Have Spacesuit Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein

Came across this book in a thrift store in Kerrville recently and couldn’t resist it because they were having a dime-a-book sale.  As nearly as I can recall it was maybe the 3rd, or 4th science fiction book I read when I discovered the genre in the Portales Junior High School Library around 1958 or ’59. 

I’d qualify it as ‘middling’, probably nowadays young adult, Horatio Algeresque, and a nice evening read if a man has three cats interrupting to punctuate things.  Those times were full of first in orbit Sputink Explorer Cape Canavaral fizzles and it’s clear Heinlein, along with almost everyone else in the US, suddenly realized what an ignorant, poorly educated society we were becoming already.  Spends a considerable while early in the book with a father discussing the shortcomings of the education the young main character was getting for himself and how he, the kid, was going to have to take responsibility for changing that.  Assuming the kid wants it changed for the eventual outcome of his goal to go to the moon.

But there’s also a lot of other social commentary about responsibility, goals, paternalism, and finding a place outside the ‘normal’ shortcomings and flaws of humankind.  Surprising lot of insight as to where science and engineering were going to go, though it naturally overlooked the prospect of the field being increasingly dominated by Asians.  Even though RAH saw the social and educational conditions in the US that led in that direction, in those days nobody’d noticed whatever it was in Asia that would bring it to fruition.

All in all I doubt it would appeal much to the readership of today.  But most would never find it anyway.

Old Jules

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16 responses to “Have Spacesuit Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein

  1. That title brought back memories. Heinlein was a most interesting scifi writer. Very different from my regular fodder of Asimov and Clarke.

    • lenrosen4: Yep, he was. Recently re-read Farnam’s Freehold snagged from the same thrift store sale, which was similarly ‘educational’, given all the other post-apocalypse books over the decades. Moon is a Harsh Mistress is coming up some evening soon, and The Puppet Masters. I think if RAH had stopped with Stranger in a Strange Land I’d have liked him better by hindsight. Gracias, J

  2. I grew up with a Heinlein in my back pocket and Asimov in the other. Great stories with deep insights.

  3. I read all of his work that my local library had, back in the early 80′s. I wouldn’t mind a revisit myself, but his books are pretty hard to find in Ireland for some reason. Probably some religious reason.

  4. After perusing a list of his works including the one you mentioned, I saw some that have been made into either movies or series, like “Star Ship Troopers.” I may have some of his books or had them but did not read much after I got time to do it. I usually listen to audiobooks, the slacker solution or , unless you can do nothing else. I have been looking for a series to read to get me interested again. I like YA stuff about other dimensions and weird stuff.

    You have written some books, of which I have two. Why don’t you get some characters together and write again. You have an unusual perspective and much experience, so why not?

    Going to 50 year High School reunion next weekend and other serious issues have come up to deal with.

    You still doing numbers?

    • Hi Chuck. I’m hoping I won’t write anymore books. Plenty already out there written by other people to fill whatever voids exist. You might try the entire larry niven ‘tales of known space’ series ending with the various ‘ringworld’ sequence tomes. They’re a fun and worthy set. Or the Philip Jose Farmer series, ‘riverworld’. I’ve read them a few times and would again if I came across them. Jack

      • Thanks so much for the names!!! I will look into them next week. I still bet you could do it but I don’t want to wish work on you. I have a pile of audio books and other books to read right now, but I have 15 minutes before they close and I might just run over there now. Thanks again.

        • Hi Chuck. The Tales of Known Space must be half-dozen to a dozen books. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have… read through them a good many times over the years. J

          • I don’t think I saw that group of books, but I will enter those in the li rary search area. The earliest one I got was, I think, 1980 but perhaps there were earlier ones: Saturn’s Race; Ringworld. Am I close ?

          • The Ringworld books were toward the end of the series, Chuck. If you pick up, say, Mote in God’s Eye, you’ll find the list of others and the sequence of them up to that point, inside the front cover. You might also find it in a web search of larry niven books. J

  5. Got one!! I hung the last dog at the library. I got “The Best of Larry Niven” and have others on hold. Thanks again.

  6. Pingback: TRYING TO STAY SANE IN AN INSANE WORLD – PART 1 — State of Globe

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