I’ve previously reviewed Citizen of the Galaxy by Heinlein. Today I’m going to discuss another early favorite written by Robert Heinlein, Between Planets. Unfortunately, the reader has to suspend believe regarding Venus. Venus is Heinlein’s vision is a muggy, swampy world. Earth colonies survive, and to an extent thrive with toehold colonies on the planet. They share the world with another sentient group of Dragons who are pacifists and I suspect look at Earthlings and wild adolescent children for justifiable reasons. Mars also supports an indigenous, intelligent lifeform.
The story line in many ways portrays Earth like the 18th century England… expansionist, colonizing, ruling, without much thought to how they are ruling their subjects in these colonies. They are not portrayed as evil, just not empathetic. Nonetheless, Earth’s ruling class are the villains for the novel.
The protagonist is young Don Harvey, who has been studying on Earth, but when things begin to look like war is brewing, his parents summon him home to Mars. His timing is off, and he is forced to decide whether to return to Earth or go on to Venus. He chooses Venus in hopes that he will eventually be able to return to Mars. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.
It’s a great adventure story for young readers. It has interesting lessons relative to how we treat people who aren’t the same as we are. It also addresses on a grand scale the concept of bullying. This is not a dystopian novel, but it does address many of the same issues. As with all Heinlein juvenile science fiction it shows the worlds of the future with great optimism.