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Red Planet

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  9,362 ratings  ·  380 reviews
Jim Marlow and his strange-looking Martian friend Willis were allowed to travel only so far. But one day Willis unwittingly tuned into a treacherous plot that threatened all the colonists on Mars, and it set Jim off on a terrfying adventure that could save--or destroy--them all!

From the Paperback edition.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Del Rey (first published 1949)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  9,362 ratings  ·  380 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This was, hands down, my favorite Heinlein book as a teen. I read it at least 4 or 5 times. I really need to read it again as an adult, but Heinlein ... always an iffy proposition. Though this is one of his early juvie novels, so it's safer than, say, Time Enough for Love.

Two teenage boys, part of the human colonies on Mars, are sent away to boarding school in the biggest city on Mars. In between getting into trouble with the new, insanely strict headmaster, they find out about a plot that could
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
A human boy born on Mars
named Jim befriended a local life form: something looking like a football he named Willis. The latter seemed to possessed some intelligence and was able to repeat anything it heard perfectly imitating voices. It also seemed to start the playback in the least appropriate moments. At one point Jim and his friend Frank had to go to a Martian boarding school for colonists and Jim decided to take Willis with him. Something really bad happened at school (I will give you a hint
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
**** 2020 reread

Great juvenile from the Grandmaster, one of the best. This one, first published in 1949 and so one of his earliest also reveals some of the libertarian individualism that would be so ubiquitous in his later work.

We also see some previews of his ideas about Mars in his world building that would later be more fully explored in Stranger in a Strange Land. Clearly inspired, at least in part, by Bradbury.

Two teenage colonists on Mars get to know the local culture better while also ev
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is THE ONE.

The first book to capture me.

It left my 12 year-old mind reeling and set my all-consuming, voracious hunger for sci-fi into motion.

Of course I had "read" other books in school, but Red Planet blew me away. I was transported.

Never to return.

Here's the cover that I remember from 55 years ago.

Full size image here
Jason Koivu
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
It took me too long to get through this relatively short book, because it drags. The beginning starts slow, there's a bit of an adventure on Mars that heightens things for a while, but then the book grinds down to a finish with a trial and dithering.

This is one of Heinlein's early works. I believe they were called "juveniles", because they were meant for kids. This sort of writing and level of excitement might have engaged kids when it was published in 1949, but I can't see kids today enjoy thi
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Another Heinlein juvenile, another curious blend of work by a virtuoso visionary and his unfortunate co-author the cheating hack.

THE GOOD: Heinlein's early treatment of his Martians (the ones used nearly two decades later in STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND) is excellent. These guys are subtle and weird and so far beyond earth norms that every interaction with them is fraught and puzzling. Also, while you can see prototypical versions of many of his stock characters (crusty old Dr. MacReady is a strip
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The bad science doesn't bother me too much, but I can't get past the sexism and the contrived conflict. None of the bad guys had any competence? The good guys were automatically superior strategists, warriors, leaders, etc.? I'd give it one star, but the Martians were interesting, and treated with respect.

M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
This is a decent novel that has reasonably survived the test of time, at least as long as you know when this novel was published (the 1949's) People used to more modern-day sci fi might find this novel somewhat dated, but you know what, it's still a solid read, especially if you like old-school science fiction. It also ties in nicely with 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by the same author. ...more
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2fiction, 1paper, scifi
One of Heinlein's early YA books, it's about 2 young boys who wind up on an adventure on Mars. This is a Mars with water (frozen) in its canals, oxygen, but not enough for a human to breath unassisted. So if you like your SF with the latest science in place, this isn't for you.

Heinlien's young heroes are boy scouts, good kids with good intentions who buck the odds to do the right thing. They make discoveries beyond what the adults have done & face danger. They tough it out & make good, though.
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
1976 grade B+
1992 grade B+
2016 grade B+

A novel about high school students in a private school run by dictatorial earth bureaucrats on a colonized hypothetical Mars. It starts out pretty routine but becomes much better and more adult less than half way through. The book could definitely be considered a precursor to Stranger In A Strange Land since it has the exact same martians and their culture. In fact this book describes them much better and I recommend reading it before Stranger if possible.
3.8 stars

“Oh my gosh!”

