Cover of Have Space Suit—Will Travel.

Have Space Suit—Will Travel

author: Robert A. Heinlein (1958)
date read: 2020-06-01
pages: 276
lists: scifi , ya
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I usually avoid classic sci-fi: I’ve had mostly negative run-ins, where books had aged badly and either didn’t interest me or felt off-putting. So, like Zelazny and Clarke and a bunch of others, I’ve been postponing Heinlein.

But “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” did not disappoint at all. The story of a teenager, a space nerd, exploring the universe was charming and simple. It has tight pacing, a good narration, a decent plot, but above all: very good storytelling. The book is hilarious at times, and touching at others. It’s aged some, of course, but that’s a point in favour of it: The protagonist is very much living in his times, so that he and his thoughts don’t feel artificial. I’ve come to expect cardboard characters from old sci-fi, and this book delivered real (if simple) characters instead.

A big point in favour is also that while there are noticeable references to aged gender roles – the protagonist is travelling with a younger girl for a time – he acknowledges both his protective impulses and that they are not always appropriate, which was funny, charming, and somewhat impressive.

Further Reading

My next Heinlein will be “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, which feels less forbidding now that I know that Heinlein is readable.

This book with its very real exploration of intergalactic space reminded me in tone and content of the Young Wizards series that is really more space-faring that its name suggests, particularly the third part, High Wizardry.

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