Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time for the Stars

Time for the StarsTime for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is juvenile science fiction book, from the 1950's (what we'd call Young Adult Fiction, today), so it must be read with that in mind. It is told in the first person, by Tom, one of a pair of identical twins. He and his brother, Pat, are chosen by a non-profit agency to participate in some tests, for an untold purpose. It becomes clear that the tests are to determine the ESP capability of twins. It is discovered that Tom and Pat have very good ESP capability between themselves, and it is finally revealed why they want ESP-enabled twins: for long-range space travel, with one twin on a ship and the other back home on earth, so that they can communicate despite the relativistic differences. (It is determined that ESP does not obey the physical laws of relativity, and is instantaneous, no matter the physical distance, or relative time displacement.0 The rest of the book is about the adventures of the ship, as they seek a habitable planet, and the differences that arise between the twins, as they age at different rates.

This is pretty much a standard science fiction tale from the 50's, without a lot of the cheesy, pro-American rah-rah. Kudos to Heinlein for addressing the issues of relativity - that facet of the book is well-done. But, ESP? Really? I guess that we should cut him some slack for that - back then, lots of people thought ESP was a reality, and could be utilized in various ways. But that was a hard hurdle to clear, for me. Once I accepted that part of the story, the rest of it went as expected - some sibling rivalry, a few "gee whiz" moments with supposedly cool technology, and the usual amount of sexism. At least Heinlein was realistic about the dangers faced on alien planets, and we were not subjected to 'bug-eyed-aliens' on the planets visited. This book is not the usual tripe of "good old American know-how" triumphing over everything, which is refreshing. For that, and for the good treatment of relativistic issues, I give it 3 stars, despite the ESP factor. I think that had I read this when I first discovered science fiction, as a young girl in the 60's, I would have LOVED it!

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