enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Robert A. Heinlein, Tunnel in the Sky (#2)

I read this book about 7-Nov-2008. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1955. This note was last modified Sunday, 09-Nov-2008 19:17:09 PST.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Lydy has been having a Heinlein juvenile binge, and this was sitting within reach when I needed something to read.

I'm reading an old Ace edition, Ace book #82660. No publication date on the title page, but it's a $0.95 book.

In the infodump on space travel on page 28 (where he points out that chemical rockets don't work so good even just for getting around the solar system) he mentions that the "torch" now used (total conversion) was invented by a guy named "Ortega". This is something I generally missed in my first readings of these; I don't associate names with ethnicities as automatically and completely as I think people used to. For a book published in 1955, Heinlein is clearlly making a point there.

And torch ships are not how we colonize the galaxy in this book. Some were sent there, but it's not necessary to get to the other end by normal means to create a gate to there.

And the gate technology was found accidentally by somebody looking for something else (which was probably impossible anyway).

Page 33—and his sister is an "assault captain" in the "Amazons". Which tells is in almost zero space that women can be soldiers, but are still mostly not allowed to. It's introduced into the conversation to explain why she's almost never home.

They're living in a house mostly buried. It's an old house, so it still has a living room above ground. Newer construction is all underground, and in fact zoning laws forbid disturbing the surface. (They have a view of the Grand Canyon.) There's mention of a "bomb-proof" as part of the house, but just before there was mention that the cause of war (population pressure) has been relieved by the ability to gate people out for colonization.

And the family religion is "evangelical Monist". Rod's grandfathers were converted by the second wave sweeping out of Persia at the end of the previous century. Which is starting to place this in time— it could be as early as right now, I could have a son Rod's age easily enough. Or any amount later, since the "previous century" is not further identified.

p.41—"...as easily as they can graft on a new leg today." Lovely way to work that detail in, using it as a common example.

Seems to be a big chunk in the middle that's mostly colonial politics and a bit of pioneering; with not so much to note.

p.211—"...a slice of light tasty bread." Now, the one thing white bread isn't noted for is being tasty. (This is in the context of starting to domesticate grain, part of their long-term plans.)

And of course they do get rescued in the end, and Rod goes on to be seen in the last chapter leading a colony group off to a premium planet.

I never noted any actual tendency on Heinlein's part to want to live in a simpler time, as a subsistence farmer or whatever. He was a trained engineer, a Naval officer, and a science fiction writer, after all. Now, he didn't seem to like high-density housing much, I'll agree with that. But so far as I know he made no attempt to make his Colorado Springs place a little farm or anything. Maybe he saw the work as the downside, and since he had to live close to civilization he wanted the benefits.

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David Dyer-Bennet