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Starman Jones

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The stars were closed to Max Jones. To get into space you either needed connections, a membership in the Guild, or a whole lot more money than Max, the son of a widowed, poor mother, was every going to have. What Max does have going for him are his uncle’s prized astrogation manuals—book on star navigation that Max literally commits to memory word for word, equation for equation.

From the First Golden Age of Heinlein, this is the so-called juvenile (written, Heinlein always claims, just as much for adults) that started them all and made Heinlein a legend for multiple generations of readers.

252 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1953

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About the author

Robert A. Heinlein

705 books9,003 followers
Works of American science-fiction writer Robert Anson Heinlein include Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966).

People often call this novelist "the dean of science fiction writers", 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 standards of literary quality of the genre. He was the first science-fiction writer to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s. He was also among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era.

Also wrote under Pen names: Anson McDonald, Lyle Monroe, Caleb Saunders, John Riverside and Simon York.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 353 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
December 5, 2019
Astrogators in space!

One of Heinlein's earlier juvenile novels, this is one where RAH describes in great detail the machinations of the astrogators, quite a bit dated now with computers and it is amusing to imagine as he did a trio of math geniuses sitting in chairs with slide rules charting out a space ship's course, but that was part of his charm.

Some thin characterizations along with some very 1950sish language, but Heinlein was working his very peculiar magic and this is all the while a fine sci-fi story.

**** 2019 Re-read

Was this 1953 publication an influence on Star Trek the original series and Lost in Space? Was Max Jones an idea for James Kirk?

Their characters are very different, but this bildungsroman does follow our protagonist from farm boy to ship’s captain in spectacular fashion in a way that would be suited to fiery Kirk. The description of 3D chess would indicate the possibility that Roddenberry and crew had read this. Likewise, getting some decimals misplaced resulted in the spaceship in Heinlein’s story to be lost could have been a seed for the later 1965 TV series.

Heinlein published his twelve Scribner’s juvenile books between 1947 and 1958 and this one is the seventh. Starman Jones describes Max Jones’ journey from the hills of the Ozarks to command of the Starship Asgard and the many adventures he had on the way.

This is packed full of Heinlein’s campy wisecracks and homey logic, but also tells a damn fine SF story and one particularly enjoyable to anyone who’s stood watch of naval ships as RAH adds his personal knowledge of all things nautical and in his own inimitable way.

Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,805 followers
March 6, 2015
I like this dated novel. A human civilization that was pictured or imagined before our present level of computer and electronic technology was even imagined. A young man "inherits" somewhat informally a set of "astrogator's" texts and then sets out to get "sponsored" to get into the Astrogator's guild", the only way to become an astrogator, someone who plots the course of starships through deep space.

One of Heinlein's so called teen novels and a good read. It dates back to 1953 and as I said is very dated, but in an odd way that adds to the book, much as some of Verne's books are. I checked Amazon and saw a few used copies, it may not be easy to track down, but I'd say you might find it worthwhile. If you can track it down it might just be worth a read.

Update: I just noticed that Hoopla has an audio version of this and most of Heinlein's books. This book is very dated, and for that reason I recommend you should try it. The view of things pre-solid state alone makes the book worth it.
Profile Image for Adrian.
552 reviews196 followers
March 7, 2023
Ad Hoc SF read March 2023

I seem to be on a bit of Heinlein kick for some reason, maybe because he was one of the first SF authors I discovered nearly 50 years ago and because his books came out of the boxes first when I set up my new library about 2 months ago. I hadn't read that many of his books for a long time so this has been an enjoyable few months. We shall see if it goes further or I get back to books I promised to read 😬
Anyway this book is all about Max Jones, a child with little education and little hope of a bright future. However what he does have is an Uncle who is an astrogator and also a unique mathematical ability. When his mother re-marries he runs away from home hoping to get into space like his Uncle, but the guild that controls access to space denies him. At his wits end he teams up with a ne'er do well and they manage to get into space in the most menial of jobs. But to Max at least its getting into space, all he'd ever desired.
Many adventures later , the ship Max is on gets lost after a jump through hyperspace goes terribly wrong. Landing on the only planet in the vicinity, the passengers and crew discover that although the local wildlife look harmless, they are far from it, and attack the humans.
After a number of people are killed, Max is called up to use his mathematical ability to help the survivors get home.

An excellent novel that is well written and a really fun read, real 50s SF.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,023 followers
October 22, 2014
Another typical (great!) Heinlein YA novel about a farm boy who makes good. The main characters in this book aren't angels. They break the law - bad ones mostly - for reasons they think are sufficient (I always thought so) & reap the consequences afterward, but still come out ahead.

Max is a hillbilly & has an impossible situation at home. He runs away, gets fake ID with the help of a rough, but kind stranger. He gets a job on a space ship cleaning pet cages. Menial, but honest work that he knows & does to the best of his ability. Then he gets a break & the adventure takes off.

The moral message running through this book; do the right thing & do it as best you can. Think for yourself. Great book for middle school through adult.
Profile Image for Jason Parent.
Author 45 books656 followers
October 5, 2020
I've read a lot of Heinlein's work, and this remains one of my favorites.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,023 followers
October 23, 2014
An SF Juvenile originally published 60 years ago, 1953, & it shows its age in a few places, but was still a wonderful yarn with one of my favorite characters in it, Sam. Hardly the perfect hero or role model, he was a lot of fun & showed the main character, Max, the ropes.

The age of the story was most apparent in the technology. Max has to study a computer by opening a panel & tracing circuits. Logs were pulled out of the tables in books (Anyone else remember those?), problems were mostly worked by humans & input to the computer in binary. Exactly what the poor machine actually did isn't readily apparent, but it wasn't much. Still, it didn't really harm the story even though it was one of the major points that everything revolved around. It was more interesting because of it. Kind of a blast from the past & a reminder of how far we've come in such a short time.

The way star & commuter ships moved held up pretty well as did the almost military discipline of the ship. No women in the ranks, but Heinlein does manage to strike a great blow for sexual equality at one point. It was masterfully delivered, too. Unfortunately, there was just the one.

There are a lot of good morals running through the story, too. Kind of hoaky in some ways, but I liked it. I originally read these stories as a kid & aspired to be like Heinlein's boy heroes. I think there are far worse role models. He addresses systems injustice & how a boy with few choices lies & cheats his way into his dream. He also pays the price for doing so, but gets his dream. Rather neat, IMO. Great book.

I plan on listening to a few more of these. I read The Star Beast within the last year or two & felt about the same. These books have stood the test of time far better than his later books, IMO.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books333 followers
December 22, 2014
I read a lot of Heinlein's juveniles when I was younger, but I missed this one and it was on sale from Audible, so it was nice to enjoy one of his earlier works, before he started getting old and wanky. Everything from Friday on was pretty much Heinlein getting his freak on, but his earlier novels are still sci-fi classics for good reason.

Starman Jones is your basic boys' adventure story: Max is a kid from Earth who runs away from home when his stepmother marries an abusive bum. He meets an amiable drifter who turns out to be a not-so-good Samaritan, but he meets the man again when they're both trying to find a way off-planet, and the two of them lie their away aboard a spaceship. From there, Max's talent for math and his inherent good nature and sense of decency lead him from one position to another aboard ship, and when the ship gets lost, taking a bad "jump" to an unknown star system, Max of course is the one who saves the day.

Obviously, this book was written for teenagers, but it stands up as pretty good adult SF even today, though it is a bit dated (it was written in 1951). The gender roles are pretty old-fashioned, and while Heinlein's FTL drives and beam weapons are standard sci-fi, you may chuckle when Max breaks out his slide rule to perform astrogation. Still, I think it compares favorably to any genre fiction written for kids today, and Heinlein did a much better job than most writers of bridging the gap between YA and adult fiction. I might not start with Starman Jones if you haven't read any of Heinlein's juveniles before -- it's pretty good, but it's not his best -- but if you're already a Heinlein fan, this will definitely be an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,150 reviews93 followers
May 6, 2017
This Heinlein guy was pretty good at telling a story.

