Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

It’s a corker. One of those juvenile books that adults will enjoy too and it would make a splendid movie. Theoretically there is one in the pipelines, but nothing’s been heard of it for some years.

Have Space Suit has no weak points. Entertaining (some great one-liners), the science sounds plausible – not saying it is, I wouldn’t know – but one could imagine a young boy reading this and being inspired. I hope that last sentence is wrong and that girls read this too. The narrator is a teenage boy fresh out of high school. His side-kick is an 11 year old female genius, greatly admired and relied upon by the narrator. There is absolute equality. Important also is ‘The Mother Thing’, seemingly all knowing and all good.

I wouldn’t exactly say this makes the book a model of female emancipation in the science world. The mothers of both children are passive 1950s stay at home Moms. Even worst, Kip’s father married ‘his best student’, as male academics still find a handy thing to do. It doesn’t actually say she’s a good typist but…you can close your eyes and see it. Not that this is the setting time-wise. It’s sort of 1950s America set in an undated future. Loved the description of school education which was presumably a comment pertaining to the late fifties when the book was written and yet is likely pertinent today.

Some of the most interesting parts are those where great detail is made of things that I can’t see making the movie. The very long discussion of how space suits work, for example. But it will be a visual feast with some great action scenes and the trials scene near the end would do well in the cinematic version too. Love to know who is going to play the Roman Centurion. Not to mention the voice of the jury machine.

Bonus: there is no incest or paedophilia. Not that I noticed, anyway.


The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny

I don’t know why this one is largely under the radar. Imaginative, nicely written, vision of the future which isn’t so wrong -love the dog.

But is there anybody who has read this and understands the ongoing part of the man walking along the road who ends up killing himself? Is this Render? Is this how he escapes being trapped in another person’s dream? Is everything that happens in the book a dream except for this part of it?

I don’t understand it. Manny doesn’t understand it.

Having looked around online – and you have to look deep, the interesting discussions are pages into Google – I discover lots of people unhappy about the things in the book that don’t bear a relationship to the main plot, such as Render’s son. It seems that this is the answer:

Zelazny originally wrote the novella (yes, novella) “He Who Shapes”
during 1964, and it was published in the January & February 1965
issues of Amazing. It was about 31,000 words in length, and it won the
Nebula for novella, tying with Aldiss’ “The Saliva Tree.” Later, he
was convinced by Damon Knight to expand the novella into a novel, and
he did this by writing extra sections that were inserted throughout
the text, thereby creating a final length of about 45,000 words. He
did this expansion *after* writing …And Call Me Conrad. This
expanded version of “He Who Shapes” was then published under the title
The Dream Master by Ace Books, and it appeared later in 1966 – *after*
This Immortal – with the Ace code #F-403 on the cover. Thus, The Dream
Master was the second novel to be written – expanded from an earlier
novella – and it has always been recognized as Zelazny’s second novel
– including by the author, who knew when he was writing it – despite
what is currently claimed in Wikipedia. Maybe somebody will fix
Wikipedia now. Chris KovacsĀ Alt.books

It would be interesting to compare and one assumes that the shorter version will be more cohesive.

Whatever its faults, it’s hard to put down and I thoroughly recommend it, along with digging into Google to find the interesting sci-fi reads. I love the way they don’t all herd onto the main book sites.