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The Star Beast

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Lummox had been the Stuart family pet for years. Though far from cuddly and rather large, it had always been obedient and docile. Except, that is, for the time it had eaten the secondhand Buick . . .

But now, all of a sudden and without explanation, Lummox had begun chomping down on a variety of things—not least, a very mean dog and a cage of virtually indestructible steel. Incredible!

John Thomas and Lummox were soon in awfully hot water, and they didn't know how to get out. And neither one really understood just how bad things were—or how bad the situation could get—until some space voyagers appeared and turned a far-from-ordinary family problem into an extraordinary confrontation.

253 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1954

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About the author

Robert A. Heinlein

787 books9,284 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 328 reviews
Profile Image for Tim.
477 reviews660 followers
April 20, 2022
Despite its juvenile status, I’m glad I didn’t read this novel as a child. It’s not that there’s anything in it that is particularly objectionable to children, I just really don’t think I would have appreciated it in the slightest. From the basic plot description, one could easily think this was a classic boy and his dog (though replace dog with star beast) style story, filled with heart warming moments of separation, reunion and everyone learning a valuable lesson… and indeed these aspects are a part of the story, but they are far from the whole. While the plot description makes it sound as if the boy and the star beast are the main characters, they share only about half the plot with two government officials who have to make constant calls over the legality of the boy owning an alien, whether the alien could be classified as a “human” race and whether or not the beast has rights. These colder “logical” moments are as much the heart of the story as the emotional aspects between the boy and his pet. I’m not sure kid me would not have appreciated this deeper narrative. Nor would I have likely appreciated the 30 page trial section, with its legal terms and lengthy discussion on rights… though as an adult I found this to be one of the more interesting sections and fairly comical.

This is a story filled with moral shades of gray. Kiku and Greenberg (our two government bureaucrats) make decisions that are often questionable from a moral standpoint, but looking at a bigger picture it makes sense. This at times seems like Heinlein’s politics start showing through, but unlike some of his later work, they don’t subtract from the story. Here it feels appropriate and adds a sense of desperation, showing that this situation is much bigger than anyone thought at the start and the implication of the final decision from earth’s standpoint could change everything drastically. This is one of those situations where I really can’t expand upon this without going into spoiler territory, but let us just say that the presentation of a boy’s adventures with his pet are… very minimal in the grand scheme of things.

While I appreciated this more thoughtful and more serious tone, it does make the novel feel unbalanced. The opening 20 or so pages feel like a parody of the giant monster films so popular during the 50s, then it goes into a rather comical trial, before becoming a brief adventure story, then something of an intrigue tale. It all makes sense in the context of the story, but it has a hard time balancing all these different tones and styles (some of which are far more successful than others).

All in all, I don’t want to complain too much though as I found myself enjoying the story as a whole. There are many flaws, though it contains very few of my usual issues with Heinlein. Overall a satisfying read if you’re looking for a classic science fiction that doesn’t require too deep of thought.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
December 8, 2019
One of the more memorable characters in the Heinlein collection.

***** 2019 re-read.

I’m going to upgrade my rating from 3 to 4 stars because when I read this again I see how important it is to Heinlein’s canon but also for SF.

First of all this predates H. Beam Piper’s brilliant SF novel Little Fuzzy by several years (Star Beast was first published in 1954 and was the eighth of his Scribner’s “juveniles”). Both works are about xenophobia and the acceptance of other races into the tribe of “men”. And this theme is relevant today because it is by extension about acceptance and tolerance. Both are legal thrillers that have some action but are mainly about a legal question of identity. Heinlein fans will also note his short story Jerry Is a Man that also fits into this genre.

Secondly, Star Beast anticipates two of the grandmaster’s greatest works: Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The SIASL reference is because both works mention an orphaned being on an alien planet and perspectives form both communities. The MIAHM comparison is more obscure but when I read the significant passages in Star Beast I immediately thought of the relevant sections of Mistress. This is the literal but also metaphorical act of throwing rocks. RAH fans will know what I’m talking about and this also gets into the question of what sentient life and what counts for intelligence is, or more succinctly, what do we count towards this threshold.

Finally, and I am an unapologetic Heinlein apologist, this has one of his most charismatic characters in his canon and that is Mr. Kiku. Heinlein is frequently, and I believe incorrectly, dismissed as being sexist, racist, militaristic, chauvinist, and probably some other -ISTs that I could think about. To be fair, later in his career he demonstrated some characteristics of a dirty old man, be a more accurate appraisal of his work reveals a very post-modern, even progressive attitude about women, gender roles, and race relations. While RAH was a product of his time and place and would by today’s standards be some of the above, he was ahead of his time in many ways. Mr. Kiku, an African diplomat is the most intriguing player and steals the show. RAH fans will also note that he bears some resemblance, in his uncanny eye for group dynamics and his remarkable abilities as a tactician, to Jubal Harshaw from Stranger in a Strange Land.

