Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones

Robert Heinlein

Date: 1952   —   $6.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction, Juvenile

This is one of the standard Heinlein juveniles, a series of books that Heinlein had contracted with a publisher for. These were published over a period of ten to fifteen years, and Heinlein reportedly hated the editor he had to deal with— and the feeling was mutual. He finally ended up submitting a book that the editor refused to publish, breaking the contract, and Heinlein went on to win a Hugo award for that novel.

I think it was Starship Troopers. And, BTW, if you are judging the book by the movie, normally a bad practice, know that the director refused to read the book lest he "pollute his artistic vision." In other words, if they'd stuck with their original idea and come out with a movie called "Bug Wars" with no reference to the award-winning musing on the nature of service to a country, well... it would have just been a truly awful movie, instead of a truly aawful movie confused with a fairly decent book.

Unless it was Citizen of the Galaxy, a musing on the degradation of slavery. I can see where that would get a pre-Civil Rights era editor's hackles up.

But anyway. The deal with the "juveniles," then, should be taken to mean that there is little in them that can offend a fifties-era child, or more importantly, that child's parents. Part of the friction between Heinlein and his editor was due to Heinlein's insistance on including hints of things not suitable for young children, like the concept of the future as imperfect. (Oh horror!) But this is extremely tame by modern standards, and the characters— at least the young ones— are likely to seem hopelessly naive.

This book is notable for two things: once again, Heinlein has redheaded twins, which seems to be a bit of an obsession with him, and he introduces a creature called a "Martian flat cat."

You probably will understand at once when I tell you this is the prototype for a Tribble.

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