BooksOfTheMoon

Have Space Suit-Will Travel

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: 3 stars

Clifford Russell wins a spacesuit in a competition (although he was actually aiming for a trip to the moon). He fixes it up, takes care of it, and eventually decides to sell it to pay for college. He takes it out for one last spin, accidentally gets kidnapped by aliens and eventually ends up pleading for the future of the Human race in an inter-galactic court.

I enjoyed the actual story in this book, Clifford’s tale of inter-stellar derring do, but this kept being interrupted by Heinlien’s politics, which are very near the surface in this book. The whole idea of the ├╝ber-competent hero who’s self-taught in everything from Latin to electronics, and despises the state education system leaves me cold. Also, while I can usually ignore attitudes to women in older books, it was harder to do here, although I’m not sure if that’s because I was already prone to finding faults.

So the story would get four stars, the politics two, so I’ll average it out with three.

Book details

ISBN: 0450038548
Publisher: New English Library
Year of publication: 1958

The Man Who Sold the Moon

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: 3 stars

This is a collection of five short stories and the titular novella, all set in Heinlein’s own future history. I enjoyed most of the stories, although the behaviour of the union in The Roads Must Roll (about the union that brings the America’s trunk moving walkways to a halt) took me out of story completely. Mind you, this may be a trans-Atlantic difference – Americans have had a very different history with unions to Europeans, and may find this more believable.

The title story took a long time to get into. I found the idea of a bunch of very rich men scheming over how to effectively buy the moon to be unpleasant and unattractive, but eventually the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the protagonist got me engaged. It was worth it just for the follow-up, Requiem, which rounds off the collection and which is is wistful, sad yet uplifting as well, following the protagonist of the previous story, now as an old man.

In general, this is pretty classic Heinlein, with lots of rugged hero-engineers and scientists, making vast discoveries as individuals and having no truck with this namby-pamby government malarky.

Book details

Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Year of publication: 1940

The Puppet Masters

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: 2 stars

Sam is an agent with a top secret US government security agency who finds himself battling against alien parasites that take over human bodies as hosts. Together with fellow agent Mary and the head of the agency, they fight a battle for the survival of mankind.

This was a pretty straightforward action adventure story, with lots of running around, chasing and being chased. It had Heinlein’s politics hovering under the surface, and I found the treatment of Mary quite irritating: she changed from a smart, independent agent into a 1950s housewife the moment she gets married, never questioning her husband and seeming to lose her own will. Not the worst few hours of my life, but quite forgettable.

Book details

ISBN: 9781439133767
Publisher: Baen
Year of publication: 1951

Stranger in a Strange Land

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: 4 stars

I read a Heinlein book about eight years ago and it’s taken me this long to get around to a second one. I’m glad I did though, since this one was much better, and fully deserves its status of ‘classic’ SF novel. No, I don’t agree with his politics, nor his treatment of women in his books, but there was a lot to this book, and I don’t fully grok it yet. The religious aspect of the book intrigued me a lot, particularly the idea that Smith’s teachings could live side by side with existing religions.

The story follows Valentine Michael Smith, who was the baby survivor of the first expedition to Mars. The Martians look after him until 25 years later when he’s rescued and brought back to Earth. Smith has a unique way of thinking and his Martian upbringing has unlocked the potential in Humanity, and it’s up to him to decide what to do with his unique gifts.

According to the introduction, this edition is a restored edition published after his death. When the book was first published, the publisher had demanded that it be significantly cut down, to the tune of about 60,000 words. I can see that this could maybe be trimmed a bit, but I can’t see how you could chop out that much without completely distorting the story.

Book details

ISBN: 9780340938348
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Year of publication: 1961

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