Max Jones is a young farmer, working hard to support his unlovable stepmother after his father's death, but he dreams of the life his Uncle Chet lived, as a member of the Astrogators' Guild. Chet had promised him that he'd nominate him for membership, but died while Max was still too young to join, and then Max's father, before he died also, made him promise to take care of his stepmother.

But when his stepmother remarries and she and her new husband sell the farm out from under him, he runs away, taking his uncle's astrogation books with him. The books get stolen from him by a deceitfully helpful conman, and then he discovers that his uncle had died before nominating him for the guild, and all his dreams seem crushed forever. But then he meets that charming conman again, who decides that they can help each other get what they both really want—a berth on a starship. For Max, it's a berth as a steward's mate, and he's tending farm animals again, but he's on a starship, and he's a plucky, resourceful, just plain likable young Heinlein hero, who makes you buy into every improbable plot twist along the way to his dream.

Once again, great fun.

Update, May 2017: Rereading this decades after originally reading this is interesting. It's still a fun story, with the plucky, young Heinlein hero who makes you buy into all the improbable plot twists. It is, of course, very dated in a number of ways. The improbability of star travel depending on a set of printed books of numbers and equations has often been commented on. The social dynamics of Heinlein's world has been the subject of lots of commentary and discussion, most particularly the often quite rigid gender roles, especially in the "juveniles," i.e., Heinlein's young adult novels. It's worth noting that he often (but far from always) subverts those roles somewhat. For instance, in this book, Ellie rather testily points out to Max that women are dealing with the reality of the rules they live with. Another woman, an appallingly predatory creature, sheds that behavior when the ship hits a real crisis and there are more important things to do than play social games.

And yet Heinlein never really questions those basic social roles, even as later in his career his expectations of what jobs women can hold expands considerably.

No, what really struck me this time is Heinlein's unquestioning assumption that starships and hyperspeed trains will exist side by side with dirt farmers relying on mule traction, cooking over an open fire is a mundane necessity for poorer farmers, and the hobos who would have been regularly encountered during the days of Heinlein's early adulthood.

It's a world largely unchanged, not from the 1950s, but to a great extent from the 1930s.

However, another thing that caught my attention this time is the way characters, major or minor, may be described in terms revealing that they are ethnic or racial minorities, with the fact having zero plot significance. Dark skin or an epicanthic fold are treated merely as mundane items of physical description, part of the normal range of humanity, just like brown hair or green eyes. There's a loud, tiny segment of contemporary sf readership that claims to revere Heinlein and yet thinks this is controversial when today's writers do it.

It's still great fun to read--at least for someone who first read it in the early 1960s. No guarantees for Gen Y or millennials, who grew up in an entirely different world than I did! Because pretty much everything I just mentioned as anachronisms were still real things that people knew about when I was a kid, even though less common than when Heinlein was.

For my fellow Boomers, you'll wince at some of the datedness, but for my mileage, it hasn't had a serious visit from the Suck Fairy.
1,211 reviews18 followers
July 31, 2011
Heinlein's anachronistic elements are often recognized when dealing with technical issues. Other aspects are less obvious. I've lived in the Ozarks area (the boundaries between mountain ranges are necessarily nebulous). I was once lost in a state park. I made my way out by following excessively bright lights to a prison.

That was some years ago, but things have gotten worse everywhere. There are no longer any places that get dark at night. (Possibly with the exception of Arizona, where the astronomers have a fairly effective lobby). Researchers on nocturnal animals worry that the excess light will contribute to the dangers to species often already critically endangered. But just try to FIND any research on the impact of excess light on circadian rhythms (and on photosynthesis, as well). And if you DO find any, please tell me about them.

Heinlein's dystopian vision of a society controlled by hereditary Guilds seems to have been cut from whole cloth. I don't know of ANY source that even proposed such a thing.

