Early but thoroughly enjoyable work by Robert A. Heinlein

Ok, Heinlein isn't everybody's cup of tea: his ideology was at times decidedly dodgy and his political beliefs verged towards the fascist doctrines, but some of his earlier work is genuine, ideology free pulp of the highest order. "Have Space Suit, Will Travel" is certainly that, but utterly entertaining, charming, and most importantly very, very funny.

Clifford Russel (Kip to everyone but his parents) is an ambitious 16 year old with only one wish: to make it to the moon. Whether as an engineer, an astronaut or by winning a American Express sponsored competition by Skyways Soap doesn't really matter: since the U.S. has started colonising the moon by building Tombaugh Station he has never thought of anything else.
There is only one problem: Kip's school doesn't really excel in sciences and his parents lack the financial clout to send him to a good enough University to make his ambitions come true. So when one day Skyway Soap announces to hold a competition to send one lucky winner to the moon on a tourist trip, his passion encompasses him: he sends 17000 entries to the competion, just to win a clapped out space suit. Just so he can one day use a fully functional suit and enjoy the illusion of being an astronaut he puts all his pocket money into the restoration of Oscar (his thoroughly anthromorphized suit he holds imaginary conversations with).

The day before he is finally going to sell this expensive folly, he does one final "moonwalk" on the fields surrounding his parents house, when he suddenly picks up a distress call of a suspicious looking light on the sky, just to see it landing and a bug-eyed monster being shot by another creature. Then he gets knocked out and kidnapped himself.

With this a fascinating journey throughout our own solar system, two different galaxies (ours and the Large Magellanic Cloud, to be correct) and humanity itself begins. Heinlein never forgets to weave a wonderful irony into the text and sometimes resorts to slapsticky "visual" gags that make you laugh out loud. He certainly displays an excellent comic timing in his dialogue and keeps the action at a breathtaking pace, but still has enough time to educate the reader with some profound insights on astrophysics and thermodynamics.

Published for the first time in 1958, this continues to be a good read, as the technology Heinlein describes is still (though plausible) Sci-Fi in the twentyfirst century.

A perfect read for boys of all ages and sexes.

Robert A. Heinlein: Have Space Suit, Will Travel; Del Rey, reissued 1985, 256 pages

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