Thursday, August 19, 2010

Man Without A Planet

The next series of juveniles I want to post about are the ones that almost every SF fan knows about.  At least the fans of my age.  I know the younger fans still read Heinlein, but I don’t know if the juveniles still get read.  I think they are amongst his best works, and really are readable for adults.  At least most of them.
Heinlein wrote a number of them and in them you can see why he is a Grand Master of SF.  He knows how to write and they are interesting books in many ways. 
The first one I will post about is Between Planets by Robert A. Heinlein.  This is a story of growing up and becoming a man, and of rebellion against authority.  In particular authoritarian government. 
Those of you who know Heinlein’s politics are not surprised about this.  He was a Libertarian by most accounts and it shows in many of his books, including to a lesser degree, in his juveniles.
In this one, Donald Harvey gets caught up in the rebellion of the Venus Colony against the Federation.  The Federation is Earth, or the Earth government. 
We see how Earth has become repressive, even to its own people.  Security, the IBI, is everywhere.  Citizen’s rights are routinely violated or ignored.  There is a war looming, but apparently this has been developing for a while. 
That’s one of the things you will see in Heinlein’s juveniles that you don’t in many of the others.  He talks politics.  Whether or not you agree with his theories, it’s something that was unusual for 1950’s America. 
I grew up a little later on and it was the same.  Middle class American kids didn’t think about politics.  That only changed in the mid 1960’s with Vietnam and Civil Rights and everything else.
So Heinlein is kind of breaking a taboo here to my thinking.  And, unless I am misinterpreting it, he is making a point about McCarthyism, which was in full flower at the time.
Anyway, Don is (unknown to him) caught up as a courier in a conspiracy to change things.  Then he becomes a guerrilla fighter in the swamps of Venus. (The old solar system again)
Don is not a misfit or a junior scientist, just an ordinary kid caught up in events.  He handles them well and is a hero of sorts. 
All in all, a good story well written.  One I enjoyed then, and on re-reading. 
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