One of Robert Heinlein's most popular (non-Lazarus Long universe, anyhow) books, this is the story of Rod, who is taking the final exam of his survival class, which involves going through a Tunnel, a device which temporarily joins distant places, to an unknown planet and surviving for 3-10 days with only minimal equipment. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and Rod and his class aren't retrieved on time. Their survival skills face the ultimate test as they must not only survive but learn to coƶperate and form a community, never knowing when or if they'll be rescued.

Excellent story, excellent pacing, excellent characters, excellent book. The whole teacher-marries-student's-sister thing was a little weird, but that is but a minor distraction from a very satisfying whole.

copyright Robert Heinlein 1955. Ballantine. intermediate / young-adult science fiction. 11-15. 214 pgs.

Good book. Plot is what she said. Plus, shades of Lord of the Flies, in that they've been dumped in the wilderness without food or supplies or, most importantly, rules by which to build their new community. It turns out a bit better in this book, but every inch of social progress is a struggle. Made me grateful to have the Constitution - it's not perfect, but at least it's a guideline.

The teacher-marries-student thing doesn't bug me as much as the Heinlein-can't-write-from-a-woman's-perspective-to-save-his-dumb-life thing. I tried to blame it on 1955 lingo, but none of the men in the book speak like cutesie morons, so why do the women? There's one half-assed attempt at a transcript of a girl's diary which shall be stricken from the record, as it's plain awful.

That aside, it's a quick, entertaining read. My neighbors have a thirteen-year-old who has to read this book for school, and he's actually enjoying it. An easy introduction to Heinlein, a good intro to scifi in general.

Side note: The guy on the paperback cover sports a head entertainingly out of proportion with his body. Enjoy!

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