Kip from midwest Centerville USA works the summer before college as a pharmacy soda jerk, and wins an authentic stripped-down spacesuit in a soap contest. He answers a distress radio call from Peewee, scrawny rag doll-clutching genius aged 11. With the comforting cop Mother Thing, three-eyed tripod Wormfaces kidnap them to the Moon and Pluto.
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.
Clifford "Kip" Russell, a teenager wants to go to the Moon, this is set in the future, when hopefully Lunar bases have been established (this is a science fiction book). Centerville High Schooler, part time soda jerk from a poor family, enters a soap company contest, literally sending thousands of slogans. First prize for best entry, is a trip to Luna . Mildly disappointed winning the second prize only, an old Space Suit. His eccentric father Dr. Russell, lets his son do anything he wishes as long as it doesn't cost the dad any money. Kip is kidnapped near his home by a hideous looking space alien, nicknamed worm face they call themselves pompously the Only People while training in his suit. Two humans former uranium prospectors on the Earth's own satellite, help the alien ( some people will do whatever for cash ). Along for the ride is "Pee Wee", an eleven year old girl genius and a friendly alien, "Mother Thing" . Trying to escape when they reach their destination, the Moon . But the three victims are recaptured very quickly, going next to distant mysterious Pluto, when it was still a planet.You can imagine how cold that strange, maybe weird a better word, this frozen world is. Mother Thing quietly makes bombs and destroys the secret alien base there and the worm faces, these creatures wanted to invade our beautiful blue planet.The teenager sets up a beacon for help. Before you know it, they're on Vega Five, a planet orbiting the bright star Vega, 27 light years away from Earth, yet that is just around the corner they will discover and eventually travel a mind-bending 167,000 light years to another galaxy, to be tried for a crime...Robert Heinlein early in his career wrote rather juvenile novels yet very good and entertaining, later he became probably the greatest science fiction write in his time and today still is quite popular.
My first Robert A. Heinlein work read and still one of my favorites.
Heinlein produced his juvenile books for Charles Scribner's Sons mainly in the 1950s and these were what many consider to be some of his finest work. I’ve always thought that the period between 1957 and 1966 was his zenith, with good work before and after, but during this time was when he was at the height of his considerable powers.
Have Space Suit Will Travel was first published by Scribner's in 1958 and so was a part of this high quality. Nominated for a Hugo award in 1959 (and what a cast that was! James Blish won for A Case of Conscience, and the other nominees were Robert Scheckley’s Immortality, Inc., Poul Anderson’s The Enemy Stars, and Algis Budrys’ Who?) this was on a short list of his best.
Kip Russell wants to go to the moon. There begins a golden opportunity for SF in the Golden Age!
Brimming with 50s kitsch, but in a loveable way, Heinlein appealed to his juvenile audience with a fun adventure story and to his growing older fans with some cool SF. Some of the more interesting RAH characters are here and also the beginnings of some of his more ubiquitous ideas like liberty, resourcefulness, self-reliance and determinism.
My 2016 reread left me nostalgic and endearing, and more appreciative of his talent than before.
A MUST read for RAH fans and SF readers in general.
* Assume that a teenage boy can be smart, motivated, and understand everything from mechanical engineering to calculating the radioactive half-life in various elements, while being occasionally prone to losing his temper. *
* Assume that a pre-teen girl can be an amazing genius who is quick-witted, brave to a fault, eager to save lives, all while still carrying around a raggedy doll and occasionally having a secret cry session when things get tough. *
* Assume that juvenile readers will be interested in the nuts & bolts of building a proper space suit. *
* Assume that juvenile readers will be both canny and sensitive enough to appreciate wry humor and subtle ironies delivered via prose that is not dumbed down, a charming and straightforward storytelling style, and most of all, a whole lot of sincerity. *
* Assume that the future will look much like the small towns of the 1950s. *
* Assume that an idealized version of the small towns of the 1950s will actually have a lot to recommend them. *
* Assume that the reader will understand the difference between empathy and sympathy and will be fine with super-empathy as an actual super-power for an adorable, lemur-eyed alien police officer that communicates by singing. *
* Assume that an adventure novel where the adventure ends three-quarters of the way through but the story continues with an unnerving trial adjudicated by an intergalactic tribunal in which the fate of humanity will be determined by the words of a teen boy and a pre-teen girl... will remain an involving story. And will end with a milkshake being tossed in the face of the town jerk. *
* Assume that your rather minor-note little story will live on as a perfectly accomplished little classic. *
That's a lot of assumptions! In this case, Heinlein assumed correctly.
Originally a serial, then published in '58, this well-beloved SF has been in the hearts and minds of many YA and adult readers pretty consistently since it came out. It's a toss-up whether people love it more for the good-science lodged right in rip-roaring adventure tale that includes being a space pirate or running on the moon in a space-suit of your own construction from bug-eyed-monsters (BEMs) or whether it's just because there's a delightfully well-written story with equally delightful smart children full of action, gung-ho, bravery, and the willingness to stand up and fight against enormous odds.
This is a re-read for me, and I think I might have judged it too harshly in my youth. Back in the 80's, I really didn't have much patience for optimistic YA Americana of the 50's. It felt like so much brainwashing. But today? The pendulum has swung the other way entirely, and such bright-eyed can-do attitude feels as mysteriously heroic as wearing a cape and plucking a crashing airplane out of the sky.
What? Read books for knowledge? Do the calculations yourself? Use duct-tape to jerry-rig mismatching valves to save your young friend from asphyxiation before she runs out of oxygen? Stand up and fight for our species' right to live against impossibly unfair odds against a galactic security council that *rightly* imagines that we're likely going to be a danger to countless alien species? Check, Check, Check, Check.