Not just for Heinlein fans, but a great science fiction story.

Profile Image for Andrew.
2,232 reviews
January 30, 2016
These are my comments and I can do what I want - throwing that out there considering that I have given this book 5 full stars - and for no other reason that this was one of the first books I read when I was let loose in the towns library.

Okay so childish petulance aside I loved this book the first time round I read it - especially the final scenes and it was just as much fun reading it this time too.

I know that a lot has been said about Robert Heinlein and opinions vary on him (which is not surprising considering how many books he has had published or how long he has stood the test of time) but this book to a teenage boy was incredible (and hence why I defend my choice of rating stars) and the fact I can read it all these years later and get as much enjoyment again is testament to his work-I guess for any author the fact someone can read their book and then return to it years later and still enjoy it as much must be an amazing accolade, I know if I could achieve such a thing it would impress me (even more so since I not a writer).
Profile Image for Nicholas Perez.
440 reviews96 followers
December 8, 2021
3.5/5 stars.

This is the best thing I've read by Robert Heinlein, but it is by far not the best book I've read.

The Star Beast is set in the far future. John Thomas Stuart XI, or simply John Thomas or Johnnie, is between the last year of high school and the first year of college. He has taken up the duty of his father, his grandfather, and all his male ancestors before him of taking care of the extraterrestrial star beast named Lummox. Everyone in town knows who and what Lummox is. Lummox is an alien who acts like a pet, except he has habit of wandering around and eating random things. These habits eventually lead to an incident which causes the local authorities in John Thomas' town and the overarching intergalactic politicians to get involved. John Thomas and Lummox are separated, but the two will not be kept apart.

I'm just going to go ahead and get it out: This book's largest flaw is the fact that it did not focus on John Thomas and Lummox as much as it claimed to. Most of the focus was on the older politicians discussing what to do with Lummox and how Lummox's people were coming to get her. It filled up so much more space in the book than the main plotline. What the heck? I do not mind if a children's book (this was written and published before the clear division between middle grade and young adult was a thing) contains POVs from adults or discussions of politics; although, I am surprised as to how in-depth the politics got in this book. And I don't mean "politics" as in some form of activism or discussing things like feminism or LGBT+ rights, I mean "politics" in how all the judicial and legislative powers work. However, the political stuff in here just went on and on. Did kids back in the 50s have a more general understanding of politics than kids from the 90s onward did, or was this just Heinlein's thing? That's not me slamming later generations, it's just any political that happened in kid's books from the 90s and onwards didn't really get this in-depth.

Basically, this book should've focused on its actual plotline and central characters more. What the heck?

And now the better stuff...

This book is not without its themes and character arcs, and even if they are set aside now and again Heinlein knows how to interweave them into the writing. John Thomas is a young man who wants to grow, needs to grow up, and thinks he is growing up. He's, somewhat, of a brat who wants charge of his own destiny. However, several things are preventing his actual coming-of-age path. One is his own attitude; John Thomas thinks at times that he's doing his best and being the most mature but he often doesn't see the bigger picture and can be a bit pushy. The other things that prevent him are his mother's coddling and also the symbiotic caregiving between him and Lummox. Because of his taking care of Lummox, inherited form his forefathers, John Thomas sees himself as responsible and in charge; but he is being duped. It is later revealed in the book that Lummox is not male, as John Thomas and many others initially thought, but actually female, and a prime matriarch of her species. Lummox sees herself as the one doing the raising. She believes that she is raising John Thomas and believes that she has raised each male member of his family bearing his same name. While Lummox appears at first to be an alien version of Clifford the Big Red dog, she is not being playful, she is trying to raise John Thomas her own way, thus clashing with how John Thomas is caring for her (remember that he doesn't know she's female for a while, so he's a bit rough with her).

I found this really brilliant and interesting. It's just a shame that Heinlein does not show or tell us what John Thomas' reactions to this revelation are. John Thomas does become more mature by the end, but this is due to the pressure of the overarching intergalactic political matters around Lummox, Lummox's care, the discipline of John Thomas' mother, and the non-nonsense aid of John Thomas' friend Betty. John Thomas does go through a coming-of-age arc, he becomes a man, just not in the way he planned.

I absolutely loved Lummox. She was adorable! Despite eating an entire mastiff dog in the beginning...She really did care for John Thomas. I just wish the book focused more on their relationship.

And then there was Betty. Betty is John Thomas' friend and classmate and she was the best character in the entire book. She was smarter than anyone else and often took action when no else did and was supposed to be doing. Seriously, what happened with Heinlein's adult female characters in his later books? Betty is just so awesome and refreshing.

Betty and Lummox's influence--and by extension, the influence of John Thomas' mother--were quite interesting in this book about a boy becoming a man. These three female characters, again mostly Betty and Lummox, had such influence on his life and in the progression of the story. Maybe not as much as all those dragging political scenes (yes, I am beating a dead horse), but still significantly. In fact, we learn that Lummox's species is entirely female-dominated. This book occupies a somewhat strange place in Heinlein's bibliography. The female characters really control a lot of things here.

