Review: The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

The Star Beast by Robert A. HeinleinThe Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction (one of Heinlein’s Juveniles)

Setting: Earth

Source: Audiobook, Library (8 hours, 50 minutes)

Narrator: Paul Michael Garcia

Publishing Date: 1954

253 pages

Synopsis:A compelling coming-of-age adventure from legendary SF master and multiple New York Times bestseller Robert A. Heinlein

Lummox has been the pet of the Stuart family for generations. With eight legs, a thick hide, and increasingly large size, Lummox is nobody’s idea of man’s best friend. Nevertheless, John Stuart XI, descendant of the starman who originally brought Lummox back to Earth, loves him. But when Lummox eats a neighbor’s car and begins to grow again, the feds decide that enough is enough. John isn’t about to let the authorities take his pet away, and with his best friend, Betty, he determines to save Lummox–even if he must forever leave the life he’s always known. 

My thoughts

I think I read this book years ago when I was a teenager, but don’t remember too much about it since that was a few years ago! I’m slowly rereading some of the early science fiction and fantasy that I read and Heinlein’s books are some of my favorites.

Heinlein’s juvenile series books are just so much fun to read. The young protagonists are heroic and adventurous. They usually have to learn to think for themselves and do what they know is right even when adults don’t always do that–a classic coming-of-age story. His young people may have to deal with a lot of problems, but they have a strong moral compass and know right from wrong. That makes these young adult books different from many written today that sometimes have more moral ambiguity in them. I also think theseThe Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein books work for adults because there are nuances that kids might not notice, but adults will.

I like this retro version of the cover which I think accurately shows the flavor of the story. Lummox is a friendly beast who sometimes finds loopholes in John’s directions and orders!

This story takes place on Earth, but with a creature brought back by an ancestor of John Stuart XI (the main character–along with the Lummox–of this story). I like that it’s his friend Betty who is the shrewd character in the story. She understands the political ramifications and the public relations value of Lummox as well as the value of powerful friends. There are stereotypes in the story–the dumb government officials who overreact and are overzealous, John’s mother who has decided what John should do with his life and doesn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions.

Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot. Lots of adventure, a good story and interesting characters. I listened to the audiobook and thought Paul Michael Garcia did a great job narrating. It definitely increased my enjoyment of the book. I especially liked his voice for Lummox.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Review: Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

have-spacesuit-will-travel

 

Have Space Suit – Will Travel
by Robert Heinlein
Narrated by: Mark Turetsky
Series: Heinlein Juveniles #9
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Blackstone Audio, 2014 (book originally published 1958)
Paper book & Audiobook, purchased
256 pages
8 hours, 54 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: B+
Synopsis: Kip Russell wants nothing more than to go to the moon. But after entering a contest to help realize his dream, he is thrust into a space adventure he could never have imagined–with the most unlikely of friends and enemies. A favorite among Heinlein readers.

That was my chance to be noble. We humans were their victims. We were in a position to speak up. Point out that from their position they hadn’t done anything wrong and ask mercy if they would promise to behave in the future. Well, I didn’t. I’ve heard all the usual sweetness and light that kids get pushed at them. That they should always forgive. That there’s some good in the worst of us, etc. But when I see a black widow I step on it. I don’t plead with it to be a good little spider and stop poisoning people. A black widow spider can’t help it, but that’s the point.

and

Some people insist that ‘mediocre’ is better than ‘best.’ They delight in clipping wings because they themselves can’t fly. They despise brains because they have none.

Cheers

  • Many of Heinlein’s books have an older, wise father figure in them (Stranger in a Strange Land, for example). In this case, it is the father and he is a benevolent character from whom high school senior Kip learns all the things he needs for the rest of the book. I always feel Heinlein sees himself as that benevolent, wise father figure.
  • The entertainment value of this book is wonderful. I may have read this book when I was a young teen (but I don’t remember it) as I read lots of his juveniles as well as Andre Norton’s books which have a lot of the same adventurous feel. These authors wrote the “Harry Potter” books of my childhood!
  • I’ve had the paper book of Have Space Suit  – Will Travel for a number of years, but got the Audible book when it was on sale. I really enjoyed listening to this. The narrator was very good.
  • Kip and Peewee (12 year old Patricia Wynant Reisfeld) are such fun characters to read about. They are brave and gallant and just what and how we would want our idealized children to act!
  • I like the systematic way Kip goes about entering a contest to win a trip to the Moon.
  • The Mother Thing is also a great character embodying all that a mother should be. Parts of this book reminded me a little of A Wrinkle in Time. I think it was because of the Mother Thing. However, A Wrinkle in Time is a very different book. And deserves its place as a classic children’s book. It was also one of my favorites as a child.

Jeers

  • The plot is pretty simple and predictable, but it’s a book that a young teen could read and enjoy and I like that.
  • Heinlein is preachy in his books, but again I don’t mind too much. And I think I formed some of my ideals from his books.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m using this book as my TBR read for the month of December (hosted by Wendy @ The Misadventures of Super Librarian). It doesn’t fit the category of Christmas book, but I have had the paper book for years so I’m using it anyway. And I could stretch things and say a young reader would enjoy reading this book at Christmas…LOL!
  • We get a lot of Heinlein’s philosophy of life in this book as in others he writes. I think the quotes really illustrate that.
  • Many of his books are written during the Cold War and have a real feeling that the U.S. has enemies and the U.S. could be defeated by them if the government isn’t vigilant. Whether his books are written about a futuristic Earth or about a futuristic space world many of the books indicate the government might not be ready, but individual citizens are prepared and will take back their country.
  • Another reason I enjoyed this book is that one of my daughters won a national contest with her team of three other girls when she was in third grade. They had to build a spacesuit and explain on a video how it would work if they were on Mars. They won a trip to Space Camp. For a long time my daughter wanted to be an astronaut. And she did become a scientist. I thought of her when I read about Kip and Peewee.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?