(Robert A Heinlein) RAH! RAH! RAH! ;)
Seriously, when it comes to the nay-sayers, the little Americana-isms like soda-jerks and jingles, it's all part of history, and after so much dystopia, just imagining this brighter Earth is a real treat and a half.
Oh, and Peewee is cute as hell and really spunky.
And no. I don't worry for Kip's mental health. Really. Oscar is *not* an imaginary friend. He has physical substance and he's a sight more useful than Peewee's dolly, thank you very much.
Now where's my short-band radio? I'm suited up and ready to go. :)
PUBLISHER: R.H., we just got done reading your new book, and I have to say, bravo. This is your best one yet! The young boys of 1958 are going to love it. Heck, I love it. The whole setup was so clever, with the boy entering a jingle-writing contest for soap to win a trip to the moon? My wife really got a kick out of that -- i told her about it when she was washing dishes last night and she couldn't stop laughing! She sure does love soap commercials.
And having the boy win a spacesuit instead of the grand prize -- genius! It really makes it exciting when he turns out to have an adventure anyway. Who would guess a spaceship would land right in his back yard? And piloted by a little girl on the run from Martians? Brilliant! You want to put a girl in there so to keep the women's movement off our backs, but she's still young enough to be a bratty kid so we don't have to worry about the sex. Lemme tell you, I am sick to death of hearing about all the sex corrupting our kids these days.
The parts with the evil aliens are real good, real exciting. And how you made running out of air a big drama -- I never would have thought of that, not being able to breathe on the moon! You sure think up some nutty stuff. And the intergalactic trials and the telepathic cat creature... well, you know your plot, why am I telling you?
There's just one thing: can you put in some math? We know what sells, and let me tell you, there is nothing boys like better than reading about math!
HEINLEIN: Uh, yeah, I can put in some math. You still pay me by the word, right?
PUBLISHER: You betcha, Bob.
HEINLEIN: Yeah, I think you are right, I think math needs to be a big, big part of this story.
Sooooo ... I've read my first Heinlein (actually, I've listened to it but whatever). Influenced by many people with many different tastes and what they had to say about Mr. Heinlein, I was VERY reluctant. But I thought that most of the negative sides I had heard about of this author couldn't possibly be included in one of his books for juveniles so I joined the group read.
And wouldn't you know? No sexism in this one. There are two kids (a boy and a girl) and they go on an adventure. Quite a classic one too. You know, except for the space travel, aliens and stuff. ;) What I really liked was the nerdiness both kids displayed (like Kip making the old space suit he won be functional again) and their ingenuity even in scary situations.
While I do believe that this is for younger readers mainly, I don't mind having started with this at all and had quite a lot of fun zooming through the galaxy, starting small (the Moon), then going further (Pluto) and further still (Vega 5) - which really was kind of a metaphor for the kids' growth with every situation. I also had to chuckle a few times like when we get to the court scene and there are a centurion and a Neanderthal. *lol* Considering the age of the book, I'd say this was one of the foundations for humanity being regarded as a still child-like species by developed, benevolent aliens (after all, it's a trope often used and Heinlein is a classic writer for a reason it would seem). Instead of explosions and battles, wits win the day, which I always like and which is definitely more realistic considering that the heroes are children going up against quite some violent aliens. The end is also very optimistic as the look on Earth/humanity throughout the book, but that is not a negative thing.
And hey, they used my favourite hero in any story: duct tape! :D
Sometimes you find a book at exactly the right point in your life. I was fortunate enough to read Have Space Suit - Will Travel when I was a geeky 12 year old boy, and I loved it. If YOU'RE a geeky 12 year old boy, there's a fair chance you'll love it too! He enters this cut-out-the-coupon-and-complete-the-slogan competition (a lot of description of how he intelligently maximizes his chances) and wins an old ex-NASA space suit. He fixes it up, and there are some great passages showing how much fun it is to be able to walk around in your own space suit. Then he gets abducted by aliens, one thing leads to another, and as usual he ends up having to save the human race. It's definitely one of the best examples of this genre.
If you're NOT a geeky 12 year old boy... well, nothing's impossible, but you probably want to read something else instead.
This book stands out among Heinlein's juveniles - arguably the best of the batch.
But it's more than just a great book. It's also a defining moment in an entire movement in SF towards realistic science. This doesn't mean that the characterization or plot needs to take on secondary or incidental importance. It just means that all efforts must be taken to ensure that the science works.
So, it's the exact opposite type of novel from what A.E. van Vogt was writing. In his works (somewhat common for the early years), the science was gibberish. Often just scientific-sounding vocabulary was enough, and no more explanation or emphasis on the science was provided. The character, then, had to be some type of superman: larger-than-life in some kind of unique manner. Perhaps they had ESP, or perhaps they had the superstrength, or could read minds...
And this was needed, because if the technology in a novel is completely made up, then you can always solve any situation by just creating some weird new device, which will frustrate readers (somewhat like deus ex machina perhaps). So you need to give the character some special powers and then use that to build suspense.
But... Heinlein did it differently in his juveniles.
He basically transitioned from super-character to super-smart character, asking "what if it were cool to be really smart", and thus his characters had no special powers at all - other than that they obviously listened during science class. They had the scientific background to understand (and explain) basic principles, and also to find ways to use ingenuity to apply this knowledge. And this means that the science has to be correct, or the book won't work.
And thus began a revolution in science fiction. "Hard science fiction" was born, and slowly began to gain prominence. I submit that if not for Heinlein's juveniles there would be no Larry Niven.
