April 2nd, 2011


Book Review: Starman Jones, by Robert A. Heinlein

One-line summary: "Max was just a hillbilly... until he became... STARMAN JONES!"

Scribner's, 1953, 272 pages

It was a desperate time, when one's next meal and the comforts of home couldn't be taken for granted. Max Jones, a practical, hard-working young man, found his escape in his beloved astronomy books. But when reality comes crashing in and his troubled home life forces him out on the road, Max finds himself adrift in a downtrodden land - until an unexpected, ultimate adventure carries him away as a stowaway aboard an intergalactic spaceship.

But to where? And when? And how can he ever get back? With the ship's pilot dead and his charts and tables all destroyed, Max must call upon all of his untested knowledge and skills in order to survive.

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Verdict: If you are a lover of YA literature, you should know where the genre has been as well as where it's going, and (early) Heinlein is a highly readable author who wrote stories that are as enjoyable today as they were half a century ago. Starman Jones isn't my favorite of the Heinlein juveniles (it's less imaginative than Red Planet or Star Beast, and less epic than Time for the Stars) but it's a good story and aspiring writers (and a lot of published ones) could learn much from its linear plot, clear writing, and character archetypes.