A never-before-published masterpiece from science fiction's greatest writer, rediscovered after more than half a century.
When Joel Johnston first met Jinny Hamilton, it seemed like a dream come true. And when she finally agreed to marry him, he felt like the luckiest man in the universe.
There was just one small problem. He was broke. His only goal in life was to become a composer, and he knew it would take years before he was earning enough to support a family.
But Jinny wasn't willing to wait. And when Joel asked her what they were going to do for money, she gave him a most unexpected answer. She told him that her name wasn't really Jinny Hamilton---it was Jinny Conrad, and she was the granddaughter of Richard Conrad, the wealthiest man in the solar system.
And now that she was sure that Joel loved her for herself, not for her wealth, she revealed her family's plans for him---he would be groomed for a place in the vast Conrad empire and sire a dynasty to carry on the family business.
Most men would have jumped at the opportunity. But Joel Johnston wasn't most men. To Jinny's surprise, and even his own, he turned down her generous offer and then set off on the mother of all benders. And woke up on a colony ship heading out into space, torn between regret over his rash decision and his determination to forget Jinny and make a life for himself among the stars.
He was on his way to succeeding when his plans--and the plans of billions of others--were shattered by a cosmic cataclysm so devastating it would take all of humanity's strength and ingenuity just to survive.
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Like a good Ganymedean farmer in the sky, Robinson (Callahan's Key) plants both feet firmly in Heinlein territory with this mostly credible pastiche of a Heinlein young adult novel circa 1955. Working from an unfinished outline and notes, Robinson tells the coming-of-age tale of Joel Johnston, who flees a broken romance to the new colony planet Brasil Novo 85 light-years away. Joel and his companions demonstrate the odd mixture of innocence and sexual experimentation that Heinlein employed, as Robinson captures the na ve yet advanced tone of Heinlein's future history. But the strain of a contemporary author trying to fit his sensibility about the future (in which nonaggression is a way of life, for example) into Heinlein's more notably militaristic mindset leaves its traces on the characters and plot, with some unexplained role reversals. Nostalgia for Heinlein's early work may pique interest in this posthumous collaboration, but old Heinlein hands may be disappointed that the book is incomplete, being all journey and no arrival.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I liked the overall theme of the book but felt that most of the middle was filler. The first few chapters on earth were intriguing with interesting characters and story line. Most of the shipboard content seemed like filler with mostly character drama. There were a few good chapters with great sci-fi content in the middle and the end was orchestrated very well. I wish the story went on a little more but perhaps that will be saved for a sequel.
Overall a good sci-fi book.. Well worth reading.
It's a stretch to call this a Heinlein, and it's not correct that the first cinema to take starfight seriously was <Star Wars>. Heinlein's take on homosexuality is expressed in "Stranger in a Strange Land," and is inconsistent with a bisexual protagonist. Do not overlook "Forbidden Planet," which long presaged Star Wars. The book does recall a number of iconic themes and elements: telepathic twins, torch ships, and nubile girls, e.g.
I enjoyed reading this book. Spider had big shoes to fill and did a great job. One of his most impressive elements was the description of the artistic expression in playing the saxophone. After reading some of those lines it made me want to go and learn to play.