Saturday, December 26, 2009

red planet

Old school SciFi. Red Planet is a great story written for boys, back in 1949, 60 years ago! Robert A. Heinlein is one of my favorites when it comes to this kind of SF; he writes stories that could happen today, if only a few things were different. He imagines a future that isn't so different from his own, and seems gleeful in his speculation of what that future may hold. It certainly seems to hold his dreams.

Red Planet isn't so different from a western. In fact, I'd say that's just what it is: a flag waving, American-style freedom loving, government by- and for-the-people, rebel yell against oppression. You know... with Martians.

The edition I read is also Heinlein's original manuscript. In the introduction, William H. Patterson Jr. describes how Heinlein's editor, Alice Dalgliesh, struck out whole segments and ideas that she considered too racy or inappropriate for print at the time, and that's how the story was originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons. There are even copies of the original manuscript at the back, with Dalgliesh's mark-ups.

Fun, short, adolescent, and painfully out of date, but very interesting as background reading for the later Stranger in a Strange Land, which uses the same Martian back story.

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