Girls on Mars just want to have fun.
1963’s “Podkayne of Mars” is the last of Heinlein’s YA novels (he himself felt differently about that clasification.) There’s a whole galaxy of improvement between “Podkayne” and “Rocket Ship Galileo”. We’ve gone from Hardy Boys chasing Moon smugglers to a fully realized character in Podkayne “Poddy” Fries, a Marsgirl who travels from her home planet to Earth in a luxury cruise liner, accompanying her diplomat uncle and her game-playing genius brother. There’s suspense, and not-too-much science, and the threat of space terrorism, all conveyed through a winning narrator’s voice. In the early ’60s, Poddy was a feminist inspiration to young women who would be space captains – buuuut 2015 readers might feel differently every time Poddy talks about hiding her intelligence around men so as not to bruise their egos, ( our snouts are more sensitive to the scent of sexism.) Hopefully those readers don’t dwell too much on the “classic Heinlein” eyebrow-raising elements here: a few of the crew members seem a little too eager to have 9-year old Poddy wriggle on their laps, for instance. (Ok, so that’s 9 in Mars years, 15 in Earth years. Still.) “Podkayne of Mars” is brief enough that even when its shapeless, made-up-on-the-spot plot nearly literally blows up on your face, you won’t mind the time investment – and Poddy is plain likable.