Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
Farmer in the SkyRobert A. Heinlein’s early science fiction writing was aimed at the young boys and men of the time – the late 1940’s and 50’s. Farmer in the Sky is one of those books. If it isn’t included in the Young Adult section, it should be.
Bill is an Eagle Scout on Earth. He travels to places like Antartica with his school classes or to earn badges. Earth is crowded. Bill’s widowed father, George, is considering joining a colony of pioneers to Ganymede to start a new life as a farmer. Bill is enthusiastic about the idea and wants to join his father.
Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter, has had a life-bearing eco-system created on it. There are machines that keep the heat on the planet and help create breathable atmosphere. Machines take the rock laden dirt and turn it into sterile soil. Then fertile soil, worms, and nutrients are introduced to make the soil able to produce crops. The colonists are promised a parcel of land to farm as they wish, paying back the Commission within five years.
At first George is reluctant. Bill convinces him that if George goes, he also goes. George gives up his business and Bill finishes his current classes. Soon their family unit has joined many others who are traveling to Ganymede. They thought they knew what they were getting into. But that was only the beginning…
This is a fun book. It’s not great literature, but I understand how it helped build Heinlein’s career. It is adventure – it doesn’t matter whether the adventure is in the West or in space. It’s fun, and should especially appeal to boys learning to enjoy reading. Who can resist adventure, struggle, and fighting the odds to succeed?