So thanks Heinlein, for making it cool to be smart. For making the science studied in high school become the tools needed to resolve a novel's conflict. For making a generation of budding engineers think in creative ways if there's yet another way to apply scientific knowledge.
Now, of course, hard SF has moved away from juvenile novels, and usually involves much higher degrees of scientific innovation. Perhaps it's a bit intimidating to a non-SF reader to try to understand what a ramscoop ship is, and perhaps that's at least one supporting basis for the current steampunk surge.
Heinlein's juveniles represent a zeitgeist in science fiction. He was the right guy at the right time, and these books were widely accessible to young readers who didn't have television or internet.
And they changed the world. In the real world (over the next few decades following Heinlein's juveniles), science changed the everyday life of all citizens more dramatically than even Heinlein could have realized or anticipated. Certainly the biggest push for new scientific developments would have been the World Wars, but Heinlein's books planted seeds in the minds of young readers, and many of them would grow up to be the researchers working on new advances that improved our way of life.
No, we're not living on the moon yet, but it is a completely different world than Heinlein lived in when he sat down to begin a revolution in the hearts and minds of young readers, giving them a love of learning and an aptitude for not only understanding science but exploring ways to use its findings.
HIGHEST POSSIBLE RATING. (But read it in its historical context, and don't pretend it's a book published as a contemporary to any of the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson books that are all the rage today...)
I am usually reluctant to read “juveniles”, or YA books because I am too cynical to fully appreciate them and they make me feel old as the hills. Still, the whole point of “usually” is that you do it some time to disqualify it from “almost never”.
Have Space Suit—Will Travel is probably the most popular of the Heinlein’s Juveniles series—if Goodreads’ Robert A. Heinlein profile page is to be believed. The last Heinlein book I read was Starship Troopers, which surprisingly turned out to be a frustrating experience because I distinctly remember loving it as a teen and I could barely get through at my current (near fossilization) age. I just have no patience for his excessive didacticism at the expense of the storytelling. Still, I will always return to “The Big Three”: Heinlein/Clarke/Asimov, they are “big” for obvious reasons.
The setting (date not indicated) is a near-future Earth when Earth has already established a “lunar base” on the Moon, but no space colonization has been made yet. Have Space Suit—Will Travel is the story of Clifford "Kip" Russell, an all-American young lad with a passion for space travel, particularly for a trip to the Moon. He won a spacesuit from a competition which becomes his favorite possession. Kip spends a lot of time lovingly tinkering with his spacesuit, one day his suit’s radio receives an unexpected distress call which Kip immediately responds to, consequently he soon finds himself captured and imprisoned by wormy-faced aliens.
“I woke up from a terrible nightmare, remembered where I was, and wished I were back in the nightmare.”
Aboard the alien’s spaceship he meets a young girl called Peewee who introduces him to a nice alien she calls “The Mother Thing”, and together they plot their escape.
This is a charming book, good-spirited, with a nice old school dialogue which reminds me a little of Mark Twain’s. The story moves along at a fairly brisk pace. I did find that it sags a little after the midpoint of the book when our hero is recuperating from some injuries but the pace soon picks up again with some unexpected courtroom drama where the future of the entire human race is at stake.
Heinlein’s trademark didacticism makes a cameo appearance here also but he knew his target readership for this book is not going to put up with pages full of the stuff so he is more subtle and discreet with it. The little bits of didacticism do, in fact, fit into the narrative quite well. There is an element of hard sci-fi in the book which I quite enjoyed. Basically, when Kip gets into trouble he “sciences the shit out of it” like Matt Damon Mark Watney does in The Martian.
“So- ½ x 30 x 93,000,000 x 5280 = ½ x 8 x 32.2 x t2 -and you wind up with the time for half the trip, in seconds. Double that for full trip. Divide by 3600 to get hours; divide by 24 and you have days.”
As you would expect of a young reader's book the story ends on an upbeat note, with a rather pat conclusion. At the end of the day though, I had a pleasant time reading Have Space Suit—Will Travel but I would have appreciated it much more had I read it three or four decades ago when the juvenile styling would have struck more of a chord with me. A great one for the kids then, most adults are likely to find it entertaining too. As the top “Heinlein Juveniles” title it is also a significant part of science fiction history.
It's a corker. One of those juvenile books that adults will enjoy too and it would make a splendid movie. Theoretically there is one in the pipelines, but nothing's been heard of it for some years.
Have Space Suit has no weak points. Entertaining (some great one-liners), the science sounds plausible - not saying it is, I wouldn't know - but one could imagine a young boy reading this and being inspired. I hope that last sentence is wrong and that girls read this too. The narrator is a teenage boy fresh out of high school. His side-kick is an 11 year old female genius, greatly admired and relied upon by the narrator. There is absolute equality. Important also is 'The Mother Thing', seemingly all knowing and all good.
I wouldn't exactly say this makes the book a model of female emancipation in the science world.
This was such a fun read! I know that the target audience is much younger than I am, but still who doesn't like a nice "rags to intergalactic traveler" story? It reads really quick and for Heinlein is rather free of some of his more annoying vices having a strong female protagonist alongside the male center of the story. No crazy alien sex here, just space-traveling ambition and some crazy aliens. I wonder whether David Brin didn't take some inspiration from the "Mother Things" in the ideas behind his Uplift series? In any case, if you haven't read this one, add it to your Saturday afternoon pleasure reading list.
This is a classic juvenile SF by the master, Robert A. Heinlein. the book was nominated for Hugo Award in 1959. I read as a part of the Monthly reads for December 2019 in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group. It is actually a re-read for me, I first read a Russian translation over two decades ago.
