that takes us across a good fraction of the universe & into several cultures. It's full of adventure & interesting characters. I really liked the description of the life of The People, 'free' spacers who travel the universe trading & willingly give up their individual freedom in a totalitarian society far more stringent than anything save perhaps Orwell's world of 1984 yet they're seemingly happy & well adjusted. It's one of RAH's juveniles, one of the best of a good bunch ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Highly regarded as one of the best of Heinlein’s juvies, Citizen of the Galaxy is indeed, for the most part, worthy of the praise that has been heaped upon it. I do have one qualm with this novel; it seems to lack a nemesis, or antagonist. There is quite a bit that happens – but to what end? There are no “bad guys” so it’s a bit bland at times. The slavers, and slavery, are the closest the novel ever comes to real conflict, but that is handled in such a peripheral fashion that there is never any ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xcharity-2012, scifi
Citizen of the Galaxy is a throw back to the days when a complete story could be told in 250 pages or less. A nice 3 Star diversion to a simpler time in SciFi, when "atomics" were all the rage and everyone had them, strictly for defense you know. Heinlein tells a tale of a young lad, sold as a slave to an old beggar--who is not what he seems. The boy grows and has adventures as he goes on a mission for the old beggar that will journey through several different cultures. Heinlein paints 3 differe ...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. My second favorite Heinlein novel after The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Good writing, excellent characters and an interesting plot. Recommended!! ...more
Simon Mcleish
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in August 1999.

At one stage of his career, Heinlein wrote a series of novels aimed at what is now termed the "young adult" market; Citizen of the Galaxy is one of the best of these. This is partly because it has something of a message yet is still entertaining escapism.

The moral is hardly a revolutionary one; it has been pretty generally accepted throughout the twentieth century. It can be summed up as "slavery is evil", and though mainly concerned with slave
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was incredibly jarring. I felt like Robert Heinlein had a good idea...then he had another one...then he had another one. And since he liked all three of them, he decided "What the Hell!" and combined them. The book features a boy named Thorby. At the beginning of the book, he is sold as a slave to a beggar man. The beggar man (surprise) turns out to be more then he appears. He trains up Thorby and turns him into a super smart and clever beggar.

Then he is murdered. We don't know why. I'
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've read a LOT of Heinlein, and this book doesn't read as much like a "typical" Heinlein book as others I've read. The main character is very serious --yes, he was a slave, but usually Heinlein books involve a certain witty dialogue that this character lacked.

That said, it was still an amazing book. We meet Thorby as he's being unloaded from a slave ship, and follow him through his life from there on. He's adopted by a begger/slave trade fighter in disguise, Baslim, who he calls Pop. From there
Jeff Yoak
This is another of my favorite Heinlein novels. It has characteristics of the juveniles, centering on a young man coming of age, but has more of the plot structure typical of more mature novels.

In another sense, it is a series of short stories following a (to start) young boy who is a slave, then a freedman beggar in the streets, then a spaceman free trader and finally one of the richest men in the galaxy. At each step he takes what he learns to be better in the roles to come. The progression is
Jul 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of science fiction
The story of a slave boy who becomes free and grows up, making his way through the Galaxy.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable science fiction book.

There isn't much character development, which is a little lame, because it is a story of a young man growing up.

However, the Heinlein's galaxy provides an interesting allegory for many human institutions such as government, free trade, education, and slavery.

The anti-slavery argument presented in this novel is more than just a condemnation of slavery as "r
It just took me fifty years to finish this book.

Yes, it's true, I started this when I was about nine or ten. I had checked it out from the library and I was immediately immersed in the story of the young slave bought by a crippled beggar. But, the life of a ten year old got in the way. And, I had to play baseball, and I had to learn commerce, which I did by trading, marbles, baseball cards, stamps and comics and learned the painful but necessary lessons of childhood like never trade a puree for
Angela Blount
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
"Freedom is a hard habit to break."

Geared more toward a YA audience (before there was such a distinct genre categorizing of said audience), Citizen of the Galaxy centers around the theme of slavery, cultural development, and the meaning of freedom.

It follows a young boy named Thorby—an unbroken slave being sold on a distant planet—as he is purchased by an old beggar. This beggar is far more than he seems, and recognizes in Thorby not only his future potential, but the possibility that he’s co
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young adult sci-fi fans
This book starts out with a beggar buying a young slave boy for very little money and might set certain expectations in one's mind, but the beggar isn't all he seems to be and it's one of the best things that could happen to the boy.

