Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: Have Spacesuit Will Travel

Have Space Suit, Will Travel is a Robert A Heinlein young adult novel written back in 1958. I spotted it on the shelf in at the library (in audio book form) and picked it up on a whim. I've reviewed a fair number of science fiction books over the past few years, but most of them have been fairly recent. It was interesting to go back to something from the ‘classic’ era of sci-fi, to give perspective.

The story is pretty typical for works written during the cold war and the space race. Boy dreams of going to space, luck aligns such that he does (via alien abduction), and he and a side-kick end up saving the entire human race. Through this lense, we hear the societal worries of that time: Can mankind overcome his savage nature? Will we nuke ourselves out of existence before that can happen? We also hear, as a YA novel, Heinlein trying to plant the seed with the reader to try and generate an interest in the wonders of science.

There are some surprisingly prescient views of the future in this example of Heinlein’s work. There’s an Internet-like knowledge repository, Crowd-sourcing of legal judgments, and a few other gems.

People critique the book for being dated, but I still liked it. I'm going to let my 8-yr old son tackle it on our upcoming vacation (he'll have a lot of airplane time) and see what he thinks.

Have Space Suit, Will Travel

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