Lion of the Blogosphere

Now reading: Podkayne of Mars (1962) by Robert Heinlein

I remember this as not being one of my favorite Heinlein books when I read it in my youth (possibly in middle school the first time around).

The novel is presented as a journal written in the first person by Podkayne, a 16-year-old girl from Mars who takes an interplanetary luxury cruise with her bratty genius 11-year-old brother and her Uncle Tom who’s a Senator in the Mars equivalent of Congress.

So far, the weirdest idea presented in the book is that in the future, people on Mars get married young, then have a bunch of babies, but instead of raising the babies right away they put the babies into suspended animation, and the babies are held in cold storage until their parents are ready to raise them. That way, the parents can build their careers, and then raise their children when they are more established but older than the optimal biological age to get pregnant and give birth. Heinlein doesn’t say what happens to babies that turn out not to be wanted. Are they given away for adoption? Left in suspended animation forever? Unplugged?

An interplanetary space cruise is Heinlein’s stand-in for cruise ships of the 1950s, a time when old rich people went on cruises. Not at all like the cruise ships of today filled with 30 to 50-year-old middle-class people, often traveling with their children.

Podkayne is mostly into using her feminine wiles to get personal attention from the cruise ship officers. Meanwhile her bratty genius 11-year-old brother is up to something illegal, but she doesn’t know what.

So far I get the impression that the book is a vehicle for Heinlein to tell us what he thinks about stuff rather than an adventure story, which would explain why I didn’t like it as much as Heinlein’s older “juvenile” novels.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 15, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books

7 Responses

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  1. Glad you are reading this one, lots of gender stuff and some race stuff in it.


    April 15, 2018 at EDT pm

  2. the book is a vehicle for Heinlein to tell us what he thinks about stuff

    This is why most of Tom Clancy’s books are annoying.


    April 15, 2018 at EDT pm

  3. I just read some “real” science fiction: “Mission of Gravity” by Hal Clement, 1953. I highly recommend this one.


    April 16, 2018 at EDT am

    • The one thing I remember from that book is that although mankind has faster than light travel, they still used slide rules to calculate stuff. “How primitive,” I thought, when I read it in the 1980s, “everyone has calculators these days.”


      April 16, 2018 at EDT pm

  4. The idea of putting your kids on ice so you can work on your education and career when young and then raise them after you are established is kind of dopey, but the problem is real, and Heinlein was ahead of his time in recognizing that that the problem of women becoming more equal in the workforce was that education and career advancement would interfere with birthin’ dem babies.

    Most feminists still have not figured that out that you can’t have it all.

    Mike Street Station

    April 16, 2018 at EDT am

  5. The point of the book is the chilling ending when we realize the bratty brother is like a 1000 IQ hypergenius who, like and recalling the Martians in the H.G. Wells book, look at mundane humanity with scientific dispassion.

    It’s about the end of humanity as we know it.


    April 16, 2018 at EDT pm

  6. […] Now reading: Podkayne of Mars (1962) by Robert Heinlein […]

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