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Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.

Red Planet - Robert A. Heinlein When I was in junior high school I read every Heinlein juvenile the school library had. I can still picture the shelf on which they were all shelved. That was a very long time ago and some of them I remember better than others. I am not sure that the school library had every single Heinlein juvenile, so I can't be sure that I read every one. Some of the plots I remember and others of them escape me now. Red Planet is one of those I was not sure that I had read. Now that I have read it again after all these years I can say that as soon as the little round Martian, Willis, was introduced the memory did come back to me and as I made it through the book more and more came back to me. That is the case even if this is not actually the same book I read back then. It appears that there was a grand battle between Heinlein and his editor and that the version I read in junior high school was drastically mangled in comparison to what Heinlein actually wrote. This version is a restored version and appears as the author intended it to be. I am tempted to give it a four or five star rating in tribute to the nostalgia of revisiting something I read back when I was just becoming a science fiction fan, but I can't quite do it. I don't know how I would have rated it then -- probably pretty high because I certainly did enjoy anything I read by Heinlein in those days -- but it just doesn't have the same effect now. First, the plot strikes me as a bit weak. A couple of teenagers do battle with and expose a corrupt headmaster of a school on Mars and they end up running away and living with the Martians for a while. The most interesting part is at the very end when Martian biology is discussed. Second, the story is considerably dated and most of all, it really is juvenile literature. As a much older and more sophisticated science fiction reader now, that means that it comes off as rather simplistic to me. I did still enjoy the book, just not that much, so I give it three stars. This is apparently the first of the Heinlein juveniles, published in 1949, and according to the introductory material it set the stage for Stranger In a Strange Land. Well, it so happens that I read Stranger In a Strange Land somewhere around the same time I read Red Planet, when I was in junior high school, and I remembered everything about that book much better. Stranger In a Strange Land was not juvenile literature. Back then I noticed no connection between the books and I still would not have if this volume had not told me.