Sunday, February 5, 2012
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
A Heinlein juvenile. The book happens in the same or at least very similar society as in ”Starship Troopers”. A part of standard education is a survival training where a bunch of kids is dropped on an untamed planet to survive alone with no rules except one: stay alive. “Battle Royal” style of survival is totally permitted. The travel between planets happens through instantaneous matter transfer gates. When a group of kids are stranded on a hostile planet when the scheduled pick up doesn’t arrive they must try to establish a society of some sort. The hero finds that he must face some serious responsibilities.
The society itself is somewhat repulsing and based on violence, and it is very hard to believe that parents would allow survival exercise in those terms with that mortality rate. The writing was entertaining as in all Heinlein’s juveniles, except when there was a little too much adolescent wisecracking at some places. There were some shades of “Lord of Flies”, but here the throwaways stayed a lot more organized and were on track of establishing a new society by the end of the book. As a whole the book was a fast read and was smoothly written, but it isn’t among his best works.