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Like a Rolling Stone …

MEANWHILE … in homes all across America, impressionable young minds were heavily influenced by THE ROLLING STONES. Of course, I am not referring to the bad boys (or should that be grandpas) of rock-n-roll. I mean THE ROLLING STONES by Robert Heinlein.

rolling stones hb

THE ROLLING STONES is one of a baker’s dozen novels that make up Heinlein’s “juvenile” output that started in in 1947 with ROCKET SHOP GALILEO and ended in 1963 with PODKAYNE OF MARS. I am not going to argue that it is Heinlein’s best book or even his best juvenile, but I will claim it as my favorite.

Originally published in 1952 by Scribner’s and serialized that same year in Boy’s Life as TRAMP SPACE SHIP, I discovered it circa 1976 in an Ace Books paperback edition. Now 1976 was probably as different from 1952 as it from 2014, but I maintain that the book is as readable and meaningful now as it was then.

rolling stones pb

It is a hopeful novel, not of a dystopian future as we tend to see dominating today’s YA literature, but of one where there is opportunity for everyone who possesses a touch of intelligence and an industrious streak. It is a tale of adventure with no violence. It features strong female characters. And, while some may scoff or belittle the importance of this, it is a wholesome novel.

THE ROLLING STONES is the story of the Stone Family, several of which show up in later Heinlein works.

Hazel, the grandmother, is the pistol-toting matriarch who supports the family as the writer of an entertaining science fiction serial “The Scourge of the Spaceways” – a role she actually takes from her son.

Roger, Hazel’s son, is an engineer and former mayor, who tries to reign in his family as “captain of the ship” in the sometimes ineffectual but ultimately loved and respected manner of the typical 50’s sitcom father.

Edith, Roger’s wife, is a doctor who is also a master manipulator. She cherishes her family but understands, even if her husband does not, that being a physician is a sacred calling to which she is fully committed.

Meade, the eldest daughter, is being trained in astrogation by her grandmother even though there seems to be the assumption, despite the accomplishments of her mother and grandmother, that her career options are minimal and her best course of action is securing a husband. Not to belabor the point as this really is an enjoyable and entertaining book, but based on the other female characters, I think that Meade is meant to represent the plight of most girls in the 1950s as opposed to the future for which Heinlein hopes.

Buster, the precocious 4-year old of the family, is a chess prodigy and sometimes plot device.

Last, but certainly not least are the twins, Castor and Pollux. They are would-be entrepreneurs of the get-rich quick variety. They are not scammers, but they are certainly schemers. It is those schemes that drive much of the action in the book.

Oh, and let’s not forget the flat cats. If you never heard of flat cats, let’s just say that without them, there would be no tribbles. Of course, without guinea pigs, there would be no flat cats, but those are both different stories entirely.

The story opens in Luna City, a colony on the moon, with the twins looking to buy a used spaceship to become traders. Dad puts the kibosh on that idea, but quicker than you can say, “have spaceship, will travel,” the family buys a second-hand ship and sets out for Mars. Then, as they say, hijinks and bureaucracy ensue.

The tale combines the schemes of the “unheavenly twins” with a hybrid of the westward expansion of America & the post WWII family road trip and plops it into the solar system that the 1950s expected to be explored and colonized by this day and age. Add in a fairly detailed look at how space travel might work (compete with challenges), the commercialization of exploration, and the need some will always have for more elbow room and you have a delightful tale that is a refreshing look at the future that never was.

What are you? Lost?

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You are probably wondering how you got here. Frankly I am too. But since we are both here, pull up a seat and get comfortable, We can be lost confused together.

A quick circuit of the interwebs will reveal that the last thing we need is another blog about writing and books and movies and television and [insert blog topic of your own choosing], so here is another one to throw on the e-pile. What is going to make this one any different? I guess that’s where I come in.

If you got here without having any idea of who I am or are just dying to know more, check out the “About” page elsewhere on this blog. But if you really want to get to know me, come back here on a semi-regular basis and read.

And if you do just that, what might you discover things like…

Why I write and why I read and, of course, why all right thinking people must agree with my views on these subjects.

The Future that Never Was but, oh, how I still want it to be.

The influencers and the influences that you can blame for me being the way I am.

The Good Old Days and how I misremember then.

Recommendations (but rarely reviews) of things I watch, read, and listen to and why, as one of the aforementioned right thinking people, you should too.

Other various and sundry topics ranging from New Pulp to College Basketball to Singing Cowboys to Disney World to Games (mostly not the video kind) to Publishing to Whatever Shiny Object catches my attention.

In short, me writing about all kinds of stuff instead of writing the stuff I should be writing (like the stories and books that have already been promised to editors).

That’s probably more of an introduction than you wanted, but don’t say you weren’t warned. If you ramble around and end up back here again, that will be entirely on you. But if you do, I’ll have a seat waiting for you.

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