Friday, August 20, 2010

Like A Rolling Stone

The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein is about my favorite of his juveniles.  In some ways it is not a juvenile, since it is really about the Stone family, but the two twins Castor and Pollux are the main stars in my estimation.  And they are teenagers.
There are a number of things about this novel that I like.  Hazel Meade Stone, the grandmother, is the Hazel Meade from my favorite Heinlein book The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.  She is an 11 year old in that book, and 85 plus in this one. 
There is not a direct connection, this is not a sequel, but it seems obvious to me.  Hazel is on of the founding fathers of The Luna Free State for instance. 
This book is part of the Future History of Heinlein.  The Moon, and Mars, as described in this book are similar to the planets in others, like Red Planet, another of my favorite juveniles.
The story is a lot of fun.  The Stone family, eccentrics all, buy a spaceship and start touring the solar system.  Various adventures occur along the way. 
Heinlein again gets into his thing about education being important, in particular mathematics. 
And that Yankee can-do spirit is pervasive. 
Whether or not Americans ever had this particular approach to life may be debatable, but it is an American myth.  And one that I think has some basis in fact.  And I am sad that in many ways it has disappeared from our culture. 
It may be more ‘mature’ or 'realistic' to look at the world in the cynical way we do now, but it’s a shame that we do. 
Yes we bumped up against reality in the late 1960’s with Vietnam, The Credibility Gap, and all the events that ended ‘Camelot’ and optimism.  But I remember it and wish for its return. 
Even in a modified, more useable form.  If we think that every time someone proposes a difficult, expensive thing for us to try it will fail, then we never try.  People need things bigger than themselves to believe in, and we suffer from a lack of them now.
OK, enough ranting. 
One last thing about the story.  Towards the end of the novel the Stones pick up as a pet a Martian Flat Cat.  On board ship this fuzzy, harmless, loveable creature eats too much as everybody feeds it.  So,it starts having babies.  And then, its babies have babies.  Soon the ship is overloaded with them.  They get into everything and are consuming all the families food. 
So, they lower the temperature and when they curl up like Martian wildlife does, they get put into the hold.
Sound familiar?  I wonder if Gene Roddenberry, or whoever wrote the episode The Trouble With Tribbles on Star Trek ever read this book. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment