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Download Podkayne of Mars epub

by Robert A. Heinlein

Download Podkayne of Mars epub
ISBN: 0450002780
ISBN13: 978-0450002786
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Language: English
Publisher: New English Library (U.K.) (1976)
ePUB size: 1891 kb
FB2 size: 1928 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 896
Other Formats: mobi azw doc lit

It was fun to delve into a bit of vintage science fiction with this Heinlein novel. This piece is an adventure story for a youth or young adult audience. It's relatively entertaining and moves along at a satisfactory pace after the first few chapters. The science fiction aspects of the story hold up reasonably well after almost six decades, but part of the fun of reading vintage science fiction is seeing how well the author anticipates future historical, scientific and technological developments. Heinlein is not far off the mark with respect to future telecommunications and space transportation technology; however, he misses the advent of e-commerce and digital documents, photography and data storage. (One amusing incident in the book involves the little brother ingeniously extracting the chemical colors from celluloid photographic film to play a prank.) Based on recent scientific investigation of planetary conditions on Mars and Venus, neither place would be as suitable for mass human colonization as the book assumes. Non-human life forms in the book are depicted rather cartoonishly by contemporary standards but not out of step with the era in which the book was written. A current Earth population of 7 billion people makes a future Earth population of 8 billion seem far less dystopian than the novel suggests. In an era when the planet had only 2 billion people, I'm sure it was hard for Heinlein and his contemporaries to conceive of a world that could have and sustain a population almost four times that size within a century.

The letter between Heinlein and his agent appended at the end of the book suggests that Heinlein had loftier ambitions for this work as a commentary on the psychological consequences of ambitious, career-minded mothers neglecting their children. (What about ambitious, career-minded fathers who neglect their children?) If that is a major theme it is well concealed from the casual reader. The same letter also makes much of Heinlein's objection to changing the ending of the story before initial publication to make it less tragic and more acceptable to the "happy ending" sensibilities of audiences of the early 1960's. (This version of the book incorporates his original ending). But I think the notion that the "happy ending" he wrote compromised the story is overblown. The ultimate fate of "Poddy" changes the final story arc very little. I suspect the real issue was artistic control. No author likes to be pressured to change their work to make it more commercial.
This work somewhat dark, even somber. His desire to make a point almost overshadows the story. Still, worth reading. Heinlein includes an explanation at the end. I present it here. Interesting -

''Oh, I could revise that last chapter to a “happy” ending in about two hours—let Poddy live through it, injured but promised a full recovery and with the implication that she will eventually marry this rich and handsome bloke who can take her with him to the stars . . . and still give her brat kid brother a comeuppance and his lumps (and it is possible that I will at least consider doing this if no editor will risk publishing it as it is). But I don’t want to do this; I think it would ruin the story—something like revising Romeo and Juliet to let the young lovers “live happily ever after.”

''But it took the deaths of Romeo and Juliet to show the families Montague and Capulet what damned fools they were being. Poddy’s death (it seems to me) is similarly indispensable to this story. The true tragedy in this story lies in the character of the mother, the highly successful career woman who wouldn’t take time to raise her own kids—and thereby let her son grow up an infantile monster, no real part of the human race and indifferent to the wellbeing of others . . . until the death of his sister, under circumstances which lay on him a guilt he can never shake off, gives some prospect that he is now going to grow up.''

''I could state that the theme of the story is that death is the only destination for all of us and that the only long-range hope for any adult lies in the young—and that this double realization constitutes growing up, ceasing to be a child and putting away childish things. But I can’t say it that badly, not in fiction, and it seemed to me that I needed Poddy’s death to say it at all. If Poddy gets to have her cake and eat it too (both marriage and star-roving), if that little monster, her brother, gets off unscathed to continue his clever but asocial career, if their mother gets away with neglecting her children’s rearing without having it backfire on her—then the story is just a series of mildly adventurous incidents, strung together.'' —Robert A. Heinlein

And Poddy is NO ordinary Girl. Future Starship Captain and Master-Of-Men Podkayne Fries is quite clearly the author of her own destiny, she thinks. And THAT is the point of this "Romp" through the Inner Solar system. The Worlds have been developing, each along it's own course, and naturally there are going to be "growing pains." Just a Poddy faces changes in her own thinking after having her nose rubbed in some rather un-pleasant realities, Diapers, changed plans, people who are NOT what they seem. Ah, if onlly life were as simple as it was SUPPOSED to be.

Strictly speaking this is NOT part of the Jueveniles that were written for Scribners after WWII for the Boy's Market. But Heinlein learned to deal with the adolescent mind so well that trying on the "Voice" of a Girl was clearly too much of a challenge to resist. Both Poddy and her poisionous little Brother "ring true" and I've actually met them in the hear-and-now world.
the monster
I got the Kindle version. It has the original ending plus Heinlein's reasoning for choosing it. The book is a mixture of 2 stories. The first half can get boring-- an entire chapter on solar flares for example.

I think those who complain about Podkayne's attitude to men should give Podkayne some slack. She is ambitious and has a successful role model in her mother. And she is a teenager, and naturally wants to know how to attract the attentions of the opposite sex. I wonder if some of the grumpy reviewers forget when their hormones were raging.

The writing is typical Heinlein-- if you like it, and I do, you will enjoy it. Why only 3 stars? The 2 stories needed to be better related. The second half was more exciting, but gets cut off too soon.