There was one rather important side character: Henry Kiku. A slightly xenophobic man who is the under secretary, in charge of handling the issue of returning Lummox back to her people and appeasing John Thomas. There is an interesting subplot and secondary themes associated with Kiku. Kiku is implied to be mixed-raced, as many of the other characters in the book are and throughout Heinlein's other books, but apparently white passing; it says that he is "safe enough" to avoid discrimination. This subconscious concern about racism is a parallel to Kiku's xenophobia toward alien races. To clarify, there is no racism in this particular book, but xenophobia and fear of the outsider is near constant. Kiku dislikes the alien Dr. Ftaeml who comes to Earth to help with the situation around Lummox, and he also greatly dislikes Lummox and her people. In addition to the primary themes of coming-of-age and female influence, there's is another message in The Star Beast about how fear of someone who is different is unnecessary and only based on nothing more than difference. I still can't believe the author of Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress wrote this book. Heinlein, what happened to you?

Okay, that's enough showing how different Heinlein became over the course of the years, we all know it by now.

Anyway, in the end, Kiku's xenophobia seems to erode when he realizes that Lummox's people have their own codes of ethics and honor and that they desire love and peace, and only turn aggressive when pushed to it--gee, that sounds familiar!

Despite its flaws, I did enjoy The Star Beast. I wanted more, but it is still a thoughtful book.
Profile Image for Xan.
Author 3 books83 followers
February 18, 2018
Tenía este libro aparcado en el lector y decidí echarle un vistazo aprovechando una noche de sábado tranquila. Al terminar el primer párrafo recordé que lo había leído hace un millón de años, cuando aún era joven y todo me sorprendía. En otro momento lo habría dejado y buscado algún libro que no hubiese leído pero por nostalgia seguí leyendo. Lo recordaba como un cuento corto y al final resultó ser toda una novela. A pesar de su sencillez es una novela que trata temas profundos: la inteligencia de una especie, los prejuicios y temores ante lo extraño, las deficiencias de la democracia cuando los políticos solo buscan la reelección...Muchas ideas para una simple novela juvenil.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,041 followers
September 30, 2018
This is one of my favorite of Heinlein's juveniles. I've read it many times before, but this was the first time I listened to it as an audio book with a full cast reading the parts. Very well done, but more importantly the story itself is impressive especially for the time.

In 1954, women had their place, we were adding 'God' to our national sayings, blacks were relegated to minor characters, there was a fierce nationalistic movement, & male WASPs were the perfect heroes. This book was intended for the youth of the time & I grew up reading many of them which pounded these points home. Heinlein manages to spit on them all & more in such an entertaining way. He doesn't confront them, so much as make them too ludicrous to even contemplate & he nicely turns the tables on many assumptions the reader was sure to make.

It's not high art, but very readable & enjoyable even today. Highly recommended.

Spoilers below

The characters are well enough drawn caricatures, just scrambled well enough to make a mockery of the standards of the time. The headman of the world organization that oversees alien affairs is a WASP from North America, just one of the many regions the world government oversees. The headman is really just a figurehead & the real work is done by an old African guy who proves it. Hometown USA isn't the most important place on the planet since there isn't any USA & no one has heard of it. Our hero, John Thomas XI, is a pretty good kid, but he's not nearly as smart as his girlfriend.

The star of the show is Lummox, a name that fits during the time of the book, but doesn't make much sense historically. As an alien, it is referred to as a male, but in reality female is closer which makes a good point. It also turns out that this 'pet' from the stars is actually a being quite far advanced beyond humans who really thinks 'she' is raising "John Thomases". She's been at it for over a century & is quite peeved that duty calls & might interrupt her hobby.
Profile Image for Jeff Yoak.
811 reviews43 followers
November 1, 2020
This is an extremely pleasant juvenile from Heinlein. Though I like it a lot, I found that it was increasingly poor as a re-read, that is, until this time.

This time, I decided to try it with my kids. I had always imagine Red Planet would be the intro to Heinlein for the kids, but we stumbled into this one, and they absolutely fell in love with Lummux. It took a month of car trips with the whole family, but they finally got through it, and loved it.

2014: A touch over a year after going through this one with the kids, they insisted that we revisit it. I couldn't be more thrilled! They loved revisiting this world. :-)

2017: This is the kids' favorite Heinlein and one of their favorites overall. They requested a third reading recently, the only book with which they've done so, though I suspect that they've read the Harry Potter books that many times on their own.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,225 reviews344 followers
March 19, 2020
I was first introduced to this author through his later works, and cut my teeth on his World as Myth series, so I'm kind of working my way backwards now with the Juvenile series. Much like many of the other books, this was written to appeal to boys/youth in the 1940's-60's, so these books will have a different flavor than contemporary sci fi, but there's some fun tropes here and with Heinlein's style of writing, it's a solid read. You will already have a good idea of it just from the synopsis, and it's an all in all good book at 3.5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Allie.
499 reviews26 followers
July 11, 2017
Struggling to know how many stars to give this one. My 10 year old son gave it 4.5 stars and my 16 year old son gave it a 4 star. When they told me that I was shocked. In the beginning, I probably would've given it the same, but then it turned political and bored the hell out of me. I would've preferred a fun story of a boy and his "star beast", not a trial concerning a boy and his beast. Blah!