Other aspects of the galactic civilization are essentially not developed at all. The ship's navigational problems are used as a pretext to avoid examining the society--but there's not much discussion of it when the ship is on its normal course, either.

One interesting note--Max's eidetic memory is quite rightly dismissed as a parlor trick. It turns out to be a useful trick with the loss of reference sources--but it has no greater utility than that. I disagree, however, with the notion that such parlor tricks are necessarily combined with autism. Heinlein even goes so far as to use the derisory term 'idiot savant', which is no longer used precisely because it's so dismissive and offensive. It's essentially a double whammy. People dismiss those who can't communicate well what they know (it's not really possible to determine what they DO know, because of the communications difficulties). Then when a few do find ways to communicate really quite remarkable abilties, they're doubly stigmatized.

Many people with otherwise quite ordinary talents have these 'stupid human tricks' special skills. Too often, however, because they fear such stigmatization (and/or exploitation), they suppress or marginalize their skills. In the book, Max is abashed when he realizes that what he can do is considered extraordinary, and he quite rightly fears that he will be ghettoized on account of it. His luck at finding people who can see past the stigma to the whole person beyond doesn't mitigate the fact that the society as a whole can't get past the 'freak show' mentality.
March 11, 2018
While I'm tooling around the world and history of writers I tripped upon Robert Heinlein. I decided I had to read at least one, so I picked Starman Jones. I have to say during the first two chapters I almost stopped reading because I felt like I was back in high school and it just wasn't sitting well with me. Then we finally got to space I got it, I really enjoyed it.
The main character, a few extra characters and of course space were interesting. What didn't work was it feel very old. The book it was written in 1951 and I have to say it was very sexist and for someone like me who rarely notices things like that it really bugged me. I don't know if I'll read anymore of his books but I will say I'm really glad I did. Robert Heinlein is an amazing writer puts together a beautiful sentence.
Profile Image for Jeff Yoak.
811 reviews41 followers
January 16, 2022
I enjoyed reading this several times on my own, but really enjoyed reading it (in small bits) with the kids in 2013. It is the second Heinlein novel I went through with them, after The Star Beast and they loved them both. Come to think of it, it has been over the time that we've been reading this that Lily first declared her intention to become an astronaut when she grows up (with the proviso that it might be too hard, and if it is, she's going to become a "smoothie girl.") Somehow that combination underlines all the benefits one might hope for in introducing one's children to Heinlein. :-)
Profile Image for Linda.
472 reviews45 followers
November 15, 2016
This is typical Heinlein youth fiction. Though, this isn’t the best of the youth novels; it certainly isn’t the worst. Heinlein takes a stab at the injustice of the class system. He loves his guns, the constitution, freedom, etc. My favorite part of the book is Max’s (the protagonist) obsession with his library book. Of course it is dated, but it was written in the early 50s. Usually I find Heinlein’s sexism almost endearing, but in this book, I was almost offended. I didn’t think that he really respected the female character that he wrote. As a whole, I would recommend this, but not as a first encounter with Heinlein’s youth fiction.
Profile Image for Jeff Koeppen.
530 reviews31 followers
February 26, 2021
Starman Jones contains too many science fiction tropes to count. I don't know how many years went by in protagonist Max's life during this course of this novel, but geez, he was wrung through every science fiction crisis there was by the end. This was written in 1953 so it was nostalgic to spend time in Heinlein's future world with luxury tourist spaceships, human astronavigators, and "advanced" computers. Some of the 1950s outdated social norms were on display as well as you would expect.

Overall, this was an OK listen so I give it two stars. It held my attention and the plot moved along at a nice pace, although I think it got too convoluted towards the end. Richard Powers' narration was really good. I would've eaten this up if I had read this in the 1970s.
Profile Image for Bill.
408 reviews96 followers
February 11, 2017
This is one of my favorite Heinlein Juvies. I first read it when I was about 10 years old. It launched my lifelong interest in space and rockets and wanting to be a spaceman, to get off earth and explore the galaxy. It's about a poor kid making good and becoming the Captain of a spaceship through a series of improbable events.