This is pure juvenile Heinlein, smooth simple prose, naïve but brave and persistent heroes, who get out of danger with their wits, not their fists. Just read the starting paragraphs:
You see, I had this space suit. How it happened was this way: “Dad,” I said, “I want to go to the Moon.” “Certainly,” he answered and looked back at his book. It was Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, which he must know by heart. I said, “Dad, please! I’m serious.” This time he closed the book on a finger and said gently, “I said it was all right. Go ahead.” “Yes…but how?” “Eh?” He looked mildly surprised. “Why, that’s your problem, Clifford.”
It has: - SF elements: a spacesuit, going to the Moon - a wise old(-er) man figure, so often used by Heinlein. Note that the wiseness is not equaled with age, it is meritocratic, all his wise old men worked hard to learn new things - a "we can do it" self-reliance approach. So many modern books emphasize what cannot be done, this one is a gulp of fresh air
The 17-year-old boy Kip (Clifford Russell) wants to go to the Moon, but his family has to money for such extravaganza. However, his father doesn’t believe in luck to help a person. Rather he bets on persistence and ‘try log enough’. So, when a jingle contest for a soap brand (it’s 50s!) gives a trip to the Moon as the main awards he enters and sets up an industrial scale operation. Even despite his initial drawback he doesn’t stop just to be captured by space pirates on a flying saucer. And that’s just for starters!
The book is old-fashioned, there is no sex, unless you take the following phrase as licentious: I tell you, the slide rule is the greatest invention since girls. As for gender biasness of the old SF it is both present and absent. On the one hand, the protagonist’s family is more or less idealized 50s suburban utopia with a housewife, whose role is it seems to care for her husband and son (the role is minor). On the other, the second protagonist is a seven year old girl, who is smarter than Kip and no less brave. There are some shortcuts made by the author so that adventures aren’t stopped by realistic details, like flimsy doors on the saucer or needing chiefly a soft bad to survive a week in 8 g. At the same time there are (successful, for I recall from the initial reading) attempts to educate from astronomical distances to this:
A man uses around three pounds of oxygen a day—pounds mass, not pounds per square inch. You’d think a man could carry oxygen for a month, especially out in space where mass has no weight, or on the Moon where three pounds weigh only half a pound. Well, that’s okay for space stations or ships or frogmen; they run air through soda lime to take out carbon dioxide, and breathe it again. But not space suits.
Even today people talk about “the bitter cold of outer space”—but space is vacuum and if vacuum were cold, how could a Thermos jug keep hot coffee hot? Vacuum is nothing—it has no temperature; it just insulates.
Three-fourths of your food turns into heat—a lot of heat, enough each day to melt fifty pounds of ice and more.
The book is cozy old-fashioned, with simple aliens and galactic empires. If it were a modern book with the same story I’d rated it ‘just okay’ but for its times it was great!
I thought about it. “Seems to me I fumbled everything I tried. But I had help and an awful lot of luck.” I shivered at how luck alone had kept me out of the soup—real soup.
“‘Luck’ is a question-begging word,” he answered. “You spoke of the ‘amazing luck’ that you were listening when my daughter called for help. That wasn’t luck.”
“Huh? I mean, ‘Sir’?”
“Why were you on that frequency? Because you were wearing a space suit. Why were you wearing it? Because you were determined to space. When a space ship called, you answered. If that is luck, then it is luck every time a batter hits a ball. Kip, ‘good luck’ follows careful preparation; ‘bad luck’ comes from sloppiness. You convinced a court older than Man himself that you and your kind were worth saving. Was that mere chance?”
“Uh…fact is, I got mad and almost ruined things. I was tired of being shoved around.”
“The best things in history are accomplished by people who get ‘tired of being shoved around.’” He frowned. “I’m glad you like Peewee. She is about twenty years old intellectually and six emotionally; she usually antagonizes people. So I’m glad she has gained a friend who is smarter than she is.”
A librarian friend of mine suggested this as my introduction to Heinlein and I was not disappointed. Apart from the delicious technical details of making a spacesuit work; faster than light travels to Pluto, to the Magellanic Cloud, and beyond; the horrors of being held hostage by an alien race that views other sentient beings as animals; another alien race with indefinable, changeable physical form and the ability to convey the kind of warmth, peace and comfort of being mothered feels like; this book offers more mundane stuffs like how to win a slogan-writing contest held by a soap manufacturer, what to do when the bully of the town heckles you in front of your peers, and such insight like the fact that you are never truly lucky. Luck calls for preparation. You cannot do nothing and expect to be lucky. And it really helps that the characters are clever and witty and engage throughout the book in razor-sharp banterings and heartbreaking moments of courage, endurance, and dignity.
One thing though, I completely rue the fact that I cannot read musical notation. The alien creature called Mother Thing speaks in songs in this book, and I was completely at a loss as to how each bits of song sounds like.
For such a short book this took me forever to finish for some reason. I just wasnt feeling it and didn't really care much about the story. I thought about DNF it but considering it's short I stuck it out.
It follows Kip a young boy who wants nothing more than to go to space. He wins a real space suit in a competition which he fixes up and gets in working order. Whilst galavanting around in the suit one night he comes across a space ship and a young girl held captive and wakes up on board of a alien ship.
Things happen, they are held prisoner, they meet the "mother thing" blah blah blah. Is the story really bad? Well no it's not its bland and not very exciting but it's not a bad story at all. Lots of mathematical equations which are explained in the time travel aspects which I found mind numbing. The character development is decent and I liked Kip and Peeawee the girl but I was just wanting it to be over. Well now it is onto the next book.