The audiobook was an enjoyable full cast production.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
December 17, 2022
mannyrayner: Write a passage in French, in the style of Balzac, where Balzac's characters Rastignac, de Marsay, Nucingen, Madame de Maufrigneuse and Madame de Sérisy discuss the plot of Robert Heinlein's "The Star Beast" at a dinner party.

ChatGPT: "Mesdames et Messieurs," dit Rastignac en prenant la parole, "j'ai récemment lu un livre absolument fascinant de Robert Heinlein, intitulé 'The Star Beast'. C'est l'histoire d'un jeune homme qui hérite d'un animal extraterrestre comme animal de compagnie, mais les enjeux de cette relation s'avèrent bien plus complexes qu'il n'y paraît. De Marsay, vous devriez vraiment donner une chance à cette histoire.

"Ah, mais de quel animal s'agit-il?" demanda Nucingen, le visage illuminé par la curiosité.

"C'est un Liska-Goram, un être mi-lion mi-dragon, créé par les extraterrestres pour être utilisé comme arme de guerre," répondit Rastignac avec enthousiasme.

"Quelle horreur!" s'exclama Madame de Maufrigneuse, portant sa main à sa bouche. "Et comment ce jeune homme finit-il par s'en sortir?"

"C'est là tout le drame de l'histoire," dit Rastignac en baissant la voix. "Il doit naviguer dans les complots politiques et les manipulations extraterrestres tout en luttant pour protéger son animal de compagnie, qui se révèle être bien plus intelligent et loyal qu'il ne le pensait.

"Cela semble absolument passionnant," dit Madame de Sérisy, les yeux brillants d'excitation. "Je suis sûre que cela ferait un excellent sujet de conversation pour notre prochaine soirée. Merci, Rastignac, pour cette suggestion de lecture fascinante."

I did not think this was one of ChatGPT's best efforts. Rastignac gives an extremely inaccurate description of Heinlein's novel, and Nucingen does not use his trademark mangled French.
Profile Image for Joseph.
185 reviews13 followers
March 14, 2012
Heinlein. What more need be said, really?

A side note, if you will, on the subject of women in Heinlein's universe. Someone noted in a review a quote from the male lead ""very nearly as good a head on her as a man, and pretty to boot". This quote, out of the context of the novel, is quite damning...but how the male lead describes the woman, and how the woman is portrayed by Heinlien are two completely different things. This woman who is "nearly as good a head as a man" runs circles around EVERY male in the book. She manipulates, insults, that teasing quote is held up, where the number of times she calls HIM a "lumix" or any number of other words for "idiot" are completely ignored. She states that "all men would look better with makeup", towards the end of the book. Where he complements her looks, and says that she's competent, she insults the intelligence of the man, and calls him ugly. And forces along the way causes just about everything to line up exactly as she wishes it to.

Do Heinlien's women need men? Yes, sure. Invariably. And yet just as much, the man needs the women. So many of his novels are about some peon male being led around by some highly qualified, intelligent woman who is far more skilled, capable, and informed. Do they fall in love? Sure..And there's a fair bit less backstabbing and cheating and infidelity and any number of OTHER social evils than in any modern romance I've ever picked up.
Profile Image for Vidal.
2 reviews14 followers
May 6, 2023
Muy entretenido, sorprende la variedad de las historias que cuenta Heinlein y su originalidad. Esta me parece la novela más juvenil que le he visto hasta el momento, pero no lo digo como algo negativo.
La lectura ha sido muy amena y pese a que la historia es simple le hace a uno pensar. Ojalá lo hubiese leído en mi adolescencia.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,631 reviews434 followers
May 1, 2014
-A pesar de que se puedan encontrar cosas en el fondo, pura evasión.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Lummox es “un animalito muy tímido” para su dueño, el adolescente John Thomas Stuart XI, pero para casi todos los demás es una bestia enorme a medio camino entre un rinoceronte y un triceratops de ocho patas, apetito insaciable y voz de niñita cuya última travesura termina llamando la atención del Departamento de Asuntos Espaciales de la Federación, que manda un delegado a la localidad en la que residen la familia Stuart y Lummie para descubrir que la criatura no solamente es inteligente (y en realidad lo es mucho más de lo que simula ser) sino que efectivamente es parte de una especie extraterrestre no catalogada entre las que ya hay en la Tierra.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews663 followers
October 24, 2014
This is distinctly a Heinlein juvenile, and it's not one of the best. It's not terrible - Heinlein is almost always readable and interesting, whether or not the story is great, or the politics worrisome. But it's not great, and certainly not as good as some of his other juvenile novels. His take on female characters is particularly weak in this one.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Monica.
774 reviews
July 27, 2016

