When my wife asked for some fun books to read this summer, I looked through my shelves trying to find fun and interesting books. I immediately ruled out Stephen King. He’s my kind of reading, but I didn’t get the vibe she would enjoy him quite as much.
I landed upon the area of my shelf holding Robert Heinlein novels. I was surprised to see so few of them. I knew I’d read at least 8 of his books, but could only find 2 or 3 in my bookcase. Looks like I left a few behind at my parents’ house. Which is kind of fair, seeing as the other ones were dad’s books from way back. Here’s a fun fact: Heinlein was born in Butler, Missouri. That’s not too far from where I live, and it is one of the places I imagined nothing interesting ever came from. How wrong I was. Robert Heinlein is a fascinating author. He wrote science fiction in a grand sense, challenging the ideas of how we would grow as a species and our potential relationships with alien races in the future. What I find fun about science fiction is how, even when placed far into the future, people still act like people. They may have different problems to think about, but they still approach them in a very human way. Now, you might think that’s a limitation of the author to not consider HOW different we could be in the future. But I like to think it better reflects how we are. Case in point: I don’t care where you go in history, I suspect politicians are still lying weasels.
The book I eventually recommended needed to be re-read. It was a very quick read. It’s not a very large book. Star Beast tells the tale of John Thomas Stuart XI and his family pet, Lummox. Lummox is a rather large, dinosaur-looking creature that John’s ancestor (one of the previous JTSs) found on another planet during one of Earth’s early space expeditions. When he was originally required, Lummox was about the size of a collie. Now he’s about the size of a tank. He has 8 legs, super-tough skin, and talks in a high-pitched child’s voice. John has some trouble controlling the creature, and ends up entangled in a court case on a city level, followed by a treaty situation on an inter-planetary level. No, it’s not one of Heinlein’s greatest works. But still a nice, quick read for helping to pass a summer vacation. It was originally written in 1954, so you can forgive the author if he didn’t intuit the great cell phone age we find ourselves in now.
I don’t plan on re-reading the rest of Heinlein’s novels this summer. Suffice it to say, I’ve read a few. I would recommend, for anyone who likes this book or any of these others, to also look into: Beyond This Horizon, Sixth Column (a little racism), The Puppet Masters, The Door into Summer, Starship Troopers (better than the movie), Stranger in a Strange Land, Podkayne of Mars, and Farnham’s Freehold. Okay, maybe not Farnham’s Freehold. There was incest & cannibalism in that one. I did try reading Number of the Beast, but it got too weird, too fast for me. And after reading this review, you are probably wondering what on earth I would list as ‘too weird’. Well read it yourself and find out! Just because I write about this stuff doesn’t mean I should be doing all the work around here.