Is technological advancement social advancement? 4 May 2014
I must say that when I read the first few pages of this book it had me in hysterics, particularly with the way Kip's father did his tax returns (by working it out in his head, then throwing a heap of money into an envelope and posting it off). Heinlein, in opening this story, created a rather eccentric family living in Centreville in what is known as small town USA. However, when I say eccentric, it is because Kip's father used to be a top scientist for the US government and then quit due to all the diplomatic rubbish that he pretty much got sick of dealing with (much like my own father).
However this book is not about his father, it is about Kip and his dream of going to the moon. This seems to be way out of his reach because, despite his father having immense influence, it does not seem that Kip will be able to get into a decent college. It is also interesting to hear Heinlein's indictment of the US public educational system, because the Centreville school is something that people like to go to, and they have fun going there, but it is hardly the type of school that will prepare you for an Ivy League education. Mind you, this is moreso today where unless you are going to a prep-school, don't think of being accepted into an Ivy League School.
Anyway, Kip stumbles across a contest where he can win a trip to the moon, however after doing everything that he can to stack the odds in his favour, he ends up winning a space suit, which he then spends most of his holidays getting into a better condition. This works out well because one evening, while wondering through the paddocks on his farm, he is kidnapped by aliens, uncovers an invasion plan, and then is whisked off to the Magellanic Cloud to be put on trial on behalf of the rest of his planet.
This is a classic example of speculative science-fiction, something that I have come to expect from the classics of the genre written around this time. It differs a lot to what we see in our Star Wars and Star Trek soaked society of today. The aliens that are encountered tend to be of such a level that it is difficult for us to understand what is going on, and they tend to have socially evolved significantly beyond our petty desires to control and oppress. This is not the case with all the races we encounter, as is indicated with the creatures that Kip refers to as Wormface.
I found it somewhat interesting that despite the intergalactic court finding that the people of Earth to be a violent and barbarous race, they still saw fit to teach them advanced mathematics and also allow them access to Wormface's technology. It is clear that the Wormface were an advanced race of aliens that still had violent and dominating tendencies, and they were put out of action because of this, however while humanity was found to be in a similar position, giving them advanced technological knowledge is hardly going to change their social attitudes.
This is the interesting thing about advancement because, and I think Heinlein recognises it in this book, technological advancement does not necessarily mean social advancement. We might be able to have a portable computer in our pocket that can pin point our location on the Earth with surprising accuracy, however if our neighbour is still starving and we do nothing about it then we are truly not an advanced race. Similarly with our desire to dominate others. We might be able to travel around the world with supersonic speed, but if we use that technology to bomb the crap out of other humans on rather flimsy pretences (namely that we simply cannot get along) then are we truly an advanced race? I think not.
To me technological advancement means absolutely nothing if it does not move with social advancement. Granted we may have this vague notion of human rights, but as Zizek indicates, what human rights end up being, to us Westerners, are excuses to live selfish lives. The right to privacy is in fact the right to cheat on your wife, and the right to bare arms is the right to kill people by whom you feel threatened (even if that threat is only perceived). Then there is fear: an advanced race has a mature understanding of fear (that is respect) however we seek to imprison others by using fear, whether it be on a government level or on a spiritual level. The church are experts at using fear to control the masses, as is the government.
I guess this is what some of these speculative science-fiction texts are exploring: the nature of what it means to advance. Even back in the 1950s we were patting ourselves on the back suggesting that we were truly advanced. We had fought our way through two World Wars to see the idea of democracy (with its rather misinterpreted idea of freedom) prevail over the dictatorships, however it has been suggested that what that amounted to was that one dictatorship – the dictatorship of the wealthy – prevailed over the totalitarian dictatorships of the nobility. As I have mentioned previously, World War II was not the triumph of good over evil, but the triumph of the lesser evil over the greater evil.
Ahoy there mateys! Not so long ago I read Heinlein's stranger in a strange land. It was me first "adult" Heinlein novel and it made me rant and get grumpy. I wasn't sure I ever wanted to read a Heinlein again. But back in the day, I had read his "juveniles" and had fuzzy memories of loving them. Part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends, so when I needed another audiobook I decided take a second look at this previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .
The takeaway from this read is how I can still like a book almost as much but for completely different reasons. On me earlier read over twenty five (huh!?!) years ago, I adored the technology around the spacesuit and all of the techno-babble around fixing the suit. On this read, I was not really interested in the suit itself or the space aspects but rather entertained by the soap contest and Kip's silly humor and his relationships with his parents and with Peewee. I had loved the Mother-Thing on the first read. This time she was kinda boring and I was much happier reading about the Wormfaces and intergalactic legal systems.
The highlight of this book was the narrator, Mark Turetsky, who seemed like a one-man radio play. He managed to capture the silliness while adding depth and avoiding campiness. I loved listening to him. I don't know that I would have enjoyed this as much without him.
I was surprised at how much better this book was in terms of misogyny than stranger in a strange land. I thought it was lovely that the main side character was an eleven year old girl genius. I loved the relationship that Kip and Peewee had. I have been told that Heinlein's later works more closely aligned with his personal viewpoints than the juveniles did and that as he got older his editors had less control over his work. I am not sure how much truth there is to that but the differences between the two eras of writing were fairly stark. I mean I know Kip's mom seemed like a standard housewife and background character but there were strong female characters in this.
I guess what I be saying is that I be willing to give the other famous adult Heinlein, the moon is a harsh mistress, a chance. I still maintain that stranger in a strange land is crap. But maybe I will find something worthy in his other works. Arrrrr!
I read this when I was seven and wanted to be Peewee so bad! But then I discovered Sophocles and decided I wanted to be Antigone instead. Looking back on it, I think Mom was happier with my Peewee phase.
