Thursday, March 15, 2018

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein’s juvenile story, which won the retro Hugo for 1950. It tells the story of a Boy Scout who moves with his father and his new wife to the moon of Jupiter, which has been terraformed and is available for farming. There are several adventures and all - or most - of them end well (apparently everything significant that happens on the moon, happens to him). In the end, he decides that there is nothing better than frontier life and he doesn’t even return to Earth to finalize his training. I wonder why this won the retro-Hugo? This is very much a young boy’s book, based on some extremely dated attitudes and with strange faults. In the colony, the food is very cheap and everything else is extremely expensive, but still, everyone seems to want to get a farm of their own, which requires a lot of hard labor. Why? Wouldn’t it be much easier and more profitable to start to producing consumer goods? The main character apparently is supposed to be about 15-16, but he behaves mostly like a 12-year-old, especially in the beginning. Also, apparently, the only possible answer to population increase is war. Birth control anyone? Well, that might have been a tad sensitive a subject for a book meant for young boys in 1950. Not one of Heinlein’s best – and certainly not one of the Hugo-winners. For example, The Dying Earth by Jack Vance would have been a nominee… maybe the voters didn’t read the books, but went by the more familiar name.

224 pp

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