It’s May 2018: What SF book are you reading?


Journeyed there and back again
I am nearly finished with two
rocketship Galileo ~ Robert A Heinlen
buy Jupiter~Isaac Asimov

the h einlen book is absolutely amazing, very "hard scifi" when compared to the very fantastical, and theoretical Asimov. Heinlein is describing people doing things, Asimov describes people talking.

it is also often mistaken as the inspiration for the movie October sky, but that is a true story penned to book a decade later. so this hadn't happened when this was published. also the similarities stop after the first few scenes when they start talking about building a full sized rocket.

This was a Young adult Novel and it only shows a little. a lot of technical jargon is thrown around and the situation can get a little more adult than you can get away with in YA these days.

I was going to ding a star for the trite
NAZIS in space.
but with the 1948 publication It is possible and likely, this was the first fiction to include that NOW cliché. so props. have an extra star.

8/10 for rocketship Galileo (that's pretty high for YA, coming from me)
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paul james

Firsthanded the newest Caine adventure
Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, when I purchased this the store clerk suggested it was an good choice I had made which kind of intrigues me.


Journeyed there and back again
Finished Red Planet~ Robert A Heinlen
The Rolling Stones ~Robert A Heinlen
Fantastic Voyage ~Isaac Asimov

Sixth Column~ Robert A Heinlen

Red Planet is a quirky space western set around a boarding school on mars and a colony under the rights and protection of 'the company' The boarding school is a pretty \typical cliché of a boarding school in fiction but the twist is Mars itself, Handling the environment and the creatures . The native martian pet the protagpnist has affection for is as fun, interesting, and cute as Gizmo in "Gremlins". If you watch Westerns enough you can see the conflict coming, but it is still pretty satisfying.

I wtched the 1994 movie afterwards. SUCKED SO BAD. barely had resemblance to the story, and they never would have made the huge changes to the work If Heinlen was still alive.
I know Heinlen is very much so on one particular side of the political fence (but not dumb enough to point out when they are wrong, OFTEN, nor dumb enough to deny sound advice that the otherside embraces) and this movie took a very story that was deeply rooted In Heinlen's own political views and removes all the politics and half the story so they can replace it with an outright PSA supporting the opposite side. I AM positive that some of the more obvious changes would at least appeal to Heinlen (like antipollution, Heinlen is very anti pollution and seems pretty anti nuclear weapons, but don't be mistaken to think that is a partisan attitude), but the base that they needed to form to present them, He would not.
that said, bad animation, bad acting, bad scripting, and they dropped continuity in several places. I have a feeling the poltical messages they were trying to put in were added in the midst of production and had to be shoehorned in.

The Rolling Stones has the sme problem Rocketship Galileo had, a very strong start that really gets the reader wrapped into the story and then it turns into a Saturday morning cartoon. Whereas Gaileo had moments where the kids would jump up and shout at the screen in excitement over the action, The Rolling stones instead had moments where you can hear the repeated laugh track.

This is another Space Western focusing on a bit of a covered wagon deal in the guise of a family vacation comedy movie. The set up is really good but as soon as the family gets into space we are reduced to a Hannah Barbara cartoon. I did find it heartwarming, and would recommend it to kids. unlike Galileo and Red Planet there isn't visceral death scenes. or condoned torture. If you except the premise and the science, the logic in the book at least makes sense in the same parameters. The family itself is very rooted into mathematics. Treatment of female characters I would say is pretty good for it's time. We have a strong Dr. (the mother) who acts more heroic than her husband, makes more money, commands more respect, and is really the leader of the family, but she is still stuck being the ships cook and put into the role of typical quiet subservience to her husband (despite always getting her way with subtlety) You have Grandma Hazel, a strong headed woman if there ever was one, she is a typical cartoon Grandma, she has done it all and through her own grit and determination does she get through impossible tasks. she is a famous culture hero an original pioneer, a politician, A highly respected world (solar system?) class engineer and mathmetician. She gave up each in turn due too "they just weren't too anxious to have a woman "insert profession" and I was done dealing with them so I left". She even picks fights, and calls her son a pantywaist when he does bulhead through a problem, She even writes fiction very good. Even she is cowed into cooking but only after the Dr is out. Then you have the daughter, she plays assistant cook, and despite doing lots of science and math learning and doing well, she is preoccupied with finding a husband instead, with the spport of the whole family.

