Aloha – Over the years I’ve managed to acquire several first edition volumes of Heinlein’s early works, but I’ve yet to capture a copy of the Red Planet. Common prices for a first edition of this 1949 volume often exceeds $1,000 and for my meager collection budget that’s out of range.
The novel itself is often considered Heinlein’s first critically successful work in the genre. It still follows a model that I always appreciate: the protagonist is a teenaged boy (exception Podkayne of Mars in which case it is a teenaged girl), he’s above average smart, and conservative in nature. He has friends who are smarter, and sometimes are the individuals who solve a crisis, as in this case.
Two stories progress the novel. First is the adventure element with Jim and Frank meeting and ultimately being partially adopted into the native Martian culture. This relationship helps them cross Mars and warn their families about the evil plot against the Earth immigrants, leading to a rebellion, in which Jim and Frank are able to participate.
The true nature of ‘the bad guys’ leads the Martians to demand that the Earthlings leave their planet and return to Earth. Ultimately the Martians relent because of the altruistic nature of Jim.
The Earthlings of Mars declare their independence from Earth, a common theme that emerges in Heinlein’s Solar System universe.
This is a must read for those who want to get emerged in the various novels about the Solar System, and some of the revelations that come from it (such as what the explorers in Space Cadet learn about the past history of the Solar System). I like it more as a backdrop for other novels in the series.