Thursday, September 15, 2011

Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein

Space Cadet
No, this isn't a story about the kind of space cadets we used to hang out with, it's about actual cadets at an academy for the Space Patrol. Peace has broken out on Earth for decades, and it's largely due to the efforts of the Patrol. This is a tale of four young men, Matt, Tex, Oscar and Pete, two from Earth, one from Venus and the last from Ganymede, who are selected to attend the prestigious and demanding academy.

We follow them through their final testing before they are admitted, and some of their early training. Heinlein just jumps ahead suddenly and we are joining them on their first cadet cruise through the solar system. They travel to the asteroid belt, where they search for a lost Patrol vessel, and find some interesting fossils that will likely shake up the beliefs of scientists about the origins of the belt.

Then, they have a wild and wooly adventure on Venus, where they come to the rescue of a commercial ship, and end up having to make the types of decisions normally reserved for officers when their superior suffers a concussion in a bad landing. They befriend a new nation of the Venerian swamp dwellers, and fly an antique space ship back to civilization.

Heinlein, I'm sure, drew a lot of the ambience of this novel from his time at the Naval Academy. It's a pretty good coming-of-age story, with his usual moralizing a bit muted. There's one tie-in to his short story, Requiem, in this novel. See if you can find it.

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