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Reviews in Project: The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread (14)

James and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Heinlein Juvenile

Podkayne of Mars

By Robert A. Heinlein 

14 Nov, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1963’s Podkayne of Mars was, if Heinlein’s comments in Grumbles from the Grave can be believed, not intended as a juvenile:

March 10, 1962: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

Is Poddy a juvenile? I didn’t think of it as such and I suggest that it violates numerous taboos for the juvenile market. It seems to me that it is what the Swedes call a cadet” book — upper teenage, plus such adults and juveniles as may enjoy it — and the American trade book market does not recognize such a category.

Despite that, some people, including me, lump it in with his juveniles because the lead is a fifteen-year-old girl, with her eleven-year-old brother in an important supporting role. 

Remember how in my review for Have Space Suit — Will Travel, I said: 

As I closed the cover of the last true Heinlein juvenile, I really wonder what this book would have looked like if in 1958 Heinlein had been able to envision and publish a juvenile with a female lead.

?

We will never know the answer to that. We do have the answer to the question what would such a novel look like if Heinlein wrote it five years later and the answer is horrible”.

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Into the Abyss

Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein 

7 Nov, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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In the spirit of Social Credit leader Camil Samson’s wonderful phrase, Ladies and gentlemen, the Union Nationale has brought you to the edge of the abyss. With Social Credit, you will take one step forward,” follow me over the edge and into the abyss that is Heinlein’s post-Scribners work. 

Scribners rejected 1959’s Starship Troopers, marking the end of what had been a fruitful relationship between the touchy Heinlein and that particular publisher. It also foreshadowed the end of his career as an author of books deliberately aimed at young adults. Rereading it, I was reminded of something I was told in Economics 101 way back in 1980: don’t try to apply any of this to real life.”

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A Boy and His Space Suit

Have Space Suit — Will Travel

By Robert A. Heinlein 

1 Nov, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1958’s Have Space Suit — Will Travel brings us to the end of the Scribner Heinlein juveniles — universally recognized [0] as the only true Heinlein juveniles — and leaves us perched on the abyss that contains the Heinlein juveniles written without the firm hand of editor Alice Dalgliesh to moderate Heinlein’s various quirks (or alternatively, to insist he play to hers). While it isn’t quite up to Citizen of the Galaxy, it’s an interesting example of how much Heinlein could milk out of a very straightforward plot.

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The best of the Heinlein juveniles

Citizen of the Galaxy

By Robert A. Heinlein 

24 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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Some of this will come across as negative so I’d like to begin with Citizen of the Galaxy is in many ways the most ambitious of the juveniles and it was that ambition that put Heinlein’s blind-spots out where I could see them.” This could easily have been a much more straightforward, much less interesting space adventure book.

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In which archaic sexism and racism provide unwelcome distraction from dubious physics

Time for the Stars

By Robert A. Heinlein 

17 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1956’s Time for the Stars feels like a regression for Heinlein, a book that if I did not know when it was published I would have said was one of the earlier juveniles. It’s also oddly downbeat, in that the protagonist’s most significant contribution to the world is something he could have done at home, something that makes his other efforts almost pointless. 

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Like a kinder, gentler Battle Royale… IN SPACE!

Tunnel in the Sky

By Robert A. Heinlein 

10 Oct, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1955’s Tunnel in the Sky takes us to a future Earth jam-packed with people but rescued from an ongoing Malthusian crisis by the timely invention of interstellar gates. With access to the hundred thousand Earth-like worlds1 scattered through the Milky Way, there is enough room for everyone to spread out while breeding like mice, at least for a time – I make it about 600 years before all one hundred thousand worlds are as crammed with people as the Earth is.

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Innocent farmboys, spoiled heiresses and lovable rogues

Starman Jones

By Robert A. Heinlein 

26 Sep, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1953’s Starman Jones sees Heinlein abandon the Solar System (and plausible propulsion systems) for the wider galaxy. He also discards the idea of his protagonists coming from loving (if sometimes troubled) families and the quasi-utopian settings of some previous books, although he does not venture into the outright dystopia of Between Planets, the better to force his protagonist head-long into adventure.

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But what about Meade?”

The Rolling Stones

By Robert A. Heinlein 

19 Sep, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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1952’s The Rolling Stones is intriguing from any number of angles. It’s the final Heinlein juvenile set entirely in the Solar System. It has genuinely interesting and potentially informative rocket science. In contrast with several of the earlier books the stakes, while important to the characters, are comparatively low. The sexual politics are tragic in a way I can talk about. My discussion about the two leads will starkly illuminate how poorly I manage to keep current affairs separated in my head from whatever I happen to be reading. It’s all good!

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