Whenever, I feel the need to rekindle that feeling of wonder and need to explore or advance, I re-read this book.
Profile Image for César Bustíos.
270 reviews99 followers
July 7, 2021
"Max, a lot of things can happen to a man when he thinks he has the world by the tail."

Lost in space!

That's not the only reference that came to mind. Max entering Earthport for this first time and staring at an alien reminded me of Men in Black. I'm sure this book has been a source of inspiration for many over the years. It's one of his best juveniles and a special one to me for having a plot that takes place outside the solar system for the first time (if I'm not mistaken). How exciting! 🤗⠀

In the story most occupations are controlled by guilds with hereditary memberships. Good thing his uncle was a member of the Astrogators' Guild, right? Otherwise we would have read "Wheelman Jones" or something 😂. It's a great bildungsroman of a farm boy turned astrogator and captain of a starship. Even though is dated, because it's crazy to think someone would dare to do that kind of calculations manually, it was quite enjoyable and fun. The only downside for me was the excessive confidence Heinlein had towards eidetic memory, assuming that's even a real thing. In "Beyond This Horizon" it was presented as a disability for the main character; here it is certainly almost a deus-ex-machina.

Profile Image for Frank.
746 reviews21 followers
May 26, 2017
Had this one for so many years. I always wanted to get thru Heinlein's juveniles, and am slowly getting there.
This one holds up to time as a rollicking space adventure for our main character, a poor farm boy, Max Jones, who joins on to a spaceship, run by the form of Navy, first under an assumed name, then through all mishaps and misadventures, becomes a legitimate member of the ship.
It was a quick and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Carena Wood beimler.
80 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2014
This novel is written towards boys who have not yet been twitterpated. And it's written well. As I am not the target demographic, being female and I've most definitely been twitterpated, this book doesn't follow along the natural paths I expect it to. However, it is still an amazing book.
Profile Image for Joan.
1,963 reviews
June 26, 2017
This is another Heinlein I remember favorably from my childhood. It has not stood the test of time quite as well some of his other titles. Virtually all the women have rather sexist positions. They are vapid, predatory, vicious, or good but on the stupid side. "You need the little darlings but you need to keep them in their places" pretty much sums up his attitude to a large degree in this book.All the vital characters are men.

The story itself is excellent. Max and Sam are aboard a starship by rather shady methods. Once it takes off, Max gets noticed by the astrogation group and starts being groomed for astrogator. However, at least one of the crew is threatened by his innate ability and his hostility leads at least somewhat indirectly towards the ship being lost in space. Will that planet over yonder be good to colonize? Will they ever get back home? Will Max's perfect memory stand up under this stress? Read and find out. The aliens in this book are not particularly memorable in my opinion. Nothing like the wonderful flat cats for example.

Recommended fairly highly but with some reservations. I'd call this perhaps a 3.5 rather than a real 4 star title.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,893 reviews111 followers
September 30, 2018
I found that I remembered less about Starman Jones than any of Heinlein's other works than I read years ago. It's a rather standard Horatio Alger-ish story of pluck and determination and good character winning through against unfair circumstances and churlish opposition. The scientific aspects seem more dated here than in most of his other works, I'm afraid, and I didn't much care for the ending; he decides astrogators shouldn't marry, so he abandons the girl and returns to space, much as a cowboy would kiss his horse on the nose and ride off into the sunset in a 1930's oat-opera movie. Still, it's good Heinlein, with a dash of comedic romance and interesting philosophy of duty and honor.
Profile Image for Wil C. Fry.
224 reviews6 followers
June 19, 2021

One of Heinlein’s juveniles, this is a coming of age story wrapped in a space travel adventure. Max Jones is a poor farm boy who wants to go to space, but space travel is restricted to the wealthy and to the Guilds. So Max resorts to fraud, becomes a crewmember, and eventually rises through the ranks. All the while, there are adventures.