John Thomas Stuart es un joven que, llegado a su edad pre adulta y en compañía de su inseparable amiga Betty, pasa más tiempo fuera de casa cada día; ésta situación hace que su mascota Lummox (traída de otra galaxia, por su abuelo, pionero explorador) se aburra y lo añore. Un día, harto de quedarse esperando en el cobertizo de la casa familiar, derriba las protecciones para impedirle salir y marcha de excursión, comiendo flores de los vecinos y vallas metálicas a la par...todo ello es causa de incidentes en la población y posteriores denuncias...pero algo más serio acaecerá en la tranquila y tradicional población de Westville, debido al incidente e injusta condena del afable Lummi, una mascotita de dos metros y medio, que acarreará más de un quebradero de cabeza hasta a los más altos mandatarios del estado...

Lo que al principio pudiese parecer una historia acerca de la amistad del joven John y su mascota (y sin dejar de serlo), se torna en una excusa para RADIOGRAFIAR A LAS PERSONAS Y HACER UNA CRTÍTICA SOCIAL EN TODA REGLA.

Redactado desde varios puntos de vista, mediante esclarecedores y semi cortos capítulos, de las personas del pueblo, los mandatarios de la zona y el estado central, la familia terrestre de Lummox, John Stuart, Betty y la propia bestia, NO HACE SINO QUE METERNOS EN LA SITUACIÓN DE LA MASCOTA, SUS PENSAMIENTOS, SENTIMIENTOS Y ACCIONES, COSA QUE HACE QUE NOS ENTERNEZCAMOS, LO COMPRENDAMOS Y VAYAMOS A SUFRIR POR ÉSTA Y LA IGNORIANCIA Y FALTA DE EMPATÍA QUE HAY A SU ALREDEDOR. Éste es claramente UN DISCURSO DENUNCIA ACERCA DEL RACISMO, LA INTOLERANCIA Y LOS PREJUICIOS CONTRA LOS IMMIGRANTES, a través de la experiencia de la bestia y los intercambios interplanetarios.
Pero hay más dónde hincar el diente, EL INCIDENTE, POSTERIOR RECLUSIÓN DE LA CRIATURA EXTRATERRESTRE Y JUICIO, PONE EN EVIDENCIA EL BODEVIL QUE MUCHAS VECES PUEDE SER LA JURISPRUDENCIA EN LA PRÁCTICA, opresora, tendenciosa y ambiciosa. Las personas civiles y profesionales involucradas en el caso son dignos del teatro satírico por excelencia, un TEATRO REAL en el cual se convierten en TRISTRES CARICATURAS DE LA SOCIEDAD, SUS DISFUNCIONES Y COMPLICACIONES INNECESARIAS:
-Un jefe de policía que se coge la ley por su cuenta, mediante procedimientos ilegales y totalmente arbitrarios
-Un enviado del departamento de asuntos espaciales que no quiere mal a Lummox por metas más ambiciosas (investigación científica), y por miedo a la reprimenda de su superior, Henry Kiku, que necesita cubrirse las espaldas de cara al estado central interviniendo en la causa, y que posteriormente cubrir las partes traseras nobles de un subjetivo, egocéntrico, ignorante y obtuso ministro de asuntos exteriores.
-Los abogados pleiteadores y sus bufetes, interesados en el beneficio monetario del caso
-Los buitres de la compañía de seguros
-El juez ansioso de notoriedad, pero que no quiere que lo incordien y resolver el asunto lo más rápido posible
No obstante, a parte de la joven pareja John y Betty, el personaje de Henry Kiku es clave en la historia y el de estilo más claramente Heinleinano que se digne en cualquier obra del autor: casi imparcial (todos los hombres tienen sus temores y reservas, pero RECTIFICAR ES DE SABIOS, Y ÉL LO HACE), juicioso, seguro, maquiavélico para el bien común, sensato, visionario, abierto y comprensivo con la situación global, haciendo frente a los diferentes frentes con los que hay que lidiar. AQUI SE NOS DA UNA CLASE EXTENSA DE LOS VERICUETOS DIPLOMÁTICOS.

Los pasajes de la bestia con John, aunque concisos en la generalidad de la obra, son EXCEPCIONALES EN LO REFERENTE A EMOCIÓN Y TERNURA.