Are there any twins in fiction that AREN'T red headed hellions with skills in Pranks, business ventures, and fast doubletalk designed to confuse the recipient to agreeing?

anyone planning on reading this one to a kid, OPEN THE SPOILER
nice bit of hard Pathos when Grandma Hazel sacrifices herself to save her grandson leaving him crying his eyes out alone in a lonely space vessel not knowing why grandma went to sleep (switch Oxygen sources since his was out) they almost had us with a very well written tragic ending as it took forever to revive her. THEN she pops up like nothing ever happened

Fantastic Voyage

SKip this garbage. Asimov wrote a novelization of a screenplay (not his) despite his book coming out before the movie. just watch the movie. this not only reads like a screeplay (the worst thing to read, even screen writers agree) but it isn't very good, the only thing Asimov was allowed to change was fixing some scientific mistakes

apparently Fantastic Voyage 2 is not a sequel, AND is in the Foundation Universe.

Sixth Column is just blood gore and racism. I couldn't take it anymore. I know Heinlen isn't a racist, he wrote quite a few boks that could be detailed as a rainbow of culture, but his treatment of Asians in this book is clearly brought on by an outside source whether publisher of someone else I DON'T KNOW.

all YA get a free star, as is my policy, I am an adult, it is only fair.

Redplanet 7/10
Rolling Stones 9/10
Fantastic Voyage 4/10
Sixth Column 2/10


Journeyed there and back again
Finished 2001: A Space Odyssey ~ Arthur C Clarke.

written while they were working towards the movie. Stanely Kubrick believed that a screenplay short be based on a story for it to work better.

So there are a few noticeable differences between the two, most notably the fact that they travel to Saturn instead of Juptier, also the whole Hal 9000 sequence is variously different while keeping the main points. The ending is more flushed out, and will answer some of the questions you may have had after watching the movie. BUT it still manages to leave even more questions unanswered.



Journeyed there and back again
Finished 2010: Odyssey two

This is not a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the book. This IS a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey the movie.

all the varitions between the book and the movie are rounded off to favor the movie version, and since they are all summarized very plainly there is almost no need to watch the movie or read the book before reading this one. a few Items of the ending in the book were reused but others ignore the book completely and go with the movie version of events.

Really there is no reason to read the first book if you watched the movie and read this one.

SO the events happen as follow, they are planning a mission to investigate (now the second monolith is on a Jupitermoon as per the movie) the second monolith, as well as retrieving secrets and figuring out what malfunctioned with HAL 9000. by plugging it in. (that seems as smart as splitting up in a horror movie)

The spaceship is going to crash soon, and the Russians have a spaceship ready to go now, so three Americans hitch a ride so they can enter what is US territory. The tension is more a quizitive nature than a pressing need. In fact the spaceship taking two years to get there really breaks up any tension we had. The interaction between the Russian crew and American crew is absolutely priceless. I feel more cultured reading this series with all the references to famous plays, movies, books, and classical songs. I particularly liked how the American tries and fails to read Dr. Zhivago (typical of most people's attempts) and again almost reads through the Kreutzer Sonnata.

They have so many climatic events and yet, I they don't feel climatic. They mostly just drudge on at the same level of Tension that persists throughout the book. The results are interesting enough though. Like listening to a lecture on an absolutely riveting topic, by the most boring Lecturer, who insists on giving all too detailed Bios on every person he mentions,

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Journeyed there and back again
Finished 2061: Odyssey Three ~ Arthur C Clarke
Podkayne of Mars~ Robert A Heinlein

complete Coincidence that both of these are read like repurposed Luxury cruise novels.

Odyssey Three was crap. If it wasn't supposed to be a sequel, and if it had a different authors name on it, it would be okay. but calling this a sequel to 2001, would be like trying to argue that To Kill a Mockingbird is a sequel to Moby Dick. by renaming the old man to Ishmael.