This was a fun read, combining some of Heinlein’s best qualities with a lack of most of his worst ones. I think I would put this on a very short list of best sci-fi novels of the era.

(I have published a longer review on my website.)

Profile Image for Doug Turnbull.
Author 18 books20 followers
August 1, 2012
Starman Jones was copyrighted in 1953 by Robert A. Heinlein and published that same year by Charles Scribner’s Sons of New York. The sixth of the Heinlein Juveniles, it is the last one to be fully illustrated by Clifford Geary.

It is also the first of his juveniles to postulate interstellar travel. All of the earlier books confined travel within the solar system. The protagonist, Maximilian Jones, or Max as he is known, comes from unspecified hill country, possibly the Ozarks, where he is living with his widowed stepmother. When she remarries, Max leaves and through a series of misadventures, during which he meets and eventually teams up with a hobo named Sam, Max signs on as an ordinary crewman aboard the starship Asgard. Because he possesses a unique ability and through a series of unlikely events that only Heinlein could make believable, Max lands a job as a ship’s officer serving on the bridge. His adventures aboard the Asgard constitute the main body of the story and I’ll allow the reader to enjoy them.

As a novel, Starman Jones works on several levels. First it can be read as a simple adventure story and it works quite well as just that. The book can also be read as a coming of age story: Max starts out a boy and finishes as a man. And it can be read for the deeper human and sometimes political themes underlying the story. For example, the Asgard encounters an alien civilization organized along totalitarian lines. The ruthless brutality and exploitative character of the alien system is, I believe, an allegory for the communist and fascist societies of the 20th century during which Heinlein was writing.

This is one of the of the juveniles that fully develops a strong female character. Eldreth Coburn is the well to do daughter of a planetary governor and a passenger aboard the Asgard. During the course of the voyage, Max and Ellie become good friends and there is a hint of romance, at least on her part. A very intelligent and strong willed young woman, she does a skillful job of concealing those traits in the male dominated society set forth in the story. For example, she allows Max to teach her how to play chess. He wins all of their matches until late in the book when he discovers that she is a master chess player and could take him anytime and every time if she chose to do so. When Max and Ellie are captured by hostile natives on a planet misnamed Charity, Ellie proves both courageous and resourceful. Nearly all of Heinlein’s later juveniles as well as his adult books have such strong and likeable female characters. Prescient as he was about future technological innovation, he also foresaw women taking a more equal role in future society.

Starman Jones is also the last book to be fully illustrated. As in the previous books, Clifford Geary’s cover art and white on black interior drawings appear deceptively simple. However, the illustrations have a hidden complexity that conveys very subtly the sense that we are visiting a world very different than our own. Geary was a great talent and a fine artist, but I know of only one other book, a children’s book, that he illustrated. About this time, young adult fiction followed the already established pattern of adult fiction: that of not being illustrated. No doubt the intellectual rationale was that by not having suggestive pictures the narrative would better stimulate young imaginations. But I also have no doubt that there was an economic motive: at that time, illustrations significantly increased the cost of producing books. Hence, there were no more pictures. This is a trend I would like to see reversed and I am doing just that with my own stories.

This is a great book and while longer than Heinlein’s previous juveniles, it is a page turner and a fast read. The action flows naturally and carries the reader along with it. Although the science is farther afield than that of his earlier books, the space-time anomalies that allow for interstellar travel are analogous to the wormholes that are currently postulated; and those are based on conjectures put forth by Albert Einstein. Written with scientific rigor as well as universal human themes such as love, envy, jealousy and self-sacrifice, this book is all Heinlein all the time.

Profile Image for James.
489 reviews25 followers
January 2, 2023
I decided to reread all of Heinlein’s “juveniles” as they're called. I originally read them in elementary school but many decades have passed since then.

Heinlein didn’t write down to his young audience. He presented human nature and the indifference of nature as it was, albeit somewhat softening the occasional blow.