This is one of Heinlein's better juvenile novels. It really breaks down into three distinct parts. The first two are excellent, but the third (and final) part comes across as rushed and kind of thrown together. It's a problem with many of his novels, but most (includ
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Robert A. Heinlein ought to be required reading. He thinks differently and through his imaginitive universes, plays out his lines of though into conceivable, possible futures. Here he is dealing with a humanity that is wide spread across the universe, interacting with alien species and creating and adapting to cultures far beyond the imaginations of most, but he doesn't spend time in the wild, huge, mind bending sci fi details, he focuses on the life of a young boy who is forced to adapt to seve ...more
Shawn Thrasher
I liked this book less and less, the more I listened to it (be warned: the narrator's accents are occasionally awful) and after I finished it, the more I thought and read about it. There is a dusting of libertarian thought, not a philosophy I personally find very attractive - an anthropologist with a hideous southern accent - remember, I was listening to this - spouts some libertarian thought about mid-way through that made me scratch my head. There are some antiquated views on women (the spaces ...more
Daniel Fox
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is the first of Heinlein's books I've come across. An intriguing set up, but with far too little focus applied to the last 7 chapters. I felt as though I had an in depth experience with the first portion of the book, and suddenly was reading the sparknotes for the later half of the novel. The book was a jarring mass of implied plot lines and then unaddressed instances. At the end of the book the only conclusions I came away with were strictly based on my own guesses and speculation at how t ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subjects covered: slavery, economics, business, the military and their relationship to the above, politics, romance, calculus and orbital mechanics, and some wierd but interesting theories of education.

Note: At the time of writing, most people did not feel that slavery was an issue in their world; but it was. Just as it was in the book's world. Just as it is in ours.

I read this as I read several great science fiction books: because our math class in 7th grade met in the room that was also the Jr
Tina Willis
It's a short read but the plot moves along very quickly with LOTS happening to the main character. I really liked this authors style of writing although a few short parts got a lil' high and mighty with the physics and engineering jargon. Maybe it made sense maybe it didn't. I wouldn't know. I liked the characters and and couldn't stand the protagonist in a way that real people like him makes my stomach turn. It was a decent climax and the ending was fulfilling. It's the first time I have read t ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: space, audio, digital, sf
I was a bit afraid of picking this book up, given the fact that it is a part {#11} of a series, nonetheless it seems to be a standalone plot.
Though the book and its main protagonist were a bit naive and some of the technological aspects understandably outdated. The novel has an interesting view on some of the darker sides of "modern" societies which existed in some variation or another throughout times.
Julie Davis
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Heinlein - listened to Grover Gardner's excellent narration. Having read and discussed Kim by Rudyard Kipling on SFFaudio I was expecting echoes of Kim to be in this book ... and they were. In a most creative way. It is Heinlein, after all. ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the latest juvenile in the series of rereads (after Time for the Stars) we’re back to that now-common Heinlein bildungsroman. Citizen is a tale that begins with a relatively uneducated young man and shows that with a suitable education, administered through an appropriate mentor, good can make a difference.

The plot of the book is in three main parts. In the first, a boy we later know as Thorby is bought and brought up by a crippled beggar, Baslim. Despite Baslim’s disabilities, Thorby is gi
Mar 12, 2019 marked it as didnotfinish
My first DNF of 2019! I'm still struggling with the concept of choosing not to finish a book, but this seems like a perfect candidate. I've had this book for more than 10 years, and clearly I wasn't interested enough to pick it up in that time, which is a good clue as to how much I expect to enjoy it. In the interests of getting it off my shelves, I brought it to work to read during my lunch breaks. It's short, so it seemed like a good candidate. I got about halfway through it, and I found mysel ...more
Ori Fienberg
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have a friend who contends that this is the greatest sci-fi book for young adults ever published. While I certainly agree that this is a fine book for that (and all) ages, particularly as it may be a useful teaching tool for certain history, social studies, and civics classes, I still think "Ender's Game" takes the cake.

The characters are well thought out and the plot is solid. I think there could be more galaxy gallivanting, maybe a few more episodes for young Thorby, but at the same time the
Kat  Hooper
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
4.5 stars

Robert A. Heinlein’s best books are those he wrote for kids, and Citizen of the Galaxy is one of the best of those. Originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1957, this is an anthropological adventure story with strong libertarian and anti-slavery themes.

We first meet Thorby, a young belligerent orphaned slave boy, as he has just landed on an unfamiliar planet and is on the auction block. Nobody wants him — he’s too feisty — but he is eventually sold for a pittance to Basli
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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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