Aug 27, 530pm ~~ Review asap after the storm. It always rains on Book Day! lol
Aug 28, 145pm ~~ Rainy weather in two countries slowed us down with this book, but we finally finished our space adventure with Kip, PeeWee, Oscar and Madame Pompadour. Oh, and the Wormfaces, and the Mother Thing too. (Outer space is a lot busier place than you might think!)
Clifford Russell (Kip) wants to go to space. He just HAS to get to the moon somehow. But how? We learn the planned how fairly quickly in the early chapters. But the actual how? That is a surprise for all of us! So how will Kip handle the fact of his space dreams (if perhaps not his plans) coming true?!
This was fun and mostly easy to read aloud. Large numbers can be difficult if they are not spelled out, though. I confess that more than once I just said 'numbers with a whole lot of zeroes after them' and let it go at that. lol
Marco gets to pick the next book we read, and on Tuesday August 30th we will start whichever one he chooses. We have been in space for two books now, I wonder where we will go next?
Having read a good handful of the books in this collection, much of the story elements in this story was familiar to me, but that in itself is not a bad thing - after all, I chose this author for a reason!
This particular story shows some of Heinlein's actual scientific knowledge, and presents an interesting story between aliens (several races) and humans. Heck, with some adaptation, this could easily be a Star Trek episode, or story arc.
I decided I needed to break it into two parts - one, the story itself and two, Heinlein’s tirade against society.
Have Space Suit Will Travel is set in the 1950's and is one of his juvenile pieces of literature. Kip Russell dreams of going to the stars, and when Skyway Soap has a contest for best lingo with the prize being a trip to the Moon, Kip collects and submits 5000 entries. He doesn’t win the trip to the moon, but a space suit instead. If he returns the space suit to Goodyear by September, he will receive $500. But Kip upgrades and fixes said suit over the summer and when out on a walk one night (in the suit) is abducted by aliens.
Kip finds himself on one heck of a space adventure involving “wormfaces”, the Mother-Thing, and his genius side-kick, 10 year old PeeWee. He finds himself on the Moon, Pluto and eventually beyond the Milky Way Galaxy in front of a galactic court to defend the human race. It was this part of the story that was fun and adventurous. I didn’t perceive this as a “coming of age” book that is so common in scifi and fantasy, but just a light space opera aimed at young adults.
Where the book became annoying was Heinlein’s tirades against the states educational system. He denigrates the public education system (one of his common themes in his books), and Kip is smart enough to teach himself advanced mathematics, geometry and physics but yet must “settle” for going to the local state (read - inadequate) college because he isn’t good enough to get into MIT. I do get tired of Heinlein’s diatribes against the ills of 1950's society (Starship Troopers is another fine example - great book, hidden agenda). But if it really bothered me, I wouldn’t be reading Heinlein.
The other issue I had with the story were the long, and I do mean long, graphic descriptions of how a space suit works, or Kip describing in mathematical terms how he is going to escape (again, part of Heinlein’s soapbox), and so on. Perhaps I’ve become rather shallow and jaded, but if I were a young adult, this book would probably bore the heck out of me. As an adult, I could appreciate (I didn't say 'like') his social commentary and what he was trying to get across.
This is the first science fiction novel that I recall reading, and fifty years later I still remember it fondly. Kip gets a space suit (much like Charlie gets the golden ticket to the chocolate factory), and embarks on a wonderful interstellar adventure. Heinlein, in his prime, was the best ever.
I've just listened to the audiobook version of the novel, which is a full-cast dramatization rather than a single reader. I rather enjoyed it; the young lady reading Peewee was most expressive, and the sound effects were enjoyable. I was struck by the 1950's feel of the beginning of the book, the portion set on Earth. Andy and Barney and Aunt Bee would have been quite at home. There was one line that made me laugh out loud; he observes that his slip-stick (slide rule) is the best invention since girls. Surely that line got a few chortles back in 1958, too. All in all a most enjoyable story.
fourth read - 14 March 2011 - I remember reading Have Space Suit-Will Travel from the library as a kid, and bought my own copy in 1980 in order to re-read it. I see from my notes that I read it again in 1991. I read it this time probably the fourth time in my life. There is little doubt in my mind that it was books such as this one that led me to pursue the career I have, now in biomedical engineering. Heinlein even calls out specific engineering schools for praise - the one I went to actually shows up in his Revolt in 2100. What engineer would not enjoy being praised the way Heinlein does? Does not feel pride at their ability to simply solve problems in their head? At the same time, there is an arrogance in Heinlein's politics, with which I am not comfortable.
I've read most of Heinlein's books, and I again enjoyed this one as a re-read, but without the sense of nostalgia it elicited, I probably would not feel the same. For example, when I recently read Citizen of the Galaxy for the first time, It was not the same. Here's the full list of the "Heinlein juveniles": 1. Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947 2. Space Cadet, 1948 3. Red Planet, 1949 4. Between Planets, 1951 5. The Rolling Stones aka Space Family Stone, 1952 6. Farmer in the Sky, 1953 7. Starman Jones, 1953 8. The Star Beast, 1954 9. Tunnel in the Sky, 1955 10. Time for the Stars, 1956 11. Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957 12. Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958
A lot of science fiction writers have been labeled as "the new Heinlein" by publishing houses more interested in selling books than accuracy - but I will recommend Bujold's Falling Free to any who are interested in that.
This book was nominated for 1959 Hugo, losing to A Case of Conscience, by James Blish. I think the correct book won.