One of the aspects I enjoy most about many of these Golden Age novels is the optimistic, can-do attitude that pervades the writing, rather than the bleak, pessimistic tone of modern science fiction and especially SF written for younger readers. (This is not to say that all Golden Age SF was sweetness and light — check out C.M. Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons” and “The Little Black Bag” for some fun pessimism.)
Profile Image for George K..
2,338 reviews288 followers
March 14, 2015
Μετά το Ο δρόμος της δόξας, αυτό είναι το δεύτερο βιβλίο που διαβάζω από Ρόμπερτ Χάινλαϊν και μου φάνηκε λίγο καλύτερο από το πρώτο. Το βιβλίο αυτό είναι περισσότερο για εφήβους αλλά διαβάζεται και από μεγαλύτερους, δεν υπάρχει πρόβλημα.

Η ιστορία γνωστή, ένα αγροτόπαιδο από τη Γη, φεύγει από το σπίτι του με το οποίο δεν τον ενώνει τίποτα πλέον, και ύστερα από κάποιες μπαγαποντιές, χάρη σε έναν μικροαπατεώνα αλλά όχι κακό άνθρωπο που συνάντησε στο δρόμο του, καταφέρνει να κάνει το όνειρο του πραγματικότητα και να πετάξει στο διάστημα με ένα εμπορικό/επιβατικό πλοίο. Έχει και ένα ταλέντο. Ό,τι διαβάζει το θυμάται απ'έξω και είναι πολύ καλός στην αστροναυτιλία. Σιγά-σιγά παίρνει προαγωγές μέσα στο σκάφος κλπ κλπ. Κάποια στιγμή το σκάφος χάνεται σε άλλο γαλαξία και προσγειώνεται σε έναν άγνωστο πλανήτη. Κάποιες περιπέτειες και μετά πίσω στο σπίτι.

Η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν ήταν τόσο περιπετειώδες, αλλά αυτό που μου άρεσε πάρα πολύ, ήταν η όλη ατμόσφαιρα μέσα στο πλοίο, τέλεια σκιαγράφηση της ζωής μέσα σε ένα τέτοιο πλοίο, με τους αξιωματικούς και τις διαφωνίες τους, με το προσωπικό, με τους επιβάτες, μάθαινε κανείς πως λειτουργεί ένα πλοίο και τι γίνεται στο κυβερνείο του (κάτι παραπάνω θα ξέρει και ο Χάινλαϊν). Η γραφή απλή αλλά καλή, συνέβαλε και αυτή στη γρήγορη και εύκολη ανάγνωση.

Το βιβλίο γραμμένο το 1953 δείχνει λίγο τα χρονάκια του, αλλά είναι πολύ αξιόλογο και ό,τι πρέπει για ένα ανάλαφρο απόγευμα.
Profile Image for Socrate.
6,620 reviews136 followers
March 14, 2022
Lui Max îi plăcea această perioadă a zilei, în acest anotimp. De când recolta fusese strânsă, îşi putea sfârşi mai devreme corvezile şi putea să lenevească. După ce hrăni porcii şi găinile, în loc să intre în casă pentru cină, o luă pe cărarea ce ducea la o movilă aflată la vest de grajd, şi se întinse în iarbă, fără să-i pese de gângănii. Îşi luase cu sine o carte, pe care o împrumutase de la bibliotecă în urmă cu câteva zile, o carte a lui Bonforte intitulată Animale cereşti: un ghid al zoologiei exotice. Nu se apucă însă să citească, ci şi-o puse sub cap, drept pernă. O gaiţă albastră păru a-l mustra pentru fapta-i nepotrivită, dar îşi ţinu gura de îndată ce el schiţă o mişcare. O veveriţă roşcată se opri pe o buturugă şi se zgâi la el o vreme, după care îşi văzu mai departe de alunele ei.