Odyssey can easily be rewritten to a story of Carnivale luxury cruise liners, both happening to have some scientists aboard, and a great conspiracy spilling over into a disaster.

watching the old protagonist walking around was like watching a 90 year old actor trying not to break a hip as the star player of some action film.

Podkayne of Mars was a lot better, but also involved a carnival luxury cruise line with intrigue. This is more excusable since its a YA fiction. written as from the pages of a girls diary. It was also a lot better written.

There was a trick at the beginning during introduction. Podkayne introduced herself as 9, just nearly ready for marrying age on mars, after explaining this and embelshing it to a point when I was almost ready to put it down and never picking it up again when suddenly she explains those were Mars years, and gave a conversion of 1.88 meaning she was about 17. The book was pretty good, it has aged a little.

extra star for YA as is my policy

2061 4/10
Podkayne of Mars 8/10


Journeyed there and back again
Finished Farmer in the Sky ~ Robert A Heinlein
Space Cadet ~ Robert A Heinlein
Puppet Masters~ Robert A Heinlein
Starman Jones ~ Robert A Heinlein
Double Star ~ Robert A Heinlein

Finishing soon Fantastic Voyage 2 ~ Isaac Asimov (not a sequel)

Farmer in the Sky
Published for Boy's Life Magazine (a BSA publication) This is yet another Space Western by Heinlein in the form of Homsteading. The opener is an awkward fathers new wife situation where an Eagle scout decides to swallow his pride and be a Man about it. Now he fits to settle Ganymeade with his new family. The rest is not just a clear Space version of Homesteading story but also a series of tradgedies and the new scout troop dealing with it with scout honor. There are moments where the Scout manual dictates plot, but it still remains true to the Homesteading theme.

It does get a little gruesome as the new colony deals with a mass death (just as a warning to people looking to hand this as a YA fiction to a kid.)

Space Cadet
This one is a very cut and dry Boys fiction novel on the guts and glory of youngsters in a youth training group. Other than the obvious military overtones this actually fits more to the general theme of what the BSA is about than Farmer in the Sky did. A peaceable outfit working towards mending relations and respecting cultures and nature. You would just need to add some Boiy scout manual stuff, and remove allusions towards the Space Marines being the strong arm branch of the Space Cadets.

Puppet Masters
Classic invasion story, I claim this invented the Brain Slug cliché. Heinlein also sued the 1958 movie Brain Eater movie for ripping him off. I wonder why he could not have sued Invasion of the Body Snatchers too. Body Snatchers had a very indelible allusion to the Cold war and the invasive scare which is repeated (4 years earlier) in this book, but more so as Heinlein makes direct comparisons to areas invaded by the brain slugs and behind the Iron Curtain. This is a YA fiction, and there is enough vague and circumstantial sex allusions to keep its target audience (teenage boys) isolated in the bathroom. They do end up with the whole of the USA turning into a nudist colony.

Starman Jones
This one reads more like a 1800s stowaway on a wooden ship novel. complete with the stowaway working up towards officer with his own nemesis . There are some twists, but I can still put these into the standard stowaway on a ship idiom

Double Star
WOW, best YA Fiction I have ever read. let us follow the greatest actor of all time (according to him) He is the most arrogant spoiled self indulgent actor you can imagine, and yet he is flat broke and possibly at the end of his short career. He is offered a job. Impersonate one of the most important politicians of the time because he has been kidnapped to prevent him from doing his good work. The performance of a lifetime. THE GREATEST performance anyone can ever perform, he can't resist even if he cannot attach his name to it and bask in the glory of praise.

I absolutely cannot stand this main character, and I love hating him.

Fantastic Voyage 2
NOT a sequel, like a reboot. Asimov hated how tied up he was writing Fantastic Voyage, I think this is him trying to do right by the basic plot. It is very much so better than FV. deals a lot with US Soviet relations. skips the bad clichés. does not have some of the basic science issues FV had either.

all YA novels get an extra Star as is my policy

Farmer in the Sky6/10
Space Cadet 7/10
Puppet Masters 7/10
Starman Jones/6/10
Double Star 10/10
Fantastic Voyage 2. 7.5/10