La sorpresa final de la obra, si no me ha parecido tal (por haber leído éste libro en al actualidad, y visionado un capítulo de "The twilight zone" con igual epílogo argumental, que, eso sí, es posterior al de Heinlein), deja un buen regusto y cierre para una novela FRESCA, ÁGIL, CON UN BUEN DISCURSO CRITICO Y CONCLUSIÓN, QUE NO ESCATIMA EN DENUNCIA PERO LOGRA DISIMULARLA MÁS QUE "Hija de Marte" (más directa, pero con un tono más desenfadado que la presente, que tiene una calidad más sobria de narración)


Profile Image for Deborah Ideiosepius.
1,676 reviews132 followers
October 28, 2019
Star beast is a classic science fiction story from one of the greats or the early sci-fi; Robert A. Heinlein.

John Thomas Stuart VIII was a dashing young spaceman, back in his day. He traveled on one of the first exploration space ships that went out into the great unknown, had adventures and from one of them, he brought a pet back from the stars...

But our story really starts with his grandson John Thomas Stuart XI who is in his yearly twenties, has a girlfriend and a really unusual, really BIG pet in the back yard for the star beast has continued to grow. The star beast has been named Lummox by the succession of John Thomas' that have cared for it. Lummox is as loyal to them as they are to it, it will talk to them and sometimes to other people but mostly it will obey only John Thomas. Then, one day bored as John Thomas is out on a date, Lummox decides to go out of the yard which starts a huge ruckus of an adventure with unforeseen consequences that will lead to discovering Lummox's species and home planet.

First published in 1954 this is very much a social commentary as all the best sci-fi of it's day was. Heinlein, being an American man of the 50's, in many of his books aimed to shake the smugness that infused hos society. The women in his books are liberated, smart (often smarter than the lead man) and sassy. To a modern woman the image is often patriarchal and misogynistic, but in his time he was breaking down the boundaries of what a woman could be, beyond what a lot of youngsters can comprehend. The same can be said about minorities and this book has a lot of underlying themes about equality in general. It is all done however in the very successful guise of a most excellent science fiction adventure.

Apparently, The novel was originally published as a serial, abridged, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1954 under a different name and then published in hardcover as part of Scribner's series of Heinlein juveniles[thank you Wikipedia]. When I first read it I didn't quite get the 'juveniles' trend and I still think it is a bit obscure. The main characters are, apparently, in high school, though they are somewhat unconvincing in that regard. Still, what do I know? I was not around in the 50's never lived in America and certainly not in Heinlein's version of this America.

As well as the Lummox element, there is a fair bit of plot giving the reader a picture of the sociopolitical status of the 'world' we are reading in, how it manages diplomacy with aliens, runs an interstellar community and the legal complication. I enjoyed it all and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves early science fiction.
Profile Image for Desinka.
300 reviews60 followers
July 28, 2014
I've read this so many times, I can't believe I haven't marked it as "read"! An all time favourite that doesn't lose its charm for me.
Profile Image for Steven.
135 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2022
**** 3.9 STARS ****

Lummox is such a great character and animal companion.

This is such a deceptive book. It starts out feeling like a children's/young adult (juvenile) story. Then the proverbial carpet is pulled from under you, and some big and important themes are revealed. There's lots of political intrigue, xenophobia, and more, but, at the heart of the story is a young man and his unique alien (animal) companion, and the trouble this brings, ultimately to the future of Earth.

The Star Beast is such a fun ride with some excellent characters, especially Lummox.
Profile Image for Janice.
1,185 reviews67 followers
July 4, 2018
The family pet has 8 legs and eats anything and is bound to cause a diplomatic crisis.

I've read reviews that call this a coming-of-age story. I think it was more a lesson in the fine art of manipulative diplomacy. The undersecretary is a force to be reconned with, at least until he meets up with Johnny's girlfriend, Becky.

It was amusing to read the terminology Heinlein called various futuristic gadgets. It was published in 1954 and he was pretty accurate about future technology. Some things, like politics, never change.

Heinlein didn't do so well on devining future attitudes and colloquial language. He seemed unable to forego the idioms of the time and predict how people would react in the future. "Huh?" was the typical response to many statements. Attitudes towards women were terrible. "Go take that stuff off your face or I'll smack you," and other physical abuses were common threats coming from a 17 year old to his girlfriend, or to his pet.
Profile Image for Kimmie.
54 reviews
May 12, 2013
Star Best landed on my bookshelf after I picked it up at a used book store for less than a dollar. I simply couldn't resist the slightly adorable, eight-legged, dinosaur-creature-thing on the cover. I regret how long it took me to actually start reading this as its highly engaging and enjoyable. I work in the legal field, so Heinlein's use of accurate legal terminology was a pleasure for me to read. I fell in love with Lummox from the first page. His (or her) personality reminded me of Lennie from Of Mice and Men. They're both unavoidably lovable creatures who don't understand their own strength or place in this world.