What a nice book to begin 2020, this book follow a boy named Kip and he wants to go to the moon, he gets his hand on a space suit through a contest made by a soap company and end up giving it the name of Oscar, when going for a walk on the suit he end up answering a distress call from a girl named Peewee, that is running away from aliens and from that encounter he goes on an adventure ,that might prove to be more than just having his dream realized a bit sooner, trying to survive against a race of aliens that see humanity as nothing more than animals/food. The prose is very good, the description of the alien races makes them very easy to imagine especially when it comes to the main alien race that serves as the antagonist, Heinlein inserts a lot of science language in this story, but somehow he is able to make complex things seem very easy to understand, i liked the characters for the most part Kip is a good protagonist, he does go through some change, but i have to say that Peewee does steal the show, she may be annoying in some scenes, but she is the center of some of the more emotional scenes in the book, I would rate this book a 4.5 in overall quality, but in relating to enjoyment a 5 stars for it is a very good and quick read.
Wow! Almost anything I read too soon after this will probably sound bad! This was my first Full Cast Audio, and I must say that the performances of the entire cast was so superb, I wouldn't have been able to imagine the characters any better had I read it. That Peewee character, especially, was just too cute. Even some of the bad guys were so comically well done that it makes me feel bad calling them bad guys!
One of Heinlein's early juveniles, this one has all the elements seen throughout his juvenile series: a plucky boy hero who's always wanted to go to space, precocious girl heroine (who fortunately is too young to be mooning over boys), Father Knows Best who turns out to be a hidden genius and former Very Important Person in the government, and interesting 50ish aliens.
The thing I like about Heinlein's juveniles is that they still hold up pretty well 50 years later, if you can ignore all the references to slide rules. The entertaining quality of this book made it a great listen (I listened to the Full Cast Audio version which used different voice actors for different parts, and sound effects for all the alien voices) and the story just hums along. It manages to retain the "hard SF" feel of most of Heinlein's early work despite the surprising turn the story takes when what seems to be another "space camp gone amiss" adventure ends up becoming literally intergalactic in scope.
Heinlein was writing to be paid, not to make his mark on the genre, so there isn't much here to challenge your expectations. The author does slip a bit of his slightly smug philosophy into the pages, but fortunately this was before he went Full-Tilt Libertarian. It's Boy's Adventure for Boys, but the character of Peewee - a spunky genius 10-year-old - makes it something a girl could enjoy too. She isn't as active a protagonist as Kip, but she does do things and figure things out on her own and generally acts like a super-bright super-perky thorn in Kip's side.
Basically, this is just a helluva fun book, and a good one to read for any sci-fi fan, whether you are a Heinlein virgin or a long-time fan.
Maybe I am just too tired these days, but I can't think of a better word for this book than 'cute', but 'cute' also has so many inferences to it that I am bothered to use it....lol We have a teenager who is (unknowingly) a super-genius that is obsessed with space travel, who goes to great lengths to win a retired space suit. Being retired, the space suit isnt in the best shape, so he learns all he can about space suits and repairs it to be usable, and then super-modifies it for all sorts of purposes. He starts wearing the suit to walk around in at night for 'practice, and while using the attached communicator, someone responds..... What follows is such an adventure it's hard to describe. So many things seem impossible, but are explained just enough to follow along. Although I did love how the boy kept figuring o9ut things using math in his head....lol
Esta buena novela es, una vez más, muestra suficiente de la maestría del decano de la Sci fi por antonomasia, llena de garra desde el principio, que alterna diferentes géneros dentro de la misma obra: ciencia ficción, costumbrismo, thriller, semi bélica y / o de espionaje y negra (en su parte judicial), con sendas criticas a nuestra sociedad (y su estructura). Una juvenil marca de la casa, que además de divertir, no deja a ‘títere con cabeza’ y de paso, sirve como aleccionador a los jóvenes de su época (bueno, y porque no, a los de ahora), y como medio para los buenos valores. Redactada en tono jovial a la vez que mordaz y voz en primera persona, la obra se puede bien dividir en tres partes (una de las divisiones más comunes de Heinlein). En la primera, Dónde el protagonista nos muestra su día a día, su entorno, ideales, y motivaciones. Costumbrismo marca de la casa; sin dejar escapar crítica solapadas. Kip, el protagonista, es un joven 100% Heinleniano, decidido y con las ideas claras, que desea viajar a la luna. Su padre (alter ego de Heinlein como figura mentora de la vida y el rumbo filosófico de ésta), le insta a conseguir un pasaje por él mismo. Así que, el chico se planteará las diferentes opciones a seguir: Academia militar (para su posterior entrada en el cuerpo espacial) o la escuela de ingeniería (con una posterior especialización que lo lleve al otro astro). Estas motivaciones e inquietudes narradas por el maestro son las de un joven de a pie, pero hijo de su época; la futura (lo que antaño fuera alistarse en alguna especialidad dentro del ejército) Su obstinación le hace querer ser pionero en su futura profesión (doctor en ingeniería electrónica); para desarrollar su trabajo en la luna (mírese hoy en día, el caso de los buenos profesionales que marchan fuera de nuestras