Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading: Heinlein

I recently decided that I need to read Heinlein's juvenile novels. I'd read some of them in my youth (thanks to the Weston and Clarksburg public libraries), but not all, and I wondered how they would stand up in the 21st century to my middle-aged eyes, and how interesting they might be to younger eyes as well. (I'll have to wait a bit to see the later, though.)

Luckily, inexpensive compilations published by the Science Fiction Bookclub are easily available from online sellers, and I got four volumes that include all the juveniles, as well as Starship Troopers. Four Frontiers is the first of them.

  • Four Frontiers, by Robert A. Heinlein; First Science Fiction Book Club printing: June 2005. Published by arrangement with “The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust” and “The Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation”, and Tor Books, and The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. ISBN 0-7394-5345-9.

    • Rocket Ship Galileo, copyright 1947 by Robert A. Heinlein, copyright renewed 1974 by Robert A. Heinlein, Copyright 1988 by the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation.

      I had never read this one. As you might expect, the earliest is the roughest, and probably the least interesting to current crop of juveniles. It's still a fun adventure story, though current social mores would have made it impossible.

    • Space Cadet, copyright 1948 by Robert A. Heinlein, copyright renewed 1975 by Robert A. Heinlein, Copyright 1988 by the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation.

      I can't remember reading this one, but may have. It's interesting how much of this is about learning to deal with others, which moves from dealing with other cadets to, eventually, dealing with aliens. Knowledge, brains, and morals win out over brains, money, and greed.

    • Red Planet, copyright 1949 by Robert A. Heinlein, copyright renewed 1976 by Robert A. Heinlein, Copyright 2003 by the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation.

      I'm almost positive that I'd read this one, but if so I'd forgotten how subversive it was. And I love the skating, for some reason. (I don't skate myself.)

    • Farmer in the Sky, copyright 1950 by Robert A. Heinlein, copyright renewed 1977 by Robert A. Heinlein, Copyright 2003 by the Robert A. & Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation.

      This situation on earth in this one, sadly, looks more and more likely.

There's a fair amount of discussion of the actual technology of space travel and related planetary science in these first four books, and that's probably what has aged the worst. The adventures are still fun, and I think an open-minded juvenile could still enjoy them.

Note

This is a timewarp post.

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