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Citizen of the Galaxy

(Heinlein's Juveniles #11)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  12,003 Ratings  ·  509 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 mercha ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Pocket Books: Gallery Books (first published July 1st 1957)
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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
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
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 ...more
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'
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
César Bustíos
"No puedes ver un pensamiento, no puedes medirlo, ni pesarlo, ni saborearlo... pero los pensamientos son las cosas más reales en la galaxia"

Esta es la segunda novela juvenil que leo de Heinlein depués de El granjero de las estrellas. En conclusión, no me parece que es lo mejor que he leído del autor pero llega a ser entretenida al fin y al cabo. Es difícil superar la valla después de la obra maestra La luna es una cruel amante, de Estrella doble o Starship Troopers.

El tema principal en "Ciudadan
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!!
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
Nov 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, xcharity-2012
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
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Aunque disfruté muchísimo con el primer tercio de la novela, el segundo se me hizo algo más pesado y el finalme ha dejado un sabor un tanto agridulce porque me hubiera gustado saber alguna cosa más. En cualquier caso, he disfrutado mucho con la novela y entiendo porqué tiene el éxito que tiene :) lectura más que recomendable si os gusta la ciencia ficción y además con una cubierta impresionante ♥

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Daniel Polansky
'm trying to get someone to pay me to write about this so I'll just use this as a placeholder, but in case I forget to fill that place I didn't love it. There's a freshness to Heinlein which is characteristic of that era of sci-fi writers, where the territory is so uncharted that things don't feel cliché, but I thought ultimately its moral vision is likewise kind of infantile, and some of the writing is just not great, any way you look at it. Drop.
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
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
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
Citizen of the Galaxy was the first scifi I ever read. In elementary school I simply read everything available but in middle school the contents of the school library changed. Suddenly there were baby romances for girls and westerns and war novels for boys. The sexism didn't especially bother me -- eading books from the other side of the line was the least of things I got teased about -- none of the stories were particularly good. I could guess what was going to happen long before the end. Borin ...more
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
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
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Citizen of the Galaxy is one of my very favorite books of all time. It gets a reread at least once a year. Thorby starts out this book as a slave being auctioned. He is bought by the beggar, Baslim the Cripple. As the book progresses, we along with Thorby, realize that Baslim is not what he seems. This book explores what it means to be human, the inhumanity of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit. It's very well written, entertaining, with wonderful characters and worlds. While I have ...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
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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

Other books in the series

Heinlein's Juveniles (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Rocket Ship Galileo (Heinlein's Juveniles, #1)
  • Space Cadet (Heinlein's Juveniles, #2)
  • Red Planet (Heinlein's Juveniles, #3)
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  • The Rolling Stones (Heinlein's Juveniles, #6)
  • Starman Jones (Heinlein's Juveniles, #7)
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“- I'm so busy doing what I must do that I don't have time for what I ought to do... and I never get a chance to do what I want to do!
- Son, that's universal. The way to keep that recipe from killing you is occasionally to do what you want to do anyhow.”
“The way to find justice is to deal fairly with other people and not worry about how they deal with you.” 19 likes
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