Elitist Classic: Citizen of the Galaxy
Robert A. Heinlein is a god in the science fiction world, and for good reason: he brought literary quality and high scientific standards to a growing genre, as well as attention-grabbing controversy. I’m sure you all know about his classics including STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (Amazon), THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS (Amazon), and STARSHIP TROOPERS (Amazon).
But did you know he also wrote juvenile fiction?
Written in 1957, CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY (Amazon) is about the boy Thorby who’s taken to a strange planet as a slave and is purchased by an old beggar for a pittance. But Baslim the Cripple isn’t everything he appears, and treats Thorby as a son, teaching him not only how to beg, but also mathematics, science, history, and several languages–and how to gather intelligence from the errands he’s sent on. Before he’s grown, however, everything goes awry and Thorby’s life changes.
CITIZEN deals with themes of slavery, and how having an education ends Thorby’s slave status. There’s also questions of loyalty and the cost of doing the right thing. This is a great book to start kids out on science fiction.
CITIZEN should be available at most libraries and is almost always in print. Also worth reading for kids and adults is Heinlein’s fun HAVE SPACESUIT–WILL TRAVEL (Amazon).
In August 2010, Tor released the first of a two volume biography, ROBERT A HEINLEIN: IN DIALOGUE WITH HIS CENTURY (Amazon), and are holding an online symposium discussion by current science fiction authors. Learn more about it on Tor’s blog.
- Recommended Age: 10+
- Language: None
- Violence: Minor
- Sex: None
There are actually a whole bunch of books that have been collected into a series called “Heinlein’s Juvenile Series”. They aren’t necessarily associated with one another in the traditional sense of a series though, so we haven’t linked any of them here, but you can find them all listed on Amazon.