  Max îşi aţintise privirea spre nord-vest. Îi plăcea priveliştea aceea, căci într-acolo se zăreau cataligele de oţel şi inelele de ghidaj ale Căii Inelare Chicago, Springfield & Earthport, ce se ivea dintr-o despicătură a colinei din dreapta sa. Unul dintre inelele de ghidaj se afla chiar pe buza crăpăturii, un cerc uriaş de oţel cu un diametru de aproximativ douăzeci de picioare. O pereche de tripozi asemeni unor catalige susţineau un alt inel la o distanţă de vreo sută de picioare. Cel de-al treilea şi ultim inel, având stâlpii de susţinere mai înalţi de treizeci şi cinci de metri, pentru a fi la acelaşi nivel cu celelalte, era situat spre apus, acolo unde panta devenea şi mai abruptă, pe măsură ce valea se adâncea. În susul văii se zărea antena verigii energetice, orientată spre defileu. Spre stânga, ghidajele Căii C. S.&E. apăreau din nou, în partea opusă trecătorii. Inelul de intrare era mai larg, pentru a permite o deviere maximă pe care vântul ar fi putut-o provoca. Pe cataligele sale era fixată antena receptoare a verigii energetice. Dealul acela era mai abrupt; se mai vedea un singur inel, după care calea dispărea într-un tunel. Citise undeva că, pe Lună, inelele de intrare nu erau mai largi decât inelele de pe parcurs, căci, acolo, nu existau vânturi care să pricinuiască variaţii balistice. Pe vremea când era copil, inelul acela de intrare fusese mult mai strâmt. În timpul unei furtuni cum nu se mai văzuse, un tren se lovise de inel. Nu mai rămăsese din el decât o epavă, şi mai mult de patru sute de oameni îşi pierduseră viaţa. El însă nu văzuse nimic din toate astea. Tatăl său nu-i îngăduise să hoinărească pe acolo, din pricina nenorocirii. Cicatricea mai putea fi văzută şi acum pe panta dealului din stânga, o pată de verdeaţă mai închisă la culoare decât suprafeţele înconjurătoare.
Profile Image for Michael Campbell.
392 reviews49 followers
March 25, 2018
This was okay, I guess. It's always kind of fun to read pre moon landing science fiction involving space travel. The quirky mechanics of space travel was really the book's only redeeming quality.

I always feel myself groan inwardly when someone writes characters from rural areas stereotypically. Yes, we get he grew up on a farm, he does not need to say things like "Well golly ma'am!" every few sentences.

Most of the characters are flat. The plot drags on, and the conclusion was pretty anticlimactic. Maybe I'm expecting too much of this book after really enjoying The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?!

Even so, I can't bring myself to give it more than two stars, as I was pretty bored throughout most of it.
Profile Image for Jacob.
879 reviews49 followers
September 30, 2017
A solid and enjoyable Heinlein entry. The edition I read had a foreward that talks about how this is one of Heinlein's efforts to write a science fiction Horatio Alger story. I don't think I would have seen it myself, but it's clearly there. The main character ends up having some delightfully good luck to match his wits and skill. As Heinlein points out, it's actually modeled after a real story, but that doesn't mean it's real believable ;) Just focus on the entertainment value; you won't get your plausibility fix here.

The last third of the story takes a couple of turns I didn't love, but it's just a personal preference and I'm not the writer. The story is good and worth a read, especially if you are partial to Heinlein and aren't looking for something too heavy.
Profile Image for Stefania Portaluppi.
Author 5 books29 followers
June 19, 2019
“Starman Jones” è stato il mio primo Heinlein.
Una classica e affascinante epopea spaziale con un giovane protagonista, Max Jones, aspirante Astrogatore in una Terra sovraffollata dove lavorare è un privilegio e le occupazioni più ambite, come l’astrogazione, sono trasmesse per via ereditaria. Max, però, è anche un genio matematico che conosce a memoria calcoli e segreti dell’astrogazione grazie alle letture fatte e agli insegnamenti dell’amato zio Chet. Max è destinato a diventare molto più che un semplice astrogatore.
Forse non è il romanzo più importante e noto di Heinlein, appartiene alla sua serie juveniles, ma resta un piccolo classico, molto coinvolgente e che mette in mostra le sue abilità di narratore, specialmente quando l’azione si sposta nello spazio.
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