Although a conservative, staid, and constrictive tradition lies behind the 1950s, U.S. pop culture, an odd and innocent sense of fun seems to accompany it.


After my immersion into Shirley Jackson’s dark and menacing world, Heinlein’s Red Planet, (1949), with this conservative yet fun 1950s aspect, became just the tonic I needed.

Setting a young adult/adult, science fiction adventure novel on Mars allows Heinlein to create an exciting story and world while simultaneously
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of an ongoing series of rereads, as I work through the Virginia Editions of Heinlein’s novels.

Red Planet was Heinlein’s third published novel, after Space Cadet (reviewed here). It is seen as the third in Heinlein’s ‘juvenile novels’ that were written for a teenage and predominantly (though not exclusively) male readership.

If I remember right, it was possibly my second or third Heinlein read, after Tunnel in the Sky, which I found, rather lost and forgotten, at the back of my school
Jeffrey Schmieder
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
A Heinlein juvenile I never got around to reading. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it in elementary school or junior high. Two boyhood colonial Earthling chums are sent off to a boarding school located in the Martian capital along with a Martian pet. There they find out that the Earth company is trying to violate the deal they made with the colonists. The kids head back home across the forbidding terrain to tell their parents. Much of the story is about them interacting with t ...more
L. McCoy
So as someone who’s been meaning to read some Heinlein I don’t know why this experience slightly underwhelmed me but I’m guessing it’s one of 3 things:
This book (at least I think) may be intended for younger readers, I haven’t been in the greatest mood and I didn’t know this was part of a series (I thought this was a standalone).
That being said like most books there are things I liked about things I disliked about the book.
I found the story fun in a family friendly sci-fi adven
This is one of the earlier Heinleins so perhaps the sexism wasn't so obvious back then. However, it is quite blatant. There is some racism as well. Although I remembered the story fondly, I found on rereading that it is far from being one of his better stories. About the only positive part was that the character of Willis is really well developed and cute. Not recommended. Trying to decide what to do with the book since it is a first edition but not in great shape. I might donate to County libra ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this as an audio book. I’m a life long SF aficionado, but I forgot how good Heinlein could be when he was in top form. He coaxes the reader into suspending disbelief on the first few pages and his imaginary Mars works in the same way Shakespeare’s Denmark does. This is a YA book, so so don’t look for deep meaning or character development. Heinlein does toy with his libertarian notions a bit, but not so as to offend my liberal sensibilities. The aliens are truly alien, and the human ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
A solid entry in Heinlein's novels, this is one of the ones about (and probably written more for) youth (like Podkayne of Mars, Tunnel in the Sky, and Rocket Ship Galileo). This one takes place entirely on Mars, and involves a rebellion between some of the human colonists there and the company that runs the place. There are native Martians, who are slow and mysterious, and a lot like the Ents in The Two Towers. Also, a weird Martian ball-animal that can somehow reproduce human voices perfectly a ...more
Jim Mcclanahan
Jul 13, 2010 rated it liked it
All of you who have immersed themselves in the Kim Stanley Robinson Red Mars trilogy should invest a little time in reading this one. Robinson made supreme use of current scientific knowledge in putting together a real hard SF tale about our planetary neighbor.