I was more than ready to give this book 5 stars. But then came the last 30 pages, or so. The story had changed focal characters half way through the book and ended with a heated political argument between high ranking government officials. That almost killed it for me. Less talkie, more Lummie, please. Aside from that, this was a phenomenal book I was unable to put down until the last word was read.
Profile Image for Frederick Heimbach.
Author 7 books18 followers
October 4, 2021
Heinlein at his absolute rock-bottom worst, which is still 3 stars. I think this one is aimed at a young audience, even for the juveniles, because plot points are telescoped waaaay in advance of their appearance, leaving the reader to drum his fingers waiting for their arrival. Instead we get loooong dialogs with the strangest Heinleinian hero I've ever encountered. Yes, he's a highly competent male, but a government bureaucrat? Really? Really? Heinlein's elitism has, I think, never been more on display, with four cheers for the Noble Lie and all the rest.

I better stop now before I give this two stars.
Profile Image for Thom.
1,592 reviews47 followers
August 12, 2013
Not the usual science fiction, this deals more with diplomacy and politics. Good character interactions and manipulations make this a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Julie Davis.
Author 4 books272 followers
June 29, 2020
A really delightful tale of a boy and his extra-terrestrial. Robert A. Heinlein wraps a wonderful adventure tale for juveniles around a lot of concepts that people seem to be grappling with right now, especially how do we understand the "other?" In this case the "other" is Lummox who was brought to Earth several generations ago and has been passed along to the space explorer's descendants. When Lummox's long-lost race shows up to bring him home, the fireworks begin, with the boy and his pet caught in the balance.
Profile Image for Austin Wright.
1,187 reviews21 followers
April 1, 2017
I picked up a 4-volume omnibus ("Four Frontiers", "To The Stars", "Infinite Possibilities", and "Outward Bound") which has the complete 14 novels of Heinlein's Juveniles.

This is Heinlein at his most goofy. Kids in the court, and long ambassador talks. It was just a borin read.
Profile Image for Michael.
151 reviews29 followers
December 28, 2021
Be Careful When Picking Up Strays

A fun story about a boy and his alien. This is definitely a story for young people, it includes some of Heinlein's usual commentary on society.
Profile Image for Mark.
564 reviews157 followers
June 19, 2014
Here’s my latest reread of Heinlein’s works, as I go through the Virginia Edition series.

And by 1954, we’re now well into the Heinlein juveniles. Some would say here’s where Heinlein was settling into a purple patch, with many of his best-loved and long-lived novels appearing.

Following on from Starman Jones, The Star Beast (title reduced to Star Beast here in the UK) is pretty much what we expect from Heinlein at this stage of his writing career. Whilst clearly writing to the template for Boy Scouts (as mentioned in previous reviews), it is a superior piece of work, managing to juggle a coming-of-age tale with humour and pathos and also shows an author not content with producing ‘more-of-the-same’. This is clearly a writer confident in what he is doing and showing it through his repertoire.

To the plot: John Thomas Stuart XI has a family pet, inherited from his uncle who returned home with it from a space voyage. The long-lived and amusingly named ‘Lummox’ is sentient – kind, caring, childlike, supremely loyal – and has grown to the size of a small bus.

This leads him and the latest John Thomas into all sorts of run-ins, with his neighbours, relations and eventually the law. The book begins with a chapter telling of how the childlike Lummox escapes the family property, initially out of curiosity but eventually frightened into a situation involving a trail across the city of Westville and the police. Not too surprisingly, for John’s mother this is the last straw and she wants John to get rid of it.

In the aftermath of the wander around Westville, Godzilla style, things become more complicated. The governmental Department of Space, or DepSpace, is informed and becomes involved. The local court orders Lummox to be killed. The court actually tries to have Lummox destroyed in an ‘accident’, but is unable to do so, much to Lummox’s amusement. Desperate to save his pet, John Thomas sells Lummox to a zoo before the creature is killed. However he rapidly changes his mind and feeling that there is no alternative, instead runs away from home, riding off to hide in the nearby forest wilderness on Lummox’s back.

His girlfriend Betty Sorenson joins him and suggests bringing the beast back into town and hiding it in a neighbour’s greenhouse. However, it isn’t easy to conceal such a large creature.

Readers of Heinlein’s previous books, not to mention my reviews, may feel that The Star Beast is another version of a tale we have read before. It is fairly easy to see that Lummox is the literary progeny and logical extension of Martian Willis, Venusian Sir Isaac Newton, the Martian flat cats and Mr Chips the spider-puppy met in previous Heinlein books. Like them, Lummox is cute, likeable – some would say loveable, even when in the first chapter he/she eats a local canine that has previously terrorised the local neighbourhood. The incident, which could be seen as quite serious is given instead as rather humorous. The reader accepts this, as it is explained by Heinlein in such a logical way that the reader seeing events from Lummox’s perspective becomes totally accepting of his point of view.

Anyone who has ever owned a pet will recognise aspects of Lummox as a large, fairly intelligent, clumsy-yet-well-meaning animal. Lummox is an absolute winner here, with Heinlein getting the tricky balance between humour and sternness about right.

