Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson

 

Space Opera

Variable Star Variable StarRobert A. Heinlein; Tor Science Fiction 2007WorldCat“I thought I wanted to get married in the worst way. Then that’s pretty much what I was offered, so I ended up going trillions of kilometers out of my way instead. A great many trillions of kilometers, and quite a few years–which turns out to be much the greater distance.”

This is Joel Johnston’s introduction to his story of a wagon train to the stars. He loves Jinny but can’t accept the family’s conditions for marriage. In order to escape them, he joins a colonial ship heading out at near light speed to a star twenty years away. His last minute application is accepted because he tells them about his farming experience growing up on the Gannymeade Colony. But Joel’s not a farmer, he’s a musician. Now he is part of about 500 people who are traveling to Brasil Novo, a planet by the star Immega 714.

Variable Star was a joy to read from the first paragraph. It’s been a little while since I’d read either a Robert A. Heinlein or a Spider Robinson novel. Heinlein may have laid out the story line and had plenty of notes, but Robinson took the story line and turned it into a novel that both authors can (or could have, in Heinlein’s case) be proud of. Robinson kept the fun of Heinlein’s work and the sense of naivety of Heinlein’s young protagonists from his earlier works. Robinson then wove in his own beliefs and his own sense of fun (anyone who can write the Callahan Chronicals has to have a sense of fun).

Pieces of the novel (like Joel’s love life) are predictable just from knowing the two authors’ work. Yet much (like the incident with the Sun later in the book) is not. The humans have created a fairly peaceful society, but the antagonists are still there. They just tend to wield power rather than weapons. The characters in the novel are friendly, people that I would like to drop by my home.

Spider Robinson was able to take Robert A. Heinlein’s tale with the 1950’s culture and twist it nicely into a the early 21st century culture. Variable Star is a must for any lover of space opera or those who like the early Grand Masters of science fiction. It’s also a must for anyone who loves a good adventure tale. I have three words that sum up my feelings for Spider Robinson’s book:

Bravo. Thank you.

I had one problem with the book. I borrowed it from the library – which meant I had to give it up. I then bought Variable Star so I could have my own copy.

More books by Robert A. Heinlein
More books by Spider Robinson

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