Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spacesuits R Us

The next Heinlein juvenile I will post on is Have Space Suit, Will Travel.  This one has a more juvenile feel to it, so to speak.  Even though the main character Clifford is a high school student heading to college, if he can get there, it still seems aimed at a younger audience. 
Younger than the one for Between Planets anyway.
Clifford is an apparently average student having a normal life and going to Central High.  His father however, is rather eccentric, and as we learn, probably really smart. 
When his Dad becomes aware of how lightweight the curriculum at Central is, he lets Clifford know that if he doesn’t make the effort to get educated then he won’t be going anywhere.
This is a recurrent theme in Heinlein’s juveniles.  I remember if from one of my favorites The Rolling Stones
In the 1950’s it was an accepted dogma that education was the path to success.  With the GI bill, etc.  many returning veterans went to college and did well and then passed that belief on to their boomer children, like me. 
It has been called into question more recently.  Several sociologists have done research and are not finding the close link between education and higher salaries that apparently used to exist.
But when this book was written it was gospel. 
Cliff also is a space nut and wants to go to the moon.  So he enters a contest to win such a prize.  He doesn’t get first place, but wins a used spacesuit as a consolation prize. 
Being in the tradition of American tinkerers and do it yourselfers, he fixes it up and makes it space worthy. 
But needing money for college tuition he decides, reluctantly, to sell it.  One last walk around the woods pretending to be in space and talking to non-existent fellow spacemen.  He calls on his radio and gets an answer!  Suddenly an alien spaceship lands at his feet, he is captured, and the adventures begin.
Alien ‘wormfaces’, The Mother Thing, journeys to the Moon, Pluto, a planet orbiting the star Vega, and eventually the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, follow.
It’s a slam-bang adventure story with plenty of danger, and emotion to satisfy any reader.
Yes it’s a bit unbelievable, but that’s the nature of the beast.  A completely enjoyable read in my opinion. 
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