Lion of the Blogosphere

Archive for May 2021

Red Planet by Robert Heinlein

Warning: I suppose this contains some minor spoilers.

Over the past few years I’ve been re-reading Robert Heinlein books that I read a long time ago when I was a kid. (Although I’ve certainly been taking my time. It has been four and a half years since I started this project, and I still haven’t read Rocket Ship Galileo, Space Cadet or The Rolling Stones. When I was a kid I could have read all these books in the course of one or two weeks.)

I believe that this book is one of the first Heinlein books that I ever read, but also one that I only read once and never again. Until now.

I recalled that it’s a book about a boy and his pet Martian, and was expecting to find out that the Martian pet was really something else, and indeed that was the case.

But I totally didn’t remember any of the book’s political stuff. This is really two stories in one. The first half of the book is an adventure story about Jim and his friend Frank trying to make their way home from a boarding school run by an evil headmaster (shades of the Harry Potter book when Dumbledore was cast out and an evil headmaster took over) while chased by Martian cops.

And then the book segues into a story about a revolution on Mars, with the right to bear arms playing an important role. It’s very classically Heinlein, and you can see the precursor to Heinlein’s more famous adult book, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. This is not Heinlein’s only juvenile about colonies revolting from Earth, there is also Between Planets.

The Martians described in this book seem to be the same Martians from Stranger in a Strange Land. These are the only two Heinlein books, that I am aware of, that share this depiction of Martians.

Those looking to be offended will find some things in this book that they could call “misogynist.” I previously wrote that Heinlein novels tell us that girls can do anything boys can do, but what they really want to do is have babies. But in this book written in 1949, one of his very earliest novels, he hadn’t even reached that stage in his writing evolution. The women in this book don’t do much besides raise children and cook.

I rate this book as being better than Between Planets if you want to read a juvenile about a revolution, and I recommend it for big fans of Stranger in a Strange Land who want to learn more about the Martians. Although I wonder if Stranger in a Strange Land actually has any big fans because I found it to be Heinlein’s must overrated novel.

But nevertheless, this isn’t Heinlein’s best juvenile. I still recommend Citizen of the Galaxy, Tunnel in the Sky, and Starman Jones, as his best.

For serious Heinlein fans, an essay about how the edition originally published in 1949 (which is what I just read) was altered from what Heinlein intended:

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 2, 2021 at 9:25 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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