And the crux of the tale is that, like most of the other aliens Heinlein has written about by this point, Lummox is misunderstood by the majority of humans he/she encounters. By comparison, the way that the humans often behave here is often the joke.

Cleverly, the book examines what sort of role humans and aliens could have together in a future society. It reminds us that we may not be alone, nor are we necessarily the best ambassadors of extra-terrestrial relations. Think of it as dealing with some of the same issues as District-9 but written sixty years or so previous. Its ending shows that humans have a lot to learn but ends on a positive note in that we are willing to do so. This is rather different from the more arrogant, ‘blast them all while you can’ attitude that was in much of the SF pulp and Hollywood movies of the time (and even today.) Here, in The Star Beast, diplomacy wins the day: ‘I do not like weapons… they are the last resort of faulty diplomacy’, a character states at one point.

It is this diplomacy that becomes increasingly important towards the conclusion of the novel. When representatives of The Hroshii, an advanced, powerful and previously unknown alien race appear and demand the return of their lost child…or else, humans are shocked to realise that this is Lummox. The situation is compounded further when Lummox, now discovered as a ‘she’, refuses to leave, instead wishing to her only hobby and principal interest: the raising of John Thomases. She makes it clear that she intends to continue doing so.

In such a brief summary the story may perhaps seem rather straightforward by today’s more cynical standards. However from a viewpoint of the 1950’s I was surprised at how keen Heinlein was to push things within his now rather standard template. The Star Beast shows that there is a Heinlein still pushing the boundaries here. There are lots of little touches that are cleverly not what was typical of SF in the 1950’s. It is good to see that we have a female character (Betty) in a major role, even though her character is a little two-dimensional. Interestingly, though, it is with this character there was controversy: Alice Dalgliesh, the librarian-editor of whom I have written about through these reviews – did hear of and get a poor review because of the point made in the novel Betty has divorced herself from her parents – something which was not seen as a positive thing to do in nineteen-fifties society. Despite this, the point was kept, and seemed to unaffect sales.

Of the other characters I was also surprised but pleased to see a more worldly view than I expected. For example, we have Mr. Henry Kiku, the Under Secretary for Earth who is African in origin and defiantly pointed out as ‘black’. There’s another generally likeable character with the first name of Sergei – rather provocative in a communist-aware nation as was the USA in the 1950’s. Heinlein was clearly against racism and breaking down boundaries before the civil rights movements of the 1960’s here.

It is perhaps worth mentioning here about another usage of names, seemingly deliberate. There’s also the name of our key character, ‘John Thomas’ – whilst fairly innocent in the US, here in the UK it is a slang term for – well, let’s say a male anatomical part. This is probably deliberate, and something mentioned by Robert James and William H. Patterson in their introduction in this Virginia Edition as part of Heinlein’s continual battle with his editor. (Evidently she was unaware of its other meaning and was not happy, years after the book was published, when she was told!) This certainly gave the phrase ‘raising John Thomases’ a different meaning with that understanding!

And seeing as how we’ve mentioned humour a couple of times already… I have complained about Heinlein’s attempts at humour before, particularly in Space Family Stone/The Rolling Stones. Here in The Star Beast Heinlein seems to have reined in the previous excesses to the point where his humour, in the main, holds up fairly well even though it is long after it was written.* Unusually, in The Star Beast much of this is at the expense of the hapless bungling humans, trying to deal with the often seemingly clumsy Lummox.

If handled badly, the plot throughout The Star Beast could be written in a way that is trite, or at worst slapstick. However I was pleased that Star Beast makes its points through humour without hammering them home sledgehammer-style, and this means that I found myself remembering the novel more as a result. Though we do have some of that famous Heinlein dialogue here, especially between the diplomats, this is not a book that labours the points, nor does it hector the reader into submission – something which later Heinlein novels have often been accused of. It is rather – at least by 1950’s turns – subtle and deceptively complex.

Star Beast consolidates the enviable position Heinlein is now finding himself in by 1954. He is clearly the King of SF juveniles by this stage, both popular and best-selling. Although it is strangely often forgotten today, The Star Beast is one that epitomises the solidly-good Heinlein juvenile. There’s an occasional lapse, and the odd part that hasn’t dated well, but generally this is one of the juveniles I’d recommend, although it is often not one regarded as a favourite. For me it was a surprisingly satisfying read.
Profile Image for Chan Fry.
236 reviews6 followers
June 27, 2021

This was a fun read once I got past some early jarring perspective switches — I don’t think Heinlein was accustomed from several perspectives like this. The book is filled with some of my favorite Heinlein characters, like the lovable Lummox, the quick-thinking Betty Sorenson, and especially the dedicated and decisive professional bureaucrat Mr. Kiku. But it also has a lot to say, including fairly progressive ideas (for the 1950s) about race, xenophobia, and gender. It couldn’t help but have had a positive effect on its readers along those lines.

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

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