Time for the Stars (1956) by Robert A. Heinlein


“I don’t like to be around twins, they make me think I’m seeing double.”

Time for the Stars
is one of the twelve ‘Heinlein Juveniles’ series of books the author wrote between 1947 and 1958. Wikipedia states that “their intended readership was teenage boys”. They would probably fall under the YA category today. After a bit of research on the web, it would seem that these YA books by Heinlein are still rated and respected by a number of readers. But it should be remembered that these were written over sixty years ago and will obviously show some signs of their age.

Brief Summary

-This is an adventure story about telepathic twins Tom and Pat Bartlett.
-They take part in an experiment concerning telepathy and communication between spaceships.
-There are some imaginative scenes of space and planetary exploration.
-The book touches on the twin paradox regarding travel at the speed of light and aging.
-It also addresses family relationships and sibling rivalry.
-The ending is a bit of a “Wait! Did that just happen?….” moment.

I read this straight after Starship Troopers, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. This book is much lighter and funnier than Heinlein’s most (in)famous work, but the didacticism is still extant. It contains some laugh-out-loud lines along with the author’s token dismissive treatment of any female characters.

“She was awfully pretty, I decided, even though she was too old for it to matter … at least thirty, maybe older.”

“They were red-headed sisters, younger than we were but not too young – sixteen, maybe – and cute as Persian kittens.”

Yes it does read like a YA story but it also reads like Heinlein enjoyed writing it. Despite the “juvenile” target audience there is a fair amount of science in the SF, specifically regarding the nature of time in relation to interstellar travel. I also enjoyed the way the author acknowledged the problems of long-distance communication between Earth and deep space.

Without being particularly special, this book has made me want to try a couple more of his works. I have been warned off some of Heinlein’s later stories, but I’m open to suggestions for what anyone thinks is worth a read. I’m curious to see if I can discover why he is still so lauded over 60 years later.

Heinlein’s Juveniles Series

Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947
Space Cadet, 1948
Red Planet, 1949
Farmer in the Sky, 1950
Between Planets, 1951
The Rolling Stones aka Space Family Stone, 1952
Starman Jones, 1953
The Star Beast, 1954
Tunnel in the Sky, 1955
Time for the Stars, 1956
Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957
Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958




3 thoughts on “Time for the Stars (1956) by Robert A. Heinlein

  1. I’ve never liked Heinlein, I’ve given up even trying anything by him. However, I did like some of these juvenile titles, ‘Have Spacesuit, Will Travel’ is worthwhile. It’s just as dated as all his work, but it’s at least a fun story that dosent take itself too seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was one of my favourite books when still a “juvenile” – read and reread countless times. I found a copy of it a few years back and reread it for the hell of it (or nostalgia or something). I still like it but perhaps without the enthusiasm I once showed. Certainly Heinlein’s particular brand of didacticism and sexism is hard to take these days. But as I recall the story appeared to triumph over these flaws in this case. Indeed one of the episodes in the story still vaguely horrified me (as intended) as it once had years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Vintage Science Fiction Review Digest #1 | Who's Dreaming Who

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