fronteras para poderse desarrollar a nivel profesional plenamente). El chico adolece, de la deficiencia escolar de su centro (y por ende, del sistema educativo de la escolarización básica); que fomenta a los deportistas más que el estudio, e impide abrirse fronteras y trazar nuevas metas. En la escuela le preguntan ‘camufladamente’ la tendencia política de su casa, todo, a través de una encuesta de una tarea para clase (‘¿Cómo está organizado vuestro consejo de familia?’). El chico responde: ‘democracia informal’. Véase como Heinlein critica la ‘caza de brujas’ sectaria de algunas instituciones públicas. Mediante la figura de su padre (Una persona con suma experiencia vital, que ha cambiado las ‘comodidades’ de su anterior etapa, para pasar a ser un semi ermitaño, recluido en su casa, inventando cosas y vendiendo patentes. Siguiendo con sus estudios, y una vida acorde a su ideal de tranquilidad; con la paz de la sabiduría ganada), el autor diseccionar este aspecto critico del sistema educativo moderno, dotado de máquinas pero que no deja pensar a los jóvenes por ellos mismos. Toda una profecía, si se tiene en cuenta los cambios actuales en el susodicho, que han ido degenerando progresivamente, impuestos por el encaje globalizado. Además, hay crítica hacia la superficialidad y los elitismos, como el de Stanford y Yale que fomentan el dinero, la avaricia social, y con ello, la corrupción (el poder corrompe). En esta parte se resalta, además, el don de la perseverancia, mediante la retaíla de cupones que envía Kip un concurso. Y cuando quiere visionarlo, tiene que coger el televisor que él mismo construyó, pues en su casa no lo hay (Heinlein, criticando el abuso de los dispositivos modernos de comunicación, y especialmente, el de de la caja tonta, que puede hacer mella intelectualmente, dejando de lado otros quehaceres e inspiraciones); cosa muy significativa y acorde con el mensaje parental de pensar por uno mismo y sin interferencias. Y a la publicidad engañosa, a través de un anuncio de tabaco previo al concurso (muy visionario todo, y más tratándose de la época en la que estaba escrito). No queda en eso (lo siento, pero aquí no puedo añadir ‘sólo’; como comprenderéis), hay cabida para la biología, la física y el diseño industrial, cuando Kip adquiere a ‘Oscar’ (su traje espacial), rediseñándolo y mejorándolo. Toda una clase funcional de lo comentado.
En su segunda, se desarrolla todo el verdadero nudo, con la aventura espacial particular del nuestro protagonista. Puro thriller, intenso, vivaz, en dónde la estrategia militar / espía da lugar. Mediante un casual (como tantos otros en la vida), Kip se encuentra en medio de un secuestro espacial y en peligro. Ahí aparece su pareja – contendiente: Piwi, una adolescente Heinleiniana: chulesca, curiosa, vital, decidida, impulsiva y segura de sí misma; con salidas ingeniosas. Es la perfecta compañera de aventuras del chico. Juntos forman un dúo explosivo, de toma y daca. Patricia ‘Piwi’ tiene un padre erudito, y de ahí su natural curiosidad (Gran frase acerca de la curiosidad inherente: ‘siempre exploro, es muy educativo’), que puede llevarla a un lío, como es el caso, o a el esplendor vital (ya se sabe, si uno no corre, no hace carrera). Así que, tenemos los héroes de las obras Heinlenianas (‘Es mejor ser un héroe muerto, que un perro asqueroso’), unidos por un buen fin: el de evitar la colonización de unos malvados piratas espaciales carnívoros. He ahí el acercamiento de miras de la pareja antagonista: Kip y Piwi, con la Cosa Madre cómo foráneo complementario; que aporta al desarrollo la emoción sentimental, y el canto aleccionador del maestro acerca de la irrepetible e imprescindible figura maternal (ojo, que no tiene que ser biológica, sino de sentimiento). Esta parte no da respiro alguno, con momentos álgidos de tensión, en los que la supervivencia de Kip, Piwi y la Cosa madre predominan la narración. aunque también hay sitio para la reflexión, el soliloquio de kip (durante su confinamiento), y el sentimentalismo bien entendido, real y puro (de los caídos opuestos, unidos por la adversidad). En ella se analiza la debilidad humana frente al confinamiento (‘Los Leones se acostumbran a los Zoos ¿no era yo más listo que un león? ¿qué alguno de ellos por lo menos?’. A trabajar) y la perversidad, pero, sobre todo, el instinto motor inequívoco de los seres humanos.
La última y tercera, muestra la recuperación de Kip a cargo de los Veganos, y su posterior enjuiciamiento, derivado de la anterior contienda espacial. Aquí, Heinlein (como es su costumbre), nos acerca a la genética, sus ideales sobre el aprendizaje óptimo (ya iniciados en el primer tercio de la obra), la jerarquía familiar y el sentimiento, un anticipativo modo de alimentación Vegana y las vicisitudes sobre los procedimientos legales; con la incongruencia que entrañan (‘los nativos son amistosos, y me han cuidado…igual que cuidamos a un criminal antes de colgarlo’), derivada del encaramiento legal de un conflicto real e inevitable. Pero eso no es todo, ya que su finalidad, mediante el juicio global a la raza humana, es el de ‘exculparnos’, pese a nuestra inferioridad inherente (siempre hay una buena base, eso lo sabía, al igual que Capra), tenemos agallas y recursos para llegar a aprender del error, si es preciso (‘no pretendemos ser ángeles, ninguno de los dos. Si condenáis a nuestra raza por lo que nosotros hayamos hecho, cometeréis una gran injusticia. Juzgadnos a nosotros solos’)
Todo ello queda rubricado con un epílogo esperanzador, para el que ha luchado y nunca se ha rendido. Perseverancia, benevolencia, buen hacer y obstinación; ahí radica la clave del camino de cada uno. ‘un hombre casi siempre consigue aquello que desea con suficiente intensidad. Estoy seguro que llegarás a la luna algún día, de una forma u otra’ ‘La buena suerte siempre es consecuencia de una preparación cuidadosa, la mala suerte nace del descuido’ Poco más cabe para decir...leedla, resulta una notable condensación de las reglas Heinlenianas, y sus valores.