I read this book about 20-Aug-2003. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1953. This note was last modified Thursday, 21-Aug-2003 18:41:35 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
I'd kinda forgotten how good a book this one is. There are severe aspects of the future not going the way it was described (the book is copyright 1953), and I still don't think the trains that jump through hoops make any sense. The concept of the astrogration tables even existing (a lot of them are simple function tables, logarithms and such), let alone being such a weird secret, feels all wrong. Then again the head of the guild admits the secrecy isn't mostly practical. Like nearly all science fiction of the era, and even a decade later, it completely missed the impact of computerization and miniaturization, that's all.
But the story of Max Jones going from farmer to captain of a starship is riveting.
The little stories along the way are really good individually, too. The hints of his childhood, his confrontation with his step-father (his step-mother's new husband), the glimpses of the world he lives in. It's nothing like our world, and nothing like anything we seem to be heading for. One of the things Heinlein was so good at was making a world stand out as different, and yet make complete sense on its own terms.