Now picture someone in 1949 (Heinlein) trying to do the same thing with the limited knowledge available at the time. The story is a YA tale, with a pair of boys as the protagonists and a cute but mysterious Martian crittur, Willis, as the
Christopher Wagoner
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Don't take away my geek card, but this is the first Heinlein novel I've ever read (GASP!)
What surprised me is that this book would be marketed as YA in the modern era. The story centers around Jim, a teen of unspecified age who is a Mars colonist. His constant companion is a bouncing "martian roundhead" who can precisely record and repeat any sound.
There are plenty of scientific innaccuracies, which is to be expected since the novel was written fifty years ago. If you can get past that, it's an
Jeff Yoak
2014: Red Planet initially wasn't one of my favorites, but it has grown on me over the years. I just finished reading it with the kids, and I think it is their favorite thus far, perhaps after The Star Beast. I don't think even that novel resulted in as many instances of staying up late and demanding to sit in the car a little longer and listen as did this one. ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this is a so-called "juvenile" novel(i.e., "young adult" tale), it's quite well constructed. I was especially enchanted by Heinlein's depiction of the Martians. There's a clear connection between the Martians in "Red Planet" and the Martians described in Heinlein's later novel, "Stranger in a Strange Land."

What Heinlein lacks in style and descriptive powers, he makes up for with a tight plot, suspenseful action, and the mysterious, awe-inspiring Martians. "Red Planet" would make a grea
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the first science fiction books I read...thanks Dad. I've been hooked for over 30 years now. ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Fun, quick read
Al "Tank"
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of Heinlein's early juveniles. The main characters are teenagers living on Mars (as imagined by RAH long before we'd sent probes there). The atmosphere is thin. The days are cold and the nights are even colder. BUT there are native species of plants and animals, including an intelligent race that builds cities. The bad guys are humans. The good guys are most of the other humans, the "Martians", and Jim's pet, Willis (a white ball with eye-stalks, legs, a rudimentary intelligence, and a voice ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
I still haven't read much by Heinlein and consistently hearing that he's the "master" or "father" of science fiction, I keep feeling like I need to seek him out more often. I happened to find a copy of Red Planet at our local used book store so I decided to give it a try.

The edition I read included an introduction that informed me that this was one of Heinlein's "juvenile" novels or "boy books." The introduction also included a description of the "censorship" that happened by way of severe editi
Wil C. Fry

I *think* this is the first Heinlein book I ever read, circa 1984, when I was 11 or 12 years old. Reading it again was enjoyable, but reading it on the heels of Space Cadet revealed several flaws in this book. Though the writing is still precise and concise, the author attempted to squeeze in too much — so everything is treated very quickly and often without explanation. Especially at the end, the action blurs past and leaves the reader reeling.

(I published a longer review on my website.)

Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book a lot.
I thought the idea of people living on mars was fun to think about.
this book is really exiting and funny at some moments .
you should read this book
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
This was a no nonsense adventure story, set on the planet Mars. Its main audience is young adult, even a little younger if they're avid readers, but it wasn't that childish after all and actually holds a few lessons.

The story is fairly simple. It's set in a distant future where colonies on Mars are actually a fact. We follow two friends, Jim and Frank, both sixteen years old, who embark on a trip to their new school.
On this trip they spend some time with the native inhabitants of the planet, the
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I can see the appeal of this book to the young readers of the early 50s that were going to grow up to be the engineers and designers of the New Frontier. First, there are aliens, and they seem to be of the Dr. Seuss variety, at least in the beginning of the book. Willis is a Martian “bouncer”, described as a furry, ball-shaped being that can mimic voices – a kind of sentient recording device. There are other Martians involved in the story, and Heinlein builds up a world on Mars with the natives ...more
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Another fun space adventure from Heinlein. This one is great because it plays almost like the "boy and his dog" novels, of which I grew up reading stacks. I enjoyed the friendship of the two protagonists as well as both the boys relationship with their fathers; I think it is all too common in juvenile fiction for parents to be seen as idiotic. But where not all the adults were seen as foolish, the antagonist was so much so as to detract from the main conflict; if you have strong protagonist and ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 0345260694 6 21 Nov 27, 2015 05:42PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Red Planet, by Robert A. Heinlein 1 16 Oct 01, 2015 10:14AM  
Crown Capital Eco Management: Technology as our planet's last best hope 1 6 Jul 20, 2013 12:44AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED: YA set on Mars (Spoiler) [s] 4 43 Dec 15, 2011 08:47AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 0-345-26069-4 2 126 Oct 27, 2011 12:42AM  

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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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