Saturday, January 15, 2022

Book reports...

Having finished re-reading The Number of the Beast and concluding that it is, indeed, Heinlein's second weakest effort, I went on and re-read The Rolling Stones. I'd only read it once before, probably twenty years ago at least, and it held up well as a story.

Sociologically in some respects it was very much a Fifties Y.A. novel, in that the protagonist twins have a bratty savant of a younger brother and a boy-crazy sister hoping to snag a beau from among the spacemen they encounter, but they also have an iron-willed MD for a mom and a grandma who's an ex revolutionary from the Luna rebellion.

The book was published five years before Sputnik and nearly a decade before Gagarin's flight, so Heinlein's imagining a future Earth with only three radio satellites and a space station is forgivable, as are scenes of people calculating trajectories with slide rules; almost nobody predicted the ubiquity of computers and Arthur C. Clarke had only floated the idea of radio relay satellites a handful of years earlier. 

On the other hand, its descriptions of life in lunar or micro gravity are way ahead of their time, and his description of anarchic Belter society predated even Niven's Known Space stories, to say nothing of The Expanse. It wouldn't be out of line to credit this novel as being the origin point for the entire trope of Belter society as a polyglot anarcholibertarian mining frontier one.

Definitely a keeper.

Oh, yeah...The Rolling Stones inspired tribbles, too.