The Rolling Stones

March 11th, 2016 | by Sqotty |

I recently read The Rolling Stones, one of Robert A. Heinlein’s young adult novels. I am going to say it is a lot of fun to read. Following the misadventures of the twins, Castor and Pollux, as the Stone family takes an extended vacation in our solar system, visiting Mars and the Asteroid Belt, we get an idea of what life, and space travel might have been like.

Outbound, a passenger liner headed for Mars puts out an emergency call tot he Rolling Stone, Edith Stone, their mother, who is a doctor, is called over to help with an epidemic that has sickened some of the crew and passengers of the liner, including the doctor. There had already been fatalities. When both craft arrive at Mars, the epidemic has been resolved, and the liner is placed in quarantine for a spell. The disease was a new strain, and potentially fatal.

The twins are natural capitalists, one to make their first million before they turn 18. Good on them. When their first money making scheme initially fails them on Mars, they manage to find a way to turn it around and make a profit; at least until the government on Mars comes along and taxes them to bankruptcy. They end up in tax court with their Grandmother representing them, and Hazel is able to use the legal system to show that the taxes being applied are incorrect, and so the twins, even after legal fees, manage to end up with a small profit. Hazel is a feisty character and a lot of fun.

Some of the science fails to hold up in the modern era, as we know a lot more about life in zero gravity than we did when Heinlein wrote this novel back in the early ’50s. This brings me to one of the parts I like about the edition I have: the afterword by Steve Hughes, where he discuses the technology and science used in the book, what Heinlein got right, and wrong, but recognized that writing in 1952, long before the first manned space flight, that much of what Heinlein speculated was the norm for the time.

It is a good read, and did I mention flat cats? The original Tribble? But you knew that already!

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