I’ve been meaning to rocket my way through Robert Heinlein ‘s worlds, specially because my dear little sister swears by him and has been similarly exploring his oeuvre. I recall reading “Stranger in a Strange Land,” “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” and a couple of the “juveniles” as a youngster (“Starship Troopers” FTW!) ; but I frequenly found the scientific and philosophical meanderings jammed awkwardly into the plot – and sometimes not even “jammed into,” but merely “pushed against.” I liked “The Big Three” enough, but I didn’t feel too differently about most of Arthur C. Clarke. (Asimov’s short stories I always did go for, but I don’t recall reading his novels beyond the first Foundation trilogy.)
Unless you already feel inclined to fandom, chronological completism is not the correct approach to Heinlein. 1947’s “Rocket Ship Galileo” is the first of his “juveniles” (YA, y’all) and nearly universally acknowledged as the weakest of 12 novels that chronicle spacial exploration from youthful angles. Still, half the kids who read this after WWII went on to nerdy professions. Artie, Ross and Morrie are the rocket-model nerds that are recruited by a Dr. Cargraves to fly to the Moon (not because that makes SENSE, but because what boy wouldn’t enjoy that?) The boys are weakly characterized: had they been clones it wouldn’t have altered a line of dialogue. But their very blankness must have helped more than one reader project themselves into the plot. Heinlein is very good at getting one excited about being shot into space – and if there’s dastardly Nazis in the moon that may be killed, that’s two birds with one rocket.
RATING : SHRUG for non-fans, GOOD ENOUGH for Heinleinites.